on Job 13 :15
Though he slay me - I have no dependence but God; I trust in him alone. Should he even destroy my life by this affliction, yet will I hope that when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. In the common printed Hebrew text we have לא איחל lo ayachel, I will Not hope; but the Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, and Chaldee have read לו lo, Him, instead of לא lo Not; with twenty-nine of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., and the Complutensian and Antwerp Polyglots. Our translators have followed the best reading. Coverdale renders the verse thus: Lo, there is nether comforte ner hope for me, yf he wil slaye me.
But I will maintain mine own ways - I am so conscious of my innocence, that I fear not to defend myself from your aspersions, even in the presence of my Maker.
on Job 13 :15
Though he slay me - "God may so multiply my sorrows and pains that I cannot survive them. I see that I may be exposed to increased calamities, yet I am willing to meet them. If in maintaining my own cause, and showing that I am not a hypocrite Job 13:16, it should so happen that my sufferings should be so increased that I should die, yet I will do it." The word "slay," or "kill," here refers to temporal death. It has no reference to punishment in the future world, or to the death of the soul. It means merely that Job was determined to maintain his cause and defend his character, though his sufferings should be so increased that life would be the forfeit. Such was the extent of his sufferings, that he had reason to suppose that they would terminate in death; and yet notwithstanding this, it was his fixed purpose to confide in God; compare the notes at Job 19:25-27. This was spoken in Job's better moments, and was his deliberate and prevailing intention. This deliberate purpose expresses what was really the character of the man, though occasionally, when he became impatient, he gave utterance to different sentiments and feelings. We are to look to the prevailing and habitual tenor of a man's feelings and declared principles, in order to determine what his character is, and not to expressions made under the influence of temptation, or under the severity of pain. On the sentiment here expressed, compare Psalm 23:4; Proverbs 14:32.
Yet will I trust in him - The word used here (יחל yâchal) means properly to wait, stay, delay; and it usually conveys the idea of waiting on one with an expectation of aid or help. Hence, it means to hope. The sense here is, that his expectation or hope was in God; and if the sense expressed in our common version be correct, it implies that even in death, or after death, he would confide in God. He would adhere to him, and would still feel that beyond death he would bless him.
In him - In God. But there is here an important variation in the reading. The present Hebrew is לא lo' - "not." The Qeriy or marginal reading, is with a ו (v) - "in him." Jerome renders it as if it were לו lô - "in ipso," that is, in him. The Septuagint followed some reading which does not now appear in any copies of the Hebrew text, or which was the result of mere imagination: "Though the Almighty, as he hath begun, may subdue me - χειρώσεται cheirōsetai - yet will I speak, and maintain my cause before him." The Chaldee renders it, אצלי קדמוי - I will pray before him; evidently reading it as if it were לו lô, "in him." So the Syriac, in him. I have no doubt, therefore, that this was the ancient reading, and that the true sense is retained in our common version though Rosenmuller, Good, Noyes, and others, have adopted the other reading, and suppose that it is to be taken as a negative.
Noyes renders it," Lo! he slayeth me, and I have no hope!" Good, much worse, "Should he even slay me, I would not delay." It may be added, that there are frequent instances where לא lo' and לו lô are interchanged, and where the copyist seems to have been determined by the sound rather than by a careful inspection of the letters. According to the Masoretes, there are fifteen places where לא lo', "not," is written for לו lô, "to him." Exodus 21:8; Leviticus 11:21; Leviticus 25:30; 1 Samuel 2:3; 2 Samuel 16:18; Psalm 100:4; Psalm 139:16; Job 13:15; Job 41:4; Ezra 4:2; Proverbs 19:7; Proverbs 26:2; Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 63:9. On the other hand, לו lô is put for לא lo' in 1 Samuel 2:16; 1 Samuel 20:2; Job 6:21. A mistake of this kind may have easily occurred here. The sentiment here expressed is one of the noblest that could fall from the lips of man. It indicates unwavering confidence in God, even in death.
It is the determination of a mind to adhere to him, though he should strip away comfort after comfort, and though there should be no respite to his sorrows until he should sink down in death. This is the highest expression of piety, and thus it is the privilege of the friends of God to experience. When professed earthly friends become cold toward us, our love for them also is chilled. Should they leave and forsake us in the midst of suffering and want, and especially should they leave us on a bed of death, we should cease to confide in them. But not so in respect to God. Such is the nature of our confidence in him, that though he takes away comfort after comfort, though our health is destroyed and our friends are removed, and though we are led down into the valley and the shadow of death, yet still we never lose our confidence in him. We feel that all will yet be well. We look forward to another state, and anticipate the blessedness of another and a better world.
Reader, can you in sincerity lift the eye toward God, and say to him, "Though Thou dost slay me, though comfort after comfort is taken away, though the waves of trouble roll over me, and though I go down into the valley of the shadow of death, yet i will trust in thee; - Thine I will be even then, and when all is dark I will believe that God is right, and just, and true, and good, and will never doubt that he is worthy of my eternal affection and praise?" Such is religion. Where else is it found but in the views of God and of his government which the Bible reveals. The infidel may have apathy in his sufferings, the blasphemer may be stupid, the moralist or the formalist may be unconcerned; but that is not to have confidence in God. That results from religion alone.
But I will maintain mine own ways before him - Margin, "prove," or "argue." The sense is, I will "vindicate" my ways, or myself. That is, I will maintain that I am his friend, and that I am not a hypocrite. His friends charged him with insincerity. They were not able, Job supposed, to appreciate his arguments and to do justice to him. He had, therefore, expressed the wish to carry his cause directly before God Job 13:3; and he was assured that he would do justice to his arguments. Even should he slay him, he would still stand up as his friend, and would still maintain that his calamities had not come upon him, as his friends supposed, because he was a hypocrite and a secret enemy of his Maker.
on Job 13 :15