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5. Job 4 – 31 (Job’s Friends)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections
with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 5

Sunday (Job 4)

Eliphaz Begins to Speak

4:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:

4:2 “If someone should attempt a word with you, will you be impatient?

But who can refrain from speaking?

4:3 Look, you have instructed many; you have strengthened feeble hands.

4:4 Your words have supported those who stumbled, and you have strengthened the knees that gave way.

4:5 But now the same thing comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are terrified.

4:6 Is not your piety your confidence, and your blameless ways your hope?

4:7 Call to mind now: Who, being innocent, ever perished?

And where were upright people ever destroyed?

4:8 Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble reap the same.

4:9 By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.

4:10 There is the roaring of the lion and the growling of the young lion, but the teeth of the young lions are broken.

4:11 The mighty lion perishes for lack of prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.

Ungodly Complainers Provoke God’s Wrath

4:12 “Now a word was secretly brought to me, and my ear caught a whisper of it.

4:13 In the troubling thoughts of the dreams in the night when a deep sleep falls on men,

4:14 a trembling gripped me – and a terror! – and made all my bones shake.

4:15 Then a breath of air passes by my face; it makes the hair of my flesh stand up.

4:16 It stands still, but I cannot recognize its appearance; an image is before my eyes, and I hear a murmuring voice:

4:17 “Is a mortal man righteous before God?

Or a man pure before his Creator?

4:18 If God puts no trust in his servants and attributes folly to his angels,

4:19 how much more to those who live in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like a moth?

4:20 They are destroyed between morning and evening; they perish forever without anyone regarding it.

4:21 Is not their excess wealth taken away from them?

They die, yet without attaining wisdom.

5:1 “Call now! Is there anyone who will answer you?

To which of the holy ones will you turn?

5:2 For wrath kills the foolish person, and anger slays the silly one.

5:3 I myself have seen the fool taking root, but suddenly I cursed his place of residence.

5:4 His children are far from safety, and they are crushed at the place where judgment is rendered, nor is there anyone to deliver them.

5:5 The hungry eat up his harvest, and take it even from behind the thorns, and the thirsty swallow up their fortune.

5:6 For evil does not come up from the dust, nor does trouble spring up from the ground,

5:7 but people are born to trouble, as surely as the sparks fly upward.

Blessings for the One Who Seeks God

5:8 “But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would set forth my case.

5:9 He does great and unsearchable things, marvelous things without number;

5:10 he gives rain on the earth, and sends water on the fields;

5:11 he sets the lowly on high, that those who mourn are raised to safety.

5:12 He frustrates the plans of the crafty so that their hands cannot accomplish what they had planned!

5:13 He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the cunning is brought to a quick end.

5:14 They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope about in the noontime as if it were night.

5:15 So he saves from the sword that comes from their mouth, even the poor from the hand of the powerful.

5:16 Thus the poor have hope, and iniquity shuts its mouth.

5:17 “Therefore, blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

5:18 For he wounds, but he also bandages; he strikes, but his hands also heal.

5:19 He will deliver you from six calamities; yes, in seven no evil will touch you.

5:20 In time of famine he will redeem you from death, and in time of war from the power of the sword.

5:21 You will be protected from malicious gossip, and will not be afraid of the destruction when it comes.

5:22 You will laugh at destruction and famine and need not be afraid of the beasts of the earth.

5:23 For you will have a pact with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you.

5:24 And you will know that your home will be secure, and when you inspect your domains, you will not be missing anything.

5:25 You will also know that your children will be numerous, and your descendants like the grass of the earth.

5:26 You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season.

5:27 Look, we have investigated this, so it is true. Hear it, and apply it for your own good.”

Job Replies to Eliphaz

6:1 Then Job responded:

6:2 “Oh, if only my grief could be weighed, and my misfortune laid on the scales too!

6:3 But because it is heavier than the sand of the sea, that is why my words have been wild.

6:4 For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; my spirit drinks their poison;

God’s sudden terrors are arrayed against me.

Complaints Reflect Suffering

6:5 “Does the wild donkey bray when it is near grass?

Or does the ox low near its fodder?

6:6 Can food that is tasteless be eaten without salt?

Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?

6:7 I have refused to touch such things; they are like loathsome food to me.

A Cry for Death

6:8 “Oh that my request would be realized, and that God would grant me what I long for!

6:9 And that God would be willing to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and kill me.

6:10 Then I would yet have my comfort, then I would rejoice, in spite of pitiless pain, for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.

6:11 What is my strength, that I should wait?

and what is my end, that I should prolong my life?

6:12 Is my strength like that of stones?

or is my flesh made of bronze?

6:13 Is not my power to help myself nothing, and has not every resource been driven from me?

Disappointing Friends

6:14 “To the one in despair, kindness should come from his friend even if he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

6:15 My brothers have been as treacherous as a seasonal stream, and as the riverbeds of the intermittent streams that flow away.

6:16 They are dark because of ice; snow is piled up over them.

6:17 When they are scorched, they dry up, when it is hot, they vanish from their place.

6:18 Caravans turn aside from their routes; they go into the wasteland and perish.

6:19 The caravans of Tema looked intently for these streams; the traveling merchants of Sheba hoped for them.

6:20 They were distressed, because each one had been so confident; they arrived there, but were disappointed.

6:21 For now you have become like these streams that are no help; you see a terror, and are afraid.

Friends’ Fears

6:22 “Have I ever said, ‘Give me something, and from your fortune make gifts in my favor’?

6:23 Or ‘Deliver me from the enemy’s power, and from the hand of tyrants ransom me’?

No Sin Discovered

6:24 “Teach me and I, for my part, will be silent; explain to me how I have been mistaken.

6:25 How painful are honest words!

But what does your reproof prove?

6:26 Do you intend to criticize mere words, and treat the words of a despairing man as wind?

6:27 Yes, you would gamble for the fatherless, and auction off your friend.

Other Explanation

6:28 “Now then, be good enough to look at me; and I will not lie to your face!

6:29 Relent, let there be no falsehood; reconsider, for my righteousness is intact!

6:30 Is there any falsehood on my lips?

Can my mouth not discern evil things?

The Brevity of Life

7:1 “Does not humanity have hard service on earth?

Are not their days also like the days of a hired man?

7:2 Like a servant longing for the evening shadow, and like a hired man looking for his wages,

7:3 thus I have been made to inherit months of futility, and nights of sorrow have been appointed to me.

7:4 If I lie down, I say, ‘When will I arise?’,

and the night stretches on and I toss and turn restlessly until the day dawns.

7:5 My body is clothed with worms and dirty scabs; my skin is broken and festering.

7:6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and they come to an end without hope.

7:7 Remember that my life is but a breath, that my eyes will never again see happiness.

7:8 The eye of him who sees me now will see me no more; your eyes will look for me, but I will be gone.

7:9 As a cloud is dispersed and then disappears, so the one who goes down to the grave does not come up again.

7:10 He returns no more to his house, nor does his place of residence know him any more.

Job Remonstrates with God

7:11 “Therefore, I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

7:12 Am I the sea, or the creature of the deep, that you must put me under guard?

7:13 If I say, “My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,”

7:14 then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions,

7:15 so that I would prefer strangling, and death more than life.

7:16 I loathe it; I do not want to live forever; leave me alone, for my days are a vapor!

Insignificance of Humans

7:17 “What is mankind that you make so much of them, and that you pay attention to them?

7:18 And that you visit them every morning, and try them every moment?

7:19 Will you never look away from me, will you not let me alone long enough to swallow my spittle?

7:20 If I have sinned – what have I done to you, O watcher of men?

Why have you set me as your target?

Have I become a burden to you?

7:21 And why do you not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity?

For now I will lie down in the dust, and you will seek me diligently, but I will be gone.”

Prayer

Lord, often in challenging times we imaging that a multitude of words may explain things that we really do not fully comprehend. Please help me to acknowledge when I simply do not understand rather than trying to explain everything in human terms.

Scripture In Perspective

Eliphaz, one of Job’s closest associates/friends, challenges Job to not be offended as he speaks as he feels that what he has to say is important because of what Job has said.

Eliphaz recognizes that Job has been an encourager and teacher to many in their times of trouble, but seems to crumble when the same comes to him, and then asks “Is not your piety your confidence, and your blameless ways your hope?”

Eliphaz suggests that Job needs to confess his secret sin so that the Lord God will not continue to punish him. He says that Job should please to the Lord God for understanding, mercy, and restoration. He declares that no mortal many is righteous before God, so Job needed to stop claiming to have been punished, despite a lack of sin.

Eliphaz concludes that blessings come to those who seek the Lord but that one must not despise His discipline as it always has a cause and a purpose.

