Job 42:7-17; Psalm 131:1-3
As you can tell, these verses are the last ones in the book of Job. For almost forty chapters Job and his friends debated and gave speeches about the nature of suffering, sin, and the reasons behind Job’s experiences. But then God finally showed up and gave Job what the man had been demanding: an audience and an opportunity to present his case. After the Lord overwhelmed him with his power, majesty, and wisdom, Job put his hands over his mouth, denying that he had anything more to say. But what about his friends? What did God think about them?
These last few words of God are very interesting to me, because they actually reveal quite a bit about not only his opinion of the friends, but also what he thought about Job. Let’s examine what he said: 1) He called Job his “servant” three times in the passage. 2) He ordered the friends to offer sacrifices and go to Job and ask him to pray for them, and thus receive divine forgiveness. Both of these point to the vindication that Job had wanted, the public acknowledgment that he wasn't harboring some outrageous sin. And to his credit, Job apparently forgave his friends and did as they asked, and the relationships were reconciled.
But another question needs to be asked. The Lord specifically condemned the men as not having “spoken of [God] what was right” like Job did. We’ve already come to the conclusion that their beliefs about the Lord had more than a little truth in them, as far as it went. Remember, the only time that the book of Job is quoted, it’s done by Paul as he quotes one of the friends (1 Cor. 3:19). So what exactly was the problem? There are several theories out there, but here’s mine. Here are some questions to help us get some clarity. They believed that if someone is suffering, then it must be because God is punishing him. Is there more than one possible reason why someone is suffering? Absolutely. In fact, over the next few days we’ve going to examine no less than eight reasons why bad things happen to people. So they were definitely wrong on that score.
Also, there's the fact that they believed that they had God’s plan all figured out. A little humility, perhaps, will go a long way in trying to figure out what he’s doing in a person’s life. I believe that the Lord can give us insight into his plan, but we need to be careful about that, since we can be self-deceptive. The reading from the Psalm today is a great attitude to adopt when probing mysteries like this.
With all his anger and bitterness towards the Lord, Job still was more right than his friends. He was still closer to the truth than his friends were. Instead of just talking about God, Job talked to God, even with all the anger. Apparently he'd rather us be talking to him than just about him. But I think the attitude of the Psalmist is better still.
Father God, I want to have the attitude of the Psalmist. You know everything and have everything under control, and I need to trust and obey.
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