Friday after the Tenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Job 10-12 (NKJV)
10:1 “My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. 2 I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; Show me why You contend with me. 3 Does it seem good to You that You should oppress, that You should despise the work of Your hands, and smile on the counsel of the wicked? 4 Do You have eyes of flesh? Or do You see as man sees? 5 Are Your days like the days of a mortal man? Are Your years like the days of a mighty man, 6 that You should seek for my iniquity and search out my sin, 7 although You know that I am not wicked, and there is no one who can deliver from Your hand?
8 ‘Your hands have made me and fashioned me, an intricate unity; Yet You would destroy me. 9 Remember, I pray, that You have made me like clay. And will You turn me into dust again? 10 Did you not pour me out like milk, and curdle me like cheese, 11 clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews? 12 You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.
13 ‘And these things You have hidden in Your heart; I know that this was with You: 14 If I sin, then You mark me, and will not acquit me of my iniquity. 15 If I am wicked, woe to me; Even if I am righteous, I cannot lift up my head. I am full of disgrace; See my misery! 16 If my head is exalted, You hunt me like a fierce lion, and again You show Yourself awesome against me. 17 You renew Your witnesses against me, and increase Your indignation toward me; Changes and war are ever with me.
18 ‘Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Oh, that I had perished and no eye had seen me! 19 I would have been as though I had not been. I would have been carried from the womb to the grave. 20 Are not my days few? Cease! Leave me alone, that I may take a little comfort, 21 Before I go to the place from which I shall not return, to the land of darkness and the shadow of death, 22 a land as dark as darkness itself, as the shadow of death, without any order, where even the light is like darkness.'”
11:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:
2 “Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be vindicated? 3 Should your empty talk make men hold their peace? And when you mock, should no one rebuke you? 4 For you have said, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in your eyes.’ 5 But oh, that God would speak, and open His lips against you, 6 that He would show you the secrets of wisdom! For they would double your prudence. Know therefore that God exacts from you less than your iniquity deserves.
7 “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? 8 They are higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? 9 Their measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.
10 “If He passes by, imprisons, and gathers to judgment, then who can hinder Him? 11 For He knows deceitful men; He sees wickedness also. Will He not then consider it? 12 For an empty-headed man will be wise, when a wild donkey’s colt is born a man.
13 “If you would prepare your heart, and stretch out your hands toward Him; 14 If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away, and would not let wickedness dwell in your tents; 15 Then surely you could lift up your face without spot; Yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear; 16 Because you would forget your misery, and remember it as waters that have passed away, 17 and your life would be brighter than noonday. Though you were dark, you would be like the morning. 18 And you would be secure, because there is hope; Yes, you would dig around you, and take your rest in safety. 19 You would also lie down, and no one would make you afraid; Yes, many would court your favor. 20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope—loss of life!”
12:1 Then Job answered and said:
2 “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you! 3 But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Indeed, who does not know such things as these?
4 “I am one mocked by his friends, who called on God, and He answered him, the just and blameless who is ridiculed. 5 A lamp is despised in the thought of one who is at ease; It is made ready for those whose feet slip. 6 The tents of robbers prosper, and those who provoke God are secure—in what God provides by His hand.
7 “But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; 8 Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you. 9 Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, 10 in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind? 11 Does not the ear test words and the mouth taste its food? 12 Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days, understanding.
13 “With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding. 14 If He breaks a thing down, it cannot be rebuilt; If He imprisons a man, there can be no release. 15 If He withholds the waters, they dry up; If He sends them out, they overwhelm the earth. 16 With Him are strength and prudence. The deceived and the deceiver are His. 17 He leads counselors away plundered, and makes fools of the judges. 18 He loosens the bonds of kings, and binds their waist with a belt. 19 He leads princes away plundered, and overthrows the mighty. 20 He deprives the trusted ones of speech, and takes away the discernment of the elders. 21 He pours contempt on princes, and disarms the mighty. 22 He uncovers deep things out of darkness, and brings the shadow of death to light. 23 He makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them. 24 He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people of the earth, and makes them wander in a pathless wilderness. 25 They grope in the dark without light, and He makes them stagger like a drunken man.”
Job appears to have hit rock bottom in chapter 10, for out of his bitterness and self-loathing the entire text consists of his conjured-up false picture of God as a cruel and unjust tyrant. Sadly, how many of us have fallen into the same dark mire when our lives have gone in a direction contrary to our hopes and dreams—often in response to much less than Job is dealing with.
Zophar responds to Job’s cry of deep despair with accusations that show a lack of compassion, and put every word of Job in the worst light. How easy it is for us to judge other’s motives and lives while being abundantly gracious toward our own shortcomings. Zophar thinks Job is shallow and lacks an understanding of the true nature of God. He thinks God should put Job in his place by speaking out against him. Zophar assumes that Job’s problems are rooted in his sin, and all Job has to do is to repent, then his life will become blessed and happy. But God nowhere guarantees a life “brighter than noonday” (Job 11:17) simply because we are his children. He has higher purposes for us than our physical prosperity.
We pray: Lord, may we always cling to You in faith through grace, and be ever ready to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You, which is our spiritual worship; through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.