Job continued to complain of his losses, and to long for death, while observing that he had been brought to the end of his prior considerable worldly means - with which he had always been able help himself (and others).

Job challenged his friends as being unhelpful; falsely accusing him secret sin, oblivious to the reality that it didn’t matter anyhow since he had lost everything of value.

Job lamented that his life no longer had hope or purpose and that he had no expectation that he would every be happy again.

Job then complained to the Lord God; declaring that since he, like all humans, was insignificant - so why would God continue to trouble him with His presence, why punish him so terribly, and why not just let him die?

Job asked “If I have sinned – what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you set me as your target? Have I become a burden to you? And why do you not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity?” then he said that he was about to lay down and die so that when the Lord God returned he would be gone.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job is reasonably upset but now has become defensive, both toward his friends and toward the Lord God.

Discuss

Why would Eliphaz assume that Job was hiding a specific sin, for which he certainly knew though refused to confess, that God was punishing him? Why would Job chastise his friends for suggesting that he had sinned, then imply that he may in fact have sinned - but that somehow he had not against God - when he then addressed God?

Reflect

Eliphaz embedded some questionable notions amidst a great deal of wisdom, much of which he may have learned from Job, based on his introductory compliments for him.

It is interesting that Job threatens the Lord God with his own death, imagining that such would somehow successfully place him out of God’s reach.

Share

When have you struggled so badly that you even questioned the love of God?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you have relied upon your own resources and believed that you were righteous as a result of those choices alone.

Act

Today I will confess that I have not allowed the Lord God to be Lord of some parts of my life, that I have resented any effort He has made to challenge my choices, and I have blamed Him when things went wrong. I will repent of that wrong-thinking and accept His forgiveness – then I will enter into an accountability relation with one or more fellow believers to prayerfully reflect upon my attitude and choices so that they are of the Lord God and not of the world.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Job 8 - 10)

Bildad’s First Speech to Job

8:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite spoke up and said:

8:2 “How long will you speak these things, seeing that the words of your mouth are like a great wind?

8:3 Does God pervert justice?

Or does the Almighty pervert what is right?

8:4 If your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.

8:5 But if you will look to God, and make your supplication to the Almighty,

8:6 if you become pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself for you, and will restore your righteous abode.

8:7 Your beginning will seem so small, since your future will flourish.

8:8 “For inquire now of the former generation, and pay attention to the findings of their ancestors;

8:9 For we were born yesterday and do not have knowledge, since our days on earth are but a shadow.

8:10 Will they not instruct you and speak to you, and bring forth words from their understanding?

8:11 Can the papyrus plant grow tall where there is no marsh?

Can reeds flourish without water?

8:12 While they are still beginning to flower and not ripe for cutting, they can wither away faster than any grass!

8:13 Such is the destiny of all who forget God; the hope of the godless perishes,

8:14 whose trust is in something futile, whose security is a spider’s web.

8:15 He leans against his house but it does not hold up, he takes hold of it but it does not stand.

8:16 He is a well-watered plant in the sun, its shoots spread over its garden.

8:17 It wraps its roots around a heap of stones and it looks for a place among stones.

8:18 If he is uprooted from his place, then that place will disown him, saying, ‘I have never seen you!’

8:19 Indeed, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth others spring up.

8:20 “Surely, God does not reject a blameless man, nor does he grasp the hand of the evildoers.

8:21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with gladness.

8:22 Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.”

Job’s Reply to Bildad

9:1 Then Job answered:

9:2 “Truly, I know that this is so.

But how can a human be just before God?

9:3 If someone wishes to contend with him, he cannot answer him one time in a thousand.

9:4 He is wise in heart and mighty in strength – who has resisted him and remained safe?

9:5 He who removes mountains suddenly, who overturns them in his anger;

9:6 he who shakes the earth out of its place so that its pillars tremble;

9:7 he who commands the sun and it does not shine and seals up the stars;

9:8 he alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea;

9:9 he makes the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the constellations of the southern sky;

9:10 he does great and unsearchable things, and wonderful things without number.

9:11 If he passes by me, I cannot see him, if he goes by, I cannot perceive him.

9:12 If he snatches away, who can turn him back?

Who dares to say to him, ‘What are you doing?’

9:13 God does not restrain his anger; under him the helpers of Rahab lie crushed.

The Impossibility of Facing God in Court

9:14 “How much less, then, can I answer him and choose my words to argue with him!

9:15 Although I am innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my judge for mercy.

9:16 If I summoned him, and he answered me, I would not believe that he would be listening to my voice –

9:17 he who crushes me with a tempest, and multiplies my wounds for no reason.

9:18 He does not allow me to recover my breath, for he fills me with bitterness.

9:19 If it is a matter of strength, most certainly he is the strong one!

And if it is a matter of justice, he will say, ‘Who will summon me?’

9:20 Although I am innocent, my mouth would condemn me; although I am blameless, it would declare me perverse.

9:21 I am blameless. I do not know myself. I despise my life.

Accusation of God’s Justice

9:22 “It is all one! That is why I say, ‘He destroys the blameless and the guilty.’

9:23 If a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks at the despair of the innocent.

9:24 If a land has been given into the hand of a wicked man, he covers the faces of its judges; if it is not he, then who is it?

Renewed Complaint

9:25 “My days are swifter than a runner, they speed by without seeing happiness.

9:26 They glide by like reed boats, like an eagle that swoops down on its prey.

9:27 If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression and be cheerful,’

9:28 I dread all my sufferings, for I know that you do not hold me blameless.

9:29 If I am guilty, why then weary myself in vain?

9:30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands clean with lye,

9:31 then you plunge me into a slimy pit and my own clothes abhor me.

9:32 For he is not a human being like I am, that I might answer him, that we might come together in judgment.

9:33 Nor is there an arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both,

9:34 who would take his rod away from me so that his terror would not make me afraid.

9:35 Then would I speak and not fear him, but it is not so with me.

An Appeal for Revelation

10:1 “I am weary of my life; I will complain without restraint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.

10:2 I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; tell me why you are contending with me.’

10:3 Is it good for you to oppress, to despise the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?

Motivations of God

10:4 “Do you have eyes of flesh, or do you see as a human being sees?

10:5 Are your days like the days of a mortal, or your years like the years of a mortal,

10:6 that you must search out my iniquity, and inquire about my sin,

10:7 although you know that I am not guilty, and that there is no one who can deliver out of your hand?

Contradictions in God’s Dealings

10:8 “Your hands have shaped me and made me, but now you destroy me completely.

10:9 Remember that you have made me as with the clay; will you return me to dust?

10:10 Did you not pour me out like milk, and curdle me like cheese?

10:11 You clothed me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews.

10:12 You gave me life and favor, and your intervention watched over my spirit.

10:13 “But these things you have concealed in your heart; I know that this is with you:

10:14 If I sinned, then you would watch me and you would not acquit me of my iniquity.

10:15 If I am guilty, woe to me, and if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head; I am full of shame, and satiated with my affliction.

10:16 If I lift myself up, you hunt me as a fierce lion, and again you display your power against me.

10:17 You bring new witnesses against me, and increase your anger against me; relief troops come against me.

An Appeal for Relief

10:18 “Why then did you bring me out from the womb?

I should have died and no eye would have seen me!

10:19 I should have been as though I had never existed; I should have been carried right from the womb to the grave!

10:20 Are not my days few?

Cease, then, and leave me alone, that I may find a little comfort,

10:21 before I depart, never to return, to the land of darkness and the deepest shadow,

10:22 to the land of utter darkness, like the deepest darkness, and the deepest shadow and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.”

Prayer

Lord, You allowed Job – and us – to pour out our hearts, even though we may misrepresent You as we do so. May I always be honest with You, but also honest about You, because Your perfection is there to be plainly known in Your Word.

Scripture In Perspective

Based on a false presumption that Job and his children had sinned sufficiently to earn punishment Bildad challenged Job to acknowledge history – that the Lord God rewards the righteous and punishes the sinner.

He reminded Job that if he confessed and repented the Lord would forgive him and make his future far more bright than his past.

Job replied that he agreed with Bildad about the character of God, but he continued to declare that he was innocent.

Job mused about the righteousness of God’s justice, saying that he punished the guilty and innocent alike and “mocked” the innocent in their suffering.

Job continued to complain to the Lord, repeating his charge of unfair treatment – because of his innocence – and lamenting the absence of an arbiter between himself and God.

Job again declared his desire to die since God had taken everything of value from him.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job and Bildad agreed that confession and repentance result in the Lord God’s mercy and restoration.

