URC Daily Devotions 19th February

Job isn’t persuaded and renews his lament, wishing that God will end his life because he isn’t sure how much more he can endure without sinning against God. The only point on which Job agrees with Eliphaz is that God is all powerful and free to act in whatever ways God chooses. He denounces his friends for failing him and regards them almost as enemies, even though he has acknowledged God as his tormentor (6:4). The Hebrew of verse 14 is ‘broken’ and cannot be translated but it is clear that it includes the words friends and loyalty and probably implies that being loyal to one’s friends is the essence of true religion. There is a degree of irony in the way Job asks how he has offended them.

In chapter 7 he turns back to address God and expresses a sympathetic understanding for human beings everywhere who live in misery – something he had failed to understand when his own life was good. He asks God to remember the mortality of humans and then, in anguish, accuses God of persecuting him for no reason. His patience is ended and he demands that God justifies what is happening to him. It would be bad enough if God was ignoring him in his misery; but in Job’s eyes it seems as though God is out to get him!

In verse 17 we find one of many allusions to the Psalms that the writer of Job incorporates in these dialogues. Familiar words from Psalm 8 (vv.4-5) which accord a high status to humanity in God’s creation and loving purposes, are here parodied to question why God has singled out humanity – and Job in particular – in a relentless, tyrannical way. Job ends up by arguing that even if he had sinned – which he insists he hasn’t – what’s the point of God constantly watching him, he’ll be dead soon and out of God’s reach.

What I like about Job is the willingness to engage with God head on; and the fact that we see his self-awareness and understanding of the human condition subtly changing as he grapples with all that is happening and keeps asking questions. He hasn’t received any answers from God; but that won’t stop him believing that God is the only one who can provide them.