Monday after the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Job 19-21 (NKJV)
19:1 Then Job answered and said:
2 “How long will you torment my soul, and break me in pieces with words? 3 These ten times you have reproached me; You are not ashamed that you have wronged me. 4 And if indeed I have erred, my error remains with me. 5 If indeed you exalt yourselves against me, and plead my disgrace against me, 6 know then that God has wronged me, and has surrounded me with His net.
7 “If I cry out concerning wrong, I am not heard. If I cry aloud, there is no justice. 8 He has fenced up my way, so that I cannot pass; And He has set darkness in my paths. 9 He has stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head. 10 He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone; My hope He has uprooted like a tree. 11 He has also kindled His wrath against me, and He counts me as one of His enemies. 12 His troops come together and build up their road against me; They encamp all around my tent.
13 “He has removed my brothers far from me, and my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. 14 My relatives have failed, and my close friends have forgotten me. 15 Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants, count me as a stranger; I am an alien in their sight. 16 I call my servant, but he gives no answer; I beg him with my mouth. 17 My breath is offensive to my wife, and I am repulsive to the children of my own body. 18 Even young children despise me; I arise, and they speak against me. 19 All my close friends abhor me, and those whom I love have turned against me. 20 My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
21 “Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has struck me! 22 Why do you persecute me as God does, and are not satisfied with my flesh?
23 “Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! 24 That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever! 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
28 If you should say, ‘How shall we persecute him?’—since the root of the matter is found in me, 29 be afraid of the sword for yourselves; For wrath brings the punishment of the sword, that you may know there is a judgment.”
20:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:
2 “Therefore my anxious thoughts make me answer, because of the turmoil within me. 3 I have heard the rebuke that reproaches me, and the spirit of my understanding causes me to answer.
4 “Do you not know this of old, since man was placed on earth, 5 that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment? 6 Though his haughtiness mounts up to the heavens, and his head reaches to the clouds, 7 yet he will perish forever like his own refuse; Those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’ 8 He will fly away like a dream, and not be found; Yes, he will be chased away like a vision of the night. 9 The eye that saw him will see him no more, nor will his place behold him anymore. 10 His children will seek the favor of the poor, and his hands will restore his wealth. 11 His bones are full of his youthful vigor, but it will lie down with him in the dust.
12 “Though evil is sweet in his mouth, and he hides it under his tongue, 13 though he spares it and does not forsake it, but still keeps it in his mouth, 14 yet his food in his stomach turns sour; It becomes cobra venom within him. 15 He swallows down riches and vomits them up again; God casts them out of his belly. 16 He will suck the poison of cobras; The viper’s tongue will slay him. 17 He will not see the streams, the rivers flowing with honey and cream. 18 He will restore that for which he labored, and will not swallow it down; From the proceeds of business he will get no enjoyment. 19 For he has oppressed and forsaken the poor, he has violently seized a house which he did not build.
20 “Because he knows no quietness in his heart, he will not save anything he desires. 21 Nothing is left for him to eat; Therefore his well-being will not last. 22 In his self-sufficiency he will be in distress; Every hand of misery will come against him. 23 When he is about to fill his stomach, God will cast on him the fury of His wrath, and will rain it on him while he is eating. 24 He will flee from the iron weapon; A bronze bow will pierce him through. 25 It is drawn, and comes out of the body; Yes, the glittering point comes out of his gall. Terrors come upon him; 26 Total darkness is reserved for his treasures. An unfanned fire will consume him; It shall go ill with him who is left in his tent. 27 The heavens will reveal his iniquity, and the earth will rise up against him. 28 The increase of his house will depart, and his goods will flow away in the day of His wrath. 29 This is the portion from God for a wicked man, the heritage appointed to him by God.”
21:1 Then Job answered and said:
2 “Listen carefully to my speech, and let this be your consolation. 3 Bear with me that I may speak, and after I have spoken, keep mocking.
4 “As for me, is my complaint against man? And if it were, why should I not be impatient? 5 Look at me and be astonished; Put your hand over your mouth. 6 Even when I remember I am terrified, and trembling takes hold of my flesh. 7 Why do the wicked live and become old, yes, become mighty in power? 8 Their descendants are established with them in their sight, and their offspring before their eyes. 9 Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them. 10 Their bull breeds without failure; Their cow calves without miscarriage. 11 They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. 12 They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice to the sound of the flute. 13 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. 14 Yet they say to God, ‘Depart from us, for we do not desire the knowledge of Your ways. 15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?’ 16 Indeed their prosperity is not in their hand; The counsel of the wicked is far from me.
17 “How often is the lamp of the wicked put out? How often does their destruction come upon them, the sorrows God distributes in His anger? 18 They are like straw before the wind, and like chaff that a storm carries away. 19 They say, ‘God lays up one’s iniquity for his children’; Let Him recompense him, that he may know it. 20 Let his eyes see his destruction, and let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty. 21 For what does he care about his household after him, when the number of his months is cut in half?
22 “Can anyone teach God knowledge, since He judges those on high? 23 One dies in his full strength, being wholly at ease and secure; 24 His pails are full of milk, and the marrow of his bones is moist. 25 Another man dies in the bitterness of his soul, never having eaten with pleasure. 26 They lie down alike in the dust, and worms cover them.
27 “Look, I know your thoughts, and the schemes with which you would wrong me. 28 For you say, ‘Where is the house of the prince? And where is the tent, the dwelling place of the wicked?’ 29 Have you not asked those who travel the road? And do you not know their signs? 30 For the wicked are reserved for the day of doom; They shall be brought out on the day of wrath. 31 Who condemns his way to his face? And who repays him for what he has done? 32 Yet he shall be brought to the grave, and a vigil kept over the tomb. 33 The clods of the valley shall be sweet to him; Everyone shall follow him, as countless have gone before him.
34 “How then can you comfort me with empty words, since falsehood remains in your answers?”
In response to Bildad’s accusations, Job again turned to blaming God for his misery. He didn’t know that it was Satan who was behind the torment. The combination of Job’s misery and the constant needling of his “friends” was wearing down God’s faithful servant. Job laments: “How long will you torment my soul, and break me in pieces with words? These ten times you have reproached me; You are not ashamed that you have wronged me” (19:2-3).
But then Job turns again, as believers often do, from doubt to certainty: “Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (19:23-27).
God had revealed enough of His plan of salvation to give Job the strength and courage to stand up to the challenges of his devastating circumstances and the accusations of his friends. As miserable as his life was, on all fronts, it could only be the comfort found in the resurrection that could sustain Job. In the midst of our darkest hours, these words are just as powerful to us. No wonder that Job’s words would not only be preserved in Scripture but also in our hymnody.
We pray: “He lives, all glory to His name! He lives, my Jesus, still the same. Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!'” (TLH 200:4)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.