Discuss

Why did Job drift into doubts about the righteousness of God’s justice?

Reflect

How might one reconcile believing in a loving and merciful God who restores and also believe Him to be uncaring in His justice?

Share

When have you been so troubled in life that you blamed, and perhaps doubted, God?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you currently have, or have had in the past, doubts about the Lord God – perhaps based on a different perspective than that taught in your past or current association, denomination, or independent fellowship.

Act

Today I will confess my doubts and seek answers in prayer and in the study of His Word, requesting assistance from one who meets the Biblical qualifications of an “elder” as necessary. I will accept His forgiveness and celebrate the new light in my walk with Him.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Job 11 - 14)

Zophar’s First Speech to Job

11:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite spoke up and said:

11:2 “Should not this abundance of words be answered, or should this talkative man be vindicated?

11:3 Will your idle talk reduce people to silence, and will no one rebuke you when you mock?

11:4 For you have said, ‘My teaching is flawless, and I am pure in your sight.’

11:5 But if only God would speak, if only he would open his lips against you,

11:6 and reveal to you the secrets of wisdom – for true wisdom has two sides – so that you would know that God has forgiven some of your sins.

11:7 “Can you discover the essence of God?

Can you find out the perfection of the Almighty?

11:8 It is higher than the heavens – what can you do?

It is deeper than Sheol – what can you know?

11:9 Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.

11:10 If he comes by and confines you and convenes a court, then who can prevent him?

11:11 For he knows deceitful men; when he sees evil, will he not consider it?

11:12 But an empty man will become wise, when a wild donkey’s colt is born a human being.

11:13 “As for you, if you prove faithful, and if you stretch out your hands toward him,

11:14 if iniquity is in your hand – put it far away, and do not let evil reside in your tents.

11:15 For then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be securely established and will not fear.

11:16 For you will forget your trouble; you will remember it like water that has flowed away.

11:17 And life will be brighter than the noonday; though there be darkness, it will be like the morning.

11:18 And you will be secure, because there is hope; you will be protected and will take your rest in safety.

11:19 You will lie down with no one to make you afraid, and many will seek your favor.

11:20 But the eyes of the wicked fail, and escape eludes them; their one hope is to breathe their last.”

Job’s Reply to Zophar

12:1 Then Job answered:

12:2 “Without a doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you.

12:3 I also have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know such things as these?

12:4 I am a laughingstock to my friends, I, who called on God and whom he answered – a righteous and blameless man is a laughingstock!

12:5 For calamity, there is derision (according to the ideas of the fortunate) – a fate for those whose feet slip!

12:6 But the tents of robbers are peaceful, and those who provoke God are confident – who carry their god in their hands.

Knowledge of God’s Wisdom

12:7 “But now, ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds of the sky and they will tell you.

12:8 Or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea declare to you.

12:9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this,

12:10 in whose hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all the human race.

12:11 Does not the ear test words, as the tongue tastes food?

12:12 Is not wisdom found among the aged?

Does not long life bring understanding?

12:13 “With God are wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.

12:14 If he tears down, it cannot be rebuilt; if he imprisons a person, there is no escape.

12:15 If he holds back the waters, then they dry up; if he releases them, they destroy the land.

12:16 With him are strength and prudence; both the one who goes astray and the one who misleads are his.

12:17 He leads counselors away stripped and makes judges into fools.

12:18 He loosens the bonds of kings and binds a loincloth around their waist.

12:19 He leads priests away stripped and overthrows the potentates.

12:20 He deprives the trusted advisers of speech and takes away the discernment of elders.

12:21 He pours contempt on noblemen and disarms the powerful.

12:22 He reveals the deep things of darkness, and brings deep shadows into the light.

12:23 He makes nations great, and destroys them; he extends the boundaries of nations and disperses them.

12:24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their understanding; he makes them wander in a trackless desert waste.

12:25 They grope about in darkness without light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.

Job Pleads His Cause to God

13:1 “Indeed, my eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it.

13:2 What you know, I know also; I am not inferior to you!

13:3 But I wish to speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.

13:4 But you, however, are inventors of lies; all of you are worthless physicians!

13:5 If only you would keep completely silent!

For you, that would be wisdom.

13:6 “Listen now to my argument, and be attentive to my lips’ contentions.

13:7 Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf?

Will you speak deceitfully for him?

13:8 Will you show him partiality?

Will you argue the case for God?

13:9 Would it turn out well if he would examine you?

Or as one deceives a man would you deceive him?

13:10 He would certainly rebuke you if you secretly showed partiality!

13:11 Would not his splendor terrify you and the fear he inspires fall on you?

13:12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay.

13:13 “Refrain from talking with me so that I may speak; then let come to me what may.

13:14 Why do I put myself in peril, and take my life in my hands?

13:15 Even if he slays me, I will hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face!

13:16 Moreover, this will become my deliverance, for no godless person would come before him.

13:17 Listen carefully to my words; let your ears be attentive to my explanation.

13:18 See now, I have prepared my case; I know that I am right.

13:19 Who will contend with me?

If anyone can, I will be silent and die.

13:20 Only in two things spare me, O God, and then I will not hide from your face:

13:21 Remove your hand far from me and stop making me afraid with your terror.

13:22 Then call, and I will answer, or I will speak, and you respond to me.

13:23 How many are my iniquities and sins?

Show me my transgression and my sin.

13:24 Why do you hide your face and regard me as your enemy?

13:25 Do you wish to torment a windblown leaf and chase after dry chaff?

13:26 For you write down bitter things against me and cause me to inherit the sins of my youth.

13:27 And you put my feet in the stocks and you watch all my movements; you put marks on the soles of my feet.

13:28 So I waste away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.

The Brevity of Life

14:1 “Man, born of woman, lives but a few days, and they are full of trouble.

14:2 He grows up like a flower and then withers away; he flees like a shadow, and does not remain.

14:3 Do you fix your eye on such a one?

And do you bring me before you for judgment?

14:4 Who can make a clean thing come from an unclean?

No one!

14:5 Since man’s days are determined, the number of his months is under your control; you have set his limit and he cannot pass it.

14:6 Look away from him and let him desist, until he fulfills his time like a hired man.

The Inevitability of Death

14:7 “But there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.

14:8 Although its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump begins to die in the soil,

14:9 at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth shoots like a new plant.

14:10 But man dies and is powerless; he expires – and where is he?

14:11 As water disappears from the sea, or a river drains away and dries up,

14:12 so man lies down and does not rise; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor arise from their sleep.

The Possibility of Another Life

14:13 “O that you would hide me in Sheol, and conceal me till your anger has passed!

O that you would set me a time and then remember me!

14:14 If a man dies, will he live again?

All the days of my hard service I will wait until my release comes.

14:15 You will call and I – I will answer you; you will long for the creature you have made.

The Present Condition

14:16 “Surely now you count my steps; then you would not mark my sin.

14:17 My offenses would be sealed up in a bag; you would cover over my sin.

14:18 But as a mountain falls away and crumbles, and as a rock will be removed from its place,

14:19 as water wears away stones, and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy man’s hope.

14:20 You overpower him once for all, and he departs; you change his appearance and send him away.

14:21 If his sons are honored, he does not know it; if they are brought low, he does not see it.

14:22 Only his flesh has pain for himself, and he mourns for himself.”

Prayer

Lord, as we reflect upon the events of our lives we see partially but You see every detail, and so sometimes we come to wrong conclusions about ourselves – about others - and sometimes about You. May I be careful, prayerful, and lean upon Your Word as I reflect on my life, and on how You are moving therein.

Scripture In Perspective

Zophar joined the others and challenged Job to admit his sin and allow the Lord God to forgive and to restore him, and he mocked him from suggesting that he was better than everyone else, and free of sin.

Job replied that the fortunate were presuming to judge him merely because God had brought trouble to him – presuming that guilt for secret sin was the cause – forgetting that everything was God’s to do with as He pleased and that for some unknown reason it was His pleasure to bring him low.

Job declared that his associates/friends were wrong to speak on God’s behalf because they misrepresented him in so-doing – and he asked them to be quiet as he would now bring his case before the Lord God – certain of vindication due to his innocence.

Job then pleaded with God to allow him to speak plainly and not strike fear into him as he did so. He then demanded that God show him how he had sinned to deserve the punishment.

Job then makes a number of declarations about the condition of man and his relationship with the Lord God.

Job requested that the Lord hide him away until His anger passed and then bring him back, taking away his past sin, and restoring him.

Interestingly, Job again affirms the concept of death as a sleep of unawareness “... so man lies down and does not rise; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor arise from their sleep.” (vs. 14:12)

Interact With The Text

Consider

It is very important that one not take any of the statements of Job, or his associates/friends, as correct doctrine - unless they are positively affirmed elsewhere in the Biblical text.

