Wednesday

“Let the day perish on which I was born … because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb, and hide trouble from my eyes” (v. 3, 10)

Job 3:1-23 Wednesday 28 January 2015

Psalm: Psalm89:19-37


Background

A friend's four-year-old daughter recently climbed into her bedat an unholy hour of the morning and declared "Mummy, I wish I hadnever been made." Mummy, bleary eyed, asked why. "Because if I hadnever been born, I wouldn't have to be scared that one day, I won'tbe alive anymore."

Sometimes, it's a terrifying thought that one day our earthlylife will end. On other days, like Job, we may wish we had neverbeen born. Job's outburst in these verses follows seven days inwhich he sat in silence with his three 'friends', Eliphaz, Bildadand Zophar - perhaps their most helpful act throughout the book (Job2:13). Commentators have wrestled with the structure of thissection, which seems appropriate, as it is a violent and hopelessoutburst aimed at no-one in particular. Job's imagery is dark andterrifying - he calls on "those who are skilled to rouse upLeviathan" (v. 8), a legendary sea monster with several heads (Psalm74:14) and "terror all around its teeth" (Job41:14).

It is difficult for us to sit in silence and empathise with Job,as fundamental aspects of his relationship with God differ from21st-century Christianity. Writing in The Book of Job (London,Epworth Press, 1990), C S Rodd notes that in much of the OldTestament, there is no promise of eternal life in heaven and that"the general picture of what happens after death was gloomy." Job,it seems, is simply seeking release from his suffering, rather thanredemption.

In the closing verses of his complaint, Job uses the same word(spelled slightly differently) as Satan used earlier on in the textto describe his being "fenced in" by God (v. 23). Instead of beinghedged in by blessings and God's protection, Job now feelsimprisoned by God in a world of suffering.


To Ponder

  • Commentators are unsure whether this lament means that Job haslost his faith and is now ranting against God. What do you think?To what extent can we express anger and despair without turningagainst God?
  • Job's three friends have sat in silence up to this point.Afterwards, they try to convince Job that his suffering is God'spunishment for an undisclosed sin. When our friends are suffering,what is the most helpful response?
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