Tag Archives: God’s justice
With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√VII. Job’s Response to Zophar – Chs. 12-14))
With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√VI. The Zingers of Zophar: Round One (Chapter 11)
Job has now endured the “counsel” of two of his closest friends, Eliphaz and Bildad. Eliphaz asked the question, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished?” He couldn’t mean that godly people never die. He is obviously saying that Job is wicked and that those who sow evil in this life, in Eliphaz’s opinion, reap judgment in this life. He’s even had a vision from God to challenge Job’s claim of innocence.
Bildad is angry because he sees Job charging God with perverting justice. It is obvious to Bildad that God brought judgment on Job’s children. And he challenges Job to repent and be restored before the Lord.
Job responds to both friends, but there is a third with his lecture ready to give.
VI. The Zingers of Zophar: Round One (Chapter 11)
Zophar takes off the gloves of nicety and directly challenges Job as merely a “talker” whose mockery needs to be rebuked! (vv. 2-3).
Zophar wishes for God to speak and to tell Job the truth — that He (God) “has even forgotten some of your sin” (v. 6). To Job’s claim of innocence Zophar essentially says, “You’re not getting half of what you deserve!” He then resorts to what theologians call the ineffability of God. Ineffable means “incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible.” God’s mysteries are beyond finding out, and Job should simply bow before the Lord. In Zophar’s words, “If God comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him?” (v. 10).
Zophar then promises Job that if devoted his heart to the Lord, and “put away the sin that is in your hand,” you will be “free of fault” and “life will be brighter than noonday” (vv. 13-17). Zophar says, you will be secure, take your rest in safety, and many will court your favor (vv. 18-19). But, Zophar warns, escape will elude the wicked and “their hope will become a dying gasp” (v. 20). Don’t be like the wicked, Zophar is advising.
How Job responds to such advice will be the subject of our next post.
With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√V. Job’s Response to Bildad: Chs. 9-10)
Job takes two chapters to respond to this second “comforter” Bildad. How will Job answer this one who claims he knows why Job’s children died? And how will Job respond to this one who has included Job in the category of those who are the godless, for, Bildad says, it is not logical that God would ever reject the blameless.
V. Job’s Response to Bildad: (Ch. 9)
Surprisingly Job begins by agreeing with Bildad, that it is impossible for mere mortals to prove their innocence before God (v. 1). A person’s chance of answering God is one time out of a thousand. God’s power moves mountains and shakes the earth. He speaks and the sun stops shining. He stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea (vv. 6-9).
God’s miracles and wonders cannot be counted. God is not accountable to anyone; no one can grill him with the question, “What are you doing?” (v. 12). Job asks how he can then dispute with the Lord, even if he were innocent. But Job is afraid that God will not give him a hearing (v. 16). He fears that God would crush him with a storm, multiply his wounds “for no reason”, and “overwhelm me with misery” (vv. 17-18).
Job’s distress is so complete that he says, “I despise my own life” (v. 21). He does not hold back in his characterization of the Lord. He says that He “destroys the blameless and the wicked,” “mocks the despair of the innocent”, and even blindfolds human judges in earthly matters (vv. 22-24). And he asks simply, “If it is not he, then who is it?” (v. 24).
Job describes himself as one who is already found guilty (v. 29). Even if he could thoroughly wash himself, he says that the Lord “would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me” (v. 31). And the real problem is that God is not a man and therefore not able to be confronted in court (v. 32). Job longs for a mediator between him and God. And there is none (v. 33).
V. Job’s Response to Bildad: (Ch. 10)
Job, despising his own life, has nothing to lose as he challenges God to show him the charges of which he is supposedly guilty (v. 2). Job mockingly asks God if He is pleased to so mistreat “the work of his hands” (Job) while He smiles on the plans of the wicked (v. 3). Job remains confident that he is not guilty and that God knows it! (v. 7).
He challenges the God who shaped him and made him. “Will you now turn and destroy me?” (v. 8). “You gave me life and showed me kindness” (v. 12), will you now turn me to dust again?, Job asks.
In Job’s mind it doesn’t seem to matter to God whether Job is guilty or innocent. Job says of the Lord, “you stalk me like a lion” (v. 16). “You bring new witnesses against me” and “your forces come against me wave upon wave” (v. 17).
Job wishes that he had gone straight from the womb to the tomb. And he pleads with the Lord to “turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy” “before I go to the land of gloom and utter darkness.” (vv. 20-21).
But a third friend waits in the wings. His name is Zophar and he must respond to what Job has been saying.
Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 11)
For the director of music. Of David.
1 In the Lord I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
2 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
3 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
4 The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
his eyes examine them.
5 The Lord examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.
6 On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.
7 For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face.
Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 10)
1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by[b] him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.”
12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.