Day 28 of lockdown (I think?). Some good stuff in this chapter as Job shoots back at Eliphaz’s accusations.
Previously: 1:1-5 | 1:6-12 | 1:13-22 | 2:1-6 | 2:7-13 | 3:1-10 | 3:11-26 | 4:1-21 | 5:1-7 | 5:8-27 | 6:1-30 | 7:1-21 | 8:1-7 | 8:8-22 | 9:1-35 | 10:1-22 | 11:1-20 | 12:1-25 | 13:1-16 | 13:17-14:22 | 15:1-35
16:1 Then Job answered, saying:
2 “I have heard many things like these,
Comforters of trouble [are] all of you (pl.)!
3 Is it the end to blustery words?
Or what provokes you to that you answer?
4 I too am like you, let me speak:
if only it was your life instead of mine,
Let me wax lyrical over you with words;
And let me wag at you (pl.) with my head!
5 Let me strengthen you with my mouth, and the quivering of my lips will soothe [you].
- Job utters his famous “miserable comforters” line to his friends (v2). They were meant to comfort him (2:11), but all they’ve succeeding in doing is to upset him.
- In response to Eliphaz’s accusation that Job has “blustery knowledge” (15:2), Job turns the insult back and wonders when their “blustery words” will end (v3). From verses 2-5 it’s all addressed at his friends (you plural, or “ye” in Old English).
- To “wag” his head at his friends (v4) is to express mocking and contempt (see Psalm 22:7, where all who see the sufferer “mocks” and “wag their heads” at him)
- Job seeks leave to wax lyrical (literally to bind, but here it could mean beautifying speech) about his sorrows (v4), despite his quivering speech (v5), Watch out for the frequent pronoun changes (You/ye/Him/me), it gets a bit messy.
6 “[Yet] if I speak, my pain is not soothed,
And if I refrain, what from me goes away?
7 Surely now He/it has wearied me,
[God] You (sg.) have devastated all my assembly.
8 You (sg.) have seized me, it has become a witness,
My slanderer/leanness stands up at me,
And testifies to my face.”
- Job turns to address God directly for a few verses, recounting the devastation upon his household (v7). Righteous Job does not let God off the hook for what He is sovereign over.
- The word to “slanderer” in verse 8 usually means lie or deceit, but it’s translated as “weak” based on Psalm 109:25 (“My body has become weak”). Either Job is referring to his own frail body, or he is referring to some accuser – it’s hard to say.
9 His anger has torn [me] and he has hated me,
he has gnashed me with his teeth,
My adversary sharpens his eyes at me.
10 They (3p) have opened their mouths at me,
With reproach they have struck my cheek;
They pile up together over me.
11 God delivers (lit. shuts) me to unrighteous men,
And into the hands of wicked men He casts me.
- Job abruptly switches from addressing God in the 1st person to the 3rd person. You can almost picture suffering Job in an ash heap, turning his speech to and fro, to sky and to ground, from face to face.
- How comfortable are we with righteous Job (v17) saying “God hates me”? Either he’s crossed the Rubicon at this point and sinned, or he’s less impugning His character, more expressing his raw and painful feelings. In his suffering, it’s as if God hates him.
12 “I was at ease, then He has shattered me,
He has seized [me] at the neck,
dashed me [to pieces];
He stands me up as a target.
13 His archers surround me,
Pierces my kidneys without pity;
He pours (impf.) out my gall on the ground.
14 He breaks through, breach upon breach;
He runs against me like a warrior.
15 Sackcloth I have sewed upon my skin;
And I bury [it] in the dust, my strength (lit: horn).
16 My face has reddened from weeping;
Upon my eyelids [is] deep darkness.
17 Though no violence is in my hand;
And my prayer is pure.”
- Oh, Job.
18 Earth, do not cover my blood;
Let there not be a place for my outcry.
19 Even now look in heaven – my witness;
And my advocate is on high.
20 My scorners are my friends;
To God my eyes pour out.
21 Oh that he would argue for man with God;
As a son of Adam [does] for his friend.
22 For the years of number will lie ahead; and the road I cannot return [from], I will walk.
- Job doesn’t want his outcry to be dealt with amidst the brokenness of earth (v18), but in the court of heaven (19). The word advocate here (Heb: shahar) continues the legal language Job has been using up to this point.
- I think translating v21 as the jussive rather than a simple imperfect is important here (“Oh that he would…” rather than “He will…”) — I think Job hopes for an advocate to represent his case before God, rather than has one definitively. We need to be careful not to “Christ”-alise Job’s hopes here beyond what he knows in his time and place.
- Yet the wonder and hope of the Christian faith is that what Job longed for, an advocate on high like a son of man (lit: ben-Adam) to plead for his sins and sorrows before God, has come to us in Jesus Christ. In our Lord we have One who was called the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14), is exalted on High, yet not only argued for His friends but was glad to lay down His life for them (John 15:13).
- If this Advocate is for us, then who can be against us? (Rom 8:32) With Christ, whatever falls upon us in number of years lie ahead (v22), we can walk the path of no return, safe and secure.