When meaningful dialogue stalls, sometimes wretched dialogue still continues. Job and his friends aren’t going to persuade each other of their positions, but the talking goes on. And on. The tone and quality are distinctly lower, however. At times, it’s not far short of mud-slinging. Bildad accuses Job of insulting them as being like cattle (v.23), and suggests that Job’s own words are just self-centred lament (v.4). And then comes a familiar thread: that Job is no more than the many wicked men who have lived on earth, ultimately brought down by the judgment their sin deserves (vv.5-21). Job’s name isn’t mentioned – but nobody is deceived.
So, same insinuations of Job’s guilt, and the same angry reaction from Job: Job is angry at these men (19.1-6), and struggling with his feelings towards God (vv.7-20), as he believes that God has turned from friend to enemy, and with that, He has turned the people around Job against him, and made this faithful servant an object of ridicule. “Have pity” (v.21-22).
When Job couldn’t be more wretched, faith again breaks forth: with his desperation – and every human being’s desperate longing that their lives mean something, somewhere. He longs that his misery would be recorded and remembered (vv.23-4). Then these astonishing words: he knows that there is hope, there is redemption, there is a God who cares, saves, loves (vv.23-27). He longs for Him. We do, too, and we know Him. His name is Jesus.
We know Him and His hope. Because we do, we fear Him. Yes, we are safe from His wrath, but we never forget the reality of what our sins deserve, and what a great price has been paid for us (v.29). Living close to the cross is the only place for hope, sanity and perseverance this side of that great day.
A Prayer to Pray
Lord, how I need You to keep my focus on Your Son. Outside Him, all is despair and frustration. In Him there is abundant life and hope. Lord, I am so prone to wander. Fix my heart, on Him, in Him, I pray. Amen.