Alright, so you’ve made it through the first round of arguments between Job and his three friends. Job is frustrated by the lack of sympathy from his friends, who don’t seem to understand the depth of his pain and the difficulty he’s experiencing. Job’s dialogues are held on two fronts. He’s talking with his friends, but he also keeps a running monologue/dialogue going that is directed at God. As we get further into the book, those dialogues with God will become more impassioned, especially as his friends become less helpful and more confrontational.
As you read Job 14, realize that Job is beginning to desperately call out to God for answers and in his desperation Job begins to really press God for answers. The tone of his plea will change throughout the book. He goes from a plea for answers at the end of chapter 13 to confronting God in chapter 14 as unfair. Indeed, much of chapter 14 is Job accusing God of not treating humanity as they deserve, but indeed treating all of humanity more severely than they deserve.
One does not do this! That is Eliphaz’s reply in chapter 15. Eliphaz charges Job with self-conceit because he is not listening to the council of his friends, and with not keeping with the very basics of good religion: the fear of God and persistent prayer. In essence, Eliphaz is saying that Job’s queries and comments are undercutting religion, or “religion” as Eliphaz has experienced it. Eliphaz then goes on to repeat everything he said in his first argument, showing the one-dimensional nature of his religious experience.
That is why Job responds to Eliphaz in chapter 16 that his attempts at comfort are pitiful and repetitive. What we do find in chapter 16 is a Job who is running out of options. He doesn’t know what to do. Prayerful pleading and patient waiting have not worked (v6), nor has mourning and humbling his spirit (v15). He feels that God is aggressively attacking him (like a lion and an armed warrior), and Job has no idea how to respond to God’s treatment. This is yet another instance where the book of Job carries within it the cries and confusions that most of us feel throughout life when we can’t figure out why God seems to be against us. It seems though, that Job is struggling with two pictures of God in his mind: 1) the attacking judge who has wrongly condemned him in wrath and 2) the righteous judge with steadfast love. Job is conflicted, and as he moved forward he is looking for the right path, the right questions to ask and the right answers.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Job 17-20