Exercise: Read chapters 16-17, see if you can answer the following;
1. What new title do we read for Job’s friends? 2. Why should it seem strange for Job to accuse his friends of being “long-winded”? 3. When the friends lectured Job what physical gesture did they make? 4. If one of his friends had been the sick one, how would Job have treated them differently to how they were treating him? 5. He says his experience of suffering is like which of the following? a, Being bound in court, with a hostile opponent. b, being a target for God to shoot at. c, being attacked by a warrior d, Being on holiday. 6. What does “my gauntness testifies against me” mean? 7. Which verses might remind you of something in the New Testament about Christ. e.g. in the Gospels or Hebrews. 8. What signs of suffering showed on his face? 9. What is the previous reference in a speech where he said he wished he had and advocate? 10. How do you think he now is able to say that he had an advocate? (ch.16:17-21)
Chapter 17; 11. Why might some people go blind ? 12. Ch. 17 v 8. Why would the innocent be aroused against the ungodly because of Job’s suffering.? 13. Ch. 17. v 9. Why might the righteous not hold to their ways? 14. Who is Job referring to as “these men ‘’ in chap 17 v 12. 15. Can you trace the sarcasm in ch. 17:12-16, and in your own words what do you think he was saying?
Study Notes on ch. 16.
His Friends. Job’s new title for his friends is probably the most well known. - “Miserable Comforters”. Being a contradiction in terms - (bringing misery with comfort) it has its humorous connotations. Similar to today’s comic remarks such as, “I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous” or “Why is there only one Monopolies’ Commission?” Strange also that Job should want to accuse his friends of being “long-winded”. Strange on two counts; 1. That in the speeches recorded, Job is by far the longest winded. 2. Job’s friends had earlier accused him of being a wind bag. Bildad in ch. 8:2, says “Your words are blustering wind” Eliphaz in ch. 15:2 says “Would a wise man fill his belly with the hot east wind, would he argue with useless words?” Verse 4: “and shake my head at you” To notice the physical gesture of nodding the head as they talked gives a little insight into the natural and physical setting of this debate. A few years ago, the B.B.C. showed a programme in which some tribal chiefs from Ethiopia met together to iron out some tribal difficulties and make some judgments. At the time, when the book of Job was not so familiar I even thought then, how strange was the manner of addressing one another and also the content of their speeches. For as the others sat around, each speaker rose in turn, and marching up and down and at times making head gestures they talked very slowly. Strangely also, the thing I remember most was that the content of the speeches were very much concerning nature and what happens in nature. It seemed to be one question after another, intertwined by one simile after another, as though, if a point could be shown to be a principle in nature or the earth then it held also in human relationships. In reading Job, though the content is somewhat different, the manner of debate and addressing one another, I would guess has hardly changed in Ethiopia for four thousand years.
It would seem that Job definitely expected comfort from his friends by their words. Job says that if the situation had been reversed and they had been ill, he would have been a comfort to them. On the other hand the friends perhaps felt that the truth was the only comfort, and even if Job denied their accusations of sinfulness, they obviously kept to their monotonous remedy for his complaint. But even so, does the “truth” always comfort?
Discussion Point? It might perhaps be a timely reminder for some, or at least a point for discussion, concerning whether or not it is always best to say what you think is true and justify one’s remarks simply on the basis of it ‘’ being the truth”. If in the situation the truth hurts rather than comforts, is it false comfort? Would it not be wiser to delay saying what one thinks is the truth, in place of saying something kind, understanding and more supportive? Perhaps then later, they may be in a better disposition to accept the “painful” truth. In ch.17:10. Job offers ironic encouragement to his friends to “put more effort into being wise”. It is obvious to Job that his days are numbered and that there is no hope. However his friends continue to try to encourage him to repent, which they say would lead to God restoring him to his family. To Job, such talk is nonsense, for in the first place there was nothing of which to repent, and secondly to make false claims that his situation would be reversed is like calling black, white, or light, darkness. If he is to cling to the “hope” they talk about, Job somewhat sarcastically suggests that perhaps this hope might merrily accompany him all the way to the grave. He maintains that it is a false hope, and therefore will never come to fulfilment, it will stay with him like a sterile seed, and they will both go down to the grave together. As for being “restored to his relatives”, the only relatives he would be restored to with such “hope” would be “worms and corruption”.
