Job 4:6–7; 8:4–8; 11:6–15; 13:22–25comment (0)
June 6, 2013
By Douglas K. Wilson Jr.
Related Scripture: Job 4:6–7; 8:4–8; 11:6–15; 13:22–25
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Dean, School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
Was It My Fault?
Job 4:6–7; 8:4–8; 11:6–15; 13:22–25
Last week we introduced Job, who chose to give glory to God in the midst of devastating loss.
The man lost his children and his livelihood, everything but his wife and his health. Between chapter one and this week’s selected passages, Job’s suffering has continued. He initially lost his possessions and his children, but Job has since lost his health. In addition, his wife has suggested that Job simply curse God and die.
Upon hearing the news, Job’s friends gather to visit and encourage him. Their presence was a comfort to him until they began to speak (2:11–13). Eliphaz and his companions explain that Job’s suffering is the result of unrepentant sin. Their errant theology led them to faulty conclusions.
An Appeal to Justice (4:6–7)
Eliphaz argues that God is just in His dealings with men. He argues, in essence, that Job is prideful, placing his confidence in his fear of God and his own integrity. In the passage, Eliphaz states that God justly punishes evildoers, implying that Job is suffering because of his actions or attitude.
Like those who asked Jesus why a man was born blind (John 9:1–34), we often want to assign blame for the pain we and others experience. Was the suffering a result of the man’s sin or his parents’? Jesus answered that it was neither. We often fail to see that God’s greater glory is the ultimate purpose of a believer’s pain and suffering.
An Appeal to Tradition (8:4–8)
Bildad joins in the theological discussion now. He argues that history demonstrates cause and effect, that bad behavior leads to bad consequences. “Job, your children died,” he argues, “as a result of their sins” (paraphrasing 8:4). If Job were to become pure and upright, God would surely bless him materially. This appeal to tradition implies that God is obligated to bless certain people because of their behavior. Prosperity gospel advocates make the same appeal.
To counter Bildad’s reasoning, Job pleads for mercy. Herein lies the balance regarding the dual nature of God’s wrath and mercy (Ex. 34:6–7). Job recognizes that an appeal to God’s justice reveals wrath. He further affirms that history reveals the God who is greater than creation. Only in God’s mercy can Job find peace.
An Appeal to Logic (11:6–15)
Zophar adds his philosophical perspective, arguing that Job is suffering less than he deserves. Who does Job think he is, questioning God’s plans and purposes? God is already withholding His full wrath from Job. The wisdom of God is limitless, so Job has no right to plead for God’s mercy.
Companion number three presents the same kind of argument as his friends. Everything will be better in life once Job repents. The sores on his face will heal, he will never need to fear and his hope will return.
While these are intended to be words of comfort, they bring no joy. In the midst of his suffering, Job has no need to be lectured. As a man who fears and honors God, Job knows that those who trust God are not immune from pain. He is well aware that in this world, the wicked often prosper and the godly often suffer.
An Appeal to God (13:22–25)
Who do these men think they are, lecturing Job as if he had no knowledge of God? He tells them to be quiet and listen to what he has to say. He pleads his case directly to his Maker. God knows justice better than they, He is fully aware of history and He is the author of wisdom. Job is so confident in the righteousness of God that he states: “Though he slay me, I will hope in Him” (13:15). If Job is guilty, he wants God to reveal his transgression.