Lockdown thoughts from Job 17

Apologies for missing the last few days. Our country moved into Lockdown-lite (or, Lockdown with KFC); we welcomed a new child into our family (she’s gorgeous!); life’s been busier. I’m still keen to triapse through Job in Hebrew. Job continues to stare into the grave as he responds to his miserable comforters.

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 |

Translation:

17:1 My spirit is ruined, my days are extinguished;
[There are] graves for me.

  • Chapter 16 ended with Job predicting his journey to a “way from which I shall not return” (v22). Here he continues his realisation that his spirit is broken, his days are gone, and the graveyard is his next destination.

2 Surely there is mockery with me;
And in their hostility my eyes dwell.
3 Set it down: pledge me with You;
Who is he that to my hand will strike?
4 Because their hearts You have closed from understanding;
So You will not let [them] be exalted.

5 When for a portion he tells [off] friends,
then the eyes of his children will be finished.

  • Job’s friends seem to him as “mockery” (v2). High praise for the wisest of the wise huh.
  • The Hebrew for verse 3 is a bit unclear, but it seems like Job wants God to pledge him — in other words, to guarantee his wellbeing. Back in chapter 2, God has already guaranteed Job life in his wager against the Satan (2:6). But Job doesn’t get to learn this.

6 He has made me a proverb for people,
And spittle to the face I have become.
7 Dimmed with angst are my eyes,
My members are like a shadow, all of them.

  • If there was a list of sayings about suffering, Job’s name would be all over it (v6). His name is synonymous with suffering even today.
  • It’s haunting to consider verse 7 – Job has become a shadow of himself. How many people have you met who have suffered so much, that they are no longer quite their former self?

8 Righteous men are appalled by this;
The innocent one, concerning the godless, is stirred up.
9 And the righteous one holds his way,
and the clean of hands increases strength.

  • In his despair, Job holds out hope that truly righteous people are out there who will see his suffering and be appalled (v8), not applaud it

10 But turn, all of you (Hb: them), and come;
For I do not find among you a wise man.
11 My days have passed, my plans are torn apart; the desires of my heart.
12 Night into day, these men change;
[Making] Light [seem] near from the face of darkness.
13 If I hope for Sheol as my home;
In darkness I spread out my bed,
14 To the pit I have called: “You are my father!”;
“My mother” and “my sister” to the worm.

  • Job issues another challenge to his unsympathetic friends – “I do not find among you a wise man!” (v10)
  • Job has gone from one who used to make plans (v11) to one who sleeps in darkness and hopes for the grave (v13-14) – watch the repetition of the word hope (Hb: qavah).

15 So where then is my hope?
And my hope who will see?
16 To the bars of Sheol [will] I go down?
Or together into the dust [will] we descend?

  • Verse 1 started with the graveyard awaiting Job; the chapter ends with Job saying Sheol (i.e. death, the underworld) is all he has to look forward to.
  • Yet we should be encouraged that Job keeps asking “where is my hope?” (v15) This is a sign that he hasn’t totally given up. Likewise, don’t quench your suffering brother or sister’s cries of despair. By their cries, they unwittingly reveal a desire to keep going that’s worth encouraging.
  • A global pandemic, a dashed relationship, an ongoing struggle with sin — these too are situations that prompt us to ask, “where is my hope?” Although Job’s hope was never fully realised amidst his dark days, in Christ believers know a hope that will not put them to shame (Romans 5:5)
  • Though the Christian is not immune to staring into the pit or facing the bars of grave, we can walk in Job’s footsteps with hope that is realised in Jesus.

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