Thursday, January 22, 2004

Zophar Speaks, Job Responds: Job 11-12

Job 11

Zophar's First Response to Job

1Then Zophar the Naamathite replied to Job:
2"Shouldn't someone answer this torrent of words? Is a person proved innocent just by talking a lot? 3Should I remain silent while you babble on? When you mock God, shouldn't someone make you ashamed? 4You claim, `My teaching is pure,' and `I am clean in the sight of God.' 5If only God would speak; if only he would tell you what he thinks! 6If only he would tell you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom is not a simple matter. Listen! God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve!

7"Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything there is to know about the Almighty? 8Such knowledge is higher than the heavens--but who are you? It is deeper than the underworld[a]--what can you know in comparison to him? 9It is broader than the earth and wider than the sea. 10If God comes along and puts a person in prison, or if he calls the court to order, who is going to stop him? 11For he knows those who are false, and he takes note of all their sins. 12An empty-headed person won't become wise any more than a wild donkey can bear human offspring[b]!

13"If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! 14Get rid of your sins and leave all iniquity behind you. 15Then your face will brighten in innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. 16You will forget your misery. It will all be gone like water under the bridge. 17Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Any darkness will be as bright as morning. 18You will have courage because you will have hope. You will be protected and will rest in safety. 19You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help. 20But the wicked will lose hope. They have no escape. Their hope becomes despair."

Job 11:8 Hebrew Sheol.
Job 11:12 Or bear a tame colt.

Job 12

Jobs Fourth Speech: A Response to Zophar

1Then Job spoke again:
2"You really know everything, don't you? And when you die, wisdom will die with you! 3Well, I know a few things myself--and you're no better than I am. Who doesn't know these things you've been saying? 4Yet my friends laugh at me. I am a man who calls on God and receives an answer. I am a just and blameless man, yet they laugh at me. 5People who are at ease mock those in trouble. They give a push to people who are stumbling. 6But even robbers are left in peace, and those who provoke God--and God has them in his power--live in safety!

7"Ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you. 8Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you. Let the fish of the sea speak to you. 9They all know that the LORD has done this. 10For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of all humanity. 11Just as the mouth tastes good food, so the ear tests the words it hears. 12Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to those who have lived many years.

13"But true wisdom and power are with God; counsel and understanding are his. 14What he destroys cannot be rebuilt. When he closes in on someone, there is no escape. 15If he holds back the rain, the earth becomes a desert. If he releases the waters, they flood the earth.

16"Yes, strength and wisdom are with him; deceivers and deceived are both in his power. 17He leads counselors away stripped of good judgment; he drives judges to madness. 18He removes the royal robe of kings. With ropes around their waist, they are led away. 19He leads priests away stripped of status; he overthrows the mighty. 20He silences the trusted adviser, and he removes the insight of the elders. 21He pours disgrace upon princes and confiscates weapons from the strong.

22"He floods the darkness with light; he brings light to the deepest gloom. 23He raises up nations, and he destroys them. He makes nations expand, and he abandons them. 24He takes away the understanding of kings, and he leaves them wandering in a wasteland without a path. 25They grope in the darkness without a light. He makes them stagger like drunkards.

Job Wants to Argue His Case with God: Job 13-14

Job 13

Job Wants to Argue His Case with God

1"Look, I have seen many instances such as you describe. I understand what you are saying. 2I know as much as you do. You are no better than I am. 3Oh, how I long to speak directly to the Almighty. I want to argue my case with God himself. 4For you are smearing me with lies. As doctors, you are worthless quacks. 5Please be quiet! That's the smartest thing you could do. 6Listen to my charge; pay attention to my arguments.
7"Are you defending God by means of lies and dishonest arguments? 8You should be impartial witnesses, but will you slant your testimony in his favor? Will you argue God's case for him? 9Be careful that he doesn't find out what you are doing! Or do you think you can fool him as easily as you fool people? 10No, you will be in serious trouble with him if even in your hearts you slant your testimony in his favor. 11Doesn't his majesty strike terror into your heart? Does not your fear of him seize you? 12Your statements have about as much value as ashes. Your defense is as fragile as a clay pot.

13"Be silent now and leave me alone. Let me speak--and I will face the consequences. 14Yes, I will take my life in my hands and say what I really think. 15God might kill me, but I cannot wait. I am going to argue my case with him. 16But this is what will save me: that I am not godless. If I were, I would be thrown from his presence.

17"Listen closely to what I am about to say. Hear me out. 18I have prepared my case; I will be proved innocent. 19Who can argue with me over this? If you could prove me wrong, I would remain silent until I die.

Job Asks How He Has Sinned

20"O God, there are two things I beg of you, and I will be able to face you. 21Remove your hand from me, and don't terrify me with your awesome presence. 22Now summon me, and I will answer! Or let me speak to you, and you reply. 23Tell me, what have I done wrong? Show me my rebellion and my sin. 24Why do you turn away from me? Why do you consider me your enemy? 25Would you terrify a leaf that is blown by the wind? Would you chase a dry stalk of grass?
26"You write bitter accusations against me and bring up all the sins of my youth. 27You put my feet in stocks. You watch all my paths. You trace all my footprints. 28I waste away like rotting wood, like a moth-eaten coat.

Job 14

1 "How frail is humanity! How short is life, and how full of trouble! 2Like a flower, we blossom for a moment and then wither. Like the shadow of a passing cloud, we quickly disappear. 3Must you keep an eye on such a frail creature and demand an accounting from me? 4Who can create purity in one born impure? No one! 5You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. 6So give us a little rest, won't you? Turn away your angry stare. We are like hired hands, so let us finish the task you have given us.
7"If a tree is cut down, there is hope that it will sprout again and grow new branches. 8Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, 9at the scent of water it may bud and sprout again like a new seedling.

10"But when people die, they lose all strength. They breathe their last, and then where are they? 11As water evaporates from a lake and as a river disappears in drought, 12people lie down and do not rise again. Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.

13"I wish you would hide me with the dead and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! 14If mortals die, can they live again? This thought would give me hope, and through my struggle I would eagerly wait for release. 15You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. 16For then you would count my steps, instead of watching for my sins. 17My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover over my iniquity.

18"But as mountains fall and crumble and as rocks fall from a cliff, 19as water wears away the stones and floods wash away the soil, so you destroy people's hope. 20You always overpower them, and then they pass from the scene. You disfigure them in death and send them away. 21They never know if their sons grow up in honor or sink to insignificance. 22They are absorbed in their own pain and grief."