Discuss

Why would Job think that the Lord God would hide him somewhere then bring him back out and then just overlook his sin – if his sin was the cause of His righteous anger?

Reflect

Job waffled back and forth between declaring his innocence and acknowledging that he may have some sin, actually confessing to youthful sin, yet insisting that there was nothing recent or that he was denying which could be the cause of his terrible troubles.

Share

When have you observed someone who was struggling and who was accused by some of being in denial of some sin that was secretly the cause of their troubles?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place in your life where you have, or are now, resenting the Lord God’s chastening – because you don’t think you have done anything ‘that bad’.

Act

Today I will confess and repent of my ‘little sin’, acknowledging that there is no such thing in the Lord’s eyes, and I will accept the forgiveness of the Lord God. I will then intentionally seek to avoid drifting back into that ‘little sin’.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Job 15 - 17)

Eliphaz’s Second Speech

15:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:

15:2 “Does a wise man answer with blustery knowledge, or fill his belly with the east wind?

15:3 Does he argue with useless talk, with words that have no value in them?

15:4 But you even break off piety, and hinder meditation before God.

15:5 Your sin inspires your mouth; you choose the language of the crafty.

15:6 Your own mouth condemns you, not I; your own lips testify against you.

15:7 “Were you the first man ever born?

Were you brought forth before the hills?

15:8 Do you listen in on God’s secret council?

Do you limit wisdom to yourself?

15:9 What do you know that we don’t know?

What do you understand that we don’t understand?

15:10 The gray-haired and the aged are on our side, men far older than your father.

15:11 Are God’s consolations too trivial for you; or a word spoken in gentleness to you?

15:12 Why has your heart carried you away, and why do your eyes flash,

15:13 when you turn your rage against God and allow such words to escape from your mouth?

15:14 What is man that he should be pure, or one born of woman, that he should be righteous?

15:15 If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes,

15:16 how much less man, who is abominable and corrupt, who drinks in evil like water!

15:17 “I will explain to you; listen to me, and what I have seen, I will declare,

15:18 what wise men declare, hiding nothing, from the tradition of their ancestors,

15:19 to whom alone the land was given when no foreigner passed among them.

15:20 All his days the wicked man suffers torment, throughout the number of the years that are stored up for the tyrant.

15:21 Terrifying sounds fill his ears; in a time of peace marauders attack him.

15:22 He does not expect to escape from darkness; he is marked for the sword;

15:23 he wanders about – food for vultures; he knows that the day of darkness is at hand.

15:24 Distress and anguish terrify him; they prevail against him like a king ready to launch an attack,

15:25 for he stretches out his hand against God, and vaunts himself against the Almighty,

15:26 defiantly charging against him with a thick, strong shield!

15:27 Because he covered his face with fat, and made his hips bulge with fat,

15:28 he lived in ruined towns and in houses where no one lives, where they are ready to crumble into heaps.

15:29 He will not grow rich, and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the land.

15:30 He will not escape the darkness; a flame will wither his shoots and he will depart by the breath of God’s mouth.

15:31 Let him not trust in what is worthless, deceiving himself; for worthlessness will be his reward.

15:32 Before his time he will be paid in full, and his branches will not flourish.

15:33 Like a vine he will let his sour grapes fall, and like an olive tree he will shed his blossoms.

15:34 For the company of the godless is barren, and fire consumes the tents of those who accept bribes.

15:35 They conceive trouble and bring forth evil; their belly prepares deception.”

Job’s Reply to Eliphaz

16:1 Then Job replied:

16:2 “I have heard many things like these before. What miserable comforters are you all!

16:3 Will there be an end to your windy words?

Or what provokes you that you answer?

16:4 I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could pile up words against you and I could shake my head at you.

16:5 But I would strengthen you with my words; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

Abandonment by God and Man

16:6 “But if I speak, my pain is not relieved, and if I refrain from speaking – how much of it goes away?

16:7 Surely now he has worn me out, you have devastated my entire household.

16:8 You have seized me, and it has become a witness; my leanness has risen up against me and testifies against me.

16:9 His anger has torn me and persecuted me; he has gnashed at me with his teeth; my adversary locks his eyes on me.

16:10 People have opened their mouths against me, they have struck my cheek in scorn; they unite together against me.

16:11 God abandons me to evil men, and throws me into the hands of wicked men.

16:12 I was in peace, and he has shattered me. He has seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target;

16:13 his archers surround me. Without pity he pierces my kidneys and pours out my gall on the ground.

16:14 He breaks through against me, time and time again; he rushes against me like a warrior.

16:15 I have sewed sackcloth on my skin, and buried my horn in the dust;

16:16 my face is reddened because of weeping, and on my eyelids there is a deep darkness,

16:17 although there is no violence in my hands and my prayer is pure.

An Appeal to God as Witness

16:18 “O earth, do not cover my blood, nor let there be a secret place for my cry.

16:19 Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.

16:20 My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God;

16:21 and he contends with God on behalf of man as a man pleads for his friend.

16:22 For the years that lie ahead are few, and then I will go on the way of no return.

17:1 My spirit is broken, my days have faded out, the grave awaits me.

17:2 Surely mockery is with me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility.

17:3 Make then my pledge with you. Who else will put up security for me?

17:4 Because you have closed their minds to understanding, therefore you will not exalt them.

17:5 If a man denounces his friends for personal gain, the eyes of his children will fail.

17:6 He has made me a byword to people, I am the one in whose face they spit.

17:7 My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow.

17:8 Upright men are appalled at this; the innocent man is troubled with the godless.

17:9 But the righteous man holds to his way, and the one with clean hands grows stronger.

Anticipation of Death

17:10 “But turn, all of you, and come now!

I will not find a wise man among you.

17:11 My days have passed, my plans are shattered, even the desires of my heart.

17:12 These men change night into day; they say, ‘The light is near in the face of darkness.’

17:13 If I hope for the grave to be my home, if I spread out my bed in darkness,

17:14 If I cry to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My Mother,’ or ‘My sister,’

17:15 where then is my hope?

And my hope, who sees it?

17:16 Will it go down to the barred gates of death?

Will we descend together into the dust?”

Prayer

Lord, in our troubled times we are prone to make of You an enemy, when – in fact – You are our one and only forever-true friend. May I cling to You, no matter what.

Scripture In Perspective

Eliphaz replied to Job, challenging him to not be so arrogant toward the Lord God, and reminding him that there is no forgiveness or restoration for the unrepentant.

Job declares his associates/friends to be poor comforters and perhaps even his enemies for criticizing him so aggressively in his suffering. He also asserts that were he in their place he would not criticize but comfort.

Job again asserts that the Lord God is “picking on him” without cause and that he has lost hope as a result. But he still clings to God and cries out in desperation for relief.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Eliphaz essentially calls Job a pompous windbag, a sinner in-denial, and an arrogant apostate who dares to challenge the Lord God with self-righteous declarations of his victimization. While he is correct on many points, indeed some of his words are later repeated by the Lord God, he presumes to know what only the Lord may know and thus becomes an emissary of the ‘accuser’ – the enemy – rather than the Lord.

Discuss

Why would Job care what his associates/friends say if he truly believed himself innocent?

Reflect

Job and his friends are all guilty of misrepresenting the Lord God in one or more ways, but he is the victim of terrible tragedy and they are more obsessed in a theological debate than in comforting their friend.

Share

When have you experienced or observed a traumatized person being challenged about theology rather than comforted with loving-care and heartfelt-prayer?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal an opportunity to you to encourage someone who is suffering.

Act

Today I will be the one who just-loves someone who is struggling and I will save doctrinal correction and discussions of theological precision for later.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Job 18 – 21:6)

Bildad’s Second Speech

18:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:

18:2 “How long until you make an end of words?

You must consider, and then we can talk.

18:3 Why should we be regarded as beasts, and considered stupid in your sight?

18:4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, will the earth be abandoned for your sake?

Or will a rock be moved from its place?

18:5 “Yes, the lamp of the wicked is extinguished; his flame of fire does not shine.

18:6 The light in his tent grows dark; his lamp above him is extinguished.

18:7 His vigorous steps are restricted, and his own counsel throws him down.

18:8 For he has been thrown into a net by his feet and he wanders into a mesh.

18:9 A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare grips him.

18:10 A rope is hidden for him on the ground and a trap for him lies on the path.

18:11 Terrors frighten him on all sides and dog his every step.

18:12 Calamity is hungry for him, and misfortune is ready at his side.

18:13 It eats away parts of his skin; the most terrible death devours his limbs.

