Day 142 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Job and Psalms.
Job 8 – Like Eliphaz’s speech before him, the first intervention by Job’s second friend, Bildad, is an attempted “refutation” of Job’s state of mind. But it is a mistaken refutation, because it is coming from a place of anger. Bildad speaks harshly to his friend’s complaint: “How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind?”
The Bible tells us that, “a bruised reed [my servant] will not break” (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20). Whenever we find ourselves getting exasperated, or plain mad, at someone we think needs to be “straightened out,” we should consider whether we need to wait awhile before responding to them. Not only will we probably make things worse if we speak from impatience, but God has been patient with us in the gospel, giving us all the more reason to be patient with others (Matthew 18:23–35).
The second reason Bildad’s words are unhelpful is that they assume Job has in fact done something wrong, and that Job’s fate is therefore deserved. The implication—and Bildad repeats it again and again—is that Job has forgotten God. The reader already knows this is untrue, for “in all this Job did not sin” (1:22; 2:10). Bildad’s speech is a good example, like Eliphaz’s, of how not to treat a sufferer. Bildad is angry, and is insinuating something for which he has no evidence.
How do you guard yourself against making assumptions when someone is suffering?
Job 9 – Job responds, in a speech that is relentlessly legal: ch. 9 is framed by the term contend (9:3; 10:2), and legal terms occur throughout the chapter (e.g., 9:2, 3, 14, 19, 20, 32, 33).
When Job says, “I know that it is so,” he is most likely affirming that Bildad is right: God is just, and He will not reject the upright. However, in light of these truths, and in light of how the friends have interpreted Job’s circumstances, Job slightly modifies the original question of Eliphaz (4:17) and asks, But how can a man be in the right before God? If God is just and Job is in fact innocent of the foolishness or wickedness his friends accuse him of, how can he go about arguing his case?
Job does not respond further to the specifics of Bildad’s argument. Instead he describes the difficulty of anyone arguing a case before God, given His power and strength.
Rahab, like Leviathan (compare 7:12), is the name of a beast from the myths of the non-Israelite peoples. Here the name seems to represent the forces of chaos.
Though I am in the right, I cannot answer Him. Job states twice that his friends have applied their theology to him and his circumstances in a way that traps him. Job agrees that God is just, but he feels there is no room for him to make the case for his innocence.
Job thinks that no matter what he says, God will find his words unpersuasive and perverse. When Job says, “I am blameless”, he echoes God’s description of him in 1:8; 2:3.
Job argues that, from what one can observe in the world, both the blameless and the wicked are destroyed, both fall prey to disaster, and both suffer injustice. All of these things are governed by God (if it is not He, who then is it?).
There is no arbiter. Job criticizes his friends for not comforting him. He longs for an impartial party to hear his case. He also wants the threat of further suffering removed, so that he could speak freely.
Job 10 – As in 7:11, Job explicitly announces his turn to address his Creator directly. Job’s awareness that he is the work of God’s hands provides the theme for the verses that follow.
Job shares the wonder of the psalmist (Psalm 139:14) and the insight given to the prophet, but uses it here to proclaim his innocence. Even if he is in the right, Job feels he has no strength to walk upright because of the weight of his suffering and the threat of further affliction.
Job repeatedly describes death as darkness and shadow. The adjectives (thick, deep) underscore his plea to be released from suffering while he still has the light of life.
How do you remind yourself that even when you suffer God is for you and with you?
Job 11 – If words could kill a man, the words of Job’s third friend, Zophar, would do it! Zophar says that “God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.” He suggests that Job is “a stupid man.” Zophar goes so far as to imply that Job is in reality a “wicked” man, that “all way of escape [is] lost to [him],” and, recalling the contemptuous words of Job’s wife, the best thing Job could do is just die. With friends like this, who needs enemies!
The “double jeopardy” of Zophar’s thinking is the idea that not only is Job suffering acutely, but that Job’s suffering is Job’s own fault. Zophar doesn’t even believe his friend meant well in life: Job must be hiding some whopper of iniquity and worthlessness, which God’s court of law will consider soon enough.
When we treat sufferers this way—and we have all probably done so at one time or another, if only in our thoughts—we are acting as divine Sherlock Holmeses and divine “hanging judges.” When people set themselves up to make judgments for God, they can become malicious, like Zophar; and un-healing, like all three of Job’s friends.
When our friends are hurting, we need to beware of our assumptions. How do you keep from making false assumptions when comforting others?
Psalm 137 – This psalm gives expression to the longing of God’s people, now in exile in Babylon, for the restoration of their beloved Jerusalem and the vindication of God’s justice against their oppressors. In 586 b.c., Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army destroyed Jerusalem, its temple and wall, and took most of its residents captive in Babylon. The Psalm portrays the ways their captors mock them by demanding that they sing songs of Zion by the waters of Babylon. These godly Israelites long for justice; they long for God to vindicate His holy name and bring vengeance upon those who have destroyed the city of God, its temple, and families—killing wives, husbands, and children. The Edomites (descendants of Esau), on the east side of the Dead Sea, joined the Babylonians in the destruction of Jerusalem, so the Psalm calls for vengeance also on Edom
The cry of this Psalm is the cry for justice to be served upon those who have abused and killed the children of Israel. Still, the words calling for retributive execution of children shock us. The words may simply reflect the idioms of warfare language from ancient times, or may be the expression of unrepressed anger and agony from the heart of one who has been victimized by such cruelty. Yet before we would ever utter such words, we should take careful notice that this verse comes in the context of an appeal for God to bring about a just sentence upon Israel’s oppressors. As Jesus, who “when He was reviled, . . . did not revile in return; when He suffered, . . . did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23), so God’s people may call upon God to enact the justice He knows is right. But we leave this in His hands to enact, in His way, in His time, and by authorities of His appointment.
How does this Psalm remind you to trust God?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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