The Word Made Fresh
1Job answered, 2“How you have rescued the powerless! How you have strengthened feeble arms! 3What wonderful advice you have given to one who knows nothing! 4But who has helped you with such words? Whose wisdom are you spouting?
5“The ghosts of the dead tremble, and the things that live beneath the waters. 6The secrets of the grave are revealed before God, and the realm of the dead is exposed. 7God stretches the north to cover emptiness and suspends the earth on nothing. 8God holds the rain in the clouds without tearing them apart. 9God spreads a cloud and covers the face of the full moon. 10God places the horizon on the surface of the sea and it forms a boundary between day and night. 11The columns supporting the sky tremble, aghast at God’s reprimand. 12God’s power calms the sea and the sea monster is conquered by God’s wisdom. 13God’s breath clears the skies and God’s hand jabs the fleeing serpent. 14And all this is just a sampling of God’s works. How faintly we hear God’s whisper! Who can understand God’s awesome power?”
1-14: Job’s response is delightfully sarcastic. As onlookers to this conversation, we have sympathized and perhaps empathized with Job’s situation and have been offended by some of the tactics of his three friends. Of course, we have the benefit of knowing that Job’s struggles have cosmic repercussions and that the whole “test” is whether or not he will “curse God and die” (2:9). His friends have attempted to move him to the place of cursing himself, but their council has at least consistently held God in the highest esteem. Job has questioned and even criticized God, but so far has remained faithful and has not cursed God. His friends see only Job’s condition and have no reference point other than what they have witnessed and experienced. Still, when Job retorts sardonically, “Thanks for the encouragement, fellows!” we want to cheer. The old guy still has some fight in him. He launches into a long speech that will take up six chapters. He begins by theologizing about the power and might and mystery of God, and allows that God is unsearchable and inscrutable. What we can understand of God’s grandeur, he says, is just a peek at the fringes.
In the last chapter Bildad basically said that everyone is guilty, everyone sins, and therefore Job is a sinner, and he deserves what has happened to him. Here Job’s counterargument is simple – God is inscrutable.