Read Job 29
Job’s Final Defense
29 Job continued his discourse:
2 “How I long for the months gone by,
for the days when God watched over me,
3 when his lamp shone on my head
and by his light I walked through darkness!
4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime,
when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house,
5 when the Almighty was still with me
and my children were around me,
6 when my path was drenched with cream
and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.
7 “When I went to the gate of the city
and took my seat in the public square,
8 the young men saw me and stepped aside
and the old men rose to their feet;
9 the chief men refrained from speaking
and covered their mouths with their hands;
10 the voices of the nobles were hushed,
and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.
11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me,
and those who saw me commended me,
12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to assist them.
13 The one who was dying blessed me;
I made the widow’s heart sing.
14 I put on righteousness as my clothing;
justice was my robe and my turban.
15 I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
16 I was a father to the needy;
I took up the case of the stranger.
17 I broke the fangs of the wicked
and snatched the victims from their teeth.
18 “I thought, ‘I will die in my own house,
my days as numerous as the grains of sand.
19 My roots will reach to the water,
and the dew will lie all night on my branches.
20 My glory will not fade;
the bow will be ever new in my hand.’
21 “People listened to me expectantly,
waiting in silence for my counsel.
22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more;
my words fell gently on their ears.
23 They waited for me as for showers
and drank in my words as the spring rain.
24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
the light of my face was precious to them.
25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief;
I dwelt as a king among his troops;
I was like one who comforts mourners.
We see Job’s theology is intimately tied to his experience with the people around him. Much of this chapter is filled with laments about the days gone by when Job used to be celebrated by everyone in his midst. He remembers “the old men rose to their feet” (v. 8), “those who saw me commended me” (v. 11), “the one who was dying blessed him” (v. 13), and “people listened to me expectantly” (v. 21). We can see clearly that Job was highly regarded. However, after his world was shaken we see people no longer treated him the same way. Rather than being applauded, he was cast aside. Rather than being blessed, he felt cursed. Rather than being listened to, he was ignored. An important lesson is Job mistakenly believed God’s character was similar to the people around him.
Verses 1-5 are crucial to understand how he views God in this time: “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone on my head and by his light I walked through darkness! Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, when the Almighty was still with me”. In other words, he believes God is treating him the same way as the people around him! Since Job feels lonely and unseen, God must have abandoned him. These statements are simply not true about God. Here is what we do know about His character:
- Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
- Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
In the lowest moments of life, God has not abandoned you. He’s just as intimately watching you in your greatest successes as in your greatest difficulties. His character is not like those around us. We don’t have a God that forgets about us when things get difficult. He doesn’t leave us or forsake us. Instead, it is in these times we get to truly experience his close friendship. Because he will be a friend to us in times no one else will.
- What are words that would describe how Job views God in this chapter?
- How is God’s character different from those around us?
- Has there been a time in your life when you were going through difficulty and actually experienced a closer relationship with God? Why do you think pain can bring about greater intimacy with God?
By the Way
The New Testament speaks to God’s character in times of struggle. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, the Bible says, “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
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