18:14 He is dragged from the security of his tent, and marched off to the king of terrors.

18:15 Fire resides in his tent; over his residence burning sulfur is scattered.

18:16 Below his roots dry up, and his branches wither above.

18:17 His memory perishes from the earth, he has no name in the land.

18:18 He is driven from light into darkness and is banished from the world.

18:19 He has neither children nor descendants among his people, no survivor in those places he once stayed.

18:20 People of the west are appalled at his fate; people of the east are seized with horror, saying,

18:21 ‘Surely such is the residence of an evil man; and this is the place of one who has not known God.’”

Job’s Reply to Bildad

19:1 Then Job answered:

19:2 “How long will you torment me and crush me with your words?

19:3 These ten times you have been reproaching me; you are not ashamed to attack me!

19:4 But even if it were true that I have erred, my error remains solely my concern!

19:5 If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me and plead my disgrace against me,

19:6 know then that God has wronged me and encircled me with his net.

Job’s Abandonment and Affliction

19:7 “If I cry out, ‘Violence!’

I receive no answer; I cry for help, but there is no justice.

19:8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass, and has set darkness over my paths.

19:9 He has stripped me of my honor and has taken the crown off my head.

19:10 He tears me down on every side until I perish; he uproots my hope like one uproots a tree.

19:11 Thus his anger burns against me, and he considers me among his enemies.

19:12 His troops advance together; they throw up a siege ramp against me, and they camp around my tent.

Job’s Forsaken State

19:13 “He has put my relatives far from me; my acquaintances only turn away from me.

19:14 My kinsmen have failed me; my friends have forgotten me.

19:15 My guests and my servant girls consider me a stranger; I am a foreigner in their eyes.

19:16 I summon my servant, but he does not respond, even though I implore him with my own mouth.

19:17 My breath is repulsive to my wife; I am loathsome to my brothers.

19:18 Even youngsters have scorned me; when I get up, they scoff at me.

19:19 All my closest friends detest me; and those whom I love have turned against me.

19:20 My bones stick to my skin and my flesh; I have escaped alive with only the skin of my teeth.

19:21 Have pity on me, my friends, have pity on me, for the hand of God has struck me.

19:22 Why do you pursue me like God does?

Will you never be satiated with my flesh?

Job’s Assurance of Vindication

19:23 “O that my words were written down, O that they were written on a scroll,

19:24 that with an iron chisel and with lead they were engraved in a rock forever!

19:25 As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last he will stand upon the earth.

19:26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God,

19:27 whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will behold, and not another. My heart grows faint within me.

19:28 If you say, ‘How we will pursue him, since the root of the trouble is found in him!’

19:29 Fear the sword yourselves, for wrath brings the punishment by the sword, so that you may know that there is judgment.”

Zophar’s Second Speech

20:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered:

20:2 “This is why my troubled thoughts bring me back – because of my feelings within me.

20:3 When I hear a reproof that dishonors me, then my understanding prompts me to answer.

20:4 “Surely you know that it has been from old, ever since humankind was placed on the earth,

20:5 that the elation of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.

20:6 Even though his stature reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds,

20:7 he will perish forever, like his own excrement; those who used to see him will say, ‘Where is he?’

20:8 Like a dream he flies away, never again to be found, and like a vision of the night he is put to flight.

20:9 People who had seen him will not see him again, and the place where he was will recognize him no longer.

20:10 His sons must recompense the poor; his own hands must return his wealth.

20:11 His bones were full of his youthful vigor, but that vigor will lie down with him in the dust.

20:12 “If evil is sweet in his mouth and he hides it under his tongue,

20:13 if he retains it for himself and does not let it go, and holds it fast in his mouth,

20:14 his food is turned sour in his stomach; it becomes the venom of serpents within him.

20:15 The wealth that he consumed he vomits up, God will make him throw it out of his stomach.

20:16 He sucks the poison of serpents; the fangs of a viper kill him.

20:17 He will not look on the streams, the rivers, which are the torrents of honey and butter.

20:18 He gives back the ill-gotten gain without assimilating it; he will not enjoy the wealth from his commerce.

20:19 For he has oppressed the poor and abandoned them; he has seized a house which he did not build.

20:20 For he knows no satisfaction in his appetite; he does not let anything he desires escape.

20:21 “Nothing is left for him to devour; that is why his prosperity does not last.

20:22 In the fullness of his sufficiency, distress overtakes him. the full force of misery will come upon him.

20:23 “While he is filling his belly, God sends his burning anger against him, and rains down his blows upon him.

20:24 If he flees from an iron weapon, then an arrow from a bronze bow pierces him.

20:25 When he pulls it out and it comes out of his back, the gleaming point out of his liver, terrors come over him.

20:26 Total darkness waits to receive his treasures; a fire which has not been kindled will consume him and devour what is left in his tent.

20:27 The heavens reveal his iniquity; the earth rises up against him.

20:28 A flood will carry off his house, rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath.

20:29 Such is the lot God allots the wicked, and the heritage of his appointment from God.”

Job’s Reply to Zophar

21:1 Then Job answered:

21:2 “Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you offer me.

21:3 Bear with me and I will speak, and after I have spoken you may mock.

21:4 Is my complaint against a man?

If so, why should I not be impatient?

21:5 Look at me and be appalled; put your hands over your mouths.

21:6 For, when I think about this, I am terrified and my body feels a shudder.

Prayer

Lord, You listen to us when we cry out to You, and You stand quietly as we thrash-about in our agony and our often-sloppy doctrine – then You speak when the time is right. May I trust You enough to always be honest in my prayers, and may I know You better and better so that I never question Your perfect knowledge, love, justice, and wisdom.

Scripture In Perspective

Bildad complained that Job treated his friends as dumb, yet he beat himself up - even suggesting that his suffering should cause the world to stop and maybe even collapse because of it.

Job returned to his complaint that his friends were unfairly attacking him, that he was innocent, and that even the Lord God had treated him unfairly.

He asserted that even if his friends were correct it would be none of their business and that they appeared to be arrogant and proud.

Job complained that in addition to his friends turning against him - his servants, slaves, and relatives also turned against him – even his wife found him disgusting.

Job re-asserted his assurance that there is a “Vindicator” in the Lord God and that he would at some point be vindicated.

Job also warned his associates/friends that they needed to worry that the sword of judgment might also come against them.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Bildad and Job both felt as though the other was disrespecting them. Job’s friends spoke out of fear because Job’s suggestion of no sin-associated cause for his massive suffering placed them at-risk of the same – so they felt the need to isolate the event to Job.

Discuss

Why would Job believe that the Lord God would be his vindicator right after he said that the Lord was his persecutor?

Reflect

If Job’s friends truly believed that he must have sinned to have been punished so heavily, and if they believed that his confession and repentance of that sin would result in healing and restoration, would it have wrong for them to not speak?

Share

When have you felt unfairly judged and criticized?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a situation where you have criticized someone in a way that you would not have been pleased to have been criticized.

Act

Today I will confess and repent of treating someone as I would not wish to be treated. I will remember to “Do to others as I would have them do to me”, as is appropriate I will apologize to the one whom I have been unfairly (and/or out-of-proportion) critical and ask their forgiveness.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Job 21:7 - 28)

The Wicked Prosper

21:7 “Why do the wicked go on living, grow old, even increase in power?

21:8 Their children are firmly established in their presence, their offspring before their eyes.

21:9 Their houses are safe and without fear; and no rod of punishment from God is upon them.

21:10 Their bulls breed without fail; their cows calve and do not miscarry.

21:11 They allow their children to run like a flock; their little ones dance about.

21:12 They sing to the accompaniment of tambourine and harp, and make merry to the sound of the flute.

21:13 They live out their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.

21:14 So they say to God, ‘Turn away from us!

We do not want to know your ways.

21:15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?

What would we gain if we were to pray to him?’

21:16 But their prosperity is not their own doing. The counsel of the wicked is far from me!

How Often Do the Wicked Suffer?

21:17 “How often is the lamp of the wicked extinguished?

How often does their misfortune come upon them?

How often does God apportion pain to them in his anger?

21:18 How often are they like straw before the wind, and like chaff swept away by a whirlwind?

21:19 You may say, ‘God stores up a man’s punishment for his children!’

Instead let him repay the man himself so that he may know it!

21:20 Let his own eyes see his destruction; let him drink of the anger of the Almighty.

21:21 For what is his interest in his home after his death, when the number of his months has been broken off?

21:22 Can anyone teach God knowledge, since he judges those that are on high?

Death Levels Everything

21:23 “One man dies in his full vigor, completely secure and prosperous,

21:24 his body well nourished, and the marrow of his bones moist.

