April 16, 2015.
Daily Reading: Job 29-31.
Background: Job 27-28.
Concepts and Connections.
Longing for the days of old: This chapter begins Job’s three chapter final defense of his position and situation, as a final rebuttal to everything his friends had accused him. Beginning his defense, Job longs for the days of old, back when things were good for him. In those days, he held a certain reputation amongst the people, as they considered him very wise and righteous, not just from the vibe he gave off, but from the way he acted (v. 12-20). He was very well respected, perhaps even the most respected man in the land. This would not be that surprising in light of the fact that he was hand chosen by God for Satan to test and see if he could get him to fall (see Job 1). Job indeed was a very righteous man, and the Lord had greatly blessed him in the land. Job is reminiscent of those times here. Though it is indeed true that Job’s previous days were much better than what he was going through now, typically we have 20/20 hindsight, meaning we remember things better than they actually were. Whether or not this is the case for Job, it is obvious that he would rather be in that time than where he was now. What is important to note from this chapter, however, is the status that Job used to have with the people of the land, and the reason he had that status- due to his righteousness and wisdom. This will play into the subsequent parts of his defense.
Evil has come upon me: Job starts out his defense in the previous chapter by talking about the days of old where he had been richly blessed by the Lord and the people of the land had a high respect for him because of his wisdom and righteousness. Now he starts to lament over his change in rapport with the people. Instead of respect, he has been made a laughing stock. Instead of seeking his wisdom, they take him as a fool. Instead of coming near, they avoid him, or even spit at his presence. Isn’t it interesting how a change in someone’s situation can change whole attitudes about that person? We as humans seem to have a tendency to judge people by the seasons of their life, thinking that the only explanation for hard times is that it is their own fault. Perhaps they didn’t try hard enough, or maybe they just made some bad decisions. Though this can sometimes be the case, it is not always. It was not the case for Job. Job had fallen into these hard times because the Lord allowed Satan to test him- because there was none other like him in terms of righteousness upon the earth (see Job 1:8). But neither the people, nor Job, knew that this was the reason for his calamity, so everyone just made their own assumptions. And the people laughed at Job, spit at him, or just avoided him altogether. The contrast between his two lives was stark, thus Job’s lament in the previous chapter and this one.
Righteous in your own eyes: Job’s final words here raise some very interesting ideas in terms of the story as a whole. In this chapter, Job basically asserts his righteousness and denies that he has done anything to deserve what he was going through. This is what he has done throughout the book, but he specifically lays it out here. He states that he has been pure in terms of his relationship with his wife, even to the point of not looking on virgins. It is important to note that Job had made a covenant with his eyes, a conscious decision to only have eyes for his wife. He goes on to subtly call a curse on himself if he has done any of the unrighteous things that he lists in this chapter, showing that he truly believes that he has done nothing wrong and he wasn’t just saying that to be vindicated in the eyes of his friends. Not only does he claim to have keep his life from evil, but he has also pursued righteousness in helping the needy in all of their afflictions. Job was a very wealthy man, and it seems he used that wealth quite liberally to help those who were in need. He had neither trusted in gold nor rejoiced at the calamity of his enemies. Job is serious about his defense here, and he hasn’t given in to the accusations of his friends. Towards the end of his defense, he asks for a charge, an indictment from his enemy, if he has done anything wrong, for even if he had a specific accusation, he knows that he would be acquitted because he has been righteous. Thus Job calls on God to answer him, to hear his case and his defense. And soon, he would (see chapter 38-42). But here we see that Job is completely righteous in his own eyes (see 32:1), which is perhaps where he steps over the line. He would indeed get an answer from the Lord, but he would not be able to plead his case like he claims he could. The Lord would soon answer him out of a whirlwind and essentially put Job in his place. However, in the end, it is Job’s three friends who are ultimately rebuked for not speaking what was right (see 42:7-9). But until then, Job makes his final defense here. And he is righteous in his own eyes.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Jeremiah 12-16.
The Lord watch over you.