Job Finishes His Lament

Job 28-31 and Psalm 74

Psalm 74 begins by begging the question: why have you rejected us God? Hey, God, don’t forget us here! The first half lays out the plea for mercy, then verse 12 pivots:

But God is my King from long ago;
he brings salvation on the earth.
Psalm 74:14

The rest of the psalm gives God the glory and reaches out to him to answer those of us who call on his name.

Likewise, we are at a pivot point in Job. Here we read Job’s last arguments before the quiet Elihu appears followed by God himself!

Chapter 28 is titled, Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found, in the NIV Study Bible. The imagery is wonderful as Job compares the search for silver or gold deep in the darkest places where no foot has trod,

People assault the flinty rock with their hands
and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
They tunnel through the rock;
their eyes see all its treasures.
They search the sources of the rivers
and bring hidden things to light.
Job 28:9-11

We humans know where to look in the darkest places for the treasures we seek, but where do we go to look for wisdom? This is just too good not to re-read:

But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
No mortal comprehends its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.
The deep says, “It is not in me”;
the sea says, “It is not with me.”
Job 28:12-14

There is only one true source of wisdom:

God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
Job 28:23-24

Job knows God is the creator of all, the one from whom wisdom begins and he truly fears the Lord.

In chapter 29, Job recalls the days of old when God was with him, when his children surrounded him; back in the good ‘ol days when people listened to what he had to say. Chapter 30 paints the opposing picture where he is mocked, where he has become the laughingstock of all, one to be avoided.

I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me.
You turn on me ruthlessly;
with the might of your hand you attack me.
Job 30:20-21

The pain that Job feels is real, the sense that his words are empty and unheard by God strike close to home. But I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that God has turn his hand on Job, though this is difficult to understand.

Chapter 31 provides a careful study of how Job has followed God’s ways carefully, or at least how he has tried to live an honorable life. He calls on God to show him the err of his ways while maintaining his innocence in all these sins.

I would be hard-pressed to pass all the tests that Job presents: he taught his eye not to lust, his lips not to lie, acted justly in business deals, properly treated the poor, the fatherless, the widow; he didn’t put his trust in wealth nor mock his enemy–basically, he’s done no wrong that he is aware of! Wow! I would fail on many accounts, but not Job, he cannot see why all of this has happened to him.

His case fully stated, Job signs his name: “the words of Job are ended” (Job 31:40).

If the book of Job were to end here, we would all be lost. His friends have not been much help and God still seems so distant. Lord, we try to do that which is right, knowing that our sinful nature deceives us. Find us, Lord, when we wander aimlessly, when our steps are unsure and our path is covered in fog. Here we are Lord, find us and show us the way out of despair and darkness. We completely trust in you Lord.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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