21:25 And another man dies in bitterness of soul, never having tasted anything good.

21:26 Together they lie down in the dust, and worms cover over them both.

Futile Words, Deceptive Answers

21:27 “Yes, I know what you are thinking, the schemes by which you would wrong me.

21:28 For you say, ‘Where now is the nobleman’s house, and where are the tents in which the wicked lived?’

21:29 Have you never questioned those who travel the roads?

Do you not recognize their accounts –

21:30 that the evil man is spared from the day of his misfortune, that he is delivered from the day of God’s wrath?

21:31 No one denounces his conduct to his face; no one repays him for what he has done.

21:32 And when he is carried to the tombs, and watch is kept over the funeral mound,

21:33 The clods of the torrent valley are sweet to him; behind him everybody follows in procession, and before him goes a countless throng.

21:34 So how can you console me with your futile words?

Nothing is left of your answers but deception!”

Eliphaz’s Third Speech

22:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:

22:2 “Is it to God that a strong man is of benefit?

Is it to him that even a wise man is profitable?

22:3 Is it of any special benefit to the Almighty that you should be righteous, or is it any gain to him that you make your ways blameless?

22:4 Is it because of your piety that he rebukes you and goes to judgment with you?

22:5 Is not your wickedness great and is there no end to your iniquity?

22:6 “For you took pledges from your brothers for no reason, and you stripped the clothing from the naked.

22:7 You gave the weary no water to drink and from the hungry you withheld food.

22:8 Although you were a powerful man, owning land, an honored man living on it,

22:9 you sent widows away empty-handed, and the arms of the orphans you crushed.

22:10 That is why snares surround you, and why sudden fear terrifies you,

22:11 why it is so dark you cannot see, and why a flood of water covers you.

22:12 “Is not God on high in heaven?

And see the lofty stars, how high they are!

22:13 But you have said, ‘What does God know?

Does he judge through such deep darkness?

22:14 Thick clouds are a veil for him, so he does not see us, as he goes back and forth in the vault of heaven.’

22:15 Will you keep to the old path that evil men have walked –

22:16 men who were carried off before their time, when the flood was poured out on their foundations?

22:17 They were saying to God, ‘Turn away from us,’ and ‘What can the Almighty do to us?’

22:18 But it was he who filled their houses with good things – yet the counsel of the wicked was far from me.

22:19 The righteous see their destruction and rejoice; the innocent mock them scornfully, saying,

22:20 ‘Surely our enemies are destroyed, and fire consumes their wealth.’

22:21 “Reconcile yourself with God, and be at peace with him; in this way your prosperity will be good.

22:22 Accept instruction from his mouth and store up his words in your heart.

22:23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; if you remove wicked behavior far from your tent,

22:24 and throw your gold in the dust – your gold of Ophir among the rocks in the ravines –

22:25 then the Almighty himself will be your gold, and the choicest silver for you.

22:26 Surely then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and will lift up your face toward God.

22:27 You will pray to him and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him.

22:28 Whatever you decide on a matter, it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.

22:29 When people are brought low and you say ‘Lift them up!’ then he will save the downcast;

22:30 he will deliver even someone who is not innocent, who will escape through the cleanness of your hands.”

Job’s Reply to Eliphaz

23:1 Then Job answered:

23:2 “Even today my complaint is still bitter; his hand is heavy despite my groaning.

23:3 O that I knew where I might find him, that I could come to his place of residence!

23:4 I would lay out my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.

23:5 I would know with what words he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me.

23:6 Would he contend with me with great power?

No, he would only pay attention to me.

23:7 There an upright person could present his case before him, and I would be delivered forever from my judge.

The Inaccessibility and Power of God

23:8 “If I go to the east, he is not there, and to the west, yet I do not perceive him.

23:9 In the north when he is at work, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I see no trace of him.

23:10 But he knows the pathway that I take; if he tested me, I would come forth like gold.

23:11 My feet have followed his steps closely; I have kept to his way and have not turned aside.

23:12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my allotted portion.

23:13 But he is unchangeable, and who can change him?

Whatever he has desired, he does.

23:14 For he fulfills his decree against me, and many such things are his plans.

23:15 That is why I am terrified in his presence; when I consider, I am afraid because of him.

23:16 Indeed, God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me.

23:17 Yet I have not been silent because of the darkness, because of the thick darkness that covered my face.

The Apparent Indifference of God

24:1 “Why are times not appointed by the Almighty?

Why do those who know him not see his days?

24:2 Men move boundary stones; they seize the flock and pasture them.

24:3 They drive away the orphan’s donkey; they take the widow’s ox as a pledge.

24:4 They turn the needy from the pathway, and the poor of the land hide themselves together.

24:5 Like wild donkeys in the desert they go out to their labor, seeking diligently for food; the wasteland provides food for them and for their children.

24:6 They reap fodder in the field, and glean in the vineyard of the wicked.

24:7 They spend the night naked because they lack clothing; they have no covering against the cold.

24:8 They are soaked by mountain rains and huddle in the rocks because they lack shelter.

24:9 The fatherless child is snatched from the breast, the infant of the poor is taken as a pledge.

24:10 They go about naked, without clothing, and go hungry while they carry the sheaves.

24:11 They press out the olive oil between the rows of olive trees; they tread the winepresses while they are thirsty.

24:12 From the city the dying groan, and the wounded cry out for help, but God charges no one with wrongdoing.

24:13 There are those who rebel against the light; they do not know its ways and they do not stay on its paths.

24:14 Before daybreak the murderer rises up; he kills the poor and the needy; in the night he is like a thief.

24:15 And the eye of the adulterer watches for the twilight, thinking, ‘No eye can see me,’ and covers his face with a mask.

24:16 In the dark the robber breaks into houses, but by day they shut themselves in; they do not know the light.

24:17 For all of them, the morning is to them like deep darkness; they are friends with the terrors of darkness.

24:18 “You say, ‘He is foam on the face of the waters; their portion of the land is cursed so that no one goes to their vineyard.

24:19 The drought as well as the heat carry away the melted snow; so the grave takes away those who have sinned.

24:20 The womb forgets him, the worm feasts on him, no longer will he be remembered. Like a tree, wickedness will be broken down.

24:21 He preys on the barren and childless woman, and does not treat the widow well.

24:22 But God drags off the mighty by his power; when God rises up against him, he has no faith in his life.

24:23 God may let them rest in a feeling of security, but he is constantly watching all their ways.

24:24 They are exalted for a little while, and then they are gone, they are brought low like all others, and gathered in, and like a head of grain they are cut off.’

24:25 “If this is not so, who can prove me a liar and reduce my words to nothing?”

Bildad’s Third Speech

25:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:

25:2 “Dominion and awesome might belong to God; he establishes peace in his heights.

25:3 Can his armies be numbered?

On whom does his light not rise?

25:4 How then can a human being be righteous before God?

How can one born of a woman be pure?

25:5 If even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure as far as he is concerned,

25:6 how much less a mortal man, who is but a maggot – a son of man, who is only a worm!”

Job’s Reply to Bildad

26:1 Then Job replied:

26:2 “How you have helped the powerless!

How you have saved the person who has no strength!

26:3 How you have advised the one without wisdom, and abundantly revealed your insight!

26:4 To whom did you utter these words?

And whose spirit has come forth from your mouth?

A Better Description of God’s Greatness

26:5 “The dead tremble – those beneath the waters and all that live in them.

26:6 The underworld is naked before God; the place of destruction lies uncovered.

26:7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth on nothing.

26:8 He locks the waters in his clouds, and the clouds do not burst with the weight of them.

26:9 He conceals the face of the full moon, shrouding it with his clouds.

26:10 He marks out the horizon on the surface of the waters as a boundary between light and darkness.

26:11 The pillars of the heavens tremble and are amazed at his rebuke.

26:12 By his power he stills the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab the great sea monster to pieces.

26:13 By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

26:14 Indeed, these are but the outer fringes of his ways!

How faint is the whisper we hear of him!

But who can understand the thunder of his power?”

A Protest of Innocence

27:1 And Job took up his discourse again:

27:2 “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter –

27:3 for while my spirit is still in me, and the breath from God is in my nostrils,

27:4 my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will whisper no deceit.

27:5 I will never declare that you three are in the right; until I die, I will not set aside my integrity!

27:6 I will maintain my righteousness and never let it go; my conscience will not reproach me for as long as I live.

The Condition of the Wicked

27:7 “May my enemy be like the wicked, my adversary like the unrighteous.

27:8 For what hope does the godless have when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?

27:9 Does God listen to his cry when distress overtakes him?

