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Job 14-16 Listen
Job continues: it's pretty hopeless (Job 14)
1 Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
2 He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
3 And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?
4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
5 Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
6 Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.
7 For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
8 Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;
9 Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.
10 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?
11 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:
12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.
16 For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?
17 My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.
18 And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place.
19 The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.
20 Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.
21 His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.
22 But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.
Here's the continuation of the same monologue of Job 12-13 (see notes), but Job's tone changes. He had been expressing confidence that he could prove his case before God if he were given the chance, but now he's back to, "It's hopeless!" As a matter of fact, he indicates that it's pretty hopeless for everyone in the first five verses. Then he's back to his familiar theme: Death is the only logical way out. Notice verse 14, "If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come." Job expresses his understanding of a personal resurrection, though no details of exactly what he believes are given here. Keep in mind, Job's concept of how God deals with man has been shattered. Now he seems to be rethinking every aspect of his relationship with God. However, it should be noted, he does not question the existence, sovereignty or power of God; he's just no longer sure about what all of this means to him. By the end of the book, he'll have a very clear picture. However, he doesn't mince words here, and one might think his speech borders on being irreverent. Let's be honest about this chapter; Job does say some things that disappoint us a little. But I would ask you this question: How do your prayers sound when you are stricken with heavy grief? We're getting a glimpse of human frailty in the face of adversity.
1 Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,
2 Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind?
3 Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?
4 Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.
5 For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.
6 Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.
7 Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before the hills?
8 Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?
9 What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us?
10 With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.
11 Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee?
12 Why doth thine heart carry thee away? and what do thy eyes wink at,
13 That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth?
14 What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?
15 Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.
16 How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?
17 I will shew thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare;
18 Which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it:
19 Unto whom alone the earth was given, and no stranger passed among them.
20 The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.
21 A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.
22 He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword.
23 He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.
24 Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.
25 For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty.
26 He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers:
27 Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks.
28 And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps.
29 He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth.
30 He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away.
31 Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.
32 It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green.
33 He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive.
34 For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.
35 They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.
This is our second speech by Eliphaz. He first spoke in Job 4-5 (see notes). Emboldened by Zophar (Job 11, see notes) and aggravated by Job, Eliphaz speaks again, but this time he pulls no punches. It does seem that Eliphaz has taken offense at some of Job's comments about God in chapter 14. Of course, he's not the one covered with oozing boils! He expresses his strong opinion regarding Job's words in verses 1-6; he regards them as hot air, deceitful, crafty, etc. In verses 7-13 he issues a bunch of rhetorical questions indicating his belief that Job was just too arrogant. Obviously Eliphaz is disturbed by some of the seemingly irreverent statements Job had made regarding God in chapters 12-14. Eliphaz then spends some time rejecting the notion Job had expressed regarding the prosperity of the wicked. Instead, the wicked experiences "pain all his days" (verse 20), an abrupt end to "prosperity" (verse 21), "trouble and anguish" (verses 22-24), and premature death (verses 32-34). He's obviously including Job among this group. Eliphaz is determined to keep it simple: Righteous folks prosper and wicked people don't. He is just completely unaware of any other scenario for the kind of trouble Job is experiencing. With problems of this magnitude, it must be that Job secretly is a very, very, very bad man; at least that's what Eliphaz believes, as do these other two misinformed counselors.
It is important to understand this about the speech Eliphaz gives in this chapter: Eliphaz is wrong! He is corrected, along with Zophar and Bildad, in Job 42:7-9 (see notes).
1 Then Job answered and said,
2 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.
3 Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?
4 I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.
5 But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.
6 Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased?
7 But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company.
8 And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face.
9 He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me.
10 They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me.
11 God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.
12 I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.
13 His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.
14 He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant.
15 I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust.
16 My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death;
17 Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure.
18 O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.
19 Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.
20 My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.
21 O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!
22 When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.
Job's not buying this free counsel. He comments in verse 2, "...miserable comforters are ye all." As a matter of fact, he proclaims in these opening verses that if the tables were turned, he would not be a miserable counselor like these friends of his. What would he do? In verse 5 he says, "But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief." Then he spends some time talking about how he is no match for an angry God. As a matter of fact, verses 7 through 14 seem to show a very frustrated Job making some pretty severe comments about God. He finishes up this chapter with another gouge at his so-called friends in verse 20 saying, "My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God." So, if the tables were turned and it was one of them in his position, how would Job respond to them? Look at verse 21, "O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!" Verses 18 and 22 seem to indicate Job's feeling that he will die before he is able to be vindicated before God. Here's a very beaten-down man.
Here's the lesson from these three chapters. Job's friends have come; they obviously care for him. After all, they sat with him on the ground for seven days before saying a word and just grieved with him. Here's where they went wrong: They transformed their unfounded hunches about the nature of God into doctrinal mandates. What they said to Job was without authority...and sorta mean spirited. They became offended at his refusal to accept their premise, though they had no authority for making the kind of statements about him or God's nature that they did. So, rather than stand with Job and just pray that God would grant him understanding and wisdom, they just want to blame him. Here's the admonition: If you don't understand someone's dilemma, don't trash a friendship pretending like you do. I would add, however, that we have something that Job did not - the complete counsel of God's word on the subject of trial. We have been given clear scriptural guidelines on distinguishing chastisement from trial. Job's friends had no such guidelines, but preached to him as though they did. Had I been Job, I would have taken offense too!
Read the following two articles to gain perspective on trial and chastisement:
This speech of Job's continues into Job 17 (see notes).