16 Then Job replied:
2 “I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?
4 I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.
5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
6 “Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved;
and if I refrain, it does not go away.
Job tells his friends that they are miserable comforters. What had started out as a seemingly sincere intention to help and support had turned into a rancour littered with sarcasm and had only served to frustrate all parties involved. Job asserts that if the situation were reversed he also could make lengthy speeches with fine sounding words but he would have been a lot more encouraging, comforting and generous with his words.
This whole discussion had now degenerated into an exchange of insults and name calling. The expression “Shake my head at you” was a common statement of derision (see 2 Kings 19:21; Psalm 22:7; Isaiah 37:22; Matthew 27:39).
7 Surely, God, you have worn me out;
you have devastated my entire household.
8 You have shrivelled me up—and it has become a witness;
my gauntness rises up and testifies against me.
9 God assails me and tears me in his anger
and gnashes his teeth at me;
my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes.
10 People open their mouths to jeer at me;
they strike my cheek in scorn
and unite together against me.
11 God has turned me over to the ungodly
and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked.
12 All was well with me, but he shattered me;
he seized me by the neck and crushed me.
He has made me his target;
13 his archers surround me.
Without pity, he pierces my kidneys
and spills my gall on the ground.
14 Again and again he bursts upon me;
he rushes at me like a warrior.
15 “I have sewed sackcloth over my skin
and buried my brow in the dust.
16 My face is red with weeping,
dark shadows ring my eyes;
17 yet my hands have been free of violence
and my prayer is pure.
18 “Earth, do not cover my blood;
may my cry never be laid to rest!
Job thought that God caused these troubles and cruelly turned him over to the ungodly. He said that his enemy attacked him like a wild animal. It was as if he was being cruelly tortured.
Job’s lament of his suffering pointed his frustration towards God. Some of the greatest spiritual change comes about through authentic wrestling with God. It makes me think of Jacob wrestling all night (Genesis 32:24-32) and the result being a change of identity, Peter arguing with God became a metanoia moment (Acts 10:9-16).
The constant wrestling in the Psalms seems to indicate that it is this kind of relationship which facilitates growth and greater understanding of God and our place in the presence of God and his creation.
My own greatest moments of enlightenment have not come through peaceful meditation or “quiet time” insight but in the raw wrestling of my soul in the crucible of life. In moments of suffering or the consequences of personal darkness. That’s usually when the light goes on. The passages of peace are a blessing to be enjoyed but the real work is done in the turmoil and the storms of life.
19 Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.
20 My intercessor is my friend
as my eyes pour out tears to God;
21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God
as one pleads for a friend.
22 “Only a few years will pass
before I take the path of no return.
Job had expressed his desire for advocate to represent him before God in chapter 9:33. This demonstrates an internal longing for Jesus in his life. It is a deeply moving passage. Here we see a shift in his faith where there is a certainty that this advocate is present in heaven bringing his case before God!
The words describe the character of Jesus. He sympathises with our struggles (Hebrews 4:15). He prays for us (Hebrews 7:25). He is our priest (Hebrews 7:24).
Job knew that he could not fully rely on his earthly friends for the support that he needed and now he begins to look for this from a heavenly friend to meet these needs. It was a paradigm shift.
Job was so sick that he felt death was very near.