Lord, help me to understand adversity as measured against Your perfect righteousness.
Read JOB 19:1–29
19 Then Job replied:
2 “How long will you torment me
and crush me with words?
3 Ten times now you have reproached me;
shamelessly you attack me.
4 If it is true that I have gone astray,
my error remains my concern alone.
5 If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me
and use my humiliation against me,
6 then know that God has wronged me
and drawn his net around me.
7 “Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response;
though I call for help, there is no justice.
8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass;
he has shrouded my paths in darkness.
9 He has stripped me of my honor
and removed the crown from my head.
10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone;
he uproots my hope like a tree.
11 His anger burns against me;
he counts me among his enemies.
12 His troops advance in force;
they build a siege ramp against me
and encamp around my tent.
13 “He has alienated my family from me;
my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.
14 My relatives have gone away;
my closest friends have forgotten me.
15 My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner;
they look on me as on a stranger.
16 I summon my servant, but he does not answer,
though I beg him with my own mouth.
17 My breath is offensive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own family.
18 Even the little boys scorn me;
when I appear, they ridicule me.
19 All my intimate friends detest me;
those I love have turned against me.
20 I am nothing but skin and bones;
I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.
21 “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity,
for the hand of God has struck me.
22 Why do you pursue me as God does?
Will you never get enough of my flesh?
23 “Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
25 I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
28 “If you say, ‘How we will hound him,
since the root of the trouble lies in him,’
29 you should fear the sword yourselves;
for wrath will bring punishment by the sword,
and then you will know that there is judgment.”
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.
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psa. 42:1,2a).
This chapter is a lament, featuring Job’s accusation against his friends (2–6). He also complains about God’s violence against him (7–12) and laments the alienation of his friends, kinsmen, guests, servants, wife, and family (13–20). He then pleads with his friends, stopping them from striking him (21,22). Before giving them a final warning and rebuke (28,29), he expresses his wish to have a defender to confront God for him (23–27). Job’s loneliness and helplessness are clearly evident. His misery and despair continue to deepen.
A glimmer of hope sparks when Job explores the possibility of a redeemer to contend with God for him. Who is this redeemer (go’el)? We can trace the idea back to 9:33, where Job yearns for an arbiter to remove God’s rod from him. Later, in 16:19, Job states, “My witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.” The “redeemer” (25) here sounds similar to a hypothetical legal mediator of a formal dispute.
It is interesting to observe Job’s inner complexity. On the one hand, he grumbles about God’s aggression: not answering his request for justice (7); depriving him of self-determination and dignity (8,9); tearing him down and stripping his hope (10); treating him as enemy with anger and hostility (11,12). On the other hand, he desires to rebuild his relationship with God—believing that his redeemer lives (25) and that he shall see God with his own eyes (27). As Lindsay Wilson writes, “Though Job’s complaints include blame and rebuke, the underlying dynamic is Job’s desire to have his relationship with God restored” (Job: The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary, 248).
Job’s lament shows us the persistent spirit of Job—by faith never giving up, regardless of how low he feels. It ignites the requisite hope in him (and us) to persevere.
In the perplexity of life, may God protect our desire for him until we encounter him again!
Lord, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, we have need of endurance (10:36). Help us to persevere.