Tag Archives: despair

With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz Chs. 6-7)

We do not know if Job has left the ash-heap, but that place of silence and suffering now becomes a lengthy and painful platform of debate on the ways of God. This first friend Eliphaz, no doubt deeply concerned about Job, could no longer remain silent. His own understanding of life and the Person and works of God must be given voice. Now Job responds to this first lecture. Job matches Eliphaz’s two chapters of exhorations with two chapters of response.

III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Ch. 6)

Job begins by wishing that he could physically weigh his anguish, for it would be greater that the sand of the sea (v. 2).

But Job does not blame natural disasters or the wind or the marauding armies for his losses. He makes it quite clear that these are the Almighty’s poisoned arrows which have pierced him (v. 4). And it seems that all of God’s terrors are marshaled against him.

Job has one request: that the Lord would end his life. But he says he would have “joy in unrelenting pain.” What would be that joy? “That I had not denied the words of the Holy One” (v. 10).

Job then attacks his counselors and hurls a direct charge against his friends: They are guilty of withholding kindness from him and in effect are themselves forsaking the fear of the Almighty! (v. 14).

He compares his friends to intermittent streams that overflow when they shouldn’t and dry up when they are most needed (vv. 15-17). Caravans are desperate for their refreshing water, but find only dry disappointment. You, my friends, Job says, have proved to be of no help (v. 21). Job has not asked them for any sort of deliverance.

He then challenges them to show him where he is wrong, accusing them of casting lots for the fatherless and bartering away their friend (v. 27). His own integrity, he says, is at stake (v. 29).

III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Ch. 7)

Describing himself as an overworked, hired laborer, Job says he has been “allotted months of futility” (v. 3). He is unable to sleep and his body is clothed with worms and festering scabs (v. 5). Although some time has passed, his wounds have not healed.

He directly addresses the Lord by reminding Him that his life is but a breath and that his eyes will never see happiness again (v. 7). He anticipates his death, a time when he will “be no more”, never to come to his own house again. (vv. 9-10).

But Job is not resigned to silence. He will not keep silent; he will complain in the bitterness of his soul (v. 11). His torture even invades his sleep with terrifying dreams and visions (v. 14). He despises his life, would prefer to be strangled to death, and wants God to leave him alone (v. 16).

Job is convinced that God has made him His target, that he has become a burden that God will not forgive. And he hopes soon to “lie down in the dust” of death (v. 21).

But a second friend waits in the wings — and we will examine his intervention in Job’s life.

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Posted by on December 27, 2022 in the book of Job


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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 119): Part 11

כ Kaph

81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation,screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-5-40-13-am
    but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
    I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
    I do not forget your decrees.
84 How long must your servant wait?
    When will you punish my persecutors?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
    contrary to your law.
86 All your commands are trustworthy;
    help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
87 They almost wiped me from the earth,
    but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your unfailing love preserve my life,
    that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.

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Posted by on April 8, 2017 in suffering


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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 77)

Psalm 77

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.

I cried out to God for help;screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-00-31-am
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
    I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
    I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
    the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
    My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

“Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

16 The waters saw you, God,
    the waters saw you and writhed;
    the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
    the heavens resounded with thunder;
    your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
    your lightning lit up the world;
    the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
    your way through the mighty waters,
    though your footprints were not seen.

20 You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

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Posted by on December 11, 2016 in despair


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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 74)

Psalm 74

A maskil of Asaph.screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-6-16-33-am

O God, why have you rejected us forever?
    Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember the nation you purchased long ago,
    the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed—
    Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
    all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.

Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;
    they set up their standards as signs.
They behaved like men wielding axes
    to cut through a thicket of trees.
They smashed all the carved paneling
    with their axes and hatchets.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
    they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”
    They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.

We are given no signs from God;
    no prophets are left,
    and none of us knows how long this will be.
10 How long will the enemy mock you, God?
    Will the foe revile your name forever?
11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
    Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!

12 But God is my King from long ago;
    he brings salvation on the earth.

13 It was you who split open the sea by your power;
    you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
    and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.
15 It was you who opened up springs and streams;
    you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.
16 The day is yours, and yours also the night;
    you established the sun and moon.
17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
    you made both summer and winter.

18 Remember how the enemy has mocked you, Lord,
    how foolish people have reviled your name.
19 Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
    do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.
20 Have regard for your covenant,
    because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.
21 Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace;
    may the poor and needy praise your name.
22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
    remember how fools mock you all day long.
23 Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries,
    the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.

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Posted by on December 5, 2016 in desperation


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The Joy of Unit-Reading #6 (the book of Ecclesiastes)

We are seeking to unit-read each of the books of the Bible (with the exception Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 6.18.54 AMof the book of Psalms).  The theme of many of the sixty-six books in our canon will emerge as we read straight through the book at one sitting.

So often our reading of Scripture is piecemeal and haphazard.  Unit-reading requires a sustained and concentrated effort at going through a book, seeking to discover its primary focus.

I must admit, the book of Ecclesiastes is a tough one!  A depressed person should not choose this book as his first to unit-read!  King Solomon takes every aspect of life (work, play, education, goals, wealth, evil, etc.) and draws the conclusion with each of them:  “This is all meaninglessness!”  (I’m not sure I would have invited Solomon to any parties.  I’m afraid he would have been a “wet blanket” and people would have gone home early).

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 6.21.22 AMPerhaps Solomon’s purpose is to drive the happy-go-lucky person to a kind of despair IF God is not their sole center of life.   In one of the chapters he writes,

You who are young, be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment.

He advises: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”  He has used all his might to write an Old Testament book which makes us question every aspect of life.  He tells us, “The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd.”

Thankfully we know the Shepherd who was nailed to the cross for us — so that life will not be meaningless!

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in unit-reading


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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 88)

Psalm 88

A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. For Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 5.25.30 AMthe director of music. According to mahalath leannoth.[b] A maskil[c] of Heman the Ezrahite.

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
    day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry.

I am overwhelmed with troubles
    and my life draws near to death.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead,
    like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
    who are cut off from your care.

You have put me in the lowest pit,
    in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily on me;
    you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.[d]
You have taken from me my closest friends
    and have made me repulsive to them.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 5.27.28 AM
I am confined and cannot escape;
    my eyes are dim with grief.

I call to you, Lord, every day;
    I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?
    Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
11 Is your love declared in the grave,
    your faithfulness in Destruction[e]?
12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
    or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

13 But I cry to you for help, Lord;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, Lord, do you reject me
    and hide your face from me?

15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
    I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
    your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
    they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
    darkness is my closest friend.

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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in the book of Psalms


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