Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Job's Final Protest of Innocence: Job 28-31

Job 28

Job Speaks of Wisdom and Understanding

1"People know how to mine silver and refine gold. 2They know how to dig iron from the earth and smelt copper from stone. 3They know how to put light into darkness and explore the farthest, darkest regions of the earth as they search for ore. 4They sink a mine shaft into the earth far from where anyone lives. They descend on ropes, swinging back and forth. 5Bread comes from the earth, but below the surface the earth is melted as by fire.
6"People know how to find sapphires and gold dust-- 7treasures that no bird of prey can see, no falcon's eye observe-- 8for they are deep within the mines. No wild animal has ever walked upon those treasures; no lion has set his paw there. 9People know how to tear apart flinty rocks and overturn the roots of mountains. 10They cut tunnels in the rocks and uncover precious stones. 11They dam up the trickling streams and bring to light the hidden treasures.

12"But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? 13No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living. 14`It is not here,' says the ocean. `Nor is it here,' says the sea.

15"It cannot be bought for gold or silver. 16Its value is greater than all the gold of Ophir, greater than precious onyx stone or sapphires. 17Wisdom is far more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold. 18Coral and valuable rock crystal are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above pearls. 19Topaz from Ethiopia[a] cannot be exchanged for it. Its value is greater than the purest gold.

20"But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? 21For it is hidden from the eyes of all humanity. Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it. 22But Destruction and Death say, `We have heard a rumor of where wisdom can be found.'

23"God surely knows where it can be found, 24for he looks throughout the whole earth, under all the heavens. 25He made the winds blow and determined how much rain should fall. 26He made the laws of the rain and prepared a path for the lightning. 27Then, when he had done all this, he saw wisdom and measured it. He established it and examined it thoroughly. 28And this is what he says to all humanity: `The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.' "

Job 28:19 Hebrew from Cush.

Job 29

Job Speaks of His Former Blessings

1Job continued speaking:
2"I long for the years gone by when God took care of me, 3when he lighted the way before me and I walked safely through the darkness. 4In my early years, the friendship of God was felt in my home. 5The Almighty was still with me, and my children were around me. 6In those days my cows produced milk in abundance, and my olive groves poured out streams of olive oil.

7"Those were the days when I went to the city gate and took my place among the honored leaders. 8The young stepped aside when they saw me, and even the aged rose in respect at my coming. 9The princes stood in silence and put their hands over their mouths. 10The highest officials of the city stood quietly, holding their tongues in respect.

11"All who heard of me praised me. All who saw me spoke well of me. 12For I helped the poor in their need and the orphans who had no one to help them. 13I helped those who had lost hope, and they blessed me. And I caused the widows' hearts to sing for joy. 14All I did was just and honest. Righteousness covered me like a robe, and I wore justice like a turban. 15I served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. 16I was a father to the poor and made sure that even strangers received a fair trial. 17I broke the jaws of godless oppressors and made them release their victims.

18"I thought, `Surely I will die surrounded by my family after a long, good life. 19For I am like a tree whose roots reach the water, whose branches are refreshed with the dew. 20New honors are constantly bestowed on me, and my strength is continually renewed.'

21"Everyone listened to me and valued my advice. They were silent as they waited for me to speak. 22And after I spoke, they had nothing to add, for my counsel satisfied them. 23They longed for me to speak as they longed for rain. They waited eagerly, for my words were as refreshing as the spring rain. 24When they were discouraged, I smiled at them. My look of approval was precious to them. 25I told them what they should do and presided over them as their chief. I lived as a king among his troops and as one who comforts those who mourn.

Job 30

Job Speaks of His Anguish

1"But now I am mocked by those who are younger than I, by young men whose fathers are not worthy to run with my sheepdogs. 2A lot of good they are to me--those worn-out wretches! 3They are gaunt with hunger and flee to the deserts and the wastelands, desolate and gloomy. 4They eat coarse leaves, and they burn the roots of shrubs for heat. 5They are driven from civilization, and people shout after them as if they were thieves. 6So now they live in frightening ravines and in caves and among the rocks. 7They sound like animals as they howl among the bushes; they huddle together for shelter beneath the nettles. 8They are nameless fools, outcasts of civilization.
9"And now their sons mock me with their vulgar song! They taunt me! 10They despise me and won't come near me, except to spit in my face. 11For God has cut the cords of my tent. He has humbled me, so they have thrown off all restraint. 12These outcasts oppose me to my face. They send me sprawling; they lay traps in my path. 13They block my road and do everything they can to hasten my calamity, knowing full well that I have no one to help me. 14They come at me from all directions. They rush upon me when I am down. 15I live in terror now. They hold me in contempt, and my prosperity has vanished as a cloud before a strong wind.

