The Word Made Fresh
1Again Job spoke. 2He said, “I long for the months I have lost, for the days when God watched over me 3and provided a light for me to walk through the darkness. 4I long for the day when I was in good health and God was a friend in my house; 5when the Almighty was beside me and my children around me; 6when milk was plentiful along my path and the rock poured out olive oil for me. 7At the city gate where I took my seat in the public square, 8the young men stood aside for me and the elders rose and stood for me. 9The officials would put their hands over their mouths and stop talking 10and members of the royal family were quiet, their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. 11They would listen and agree with me and when they saw me, they would respect me 12because I helped the poor who wept and the orphan who had no home. 13Those who were suffering blessed me, and the widows’ hearts would sing for joy. 14Righteousness was my wardrobe and justice covered my head. 15My eyes led the blind and my feet steadied the lame. 16I was like a father to the poor and I supported the stranger. 17I broke the grip of the lawless and made them release their victims.
18“Back then I thought I would die peacefully in my bed at a ripe old age, 19like a grand old tree with roots reaching to the waters and the evening dew cool on my branches. 20I would be at my best, always ready to defend as when I was fresh and young.
21“Back then people listened to me and kept silence while I spoke, 22and after I spoke, they would see no need to speak again and received my counsel gladly. 23They would wait for me as the fields wait for rain and soak up my words like grain receiving the showers. 24I smiled on them when they were confused, and they were comforted by my countenance. 25I gave them direction as their leader and lived like a king surrounded by his army. I was the one who brought them comfort.”
1-20: Job remembers the “good old days” when everything was wonderful. Of course, he is remembering that things were a little more perfect than they actually were. We all do that; I have been in situations that caused me to long for happier days, haven’t you?
21-25: Job’s recollection is that he was respected and revered by everyone and that he was regularly called on to settle disputes. If you read again the description of Job’s situation in chapters 1 and 2 you will see that he was a wealthy and righteous man, but to say that he “lived like a king surrounded by his army,” is a bit of hyperbole. People who are subjected to long-term suffering often take refuge in their memory of the past as an ideal time.
Towards the end of the book, we will learn that Job is not an old man. He is in mid-life, and what we are reading is his “midlife crisis,” which is often accompanied by an elevated recollection of one’s status in the past. Job remembers the recent past as a time when he was on top of the world, so to speak. But in chapter 1 we simply read about a successful and rather wealthy man who was absorbed in his children’s welfare. In succeeding chapters, he will be brought back down to earth – a necessary correction for those whose sense of self is a bit too elevated.