Job - suffering

According to Zophar the Naamathite, the reason all these terrible things have fallen on Job is because he is wicked (20:4-29).  He, like Job, feels insulted by his friend’s speech (20:3) and as the flow of this account unfolds we see that both parties are insulted by each other’s words, both understand why the wicked seem to flourish, but the application to Job’s life just does not obtain.

Nevertheless, the back and forth discloses a rich theology on suffering, God’s incomparableness, and man’s limited understanding concerning the hidden counsels of God:

“Why do the wicked still live, Continue on, also become very powerful?
“Their descendants are established with them in their sight, And their offspring before their eyes, Their houses are safe from fear, And the rod of God is not on them. 10 “His ox mates without fail; His cow calves and does not abort. 11 “They send forth their little ones like the flock, And their children skip about.  12 “They sing to the timbrel and harp And rejoice at the sound of the flute. 13 “They spend their days in prosperity, And suddenly they go down to Sheol. 14 “They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not even desire the knowledge of Your ways. 15 ‘Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him, And what would we gain if we entreat Him?’ (21:7-15)

 These texts are a small sample describing the disposition of the wicked; that do not see gain, but rather loss by acknowledging God’s ways, God’s truth, and God’s character.  In short, the wicked are twisted thinkers and sojourners when it comes to Almighty God.  Sadly, their memory will perish with them, the day of calamity is reserved for them (21:30), men will oversee their tombs (21:32) and to associate Job to the wicked is utter falsehood:

“How then will you vainly comfort me,
For your answers remain full of falsehood?”

 Eliphaz again weighs in and doubts Job’s righteousness, “Yield now and be at peace with Him; Thereby good will come to you.” (22:21). What a weighty encounter of thought and pain, what a miserable way to exist being grossly misunderstood and thereby falsely accused as a result.

LORD, this exchange is difficult to bear.  Both Job’s anguish and his friends “help” are troublesome to consider.  May I never be so insensitive, may I never be so obtuse, but may I with your compassion and love come alongside the suffering with words that are true and appropriate for them.


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