JOB STUDY, PART 3: JOB’S RESPONSE, 25.10.19
In the previous STUDY, we looked at the input of 3 of Job’s friends. We also made connections not only from Job’s experience to some of our own experiences, connecting the dots from OT to NT teachings and examples. It is so clear how human beings fall into self-elevation/superiority, and automated blaming/accusing behaviour. It started in the Garden . .. ..
Just as Job’s friends meted out accusations, judgments, and condemnation on the basis of assumptions, critical spirits, and other such ill-founded speculation, we find parallels within the body of Christ. Believers can become callously judgmental, critical, and accusatory when someone meets with testing, responding to the individual and the situation with a holier-than-thou attitude, just as Job’s friends did when they essentially ripped him to shreds, instead of providing loving kindness and compassion.
This component will look at: (a) how Job responded to this unhelpful barrage of advice, and (b) how you/we/any of us respond (Mentoring Corner’s STUDY GUIDE) in similar circumstances.
Once again, I need to ask readers/students of the Word, to please read on your own the full chapters involved, as the STUDY will only include selected sets of passages to illustrate themes, life lessons, and relevant information. In conjunction with the full readings, pay particular attention to passages quoted throughout the body of this STUDY.
Job’s initial response indicates his desire for kindness and compassion:
14 “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend,
Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
15 My brothers have dealt deceitfully like a brook,
He feels misunderstood, unfairly judged:
29 Stop assuming my guilt,
for I have done no wrong.
Job does a bit of philosophizing, trying to make sense of what is happening, when he says:
1 “Is not all human life a struggle?
Our lives are like that of a hired hand,
2 like a worker who longs for the shade,
like a servant waiting to be paid.
3 I, too, have been assigned months of futility,
long and weary nights of misery.
4 Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’
But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn.
Job needs to ventilate. He is hurting. He needs to share what he is going through:
5 My body is covered with maggots and scabs.
My skin breaks open, oozing with pus.
Then Job Cries Out to God, and enters into a bout of self-pity, full of dread even fear of death:
7 . . . I will never again feel happiness.
8 You see me now, but not for long.
You will look for me, but I will be gone.
9 Just as a cloud dissipates and vanishes,
those who die will not come back.
10 They are gone forever from their home—
never to be seen again.
11 “I cannot keep from speaking.
I must express my anguish.
My bitter soul must complain.
12 Am I a sea monster or a dragon
that you must place me under guard?
13 I think, ‘My bed will comfort me,
and sleep will ease my misery,’
14 but then you shatter me with dreams
and terrify me with visions.
15 I would rather be strangled—
rather die than suffer like this.
16 I hate my life and don’t want to go on living.
Oh, leave me alone for my few remaining days.
17 “What are people, that you should make so much of us,
that you should think of us so often?
18 For you examine us every morning
and test us every moment.
19 Why won’t you leave me alone,
at least long enough for me to swallow!
20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
O watcher of all humanity?
Why make me your target?
Am I a burden to you?
21 Why not just forgive my sin
and take away my guilt?
For soon I will lie down in the dust and die.
When you look for me, I will be gone.”
After Bildad’s scathing imputations of blame, Job expresses agreement with the principles involved, while defending his innocence. He acknowledges God’s power, sovereignty, and mighty works, while realizing his position of powerlessness before Him, simultaneously complaining and questioning God:
14 “So who am I, that I should try to answer God
or even reason with him?
15 Even if I were right, I would have no defense.
I could only plead for mercy.
16 And even if I summoned him and he responded,
I’m not sure he would listen to me.
17 For he attacks me with a storm
and repeatedly wounds me without cause.
18 He will not let me catch my breath,
but fills me instead with bitter sorrows.
19 If it’s a question of strength, he’s the strong one.
If it’s a matter of justice, who dares to summon him to court?
20 Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty.
Though I am blameless, it would prove me wicked.
21 “I am innocent,
but it makes no difference to me—
I despise my life.
22 Innocent or wicked, it is all the same to God.
That’s why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
Within Job’s response to Bildad, he is addressing God. It could be said that he is pleading with God, perhaps even demanding answers, while trying to rationalize and make a case for himself:
1 I am disgusted with my life.
Let me complain freely.
My bitter soul must complain.
2 I will say to God, ‘Don’t simply condemn me—
tell me the charge you are bringing against me.
3 What do you gain by oppressing me?
Why do you reject me, the work of your own hands,
while smiling on the schemes of the wicked?
4 Are your eyes like those of a human?
Do you see things only as people see them?
5 Is your lifetime only as long as ours?
Is your life so short
6 that you must quickly probe for my guilt
and search for my sin?
7 Although you know I am not guilty,
no one can rescue me from your hands.
8 “‘You formed me with your hands; you made me,
yet now you completely destroy me.
9 Remember that you made me from dust—
will you turn me back to dust so soon?
10 You guided my conception
and formed me in the womb.
11 You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and you knit my bones and sinews together.
12 You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love.
My life was preserved by your care.
13 “‘Yet your real motive—
your true intent—
14 was to watch me, and if I sinned,
you would not forgive my guilt.
