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20th May

Job 4-7; Psalm 135

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
20th May

Job 4-7; Psalm 135

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Job we’ve read through the prologue. We read as Job was exalted as a model example of a righteous man. God held court with his divine beings and heard reports, including the report of the satan (think of this as a job title, rather than the big, bad guy of the Bible). The satan asked the question, was Job genuinely righteous and faithful or was he just behaving that way because God was blessing him?

So God put this theory to the test, removing all of his blessing and favour from Job and leaving him alone and with a body full of sores. But despite all this, Job didn't sin or turn from God. He did, however, lament his situation, crying out that it would be better if he hadn't been born, and asking God why he won't just let him die. To begin with, Job’s friends chose to sit with him and mourn with him.

Job 4-7

The first friend to step forward is Eliphaz. He praises Job for his wisdom in the past, in teaching and leading others through difficult situations. However, Eliphaz then challenges Job for not listening to his own advice.

Eliphaz claims that we know God always rescues the innocent and always punishes the wicked. So what does Job have to worry about? If he's innocent, then God will rescue him. If he's wicked, then he deserves what he's got.

Eliphaz next appeals to a dream he had once, where it was revealed to him how stupid it is for humans to argue with God, because God is much greater than any human. From here, Eliphaz takes this a step further. He determines that Job's complaints have turned him into a fool, and points out that no one will answer Job's foolish prayers. He talks about how foolish people will suffer, and even their children will be punished for their parents' foolishness (which is particularly cruel considering Job has just lost all his children).

Eliphaz then tells Job what he would do in this situation. He would continue to trust in God, because, as we've already established, God rescues the innocent and punishes the wicked. If anything, Job should be happy that God is punishing him like this. "blessed is the one whom God reproves" (Job 5:17). If Job is as innocent as he says he is, then God will rescue him and bless him, so Job should be busy rejoicing in the goodness of God.

There are several reasons that Eliphaz's speech was completely unhelpful. First of all, Job was never making complaints against God. He was hurting and upset, and he was mourning his situation. But that mourning led him to God to wrestle and to ask questions, not to complain or accuse God. It also worked on the assumption that God always rescues the innocent and always punishes the wicked, which just isn't true. Job has brought up and started wrestling with the problem of evil. Eliphaz has tried to come up with an answer, but he fails, and so Job responds.

Job recognises that his words may be rash, but feels they are justified when you weigh up how severe his suffering is. He points out that even donkeys and oxen will bray and call out to their human when they are hungry and without food. In the same way, Job is within his rights to cry out to God when he is hurting.

He then sends a subtle jab to Eliphaz's words, likening them to tasteless and loathsome food. In response to Eliphaz's accusation that Job has turned away from God, he makes a point of turning to God to cry for help. He points out that he has nothing left to live for, and so asks God to end his suffering and let him die.

Job accuses Eliphaz of not fearing God by not showing him kindness. He likens his friends to fast-moving river beds, which are more likely to consume anyone who tries to cross them than provide water to drink. He feels like a travelling trader in the wilderness, that saw an oasis and rejoiced only to find out it was a mirage when he got closer.

Job lays out the challenge; if his friends can teach him and make him understand his suffering, then he will be silent. Instead, it feels like they're just trying to score points and show him how much smarter they are. And so he urges them to listen to him again, to see if there is any sin in what he says, and if not be persuaded by him.

Then Job gives another speech. He starts it with a simple point. Life is long and hard, but in the whole scheme of things, it's also short and meaningless. His life is like a breath, and will one day quickly disappear.

That might be enough for some, but not for Job. There must be more than this, and so because of this, Job will not be quiet. He will not hold back his anguish and his bitterness. He is not like the sea or the sea monster. In Ancient time both these things were seen as full of chaos and were the worst enemies of God. God had to control them both. Job isn't some being of pure chaos. He doesn't need to be controlled and dominated like this.

Job hates his life, and he asks God what is so important that God feels the need to punish him as severely as this. Why does God have to test him so? Job recognises that he's a sinner, but what does God want him to do? He has repented of all the sins he can think of, so why won't God forgive him?

While some might (and do) see Job's questions and complaints as an attack against God, the reality is these are genuine questions. Job wants to know from God why this is happening. Why has God taken such an interest in punishing him?

Psalm 135

This isn’t attributed to anyone in particular and falls into the category of praise psalm.

Psalm 135:1-3 - Call to praise the Lord

Psalm 135:4-14 - Reasons to praise the Lord

Psalm 135:15-18 - Trusting in idols is foolish

Psalm 135:19-21 - Final call to praise

The psalmist opens with a call to praise the Lord. The call to praise for the ‘servants of the Lord’, those ‘that stand in the house of the Lord’. this is likely referring to the priests and Levites.They are to praise the Lord for he is good and gracious.

Then comes a list of reasons why they should praise the Lord. He chose Israel to be his own people. He is Lord above all other gods, in charge of the heavens and the earth. It’s the Lord who produces rain, lightning, and wind.

It was the Lord who brought them out of Egypt and into the promised land with many miracles. He is an eternal God and will always defend and have compassion on his people.

In contrast, the idols of other nations are worthless. They are made by human hands from silver and gold. They have no mouths, eyes, or ears and so can’t speak, see, or hear. Those who trust in idols are as worthless as the idols they trust in. We read very similar words in Psalm 115:6-8.

And so the psalmist ends with another call to praise the Lord, this time to all of Israel. May all who fear the Lord bless him.

As we Christians believe in the priesthood of all believers, this psalm is very much one for us to pray. We too can praise the Lord for his power and all that he has done for us in the past and will do for us in the future. We can recognise the foolishness in trusting in things other than the Lord. Instead, we place our trust firmly in him.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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