by A.E. Knoch

THE VAST VALUE of keeping the pattern of sound words (2 Tim.1:13) was powerfully impressed upon me in a recent experience. I will share it with my readers in the hope that it will be as helpful to them as it was to me.

About half a century ago I became intensely interested in the book of Job. Later my greatest help came from a series of articles in Dr. Bullinger's magazine Things to Come. Through this I learned much of the literary "structure" of this book and the interrelation of its parts. Bullinger gave a new metrical version, from which I hoped to gain much, but found it quite disappointing, for he was compelled to choose words having the right number of syllables, with the accent on the proper one, as well as to add words and phrases to fill out the lines.

At various times since then I have worked on a concordant version. We made a uniform sublinear, with the special object of connecting each expression with its stem and showing the Hebrew grammar. Then I made a version as close to this as English idiom would warrant. But so many passages were without any definite meaning that I compared the whole throughout with the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew. This greatly improved it by changing many words that evidently had been copied wrong, and added quite a little to the text. As I still felt the need of help, I read the best commentary, but all of its elaborate and labored explanations somehow did not satisfy. The words were too vague, too jumbled, too lacking in decisive clarity. My only hope, apart from an inspired commentary, is to consider carefully the introduction of the book itself and note the exact significance of the words, their occurrence, and cut out everything else. This is what I did.

A divine commentary on the book of Job is given us in James' epistle (Jas.5:11). The concordant key there is the word consummation. The A.V. word "end" fails to direct our thoughts to the other occurrences of the same word. End speaks of cessation rather than accomplishment. James tells us that the Lord achieved the object He had in view through Job's endurance, so that the patriarch, who at first feared Jehovah, finally found that He is very compassionate and full of pity. There can be no better summary of the whole than that.

Instead of simply reading the concordant introduction, I wrote down my findings, as this necessitates not only close observation, but accurate expression, and involves a search for the salient features which constitute the key to the whole book. I should be ashamed to say it, but it may help others, so I will not spare myself. An intense examination of the sound words in the introduction, their order, their arrangement, as well as what is not said, has given clearer light than the many pages of unsound expressions which I had read in explanation of them.

In seeking to get right to the heart of the controversy, I noted that God Himself gives Job a character of the highest kind so far as his relations to his fellow men are concerned. This shows that the long arguments of his associates are beside the mark. But Godward there is a great lack. True, he feared God and withdrew from evil. He did not love God and thank Him for evil. Here lies the vital issue in the whole book. Satan saw this, so he did not charge Job with any wrongdoing to his fellows, but questioned Job's motives in regard to God. Strange to say, the friends of Job failed to understand or help him, by their well-meant words, while Satan, by his opposition and by the infliction of evil, is used, in the wisdom of God, to bring about the desired consummation. Job now knows God, not merely as One to be feared, but to be loved for His tender compassion.

One of the most helpful leads in discovering the very core of Job's trouble I found in the word gratuitously (1:9; 2:3). How little this word conforms to any pattern in our Bibles is seen in the A.V. renderings: without a cause, causeless, to cost nothing, without cost, free, freely, innocent, for nothing, for nought, in vain, without wages. According to the A.V. Satan said, "Doth Job fear God for nought?" And God later said to Job, "thou movest me against him, to destroy him without cause" (1:9; 2:3). The importance of this word is seen from its place in the Hebrew. Satan said, "Gratuitously does Job fear God?" That is, he fears him only because it pays. And Jehovah takes up this expression: "you have invited me against him gratuitously." That is the real point of the whole tragedy. God sent evil upon Job, not because of misconduct, but to bring him into closer fellowship with His heart.

Allow me to commend, once more, the use of pattern words, sound words, whose meaning is settled by consistent contexts in the inspired Scriptures. I feel certain that it will be of great help in comprehending the mind of God.

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