15 If I am guilty, too bad for me;
and even if I’m innocent, I can’t hold my head high,
because I am filled with shame and misery.
16 And if I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion
and display your awesome power against me.
17 Again and again you witness against me.
You pour out your growing anger on me
and bring fresh armies against me.
18 “‘Why, then, did you deliver me from my mother’s womb?
Why didn’t you let me die at birth?
19 It would be as though I had never existed,
going directly from the womb to the grave.
20 I have only a few days left, so leave me alone,
that I may have a moment of comfort
21 before I leave—never to return—
for the land of darkness and utter gloom.
22 It is a land as dark as midnight,
a land of gloom and confusion,
where even the light is dark as midnight.’”
Job takes a stand in his response to Zophar, becoming a bit more overtly assertive and defending himself, while acknowledging Who God is:
2 “You people really know everything, don’t you?
And when you die, wisdom will die with you!
3 Well, I know a few things myself—
and you’re no better than I am.
Who doesn’t know these things you’ve been saying?
4 Yet my friends laugh at me,
for I call on God and expect an answer.
I am a just and blameless man,
yet they laugh at me.
5 People who are at ease mock those in trouble.
They give a push to people who are stumbling.
It is almost a relief to hear Job put his accusers in their place.
2 I know as much as you do.
You are no better than I am.
3 As for me, I would speak directly to the Almighty.
I want to argue my case with God himself.
4 As for you, you smear me with lies.
As physicians, you are worthless quacks.
5 If only you could be silent!
That’s the wisest thing you could do.
6 Listen to my charge;
pay attention to my arguments.
7 “Are you defending God with lies?
Do you make your dishonest arguments for his sake?
8 Will you slant your testimony in his favour?
Will you argue God’s case for him?
9 What will happen when he finds out what you are doing?
Can you fool him as easily as you fool people?
10 No, you will be in trouble with him
if you secretly slant your testimony in his favour.
He continues to let Zophar have it, and proceeds to present his case/his defence before God:
13 “Be silent now and leave me alone.
Let me speak, and I will face the consequences.
14 Why should I put myself in mortal danger
and take my life in my own hands?
15 God might kill me, but I have no other hope.
I am going to argue my case with him.
16 But this is what will save me—I am not godless.
If I were, I could not stand before him.
17 “Listen closely to what I am about to say.
Hear me out.
18 I have prepared my case;
I will be proved innocent.
He pleads directly to God Almighty:
20 “O God, grant me these two things,
and then I will be able to face you.
21 Remove your heavy hand from me,
and don’t terrify me with your awesome presence.
22 Now summon me, and I will answer!
Or let me speak to you, and you reply.
23 Tell me, what have I done wrong?
Show me my rebellion and my sin.
24 Why do you turn away from me?
Why do you treat me as your enemy?
He does well by ignoring Zophar, and addressing God, rather than defending himself against fleshly accusations, and instead addressing God Himself, asking him to show Job how he has sinned.
As the responses continue, they become progressively intense, and increasingly bitter and defensive (not that anyone can blame Job).
2 “I have heard all this before.
What miserable comforters you are!
3 Won’t you ever stop blowing hot air?
What makes you keep on talking?
4 I could say the same things if you were in my place.
I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you.
5 But if it were me, I would encourage you.
I would try to take away your grief.
6 Instead, I suffer if I defend myself,
and I suffer no less if I refuse to speak.
In the midst of his defence, he describes his situation and places himself in God’s Hands:
15 I wear burlap to show my grief.
My pride lies in the dust.
16 My eyes are red with weeping;
dark shadows circle my eyes.
17 Yet I have done no wrong,
and my prayer is pure.
18 “O earth, do not conceal my blood.
Let it cry out on my behalf.
19 Even now my witness is in heaven.
My advocate is there on high.
“My spirit is crushed,
and my life is nearly snuffed out.
The grave is ready to receive me.
2 I am surrounded by mockers.
I watch how bitterly they taunt me.
3 “You must defend my innocence, O God,
since no one else will stand up for me.
4 You have closed their minds to understanding,
but do not let them triumph.
At certain points, Job becomes quite confrontational with God, accusing Him of treating him unfairly, charging God with being in the wrong; however, at no point does Job ever withdraw his faith and belief in God. At no point does he turn his back on God.
2 “How long will you torture me?
How long will you try to crush me with your words?
3 You have already insulted me ten times.
You should be ashamed of treating me so badly.
4 Even if I have sinned,
that is my concern, not yours.
5 You think you’re better than I am,
using my humiliation as evidence of my sin.
6 But it is God who has wronged me,
capturing me in his net.
Although, towards the end, Job does hold God accountable for his situation, he returns to his statement of faith:
25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
26 And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
27 I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!
And rebukes his friends with:
28 “How dare you go on persecuting me,
saying, ‘It’s his own fault’?
29 You should fear punishment yourselves,
for your attitude deserves punishment.
Then you will know that there is indeed a judgment.”
In the end, Job focuses on God, not on his friends. Job turns on his friends; but he does not turn against God. STUDY CORNER will return to this in the next component of the STUDY.
All Scriptures taken from NLT
© 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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