|<< Job 16|
Job 17-20 Listen
1 My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me.
2 Are there not mockers with me? and doth not mine eye continue in their provocation?
3 Lay down now, put me in a surety with thee; who is he that will strike hands with me?
4 For thou hast hid their heart from understanding: therefore shalt thou not exalt them.
5 He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail.
6 He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.
7 Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members are as a shadow.
8 Upright men shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite.
9 The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.
10 But as for you all, do ye return, and come now: for I cannot find one wise man among you.
11 My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.
12 They change the night into day: the light is short because of darkness.
13 If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.
14 I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.
15 And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?
16 They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.
Job began this monologue at the beginning of Job 16 (see notes). Verse 1 shows his absolute frustration with life, "My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me." In other words, he sees his own death as his only way out. He claims his spirit is broken, his friends have turned on him and folks have lost respect for him. In reference to his friends/counselors he proclaims in verse 10, "...I cannot find one wise man among you." In the rest of the chapter he just wants to die. If you don't read anything else here, be sure to read the "Lesson to be learned" at the bottom.
1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,
2 How long will it be ere ye make an end of words? mark, and afterwards we will speak.
3 Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?
4 He teareth himself in his anger: shall the earth be forsaken for thee? and shall the rock be removed out of his place?
5 Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.
6 The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.
7 The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.
8 For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.
9 The gin shall take him by the heel, and the robber shall prevail against him.
10 The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way.
11 Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.
12 His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side.
13 It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength.
14 His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.
15 It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his: brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.
16 His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.
17 His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street.
18 He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.
19 He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.
20 They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.
21 Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God.
After listening to Job 16 (see notes) and 17 (see above), how can you want to do anything but give Job a big ol' hug? Second thought...maybe not; he's covered with boils. Nonetheless, it's hard to see Bildad's comments at this point as counsel; it's just plain ol' vindictive criticism to an obviously broken man. He does realize what Job thinks of him in verse 3 when he says, "Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?" Job's last speech just seems to set him off. Then, in verse 5, he seems to be characterizing Job as wicked when he says, "Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine." He then follows with all the things a wicked person can expect. The rest of Bildad's monologue here is just outright cruelty. I say that because Bildad characterizes the fate of wicked people by mentioning things that have already happened to Job. Examples: the robbers of verse 9, terror of verse 11, failing strength in verse 12, his boils in verse 13, his confidence in verse 14, destruction of his property in verse 15, his offspring destroyed resulting in the complete absence of a legacy in verse 19. In other words, Bildad has just engaged in the cruelest form of retribution toward Job. He is no friend or counselor at this point. He's just getting even! And then...the big one in verse 21, "Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God." Job is accused of not even having a relationship with God. How can a FRIEND speak like this to an obviously broken man?
1 Then Job answered and said,
2 How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?
3 These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.
4 And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.
5 If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach:
6 Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.
7 Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.
8 He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths.
9 He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.
10 He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.
11 He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies.
12 His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle.
13 He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.
14 My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.
15 They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight.
16 I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him with my mouth.
17 My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children’s sake of mine own body.
18 Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me.
19 All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.
20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.
22 Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?
23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
28 But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?
29 Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.
Job fully understood the implications of Bildad's preceding speech as he makes his sixth speech. He was well aware that Bildad had just solidly accused him of being wicked. Look at verse 2, "How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?" Notice in verse 4 that Job points out that whatever wickedness they think he has committed, none of it was observable by others. Then Job says in verse 6, "Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net." No! Job! God has not overthrown you, but we can all see how none of this makes sense to you right now, can't we? In this monologue, Job presents the situation as though God is literally at war with him. Notice what a vivid picture he paints in verse 12 to this end, "His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle." But he can count on family and friends, right? Not according to verses 13-19; they've all turned on him.
Did you ever wonder where this old saying came from in verse 20, "...skin of my teeth?" It's older than you thought. Could that mean that, from Job's perspective, only his gums were unaffected by this terrible physical challenge of his? In verse 22 he asks of his friends this question, "Why do ye persecute me as God...?" He definitely views them as teamed up with God against him, but to what benefit?
In verses 25-27, Job makes a definitive statement about life after death. As a matter of fact, in verse 25 he says, "For I know that my redeemer liveth..." The fact that he sees his need for a redeemer makes it clear that he understood the implications of the death sentence that had been incurred by Adam and Eve on behalf of all mankind upon their expulsion from the garden. Now notice his absolute certainty of appearing before God in verse 26, "...yet in my flesh shall I see God:" And verse 27 confirms it; Job had confidence that he had an appointment with God after death.
As we assume this book precedes the Law of Moses, we see the concept of life after death dealt with here, but never in the writings of the Mosaic Law. The Law of Moses was never intended to provide a way to eternal life, nor does it claim that benefit for itself. The knowledge of eternal life in God existed before the Law of Moses based upon Genesis 15:6 (see notes), "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." It's always been about faith.
Hey! Don't overlook verses 23-24! Through all of Job's adversity, he still wanted to be published!
1 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,
2 Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I make haste.
3 I have heard the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer.
4 Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth,
5 That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?
6 Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds;
7 Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?
8 He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night.
9 The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him.
10 His children shall seek to please the poor, and his hands shall restore their goods.
11 His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust.
12 Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue;
13 Though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his mouth:
14 Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.
15 He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly.
16 He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper’s tongue shall slay him.
17 He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter.
18 That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not swallow it down: according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein.
19 Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not;
20 Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall not save of that which he desired.
21 There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his goods.
22 In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the wicked shall come upon him.
23 When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating.
24 He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through.
25 It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him.
26 All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle.
27 The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him.
28 The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath.
29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God.
In this chapter Zophar answers Job in a horrific way; it's Zophar's second time to speak. He has taken Job's words as a personal insult to his own integrity, and now he's gonna get even. I know he's upset, but is it really necessary to insinuate that Job has all of this coming because of his wickedness - wickedness that Zophar has never observed? Oh! and on the issue of eternal life that Job has just mentioned (19:25, see above), look at Zophar's reply to that in verse 7, "...he shall perish for ever like his own dung:" I mean, neither Zophar nor his buddies have ever witnessed this kind of wickedness from Job. We can only conclude that Zophar intends to devastate Job with his words if possible; he's seems to be speaking out of rage. Just like Bildad, he outlines all the judgments that come upon wicked people, and it just so happens that these are the things that have happened to Job. But wait! If you had not developed a dislike for Zophar already, verse 19 ought to seal the deal, "Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not;" NO ONE HAD EVER WITNESSED SUCH ACTIONS FROM JOB! Isn't it interesting that Job's only source of comfort is his anticipation of dying and meeting God, his Redeemer, and yet Zophar wants to take even that away from him. Just to make certain that Job gets the point, Zophar concludes in verse 29 with, "This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God." No confusion here - Zophar considers that Job is a "wicked man."
Here's the lesson: When people are hurting (like Job), they need objective, scriptural counseling. If their counselor is not mature and thick-skinned enough to offer objectivity, but rather flies into a rage of retaliatory words because they feel they have been insulted or disregarded, their counsel is useless - even damaging. Emotionally distraught people need calm, objective counseling. If you can't give it, don't try!