27:10 Will he find delight in the Almighty?

Will he call out to God at all times?

27:11 I will teach you about the power of God; What is on the Almighty’s mind I will not conceal.

27:12 If you yourselves have all seen this, Why in the world do you continue this meaningless talk?

27:13 This is the portion of the wicked man allotted by God, the inheritance that evildoers receive from the Almighty.

27:14 If his children increase – it is for the sword!

His offspring never have enough to eat.

27:15 Those who survive him are buried by the plague, and their widows do not mourn for them.

27:16 If he piles up silver like dust and stores up clothing like mounds of clay,

27:17 what he stores up a righteous man will wear, and an innocent man will inherit his silver.

27:18 The house he builds is as fragile as a moth’s cocoon, like a hut that a watchman has made.

27:19 He goes to bed wealthy, but will do so no more. When he opens his eyes, it is all gone.

27:20 Terrors overwhelm him like a flood; at night a whirlwind carries him off.

27:21 The east wind carries him away, and he is gone; it sweeps him out of his place.

27:22 It hurls itself against him without pity as he flees headlong from its power.

27:23 It claps its hands at him in derision and hisses him away from his place.

III. Job’s Search for Wisdom (28:1-28)

No Known Road to Wisdom

28:1 “Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place where gold is refined.

28:2 Iron is taken from the ground, and rock is poured out as copper.

28:3 Man puts an end to the darkness; he searches the farthest recesses for the ore in the deepest darkness.

28:4 Far from where people live he sinks a shaft, in places travelers have long forgotten, far from other people he dangles and sways.

28:5 The earth, from which food comes, is overturned below as though by fire;

28:6 a place whose stones are sapphires and which contains dust of gold;

28:7 a hidden path no bird of prey knows – no falcon’s eye has spotted it.

28:8 Proud beasts have not set foot on it, and no lion has passed along it.

28:9 On the flinty rock man has set to work with his hand; he has overturned mountains at their bases.

28:10 He has cut out channels through the rocks; his eyes have spotted every precious thing.

28:11 He has searched the sources of the rivers and what was hidden he has brought into the light.

No Price Can Buy Wisdom

28:12 “But wisdom – where can it be found?

Where is the place of understanding?

28:13 Mankind does not know its place; it cannot be found in the land of the living.

28:14 The deep says, ‘It is not with me.’ And the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’

28:15 Fine gold cannot be given in exchange for it, nor can its price be weighed out in silver.

28:16 It cannot be measured out for purchase with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or sapphires.

28:17 Neither gold nor crystal can be compared with it, nor can a vase of gold match its worth.

28:18 Of coral and jasper no mention will be made; the price of wisdom is more than pearls.

28:19 The topaz of Cush cannot be compared with it; it cannot be purchased with pure gold.

God Alone Has Wisdom

28:20 “But wisdom – where does it come from?

Where is the place of understanding?

28:21 For it has been hidden from the eyes of every living creature, and from the birds of the sky it has been concealed.

28:22 Destruction and Death say, ‘With our ears we have heard a rumor about where it can be found.’

28:23 God understands the way to it, and he alone knows its place.

28:24 For he looks to the ends of the earth and observes everything under the heavens.

28:25 When he made the force of the wind and measured the waters with a gauge.

28:26 When he imposed a limit for the rain, and a path for the thunderstorm,

28:27 then he looked at wisdom and assessed its value; he established it and examined it closely.

28:28 And he said to mankind, ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

Prayer

Lord, You are never absent, but when our hearts are not humble we cannot sense Your presence. In troubled times may I never doubt that You are near and always seek how I might be used by You for good rather than thinking only of what You could do to make me most comfortable.

Your wisdom is perfect and You have made it available through the Holy Spirit and through Your Word. May I remember to rely on prayer and Your Word, and the enlightenment and guidance of Your indwelling Holy Spirit, rather than only my own ideas – and those of others.

Scripture In Perspective

Eliphaz joined Zophar in a more direct attack on Job, declaring that he was indifferent to the need of the poor and took financial advantage of his sons and others, therefore he was guilty before the Lord God and was rightfully the recipient of his punishment.

Eliphaz concluded, however, that were Job to confess and repent the Lord would bless him and make him to conduit of His blessings to others.

Job responded that if only he could get God’s attention then he could plead his case and He would listen, but that the Lord was unavailable.

Job declared that he was innocent of wrongdoing but God had chosen a path of punishment and there was nothing anyone could do to change that.

Job explained that while evil men may have peace and prosperity in this world – God sees everything and they will receive what is due them.

Bildad challenged Job’s insistence that he stood innocent before God, reminding him that all humans are imperfect and are like worms before the Lord God.

Job replied, accusing Bildad of providing an inaccurate – or at least inadequate – description of God, then he offered a much more grand description.

Job then returned to his declaration of innocence, stating that the Lord God had denied him justice and that he would never confess guilt (before God or his three associates/friends) as he remained righteous and his integrity required him to stand his ground.

Job suggested that his associates/friends may be “godless” and then described for them the same fate that they had described for him when they accused him of being either dishonest about his sin or “godless”.

Job compared and contrasted the capacity of man to discover and excavate gold and jewels to his apparent inability to search-out wisdom and understanding.

Job declared that only the Lord God has wisdom and understanding and that He has chosen to withhold all but the following “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

Interact With The Text

Consider

Zophar judged Job a wicked man, deserving his fate, because he could imagine any other explanation of Job’s condition. Eliphaz and Zophar were not only convinced that Job’s troubles could only be punishment for his sins but they also found it necessary to presume what were his sins, and to condemn him for them. Rather than look to the Lord God in prayer Job and his associates/friends chose to engage in an intellectual debate and to impugn one another’s faith.

Discuss

Why would Zophar be unable to see that there must be another explanation, especially when confronted with Job’s evidence that the wicked are often unpunished in this world and that the righteous often struggle? To what degree may Eliphaz and Jophar be correct that it is Job’s insistence upon declaring his innocence which was blocking him from recognizing the Lord God’s availability? How could Job claim “... my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will whisper no deceit” and then declare “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter ...” ?

Reflect

Job remained conflicted as he had doubts about the motivations of God in causing (or allowing) his terrible suffering yet he is certain it could not be directly associated with his sin. While Job challenged the error in the doctrine of his friends, was he missing his own error in doubting God’s caring and informed-judgment? Job made a reference to local pagan stories of great beasts as he described the power of the Lord God to merely sweep-aside what the pagans took to be terrible creatures of power.

Share

When have you tried to show someone, using plain facts, that they are wrong and had them cling to a notion – irrationally? When have you been falsely accused amidst a larger conflict not entirely of your making? When have you experienced or observed believers who were so invested in their intellectual debate that they neglected to make room for the Lord God?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you some knowledge that will help to you clarify facts from fantasy, truth from lies, and clarity amidst confusion, to reveal to you a greater awareness of His constant presence, and to reveal to you a place where you have placed intellectual argumentation and/or doctrinal squabbles ahead of a humble seeking of His will, or have participated in maligning the faith of another in the midst of such a debate.

Act

Today I will prayerfully search the Bible, and the counsel of the Holy Spirit, as I seek clarity about a matter in conflict. I will refuse to do less than a “good Berean”, I will insist that the answer be Biblically-supported, and I will walk in the truth no matter what others may say or do. I will spend time in prayer and in the Word of God so that I will become more aware, through the enlightenment of the indwelling Holy Spirit, of the constant presence of the Lord God. I will give thanks for His loving-care for me, that He desires to know my heart, and that He desires to love me as His eternal child. I will confess the occasion, occasions, or perhaps even a pattern of conduct where I neglect the Lord God in the pursuit of winning an argument with a fellow believer. I will repent, accept His forgiveness, then ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement and to check-in with me regularly as I receive the gift of discipline from the Holy Spirit to keep me safe from returning to that way.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Job 29 - 31)

IV. Job’s Concluding Soliloquy (29:1-31:40)

29:1 Then Job continued his speech:

29:2 “O that I could be as I was

in the months now gone, in the days when God watched over me,

29:3 when he caused his lamp to shine upon my head, and by his light

I walked through darkness;

29:4 just as I was in my most productive time,

when God’s intimate friendship was experienced in my tent,

29:5 when the Almighty was still with me

and my children were around me;

29:6 when my steps were bathed with butter

and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil!

29:7 When I went out to the city gate

and secured my seat in the public square,

29:8 the young men would see me and step aside, and the old men would get up and remain standing;

29:9 the chief men refrained from talking

and covered their mouths with their hands;

29:10 the voices of the nobles fell silent,

and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.

