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30th May

Job 40-42; Psalm 145

Bible in a Year
7 minutes
In this article
30th May

Job 40-42; Psalm 145

Bible in a Year
7 minutes


So far in Job we’ve read through the prologue, the three rounds of speeches, and Job's final monologue, Elihu's speech, and started God’s response. 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.

But then they started to rebuke him, leading to the first round of speeches. Eliphaz started off gentle, praising Job for his past wisdom and pointing out that God is just and punishes the wicked. Either Job is innocent and God will rescue him, or he is guilty and deserves what he gets. Bildad claimed that Job's children must have been wicked, and that's why they were punished. He argued that we can see that those close to God flourish and those far from him suffer.

Zophar then jumped in to accuse Job of mocking God, saying that Job should be grateful because he deserves worse than what God is currently doing. Responding to them in turn and then as a whole, Job argued that he has every right to bring his case before God. God will do what he will do and Job is willing to accept that, as long as can speak to God himself. All these friends want to do is correct Job and hold on to the box they’ve put in God. They don’t want to comfort him or challenge their own assumptions about how God works.

This started round two of speeches, where the friends got harsher. They doubled down on what they've already said and explicitly blamed all the bad things happening to Job on Job and his children's wickedness. The friends wanted to hold on to their narrow, dogmatic understanding of God. Job is wrestling with the nuance that comes from lived experience. For round three, Eliphaz started making up sins he assumed Job has committed, Bildad defaults back to God can do what he wants so deal with it, and Zophar doesn't even speak.

Job then started his monologue where he wrestles with the nuance that God does sometimes support the righteous and punish the wicked. But sometimes he doesn't. He also declared that wisdom can only come directly from God. Job grieved his old life that was gone and his new life that is full of suffering. One last time, he called out to God to hear him and point out any sins in him, and then Job stopped talking.

Elihu then joined the conversation. Younger than the rest, we got a sense of Elihu's puffed up pride. He rebukes Job for his complaints and the friends for not being able to answer Job. After spending a lot of time not saying much, he starts to build an argument that sometimes God allows people to suffer. Not to punish them, but to keep them from sinning. He tried to answer Job's question but either didn't say much of anything, or inadvertently supported Job's position. 

Finally, God burst onto the scene and pointed Job to creation, and all that includes. God pointed out that the universe is so much more complicated than Job could fathom. There is no way Job could ever fully appreciate what it is like to balance all of those and keep the world spinning. 

Job 40-42

Job responds to God, recognising his insignificance and promising to be quiet. This might seem like the right response, but actually it looks like Job hasn't learnt the lesson God is trying to teach him. In his many arguments, Job had pointed out that God is too great for anyone to defend their case against, so why bother?

Submitting to God involves leaning in and bringing all of yourself to the table. It’s not pulling away and shrinking away from your frustrations to appease God. So God gives another speech. He once again challenges Job to prepare himself for what God is about to say. God tells Job to restore himself, humble the proud and deal with the wicked. When Job can do that (hint, he won't ever be able to, not fully) then God will allow Job to justify himself.

God then picks up a similar line of argument from his previous speech, pointing Job to his creation. But this time it is with a twist. God points out two creatures, the Behemoth and the Leviathan. There has been a lot of debate about what these creatures are, but when we look at the context of the time that Job was written, we see that these creatures were great and fearful mythological monsters that the other nations believed in. These beings represented chaos and destruction.

So why would God point Job to mythological monsters? It's a metaphor. God is saying, you see these terrible monsters that the other nations, and even the gods of the other nations, are terrified of? I created them. I have authority and control over the things that the gods of other nations are scared of. Those gods wrestle with these beasts. I created them. They are my pets. 

So let's look at these creatures. The Behemoth is like a super ox. It's huge, with bones of metal and a tail the size of a cedar tree. The Behemoth can climb a mountain or cross great rivers. Would Job like to try handling one of those? Because God can. He created them.

The Leviathan is a sea monster. The version we read about in Job (there are various different descriptions of the Leviathan) is a giant crocodile like creature that can breathe fire, and whose skin is tougher than any sword, arrow, or spear could pierce. Again, God asks Job if he thinks he could handle a creature like that? Could Job fish one out of the sea?

The implication is God could. Job may not see it, but God is fully in control of all the chaos in the world, even things as powerful and chaotic as the Behemoth and Leviathan. At this, Job is content. He declares that he can now see that God can, in fact, do all things, and that none of God's plan will fail. Job has questioned God, and God has answered him. Before Job had heard about God, but now, he can see the goodness of God with his own eyes. Job has finally got what he desired, to feel God close to him again and hear his voice.

God then turns to Job's friends and condemns them. They have spoken poorly about him, trying to box him into their personal theology, while Job has spoken rightly. Now we know that there were times that Job didn't speak rightly about God. Some of the things he was saying about God when he was at his worst were just plain wrong. But through it all, Job was expressing how he was feeling and was begging God to come and prove him wrong.

This is why God says Job has spoken rightly about him. God cares less about us proving our theology right, and more about us taking our troubles and bringing them to him. God then demands Job's friends bring sacrifices and get Job to pray for them, which they do. God then blesses Job, restoring to him the things that were lost.

So forty-two chapters later, what is the answer? We've been wrestling with Job round the question: why do bad things happen, and wicked people prosper? The problem is, this book never answers that question. It does this intentionally. It wants to direct your attention away from trying to understand the world's problems, and towards letting your problems lead you to God. All our frustrations and complaints exist to push us back to God and to wrestle through them with him.

Psalm 145

This psalm is attributed to king David and falls into the category of praise psalms.

Psalm 145:1-2 - I will bless the Lord

Psalm 145:3-7 - You are worthy of praise

Psalm 145:8-9 - The Lord is good

Psalm 145:10-13 - The Lord’s works and kingdom

Psalm 145:14-16 - The Lord satisfies

Psalm 145:17-20 - Blessed are those who trust the Lord

Psalm 145:21 - I will praise the Lord

The psalmist starts with a declaration that they will bless the Lord. They will praise his name forever. Why? Because he is worthy of it. He has done mighty acts that are shared from generation to generation. He is majestic, which is something the psalmist meditates on. The psalmist will declare of the Lord’s awesome deeds to other, and they will celebrate the Lord’s goodness and righteousness.

He is a gracious and merciful God. His works are good and his kingdom is glorious, lasting forever. And he satisfies those in need. He lifts up those who are falling or bowed down. He gives food to his people and satisfies their desires. Those who call to him he is near to. Those who fear him he fulfills their desires and hears their cries. Those who love him he will watch over. But the wicked, those who don’t call to him, fear him, or love him, but do their own thing, he will destroy. And so the psalmist ends with praise.

This psalm celebrates God as king. He is king over all the earth, and all people rely on him for provision and protection.

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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