23 Then Job replied:
“Even today my complaint is bitter;
his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.
If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would find out what he would answer me,
and consider what he would say to me.
Would he vigorously oppose me?
No, he would not press charges against me.
There the upright can establish their innocence before him,
and there I would be delivered forever from my judge.
“But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
Job’s response to Eliphaz is not simply a rebuttal but a grieving over his fellowship with God or apparent loss of fellowship. He is expressive about his deeply discouraged state and longs for an understanding as to why it is happening this way.
Despite his frustrations with Eliphaz and his other friends, his dispute was not with them but with God.
This is Job’s final speech which now runs to the end of chapter 31 apart from a brief interruption from Bildad in chapter 25. Some scholars think that Job 26:5-14 is also Bildad and that Job 24:18-25 & 27:13-23 are by Zophar. The speakers are not named in these sections which leaves us to assume that it is Job as the speakers are consistently named in the book of Job.
Job again expresses his desire for an audience with God as his judge and he was confident of a fair hearing and that he would finally understand and accept what had happened.
Eliphaz had urged Job to repent and return to God, Job was expressing that there was nothing he longed for more than the presence of God.
Job felt as though God was not present and he could not understand this. He felt abandoned by God and wrestled with feelings of abandonment as he struggled to see God’s presence in his suffering.
Some times I struggle to see the presence of God when things are not going the way I think they should be going and I forget that I live in broken world that is also a domain of Satan’s influence.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
Job was aware that this was some sort of test and that he would come through it as in the process of refining gold in a furnace where everything burns away except for the gold, he had followed the ways of God and not strayed from the narrow path.
This was a declaration of faith, not the response that his friends had expected.
13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him?
He does whatever he pleases.
14 He carries out his decree against me,
and many such plans he still has in store.
15 That is why I am terrified before him;
when I think of all this, I fear him.
16 God has made my heart faint;
the Almighty has terrified me.
17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness,
by the thick darkness that covers my face.
Job loved God but felt terror about what God may do if he approached him. There is a different between a fear of God that produces reverence and respect to a fear that produces terror which is the opposite of faith and trust. Because of what had happened and the fact that Job did not understand why he was in the camp of terror. This grip of fear prevented him from being bold with God but he still was not silenced by it. There was enough fight to keep him wrestling with the situation even with such small strength.