Job’s Benevolence

29:11 “As soon as the ear heard these things, it blessed me,

and when the eye saw them, it bore witness to me,

29:12 for I rescued the poor who cried out for help, and the orphan who had no one to assist him;

29:13 the blessing of the dying man descended on me,

and I made the widow’s heart rejoice;

29:14 I put on righteousness and it clothed me,

my just dealing was like a robe and a turban;

29:15 I was eyes for the blind

and feet for the lame;

29:16 I was a father to the needy,

and I investigated the case of the person I did not know;

29:17 I broke the fangs of the wicked,

and made him drop his prey from his teeth.

Job’s Confidence

29:18 “Then I thought, ‘I will die in my own home,

my days as numerous as the grains of sand.

29:19 My roots reach the water,

and the dew lies on my branches all night long.

29:20 My glory will always be fresh n me,

and my bow ever new in my hand.’

Job’s Reputation

29:21 “People listened to me and waited silently;

they kept silent for my advice.

29:22 After I had spoken, they did not respond;

my words fell on them drop by drop.

29:23 They waited for me as people wait for the rain,

and they opened their mouths

as for the spring rains.

29:24 If I smiled at them, they hardly believed it;

and they did not cause the light of my face to darken.

29:25 I chose the way for them

and sat as their chief;

I lived like a king among his troops;

I was like one who comforts mourners.

Job’s Present Misery

30:1 “But now they mock me, those who are younger than I, whose fathers I disdained too much to put with my sheep dogs.

30:2 Moreover, the strength of their hands – what use was it to me?

Men whose strength had perished;

30:3 gaunt with want and hunger, they would gnaw the parched land, in former time desolate and waste.

30:4 By the brush they would gather herbs from the salt marshes, and the root of the broom tree was their food.

30:5 They were banished from the community – people shouted at them like they would shout at thieves –

30:6 so that they had to live in the dry stream beds, in the holes of the ground, and among the rocks.

30:7 They brayed like animals among the bushes and were huddled together under the nettles.

30:8 Sons of senseless and nameless people, they were driven out of the land with whips.

Job’s Indignities

30:9 “And now I have become their taunt song; I have become a byword among them.

30:10 They detest me and maintain their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in my face.

30:11 Because God has untied my tent cord and afflicted me, people throw off all restraint in my presence.

30:12 On my right the young rabble rise up; they drive me from place to place, and build up siege ramps against me.

30:13 They destroy my path; they succeed in destroying me without anyone assisting them.

30:14 They come in as through a wide breach; amid the crash they come rolling in.

30:15 Terrors are turned loose on me; they drive away my honor like the wind, and like a cloud my deliverance has passed away.

Job’s Despondency

30:16 “And now my soul pours itself out within me; days of suffering take hold of me.

30:17 Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never cease.

30:18 With great power God grasps my clothing; he binds me like the collar of my tunic.

30:19 He has flung me into the mud, and I have come to resemble dust and ashes.

30:20 I cry out to you, but you do not answer me; I stand up, and you only look at me.

30:21 You have become cruel to me; with the strength of your hand you attack me.

30:22 You pick me up on the wind and make me ride on it; you toss me about in the storm.

30:23 I know that you are bringing me to death, to the meeting place for all the living.

The Contrast With the Past

30:24 “Surely one does not stretch out his hand against a broken man when he cries for help in his distress.

30:25 Have I not wept for the unfortunate?

Was not my soul grieved for the poor?

30:26 But when I hoped for good, trouble came; when I expected light, then darkness came.

30:27 My heart is in turmoil unceasingly; the days of my affliction confront me.

30:28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun; in the assembly I stand up and cry for help.

30:29 I have become a brother to jackals and a companion of ostriches.

30:30 My skin has turned dark on me; my body is hot with fever.

30:31 My harp is used for mourning and my flute for the sound of weeping.

Job Vindicates Himself

31:1 “I made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I entertain thoughts against a virgin?

31:2 What then would be one’s lot from God above, one’s heritage from the Almighty on high?

31:3 Is it not misfortune for the unjust, and disaster for those who work iniquity?

31:4 Does he not see my ways and count all my steps?

31:5 If I have walked in falsehood, and if my foot has hastened to deceit –

31:6 let him weigh me with honest scales; then God will discover my integrity.

31:7 If my footsteps have strayed from the way, if my heart has gone after my eyes, or if anything has defiled my hands,

31:8 then let me sow and let another eat, and let my crops be uprooted.

31:9 If my heart has been enticed by a woman, and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door,

31:10 then let my wife turn the millstone for another man, and may other men have sexual relations with her.

31:11 For I would have committed a shameful act, an iniquity to be judged.

31:12 For it is a fire that devours even to Destruction, and it would uproot all my harvest.

31:13 “If I have disregarded the right of my male servants or my female servants when they disputed with me,

31:14 then what will I do when God confronts me in judgment; when he intervenes, how will I respond to him?

31:15 Did not the one who made me in the womb make them?

Did not the same one form us in the womb?

31:16 If I have refused to give the poor what they desired, or caused the eyes of the widow to fail,

31:17 If I ate my morsel of bread myself, and did not share any of it with orphans –

31:18 but from my youth I raised the orphan like a father, and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow!

31:19 If I have seen anyone about to perish for lack of clothing, or a poor man without a coat,

31:20 whose heart did not bless me as he warmed himself with the fleece of my sheep,

31:21 if I have raised my hand to vote against the orphan, when I saw my support in the court,

31:22 then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let my arm be broken off at the socket.

31:23 For the calamity from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his majesty I was powerless.

31:24 “If I have put my confidence in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security!’

31:25 if I have rejoiced because of the extent of my wealth, or because of the great wealth my hand had gained,

31:26 if I looked at the sun when it was shining, and the moon advancing as a precious thing,

31:27 so that my heart was secretly enticed, and my hand threw them a kiss from my mouth,

31:28 then this also would be iniquity to be judged, for I would have been false to God above.

31:29 If I have rejoiced over the misfortune of my enemy or exulted because calamity found him –

31:30 I have not even permitted my mouth to sin by asking for his life through a curse –

31:31 if the members of my household have never said, ‘If only there were someone who has not been satisfied from Job’s meat!’ –

31:32 But no stranger had to spend the night outside, for I opened my doors to the traveler –

31:33 if I have covered my transgressions as men do, by hiding iniquity in my heart,

31:34 because I was terrified of the great multitude, and the contempt of families terrified me, so that I remained silent and would not go outdoors –

Job’s Appeal

31:35 “If only I had someone to hear me!

Here is my signature – let the Almighty answer me!

If only I had an indictment that my accuser had written.

31:36 Surely I would wear it proudly on my shoulder, I would bind it on me like a crown;

31:37 I would give him an accounting of my steps; like a prince I would approach him.

Job’s Final Solemn Oath

31:38 “If my land cried out against me and all its furrows wept together,

31:39 if I have eaten its produce without paying, or caused the death of its owners,

31:40 then let thorns sprout up in place of wheat, and in place of barley, weeds!”

The words of Job are ended.

Prayer

Lord, Your wisdom is perfect and You have made it available through the Holy Spirit and through Your Word. May I remember to rely on prayer and Your Word, and the enlightenment and guidance of Your indwelling Holy Spirit, rather than only my own ideas – or those of others.

Scripture In Perspective

Job reflected upon his high-standing in the community as one to whom people looked for encouragement and help, and who was treated with near-reverence.

He then he described the way that people avoided him, and even the least of the least mocked him, since the series of tragedies.

Job again blamed the Lord God for his condition “I cry out to you, but you do not answer me; I stand up, and you only look at me. You have become cruel to me ...”

He again declared his innocence, that he was undeserving of his earthly-fate, and the Lord God had failed to fairly-consider his righteousness when finding him guilty and worthy of his terrible predicament.

Job concluded by declaring that if the Lord would grant him an audience he would explain his innocence and the Lord God would correct His error.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job actually believed that the Lord God had made an error.

Discuss

Why would Job be so adamant as to declare that wisdom and understanding was impossible to find in the Lord God’s creation – fallen as it may be?

Reflect

Job’s doubts about the Lord’s perfect knowledge represented a dangerous flaw in his doctrine, and as an influential person in the community (up until the recent calamity) that was not healthy.

Share

When have you wondered if maybe the Lord God was not taking adequate care of you?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something you have lost, and for which loss you have blamed the Lord God, perhaps subtly (or not so subtly) harming your relationship with Him.

Act

Today I will confess and repent of any doubt I have as to the perfect knowledge, love, and justice of the Lord God. I will celebrate that no matter what happens in this world that He knows all, loves me more than I can imagine, and will reveal to me (here or in Heaven) the working-out of His perfect justice.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.