JOB 31:1-33:33 | 2 CORINTHIANS 3:1-18 | PSALM 43:1-5 | PROVERBS 22:8-9
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We continue with Job’s story, and although we are by now well-acquainted with Job’s suffering—both physical and mental—it might be fair to say that we are beginning to tire of his lamentations, especially as they continue to take on a heightened tone of self-righteousness and indignation. The fact is that short of cursing God, Job seems to be saying almost everything else!
He has been a good man and can see no wrong-doing in his conduct toward man, woman, child, beast, servant, and even his land. Why then is God allowing such suffering? What is he being punished for? What could be the meaning of this? Job wishes to see a direct cause-and-effect rationale, and his three friends have up until this point done anything but help, in that they are all of the view that there must be a cause-and-effect scheme in place indeed—only Job doesn’t seem to realize it or wish to accept it!
And so, in the midst of all this, we see the introduction of another character named Elihu. Apparently a bystander to these exchanges between Job and his three friends, Elihu is a younger man who has been a keen listener to these conversations and now wishes to add to the discussion.
However, Elihu offers the longest preamble before he even delivers his speech. Elihu is offering possibilities. He is not, like Job’s friends, bound to the notion that all suffering is punitive and that the measure of suffering corresponds to the degree of a person’s wickedness. He agrees that suffering may be punitive but also sees that its objective may be preventative. Perhaps he thinks that Job could be right in the description of his character but that he was headed for a prideful fall—and that God was intervening to keep that from happening. This may have been true.
It could also be that while Elihu did not think Job some great sinner and hypocrite as his other friends did, he may have felt that Job had some relatively minor sins that his generally righteous life was leaving him blind to—and that God could have been using suffering as a means to bring Job to more thoroughly examine himself. Even if such an assumption were wrong, it would not have been unreasonable. But again, Elihu makes no dogmatic pronouncements on why Job has been afflicted.
Elihu seems to look on God’s supposed goal of chastening Job in an entirely different light than Job’s friends. The friends only saw God harshly meting out judgment until people died or straightened up—and that God was practically ambivalent about the outcome. Elihu, however, sees God disciplining as a loving parent would with the intent of saving people from destruction, as he points out in these verses:
29 “God does all these things to a person—
twice, even three times—
30 to turn them back from the pit,
that the light of life may shine on them.
We will continue to see what else Elihu might have to say, but in the meantime, turning to our reading in the second book of Corinthians, we find Paul making some pertinent observations about the differences between those under the old covenant administered by Moses, and the new covenant under Christ.
Paul says, “…for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Turning next to our psalm for the day, we find yet again that Job was certainly not the only one who ever cried out to God in distress. David says this:
2 You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?
3 Send me your light and your faithful care,
let them lead me.
But unlike Job, David is so much more confident of God’s everlasting mercies and provision. David also says these words quite repeatedly:
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs which are both worthy of record and rumination:
8 Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,
and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.
9 The generous will themselves be blessed,
for they share their food with the poor.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.