Father God, your love for me is clearly seen in sending Jesus. Today I surrender to your voice and call.
Read JOB 21
21 Then Job replied:
2 “Listen carefully to my words;
let this be the consolation you give me.
3 Bear with me while I speak,
and after I have spoken, mock on.
4 “Is my complaint directed to a human being?
Why should I not be impatient?
5 Look at me and be appalled;
clap your hand over your mouth.
6 When I think about this, I am terrified;
trembling seizes my body.
7 Why do the wicked live on,
growing old and increasing in power?
8 They see their children established around them,
their offspring before their eyes.
9 Their homes are safe and free from fear;
the rod of God is not on them.
10 Their bulls never fail to breed;
their cows calve and do not miscarry.
11 They send forth their children as a flock;
their little ones dance about.
12 They sing to the music of timbrel and lyre;
they make merry to the sound of the pipe.
13 They spend their years in prosperity
and go down to the grave in peace.[a]
14 Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone!
We have no desire to know your ways.
15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
What would we gain by praying to him?’
16 But their prosperity is not in their own hands,
so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
17 “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out?
How often does calamity come upon them,
the fate God allots in his anger?
18 How often are they like straw before the wind,
like chaff swept away by a gale?
19 It is said, ‘God stores up the punishment of the wicked for their children.’
Let him repay the wicked, so that they themselves will experience it!
20 Let their own eyes see their destruction;
let them drink the cup of the wrath of the Almighty.
21 For what do they care about the families they leave behind
when their allotted months come to an end?
22 “Can anyone teach knowledge to God,
since he judges even the highest?
23 One person dies in full vigor,
completely secure and at ease,
24 well nourished in body,[b]
bones rich with marrow.
25 Another dies in bitterness of soul,
never having enjoyed anything good.
26 Side by side they lie in the dust,
and worms cover them both.
27 “I know full well what you are thinking,
the schemes by which you would wrong me.
28 You say, ‘Where now is the house of the great,
the tents where the wicked lived?’
29 Have you never questioned those who travel?
Have you paid no regard to their accounts—
30 that the wicked are spared from the day of calamity,
that they are delivered from[c] the day of wrath?
31 Who denounces their conduct to their face?
Who repays them for what they have done?
32 They are carried to the grave,
and watch is kept over their tombs.
33 The soil in the valley is sweet to them;
everyone follows after them,
and a countless throng goes[d] before them.
34 “So how can you console me with your nonsense?
Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’1
Job asks his friends to listen carefully to his words and to allow them to be part of their consolation of him. God has given us two ears and one mouth, perhaps as an indicator of how important it is to listen to others before we speak. Such sympathetic listening and empathizing within a confidential context can be a real means of therapy and extremely helpful to people in pain.2 Job’s friends were not capable of this (v 34). He must have felt so alone in his suffering. If you feel that way today, remember that Jesus understands. He knows, he loves, and he cares.
The counselors have repeatedly painted their monochrome picture of the fate of the wicked,3 but Job’s experience of people without faith is much more nuanced than theirs. Like the writer of Psalm 73, he sees that the ungodly do sometimes prosper in life, spending their years in prosperity and apparently going down into the grave in peace (v 13). His description of people who want to know nothing of God’s ways and who even consider prayer a useless exercise (vs 14,15) is one that is common today. However, there is balance in Job’s world view. He may not have had the revelation given to the psalmist of the final destiny of the ungodly,4 but he recognizes God as judge of all (v 17).
The picture used of the shortness and fragility of life in verse 18 is taken from the everyday experience of the threshing floor. Here, daily, chaff would be carried away by the lightest wind, never mind a gale. A harsh wind was blowing powerfully in Job’s experience, tearing away so much that he held dear, but revealing the value of what was left, his perseverance in trusting God through his trials.
Are you feeling the blast of a gale of suffering? Ask the Lord to use it to purify your faith, until the time comes for him to calm the storm.
Sovereign Lord, you know my future as well as my past. Help me resolve the hurts and resentments of the past and avoid such places yet to come.
1 Ps 139:23,24 2 M David Enoch, Healing the Hurt Mind, Hodder & Stoughton, 1983, p84 3 Job 8:11–19; 15:20–35; 18:5–21; 20:4–29 4 Ps 73:17
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