Legal Tapestry: You might perhaps find that if you compiled a database or concordance on all the subjects in the book of Job, that the legal aspects of the debate would show more references than even those concerning his suffering. In this chapter we have a very legal setting, Job clearly sees himself in court, and more than that He is the picture of guilt. “My gauntness rises up and testifies against me” (ch.16: 8 ) He pictures himself as one in a dock, bound, and he knows he looks like a guilty person, just as we might be persuaded that a man who was handcuffed in court was very much guilty. In today’s court room scenes, you will very often see a defendant in the dock, dressed in a smart suit, with well groomed hair and wearing a collar and tie. The young man is on perhaps some charge of hooliganism. Quite deliberately his legal adviser has told him to dress smartly for the court, because a jury will take a visual impression far more easily than a verbal one. People are funny like that, they prefer to feel that they have an independent mind and if they can deduce some “truth”, which they think they have come to all by themselves, they will back their hunches rather than tire themselves by listening to the evidence. The other side of the coin, is known to the police only too well. A young man who I once befriended, who was often on the wrong side of the law, was dragged into custody for public disturbance. I am sure that my friend gave as much as he got, but when I went to see him next day his back and face were a mass of bruises and cuts, where he had been beaten up. He could not have done the damage to his back by himself. However, when I suggested that he clean himself up for court, there were no facilities made available so he arrived in the dock unshaven and looking as if he had been in a public brawl the night before. He was the picture of guilt. Many others have written of similar situations. The police are not likely to make it easier for the offender to get off, so it is in the interest of the prosecution to see that the defendant “looks guilty” There is an old joke about a smash and grab raid at a jewellers, and when a lady heard that the police were appealing for witnesses, she rang in to say that when passing on the bus that morning, she had seen three very shifty looking characters hanging around outside these same jewellers. She said that “they all looked the real criminal type” However when she was asked what time this was, she said it was about 9.30 am. Unfortunately the raid had taken place at 8.30 a.m. and she was told that the men she had seen were the three detectives working on the case. So, outward appearance is not evidence of guilt.
Back to the court room scene; Job sees God as the judge or prosecution that tears him apart in cross examination. He stares hard and fiercely at him enough to terrify him. Obviously, Job has seen such tactics in his own court room scenes of his day. Ch.17 :3-5. Here we come to a few more verses which stretch one’s power of understanding. It would seem from this passage (N.I.V.) that if a person put up bail for someone else, then there was some kind of commission or reward if the person was found not guilty. For Job suggests (v.4) that God had closed the minds of his friends to understand properly, i.e. they believe him to be guilty, so they no doubt would be unwilling to pay the bail and so stand as a witness for him. Job seems to be suggesting that the stance the friends are taking is also God’s doing in some way. Furthermore, in verse 5, Job quotes a known maxim, that some people were born blind because their parents had a, denounced, or b, spoken up for, a friend for reward. Job perhaps thinks that not only will they not stand for him, because a, they think that if they take Job’s side they will be denouncing the other friends, and b, if they speak up for him, they will have to say good things about him which are not true. Perhaps he is saying to God, “will you provide bail for me seeing no man will do it?”
Christ-likeness: The court room scene that Job describes is almost a prophecy of the trial of Jesus. In the time of Jesus, the night before such prisoners appeared in court, as Jesus did, they were usually left bound and accessible to any member of the public who wanted to abuse them or have mocking fun at their expense. One writer has called it the “blackest night in history”. Job says that God had turned him over to evil men, and thrown him into the clutches of the wicked. It could also be said of Jesus. The scourging that Jesus underwent, was quite bad enough to kill some people. The leather thonged whips, fitted with pieces of bone and ivory were known to open the intestines of the prisoner. Job speaks here of his kidneys being pierced and his gall being spilt upon the ground. God’s attack upon him was like a warrior rushing at him. I am sure the trial and scourging of Jesus was being prophesied here. Indeed put yourself in the position of Jesus, if you can, and see the Roman soldier (a warrior) bearing down on you with his scourge. Knowing that all things that happened to you were in God’s hands, you could with the limited knowledge of Job, equate that with God doing the scourging. If such a thing was happening to us, we would at least think the arm of Lord would suddenly step in and smite the arm of the warrior. But Job knew no such interference (nor did Jesus) therefore Job could only attribute responsibility to God. If it was God’s will then it must be God doing it, because He is sovereign. This is Job’s reasoning, without the knowledge of Satan’s activities, or God’s ultimate plan. Chapter 17: 6. “A man in whose face people spit”, This phrase should need no explanation as a pointer to Christ. Whether such physical things, as described happened to Job in reality is open to doubt. In Psalm 22 David in similar fashion testifies to being “crucified”. In either case there must only be one definite reason, and that is that they are both inspired prophecies. The gospels make no mention of his kidneys being pierced during the scourging, but there are many things, which are never mentioned in the New Testament, hidden in the Old Testament about Jesus.
Inspired Utterances: There is a spiritual principle existing in Job which we shall no doubt explore more as we progress through this study and that is that suffering such as Job endured produces spiritual life, rather than destroys it. We have already noticed that he acquired “hope” from somewhere, despite the fact that in the natural he had no reason to hope for any future after death. It would seem here that the suffering of Job is almost at its greatest, yet at the same time there comes such a mighty spiritual utterance, such as only could have come from the inspiration of the Spirit of God himself. ch 16:19. There is no witness to stand up for him on earth. He cries for his blood to speak on his behalf. The same theme is mentioned in Hebrews concerning the blood of Abel, which was spilt on the ground. That blood speaks from the ground of the guilt of his murderer, Cain. The writer of Hebrews mentions that the blood of Christ also now speaks but it “speaks better things than the blood of Abel”; not guilt but cleansing and forgiveness. Job longs for some witness, and though at first he desires his blood to speak, he then remembers that there is a God in heaven, that there is an unseen world watching this one, and he is inspired to say that He did in fact have a witness, yea an advocate who was interceding for him in heaven as a man intercedes for a friend. If you don’t already know the book of Hebrews, then read ch. 2:16-18; ch.4:14-16; and ch.7: 25; The latter says that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us. The fact that He ever lives emphasises that He is eternal and lived in Job’s day. So perhaps Job, by the Spirit, looked into the eternal day. Sometimes in trials we cannot fathom or understand, this is our greatest consolation, that there is one who endured the same and much more, who prays for us. Jesus once said to Peter; “Satan has desired to have you, that He might sift you as wheat,- But I have prayed for you” Satan was doing some sifting here as well with Job, was he not? Once again we ask the question, where did Job get such inspiration from?
