The Word Made Fresh
1Job continued, 2“As surely as God the Almighty lives, who has taken away my rights and embittered my soul, 3as long as I breathe, and God’s breath is in my nostrils 4my voice will not lie. My words will never deceive. 5Far be it from me to say you are in the right. I have too much integrity to do that however long I live. 6I will never betray my integrity. My heart cannot blame me for anything in my whole life, and never will as long as I live.
7“May my enemies be recognized as evil. May my adversaries be like the wicked, 8because what hope can the godless have when God takes away their lives? 9Will God hear their complaint when the end approaches them? 10Will they suddenly fall in love with the Almighty? Will they constantly call on God? 11I’ll tell you about the LORD’s justice and I won’t skip anything. 12After all, you’ve seen it for yourselves. So why have you suddenly become so engrossed in your own sense of righteousness?
13“This is what the wicked will get from God; this is what they will inherit from the Almighty: 14if they have a lot of children their children will be destined to suffer the threat of violence and hunger. 15If they survive that they will be overtaken by pestilence, and their wives will not grieve for them. 16They might make a pile of silver and have more clothing than they can ever wear, 17but good and honest people will wear them and the innocent ones will take the silver. 18They will build houses as snug as nests, and as secure as guardhouses, 19and they might go to bed wealthy, but will lose it all. One day they’ll look around and it will all be gone. 20Fears will surround them like a flood and like a whirlwind in the night. 21The east wind will blow them away, swept out of their places. 22It will hurl itself at them without mercy and they will flee headlong. 23It will grab at them and hiss at them.
1-6: Job refuses to give in to his friends’ insistence that he deserves his suffering. He acknowledges that his suffering is from God but declares his innocence, nonetheless. It is a troubling position – can God, does God, initiate our trials? Going back to the conversation between God and the Satan in chapter 2, is Job suffering because God is testing him, or because God trusts him?
7-12: The godless have no hope when trouble comes, says Job, implying that he still does have hope. His friends once looked up to him as a source of wisdom, but now they seem to see their own elevation in his suffering – that is to say, if suffering is punishment, they must be better than Job because he is being punished and not them.
13-23: Job describes “what the wicked will get from God.” It is a troubling passage because he could be describing himself! All the things he describes as the fate of the wicked happened to him in chapters 1 and 2.
Job’s friends, who have apparently never been overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, insist that Job has done something to deserve his condition. They apparently think that if Job just owns up to his trespasses he’ll fare better. They probably also think their own comfortable lives is an indication that they are righteous men. When people suffer, they may naturally wonder what they have done to bring it on themselves. Job’s friends are doing that for Job, but please don’t do that for your friends!