16"And now my heart is broken. Depression haunts my days. 17My weary nights are filled with pain as though something were relentlessly gnawing at my bones. 18With a strong hand, God grabs my garment. He grips me by the collar of my tunic. 19He has thrown me into the mud. I have become as dust and ashes.

20"I cry to you, O God, but you don't answer me. I stand before you, and you don't bother to look. 21You have become cruel toward me. You persecute me with your great power. 22You throw me into the whirlwind and destroy me in the storm. 23And I know that you are sending me to my death--the destination of all who live.

24"Surely no one would turn against the needy when they cry for help. 25Did I not weep for those in trouble? Was I not deeply grieved for the needy? 26So I looked for good, but evil came instead. I waited for the light, but darkness fell. 27My heart is troubled and restless. Days of affliction have come upon me. 28I walk in gloom, without sunlight. I stand in the public square and cry for help. 29But instead, I am considered a brother to jackals and a companion to ostriches. 30My skin has turned dark, and my bones burn with fever. 31My harp plays sad music, and my flute accompanies those who weep.

Job 31

Job's Final Protest of Innocence

1"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust upon a young woman. 2What has God above chosen for us? What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high? 3It is calamity for the wicked, misfortune for those who do evil. 4He sees everything I do and every step I take.
5"Have I lied to anyone or deceived anyone? 6Let God judge me on the scales of justice, for he knows my integrity. 7If I have strayed from his pathway, or if my heart has lusted for what my eyes have seen, or if I am guilty of any other sin, 8then let someone else harvest the crops I have planted, and let all that I have planted be uprooted.

9"If my heart has been seduced by a woman, or if I have lusted for my neighbor's wife, 10then may my wife belong to another man; may other men sleep with her. 11For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. 12It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.

13"If I have been unfair to my male or female servants, if I have refused to hear their complaints, 14how could I face God? What could I say when he questioned me about it? 15For God created both me and my servants. He created us both.

16"Have I refused to help the poor, or crushed the hopes of widows who looked to me for help? 17Have I been stingy with my food and refused to share it with hungry orphans? 18No, from childhood I have cared for orphans, and all my life I have cared for widows. 19Whenever I saw someone who was homeless and without clothes, 20did they not praise me for providing wool clothing to keep them warm? 21If my arm has abused an orphan because I thought I could get away with it, 22then let my shoulder be wrenched out of place! Let my arm be torn from its socket! 23That would be better than facing the judgment sent by God. For if the majesty of God opposes me, what hope is there?

24"Have I put my trust in money or felt secure because of my gold? 25Does my happiness depend on my wealth and all that I own? 26Have I looked at the sun shining in the skies, or the moon walking down its silver pathway, 27and been secretly enticed in my heart to worship them? 28If so, I should be punished by the judges, for it would mean I had denied the God of heaven.

29"Have I ever rejoiced when my enemies came to ruin or become excited when harm came their way? 30No, I have never cursed anyone or asked for revenge. 31My servants have never let others go hungry. 32I have never turned away a stranger but have opened my doors to everyone. 33Have I tried to hide my sins as people normally do, hiding my guilt in a closet? 34Have I feared the crowd and its contempt, so that I refused to acknowledge my sin and would not go outside?

35"If only I had someone who would listen to me and try to see my side! Look, I will sign my name to my defense. Let the Almighty show me that I am wrong. Let my accuser write out the charges against me. 36I would face the accusation proudly. I would treasure it like a crown. 37For I would tell him exactly what I have done. I would come before him like a prince.

38"If my land accuses me and all its furrows weep together, 39or if I have stolen its crops or murdered its owners, 40then let thistles grow on that land instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley."

Job's words are ended.