Day 145 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Job and Psalms.
Job 20 – In his second response, Zophar expresses frustration at Job’s continued belief that God has brought about his suffering but will ultimately vindicate him. Zophar then describes the life of the wicked, implying that Job is himself such a person.
Zophar argues that neither the wicked man nor his offspring will enjoy what he has acquired, because he has gained it through taking advantage of the weak. Instead, his children will be forced to beg from the poor, who were some of the very people their father mistreated to gain his wealth.
Zophar wrongly assumes that Job’s circumstances on earth are a transparent indicator of his guilt before God in the heavens.
Job 21 – This chapter distills the essence of Job’s argument against believing in the goodness of God. Not only does Job think that he, an innocent man, has suffered unjustly. But he also believes that the guilty—in other words, the wicked—do not suffer. Job even believes the wicked prosper and that they end their lives in prosperity. He speaks at length about this, looking at his conceptualized group “the wicked” from the cradle to the grave. Bitterly, Job concludes that the wicked person “dies in his full vigor, being wholly at ease and secure.”
As another character, Elihu, points out later (36:17), Job is reeking with judgments, especially on the supposedly thriving class of people whom he categorizes as “the wicked.”
Job is mistaken in two ways. Both of his mistakes apply to the application of the gospel of God’s grace in real life.
First, Job’s perception that “the wicked” are unscathed and protected is not true to life. Maybe he hasn’t spent enough time with them! Everyone, “wicked” and “innocent,” bleeds the same, mourns the loss of their children the same, and dies the same. Paul wrote, “there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22–23).
Second, Job is extremely judgmental in passages like this. It’s “they,” “they,” “they” who are terrible; “they” who are the unending source of comparison with himself and his situation. This feature of Job’s repeating words of vindication is usually called self-righteousness. The gospel (and the ultimate revelation of God’s glory in the book of Job) dismantles self-righteousness, because it places everyone at a parallel point of spiritual need.
No one can stand proud and unflinching before the awesome holiness and power of God. People’s life situations differ for as many cases as there are people in the world. Yet God uses these varieties of circumstances to bring us to, and meet us at, our point of need. Everyone has a point of need. This practical insight is an essential step in discerning why we suffer and in acquiring compassion for our fellow-sufferers.
From the standpoint of Believers faith, one perfect Man has already suffered, “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18), and He did so because of His infinitely far-reaching compassion for everyone’s suffering.
While it’s natural to lash out when we are in the middle of deep struggle, how do you remind yourself that God is still in control and loves you?
Job 22 – Third Cycle. The consistent pattern of the first two cycles unravels in this last dialogue. Eliphaz describes Job’s life as a constant stream of wicked activity (ch. 22). Job’s reply (chs. 23–24) strongly implies that the divine power that has afflicted him is impulsive and destructive. Bildad offers the beginning of a reply (ch. 25) before Job interrupts with a further assertion of the mystery of divine power (ch. 26). Zophar does not speak in this cycle. Job and his friends disagree more strongly now than when they started this discussion.
In his final speech, Eliphaz once more calls Job to repent. Eliphaz wrongly argues that there could be no purpose for suffering other than to indicate judgment and a need to repent.
Eliphaz assumes that Job’s circumstances reveal significant evil in his life. He describes the likely ways that Job has sinned.
Within verses 16-18, Eliphaz essentially quotes Job’s words from 21:14–16. However, while Job was arguing that the wicked prosper in spite of their rebellion against God, Eliphaz says that the prosperity of the wicked is only temporary, and they are snatched away before their time. Likewise, while Job said, “the counsel of the wicked is far from me” (21:16) to distance himself from their wicked practices, Eliphaz uses the same words, the counsel of the wicked (22:18), to describe Job’s position.
When he urges Job to “Agree with God,” Eliphaz wrongly assumes that his own interpretation of Job’s circumstances matches God’s viewpoint.
Eliphaz suggests that, if Job would repent of his supposed sin, he would be able to intercede even for one who is not innocent. Eliphaz does not realize that he himself stands in need of the very intercession he describes. In fact, forgiveness will later be granted to Eliphaz through Job’s intercession on his behalf (see 42:7–9).
While it’s true that unrepentant sin brings consequences, how do you remember that not all suffering is because of this and simply be there for those in need?
Job 23 – In this chapter, and chapter 24, Job is tired of arguing his case before his friends. In this reply, he ignores most of Eliphaz’s most recent response. Instead, he expresses his desire to stand personally before the Lord.
The opening phrase of Job’s response is probably directed at his friends more than at God. Job is implying that his friends have neither comforted him well nor persuaded him of his guilt. My hand is heavy describes discouragement.
The last time Job used this kind of legal language, he was convinced that God would both ignore and condemn him (see 9:3, 16, 19). Here, his convictions are just the opposite: if Job were granted an audience, God would pay attention (23:6), and Job would be acquitted (v. 7).
Although he has carefully considered his way, Job knows his future depends on what the Lord appoints to happen (compare Proverbs 16:1, 9; 20:24; Jeremiah 10:23). Therefore, he is terrified at the thought of God’s presence. Still, even in the darkness of not being able to understand God’s purposes fully, he continues his lament: yet I am not silenced.
We understand God is all-powerful, and recognize His ways are greater than our ways, still we are invited to come to Him honestly and express our feelings and convictions.
How do you stay honest with God?
Psalm 140 – The theme of this Psalm of David is seen most clearly in its final verses: “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy. Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence.”
David wrote this Psalm during a time when he was under attack and fearing for his life. His enemies are powerful and deceitful. They plan evil and speak venomous words of hatred and spite. Despite the force and wickedness of those who oppose him, David’s trust is in the Lord. “You are my God,” he declares, “give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord!”
In very similar ways, the greater King of David, Jesus, trusted in His Father to vindicate Him amid vicious accusations and assaults. The trust and hope in God that David shows here is typical of the truly godly, but is perfectly carried out only in Jesus.
Even David must trust in his Lord, as “the strength of my salvation”, because only David’s Greater Son unfailingly entrusted His soul to God, even to the point of His death on the cross. As with David, and as shown with greatest clarity in Jesus, so all who follow the path of righteousness by faith in God may have this same confidence: “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.”
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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