Thursday, August 21, 2003

Job 13: Job After Zophar

We continue with Job's words to his friends after the first speech of Zophar. 

This post is part of an ongoing series on the book of Job. Click here to start at the beginning. At the end of each post you will find a link to the next.

Job Responds to His Friends

In his response so far, Job had again spoken of the guilty that go unpunished and the sovereign control of the Lord over the events on earth. He now moved to introduce two other points. The first  was that he wanted a hearing with the Lord. The second was that his friends should be careful themselves:

But I wish to speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God. But you, however, are inventors of lies; all of you are worthless physicians! O that you would keep completely silent! For you that would be wisdom. (Job 13:3-5)

Job's words, "For you that would be wisdom." could be taken in at least two ways. The first was that Job spoke sarcastically, "Your words are so foolish that to be quiet would show a marked increase in wisdom.". The second was Job was giving a warning. In modern vernacular, Job said, "Wise up. If I have not escaped, you are far from secure yourself." Given where Job goes next, I believe that he intended the latter as his primary meaning. Job could base his words on the knowledge that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were wrong about the situation. By refusing to investigate and know Job's innocence, they had become morally culpable:

Listen now to my rebuke, and be attentive to the arguments of my lips. Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him? Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God? Would it turn out well if he would examine you? Or as one deceives a man would you deceive him? He would certainly rebuke you if you secretly showed partiality. Would not his splendor terrify you and the fear he inspires fall on you? Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay. (Job 13:6-12)

Up to this point, we have seen the good side of Job's new founded strength. On the other hand, Job believed that God had wronged him and spoke again of having a hearing:

Refrain from talking with me so that I may speak; then let come upon me what may. Why do I put myself in jeopardy, and take my life in my hands? If he slays me, I will hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face! Moreover, this will become my deliverance, for no godless person would come before him. Listen carefully to my words; let your ears be attentive to my explanation. See now, I have prepared my case; I know that I am right. Who will contend with me? If so, I will be silent and die. (Job 13:13-19)

When Job spoke of putting himself in jeopardy and of coming before the Lord. Contextually, "If he slays me, I will hope in him" might be better understood as reading, "Yes he might slay me, but I will hope in him and defend my ways to his face." Job talked of putting himself in jeopardy and taking his life in his hands, so he acknowledged that he was taking a risk. But Job thought the risk worth taking. Yes, it might mean his death, but he had hope that he could defend his ways. Job's boldness to his friends had spilled over and become boldness before God as well, "I will surely defend my ways to his face!" In this were the seeds of Job's undoing.

Following from this point, Job again directed his speech to God Himself. We will look at that tomorrow.

Friday: Job's third prayer.

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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