Day 6 of #nzlockdown. We’re going through Job as fast as my rusty Hebrew takes us.

Previously:  Job 1:1-5  |  Job 1:6-12  |  Job 1:13-22  |  Job 2:1-6 | Job 2:7-13 |

3:1-2 After this, Job opened his mouth, and he cursed his day.
2 And Job answered, saying:

3 “May it perish – The day I was born.
And the night [that] said: “A baby boy is conceived.”

4 That day — let it be darkness!
May God from above not seek it,
and may light not shine upon it.
5 May darkness and deep darkness claim it;
may rainclouds dwell over it;
may darkness of day overwhelm it.

6 That night — may darkness take it,
may it not rejoice among the days of the year
into the number of months may it not come.

  • After two chapters of the barakh / “bless” riddle (see previous discussion), the words for “curse” finally appears three times in this chapter. Job finally curses – not God, but the day he was born (v1). Has the adversary been proved wrong?
  • From verse 3, the book moves from simple narrative prose into some of the most artful poetry in the Hebrew bible (so apologies in advance for that slowing us down!).
  • A key feature of Hebrew poetry is parallelism, where one idea is stated in different but complementary ways (e.g. “day” vs. “night” in v3; “days of the year” vs. “number of months” in v6);
  • You know how when you’re feeling depressed, it’s hard to find words to describe how you feel? Job is searching for words too – he uses four different Hebrew words throughout vv4-6 (חֹ֥שֶׁךְ in v4, 5; צַלְמָוֶת and כִּֽמְרִ֥ירֵ in v5; אֹ֥פֶל in v6) to describe the darkness he feels.
  • In contrast to how God said “Let there be light” at creation, Job says: “Let there be darkness” (v4). For him, his suffering feels like a de-creation of everything around him.

7 Behold that night — let it be barren!
May no rejoicing come from it.
8 Let those who curse the day curse it,
the ready ones to rouse up Leviathan.
9 Let the stars of twilight darken
let it hope for light and have none;
and let it not see the gleam of dawn (lit: eyelashes of the morning).
10 For it did not shut the door of my [mother’s] womb,
and did not conceal trouble from my eyes.

  • The “de-creation” language continues: Job wishes the stars and lights all go dark like he feels.
  • Regarding the mention of Leviathan, it’s as if Job is so distraught that wishes that the “day cursers” (possibly professional mourners) could summon a chaos monster to swallow up the day he was born (also alludes to creation language).
  • The key point is in verse 10 – Job curses the night because it didn’t prevent his birth, and thus all the sorrow he’s now experiencing. At this point, he feels like it’s better not to have been born than to be alive and to suffer.

Some reflections:

  • We know the Job from chapters 1-2, but how often do we consider chapter 3 onwards? How often have you and I ventured into this kind of lament speech in the Bible? Could you and I pray these prayers? Sing these lyrics? Remember that Job is “blameless” yet God’s Word records him expressing deep, sorrowful lament. The Psalmists aren’t afraid to cry out to God, “How long, O Lord?” (e.g. Psalm 13, Psalm 88). And if even Jesus wept, then we have permission too as well.
  • Lindsay Wilson puts it this way: “Job offers two schemas for faithful Christians to follow. One is to imitate the patience of Job in the prologue. Then, when it is no longer bearable, the second is to model the laments and protests of Job in the dialogues.” The protests will come in this book, but for now, lament is presented as an appropriate response to suffering.
  • It’s not un-Christian to cry out to God in our sorrows. I fear that COVID will turn us all into a “stiff upper lip” people who just bury suffering in unhealthy ways, or glosses over it in denial. Cry out to God in your pain. Even if all you can wish for right now is that He’d just swallow everything up. If He’s your Dad, no conversation is off-limits. Pour out your pain to Him.