The Word Made Fresh
1Then Job said, 2“No doubt you are the experts, and when you die wisdom will die with you. 3But I’m just as smart as you are. Everybody knows the things you’ve been saying. 4My friends think I am a fool. Me, a man who has spoken with God, a man who is fair and innocent of any wrongdoing, I am a fool. 5People who have an easy life look down on those who suffer, but suffering is ready for anyone whose feet stumble. 6Thieves think their homes are at peace, and the homes of those who ignore God are safe. They carry their gods around in their hands.
7“But ask the animals. They’ll teach you. The birds will tell you what’s what. 8Ask the plants that grow in the ground and they can tell you things, and the fish in the sea can teach you something. 9All of them can tell you that God has done this. 10The life of everything living thing and the breath of every person is in God’s hand. 11The ear can discern words just as the tongue can taste food. 12Don’t wisdom and understanding grow as a person ages?
13“Wisdom and strength, counsel and understanding belong to God. 14What God destroys no one can rebuild, and no one can rescue whomever God has imprisoned. 15If God withholds the rain, the land becomes dry. If God sends rain, the land can be devastated. 16Strength and understanding belong to God; the one who cheats another and the one who is cheated belong to God. 17God can strip counselors of their wisdom and make fools of judges. 18God can strip kings down to their underwear, 19and send priests away naked, and toss aside the powerful. 20God can make the most trusted advisor speechless and take away the wisdom of the elders. 21God despises rulers and takes power away from the powerful. 22God lights up the darkest depths. 23God empowers nations and then wipes them out. 24God takes wisdom away from the leaders of the world and sends them off to wander aimlessly, 25reaching out in the dark, staggering like drunks.”
1-6: Job becomes a bit combative – can you blame him? He resents being treated as someone whose wisdom is inferior. He can’t seem to believe that he is no longer respected. He laments that God is ignoring his plight. The irony of it, he says, is that those who can carry their god around in their pockets don’t think they have to be afraid of divine wrath.
7-12: All living things in nature seem to instinctively know that the fortunes of life and death are in God’s hands; but one has to live a while to understand that.
13-25: God can do anything God wants to do. No rain cloud can resist God’s will. Neither can counselors, judges, kings, priests, the mighty, the trusted, the elders, princes, nor the strong. Not even darkness and light are independent of God’s will. Whole nations are at God’s mercy.
What Job is trying to come to terms with is that bad things often happen to good people, while oftentimes wicked people don’t seem to have any troubles. This is not fair. But God doesn’t play nursemaid to us. God allows us to suffer because God has put us in charge of this world, and we can make of it what we will. That, in a nutshell, is the basis on which we are judged.