His Suffering: Ch. 17:1. “My Spirit is broken” We have already mentioned that Job’s suffering was more than just physical. ch 17:2. The mocking of others probably hurt Job more because in a sense they were mocking God. For his “righteous living” would be well known, and his belief in God would have been witnessed. Now it seemed that His God had let him down. Such gods can only be marked as false gods. The true God is faithful. Ch. 17:7. His eyes dim with grief. This doesn’t suggest total blindness, but certainly shows that even his eyesight was affected. His whole body was affected, having “become like a shadow.”
Argument: Ch. 17: 8-9. Job argues that upright men would be appalled if they knew what had happened to him. The reason upright men would be appalled at what had happened to Job, is because they would see the injustice of it all. Injustice always raises the hackles of the upright. Furthermore, Job suggests that perhaps, what has happened to him might put some people off following the ways of God, for it seemed not to have the reward they all thought it had, or expected that it should. However, Job qualifies this with a statement about the truly righteous, that they would not be put off living righteously if they heard about his sickness, for Job’s integrity was also pure and not self motivated as the devil had suggested at the beginning. Job was righteous for righteousness sake. In ch.19 later, Job tells his friends that even if he had sinned, it was not their concern, but his alone. What he really meant was, that he had not lived a righteous life because of them, or the social pressure they might put on him, for his morality and integrity was a deep personal thing between him and God alone. Even if the whole world said something was moral or OK, if he did not think it so, he would not do it, and vice versa. Only God was his judge, and he lived his life before God essentially. So the truly righteous person would not change his attitude to God because of what was happening to others. This should provide for each of us a reminder of the need of personal integrity. It behoves us to live our lives unto God, rather than unto man. We can oft-times be guilty of being more concerned about what man thinks than what God thinks. Even worse, we can judge God by the bad circumstances he may allow others to fall into. In John ch. 21 Jesus infers to Peter. “If I will that John stays alive and well, till I return, and you have to go the way of suffering, or the way of the cross, what difference should that make to you. You must follow me, not John or anyone else.”
Humour; We have already noted that in ch.17:10. Job offers ironic encouragement to his friends to put more effort into being wise. This sounds like the familiar school report “Must try harder”
Death and the Grave: Ch. 16:22.” I go on the journey of no return,” In order to appreciate the hope that he spoke of in ch.13, under the inspiration of the Spirit, such verses as this should be noted, because in the natural he would more likely to have said that there was no return from the grave.
Easy read Job’s Fifth Speech How long will you go rabbiting on? Is there something wrong with you? May be it is you who needs the doctor. If I was in your place I could speak hard and long to you, but I wouldn’t. I would encourage you. You depress me. Some comforters you have turned out to be. How can you comfort with misery? I have heard enough words I am weary with speaking. I am as man in court. God has bound me up, and my condition seems to endorse my guilt. I look the picture of guilt. God glares at me in his anger, [like a fierce judge]. Men stare in condemnation. They join forces against me. They slap my face, they mock me. God has given me over to evil men. I was doing well till God set me up as a target to aim at. His arrows have struck my kidneys and made my gall spill onto the ground. I have dressed myself in sackcloth and wept till I have no more strength to weep. My face is red and rings circle my eyes. Not because of any wrong I have done, and my prayer is pure when I call for the earth to witness my blood and my cry ever to be heard. Let there be a witness for me in heaven who will intercede for me as a man speaks for his fellow man. For I will soon be removed from this scene, never to be seen again. ch 17. I am at my end. The grave awaits me. You can see the mockers that surround me. I see their constant provocation through my tears. What price is my bail? will you pay it for me. No-one would pay it. You have prevented them from knowing the truth. Which is probably for the best, for it would not be right for them to make money out of my misfortune by a false guarantee. For we say that if someone flatters or says nice things just for money then his children will be blind and who wants that? They just mock. They despise me with bad language. I can hardly see through my grief, I am a shadow of what I was. The righteous could be appalled at such unjustice going on. They hate hypocrisy. But their faith will hold, and the test of their faith will make them stronger But as for you lot, come again with your wisdom, have another try. I will not find a wise man among you. You call darkness light. You say there is hope,but there is none, no light at the end of the tunnel for me- just the darknes sof the grave. Corruption and worms are my only relatives. If I have hope then it will go with me to the grave