20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: [if I say], I [am] perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.
Since truth is vital, as soon as I open my mouth I will prove myself guilty. I have no defense. I cannot say I am innocent because it is not true, but then that is not the issue. And yet it seemed the only defense, that is likely to have a chance.
21 [Though] I [were] perfect, [yet] would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.
Even if I were innocent I could never claim it, because it would be inappropriate given my past. So what can I say? We need to remember Job had offered offerings, with those for his children. That alone is proof he needs delivery from his sin.
22 This [is] one [thing], therefore I said [it], He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
Job becomes a little more rational as he examines the facts. I consider now that God destroys the perfect AND the wicked.
According to the theory, God only destroys the wicked, and the perfect prosper at the hand of God. Job says, God destroys both of them, which raises the question of how that works? It also puts the theory under the microscope.
23 If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.
Perhaps it is a case where the innocent get caught up in the calamity of the wicked, simply because it happens so quickly. God did not intend it, but he was not swift enough to prevent it. In that case he would have to laugh and try harder next time. It is not unreasonable that a chance event take the innocent away.
24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, [and] who [is] he?
Perhaps the wicked have control, so he confuses all the judges and catches them all that way, and innocent people are the ones who miss a fair deal. What is unreasonable is the idea everyone gets justice. It would be impossible to check and impose.
25 Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good.
Days run into one another, so they are gone so fast there is not time for enjoyment, for respite.
26 They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle [that] hasteth to the prey.
Ships and Eagles are on a mission. They do not get a chance to stop or even slow down, or they miss out. They just have to keep going, or the end will be worse than their greatest fear.
27 If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort [myself]:
If I were to forget my complaint, then the time I spend complaining can be assigned to comfort, and that way I can have some pleasure. But that does not even work.
28 I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent.
As soon as I stop complaining I begin to think of the things of which I am guilty, and they come back to haunt me, so I become maudlin and morose. There is no rest.
29 [If] I be wicked, why then labour I in vain?
It occurs to me that I am not all that wicked, or I would not even try to defend myself. This urge to protest is real. I have a complaint. This is wrong.
30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
But even if I could make amends, to go back to the start and do it right, it does not seem it would make any difference. There is something seriously wrong with the whole arrangement.
31 Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
Your treatment of me will make it clear to all, that I am guilty of something evil, so even my clothes will testify against me. There is no going back from here. I have a mark on me and no one will believe me, even if I were restored.
32 For [he is] not a man, as I [am, that] I should answer him, [and] we should come together in judgment.
Job is once again pleading to have the opportunity to challenge, knowing all the time it cannot occur. But then, provision ought to be made if the matter is to be right.
33 Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, [that] might lay his hand upon us both.
And providing, is as simple as appointing one who can stand between God and me, one who can relate to both parties, and put the case of the one to the other. God is too high, then someone who can stand between should be appointed.
34 Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me:
He calls on God to provide one who can fairly represent God’s position in the dispute, while they convince Job his view will be heard. To provide one who could become a mediator between God and man.
We must draw the parallel between what Job looked for, and what the Lord Jesus Christ became. He became the mediator between God and men for the reasons Job asks that one be provided here, and for the reason Paul explains in writing his letter to the Hebrews. He says; “we have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities.” Here is one who can stand between, and place his hand on God and place his hand on man. This is one who can feel our weaknesses. Therefore man is not expected to appeal to a God who makes him afraid, who makes him feel so ashamed and bewildered by their sin they feel there is no hope. All judgment is given into the hands of this man who stands between God and man. He is provided in that role for that purpose. So “all mouths might be stopped and men should become guilty before God.” But Job suggests God ought to provide someone who can mediate, because he cannot make his point, unless there is one to represent him.
35 [Then] would I speak, and not fear him; but [it is] not so with me.
Under those conditions I would be willing to put my case, but it is not like that, and so I despair.