"God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity." --John Piper

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thoughts on Job. Could these guys be right?

So we were in Sunday School class, discussing the first "friend's" response to Job. Everyone is dogging him and saying what a terrible thing it was to do and say. Huh?

Job in Chapter 3 had basically just said he wished he had never been born. I might be thinking suicidal here. They had just spent a week with him mourning and saying nothing. A lot of what his friend says actually seems like it is decent advice, although some things it would depend on how they were said or how they are interpreted.

So what if the problem isn't WHAT was said as much as it was HOW it was said.

This is Job, the Bill Gates of the time. Surely he hung with men of means. And all they have to do for him is talk. How about a helping hand. Payback for some of the things Job had done for them or for others like them. And all he gets is talk.

Look at Job's response to Eliphaz. "He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the almighty." (6:14) "For you have now become nothing; you see my calamity and are afraid." (6:21) Perhaps they were afraid that if they helped Job, whom they thought God was judging, they would themselves become the victim of such judgment. And then there is "Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray. How forceful are upright words! But what does reproof from you reprove?" (6:24-25)

So maybe the problem Job has is that these guys are just blow-hards. Offering meaningless advice because they do not practice what they preach. Now that is a powerful lesson for us, isn't it?

Anyway, I could be way off base, but I would love to know what others think.


Gregg said...

When Job said he wished he had never been born he is going through a sequence in the text;

He wished he had never been born at all.

He wished he had been still born, born dead, never to live through what he was experiencing

Second, he wished he had never been conceived.

Turn it around and Job says this, I wish the night my mother and father "did it" I hadn't been conveived.

Well, I was conceived, I wish I had been still born.

It is not recorded in Job that he had any suicidal thoughts. That is not in the text.

The problem Job had with his friends is their wrong thinking. They thought he sinned or was being judged because of what he suffered. Job thinks he is innocent. He doesn't believe he has sinned, he wants them to convince him of the sin they are accusing him off.

It is always a powerful lesson to practice what we preach but this is not the lesson here. Job says you are strongly convinced I have sinned, you are reproving me of being a sinner, but where is the sin? He couldn't see it.

Kansas Bob said...

For me, the major theme of Job is grief and the grieving process. He and his wife have lost their children and all they have. Job is grieving those losses and then loses his health. Job is stunned and in shock when he speaks about God giving and taking away and accepting good and evil from God.. he is in that state of denial. As he begins to come out of denial he comes head on with his loss and wishes he was dead.

I have been there.. when my wife died I gave her eulogy and had amazing strength in that first month or so.. but then denial wore off and reality set in.. I was sad like I had never been sad before.. my heart, and my life, was broken in unimaginable ways.. and I began struggle through my grief.

For me Job is written in part to show us how grieving people can respond to great loss and how friends can be so discouraging. All during the book my heart breaks for the way that Job is hurting and people are laughing at him and unjustly casting accusing comments at him.

I think that we can learn much from this book.

Spherical said...

Thanks guys, I appreciate the thoughts.

Gregg, I still wonder if he is not suicidal. Wouldn't we consider someone who said that they wished they had never been born at least possibly being suicidal? I am not a psychologist, but it seems possible at least.

Bob, I agree about the grief lessons, which are hard ones to learn. But I think that his friends also have some very good things to say to him, although the timing of some of their words seems to lack understanding and compassion.

Gregg said...

No, the context won't support it. No where in the context of that section nor anywhere else in the book does it imply Job considered ever taking his life. To say so would be isogesis or reading it into the text. Saying I wish I had been still born or never conceived is not the same as I am considering or have considered taking my life.

Grief may be a great sub theme or application but the theme of Job is the absolute sovereignty of God. The theme is God revealing Himself as sovereign and worthy of worship.

Kansas Bob said...

Tend to agree with you Gregg - Job certainly did not seem to exhibit signs of being suicidal.. just signs of deep grief. And I think that the sovereignty of God could be said to be the overarching theme of all of scripture.. so I have no problem with grief being a sub-theme of Job or any book of the bible.