WORD STUDY – AFRAID
Job 9:28: “I am afraid of all my sorrow, I know thou wilt not hold me innocent.”
Afraid – Hebrew: yagar – To fear for one’s own safety or wellbeing.
First let me point out that this word for fear is not the fear used for “fearing the Lord.” That word is yara and means fear for the safety of another. This word “yagar” means for one’s own wellbeing.
Job’s friends approached him with simple human logic. All suffering is the result of sin. Job is suffering, therefore Job has sinned. Job sends that bit of logic into a tail spin with a bit of his own logic in 9:28; Suffering will not redeem one’s sins, therefore if I sinned, I’m toast. In other words, there is no redemption from sin in suffering. Suffering may be the result of sin, but it will not redeem us from our sin, only the suffering of Jesus on the Cross could do that.
The etymology of this word finds it’s roots in the idea of a piling on of rocks. The word “yagar” for fear is spelled “yod, gimmel, resh.” Jewish literature addresses the “yod” in “yagar.” It tells us that he “yod” is the only letter suspended in the air. The danger of the “yod” in “yagar” is that you will be so focused on your pain and sorrow that you will stumble over the rocks that are being heaped up on the ground. These three letters all represent a message, a message from heaven, a message from friends, and a message from the Spirit of God. The numerical value of the word yagar as it is used in Job 9:28 is 613. The Hebrew word for warning is also 613. So Job is saying that he fears that there is a warning or message from God in his pain, but he could be so focused on his sorrow that he will miss God’s message. Instead he will stumble over the rocks of his afflictions. The word “sorrow” is “‘asav” which means grief, sorrow and pain but it is also used for the word idol and worship. Job’s fear is that as his sorrows keep piling on that his pain will actually become an idol. This rock pile will become an idol that will trip him up. Rather than read the message behind his suffering, he will just focus on the suffering itself and that suffering will in effect become an idol. That may well explain why Job uses this particular word for fear which also represents a rock pile, as in an idol.
In the midst of all this suffering Job could not defend himself against the accusations of his friends, he could not explain the reason for his sufferings, but one thing he did know and that was that he must keep his focus on God and not his sufferings. He must watch carefully as the rocks of his affliction keep piling up so that he does not trip over this rock heap and let it become an idol. He must continue to worship God and not his sufferings.
WORD STUDY – AFRAID