Throughout his speeches this great servant of the Lord has not specifically defended himself, except to say that his friends are wrong in suggesting that he has some secret sin that caused his fall. As they spoke against him they were increasingly specific in their suspicions, creating areas of sin for which they had no evidence. Job did not really need to refute their charges, since their inventions of his wrong-doing lacked all credibility. Their main point of evidence was Job’s unusual suffering. This they thought to be enough proof all by itself that something was not right in Job’s soul.
Now as Job concludes his remarks he gives us some insight into his true hatred of sin. He sets the record straight, in case there was any confusion on this matter, and he emphatically denies their insinuations. He is a man of God and no lesser man should accuse him of unrighteousness, suggesting that his sin is a sign of the Lord’s disfavor.
This may sound like boasting, but Job will not let their false words go unanswered. Where should he start? Job does not go around looking at young women. He knows the dangers of that kind of loose imagination, and he has made an arrangement with his eyes that they are not allowed to wander where they should not gaze. Though no one else might see an improper glance, God would know, and Job has not been willing to bring calamity upon his house because of his undisciplined desires. Remember, this was a man who habitually offered sacrifices for his children just in case they sinned with some excess in their family celebrations. Those children are now gone, and Job knows that it is not somehow his fault.
Job lays out all that he is before the gaze of God, and urges the Lord to bring upon him the justice that he deserves if he really is a liar and a cheat. Has he been some adulterer or thief? If so, then may God take all of his crops and give them to someone else. Has he enticed a woman with improper affections and advances? Then may someone do the same to his wife. A person who lives that way is a fool. Job wants nothing of that kind of behavior. Has Job been unjust to those who worked for him like a stubborn man who will not even listen to the concerns of those who serve him? God knows that such a charge is a lie. If he had abused the poor, he would have offended the One who is the Creator of rich and poor alike.
What has Job’s life been like? Is his righteousness only the avoidance of evil? No, Job has habitually given to the poor from his fields and his table. The fatherless and the widow have always found a friend in him. He was not a man of pious words devoid of action. He saw those who needed clothing and shelter, and found a way to help them out of his own storehouses. Has Job abused the poor? If so, then let the Almighty dislocate this godly man’s shoulder and tear out his arm from its socket. How many of us would want to taunt God like this concerning how faithfully we have attended to those who needed our help?
How about the inner life of the soul where no man can see? Job was once a wealthy man. Did he trust in his gold rather than his God? That would have been easy to do. It is easy to have secret idolatry that perverts the hearts of even the best men. Was Job happy when his enemies faced suffering? Did he curse those who hated him? But this has not been the story of his life. He has been a righteous man, and yet all of this has happened to him. His goodness was not a matter of concealed transgressions discovered in due time by the Lord’s discipline. His godliness was real.
What has Job done in order to bring about this horrible sorrow? Where is the indictment against him? He is begging to know his offense. But what can any man say? What would a great prophet of God say? What would God Himself say?
Doesn’t anyone have the courage to say the obvious? Job is a righteous man. From everything that anyone could have known, he was least deserving of this kind of treatment of all those among whom he lived. If Job is not safe, how can any of us still live? Why are we allowed to live in peace when Job suffered so deeply? Can’t we just admit that this makes no sense?
Job has finished his speech. We think now of the righteousness of Christ, all that he rejected that needed to be avoided, and all that he embraced that had to be accomplished. Here was the keeper of the Law, condemned by those who imagined themselves to be the Law’s most loyal defenders. Yet they did not keep the Law they loved. There is only one vindication that would be a worthy end for such a man. If He must lay down His life for our sake, let Him have the honor of taking it back up again. If He must face the disrespect of fools, may one day every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Glorious Lord, we will not give in to sin. We will fight against the impulses of evil that may rise up within us. Despite every false accusation, and regardless of every pain and temptation that may fill our lives, we will believe You, we will love You, and we will serve You. Give us grace for the day of the most severe trial. Please cut short the day of testing, lest we be swept away by our own sin and our thoughts of revenge. Teach us the way of the cross. Forgive our enemies. Hear us, O God! Help us now!