Psalm 9

We are reminded that God is established forever. He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. There was no one before Him, and there will be no one after Him. His throne is established in eternity. Ultimately, nothing and nobody can usurp him. 

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Mortal
Psalm 9

 

For the director of music. To the tune of ‘The Death of the Son’. A psalm of David.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;

    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and rejoice in you;

    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

My enemies turn back;

    they stumble and perish before you.

For you have upheld my right and my cause,

    sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.

You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;

    you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.

Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,

    you have uprooted their cities;

    even the memory of them has perished.

The Lord reigns for ever;

    he has established his throne for judgment.

He rules the world in righteousness

    and judges the peoples with equity.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,

    a stronghold in times of trouble.

10 Those who know your name trust in you,

    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

11 Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion;

    proclaim among the nations what he has done.

12 For he who avenges blood remembers;

    he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.

13 Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!

    Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,

14 that I may declare your praises

    in the gates of Daughter Zion,

    and there rejoice in your salvation.

15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;

    their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.

16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice;

    the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.

17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead,

    all the nations that forget God.

18 But God will never forget the needy;

    the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

19 Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph;

    let the nations be judged in your presence.

20 Strike them with terror, Lord;

    let the nations know they are only mortal.


The psalms are Hebrew poetry. We mostly think about rhyming poetry where the ends of words rhyme.

Another type of poetry is to make the ideas sound like each other.

Psalm 9:8 is a good example of this. The 2 parts of the verse mean the same.

Another form of Hebrew poetry was to use an acrostic. This often caused the words to be jumbled and makes for difficult reading or awkward translation like Psalm 9:3.

Not many of the psalms are acrostics. Psalm 119 is the most well known acrostic. The others are 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, and 145.

We do not usually translate them into English as acrostics, because there are only 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. However psalm 9 and 10 have been translated in this way because some of the letters are missing.

David probably wrote Psalm 9 and 10 as one psalm. Jewish tradition holds that he wrote it after he killed Goliath. The first part says that God beat the foreign enemy (Psalm 9). The second part says that wicked men in Israel are making the helpless into oppressed people. (Psalm 10)

The reasons for thinking that it was one psalm are:

  ·   Psalm 10 has no words at the top about David or music. This is quite unusual in a psalm by David.

  ·   Hebrew words that David did not often use are in Psalms 9 and 10.

  ·   Psalms 9 and 10 make one acrostic.

However, Psalms 9 and 10 evidence two different approaches. The first is an individual hymn while the second is an individual lament.

In the first part (verses 1-12), praise is prominent, and in the second part (verses 13-20), prayer is prominent. Many subtle patterns weave the thoughts of its verses and lines together. Shifting back and forth between the individual and corporate perspectives is characteristic, as are introverted, structures.

David’s hymn in Psalm 9 ebbs and flows through two respective tides of prayer and praise dealing with individual and corporate perspectives.

Verses 1-2 introduce some “I will” statements as we glimpse David’s dedication to exuberant worship of the Lord.

There is a strong sense of gratitude for the fact that God has made him victorious over his enemies (presumably the Philistines).

Marvelous works are celebrated, referencing God’s extraordinary interventions into history on behalf of His people (compare the Exodus events).

This is a psalm determined to praise God and connect with him in awe and gratitude. The opening verses are deeply expressive.

Verses 5 and 6 reveal the just Judge’s dealings with the godless. Verses 7 and 8, deal with His dealings with all men in general, and verses 9 and 10 deal with His gracious dealings with the faithful.

We are reminded that God is established forever. He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. There was no one before Him, and there will be no one after Him. His throne is established in eternity. Ultimately, nothing and nobody can usurp him.

In verses 9-10 we are informed that he is a refuge. God as a place of safety is a recurring theme in the Psalms (46:1-2; 91:1-2). A refuge or stronghold, sometimes translated “fortress”. He is a high place of security and protection (1 Samuel 23:14, 19, 29).

There is a “both/and” tension running throughout the Old Testament, i.e., God is enthroned in and above the heavens, and also, He symbolically dwells locally in Zion in His tabernacle (compare 1 Kings Chapter 8; Psalm 11:4).

As the result of this omnipresent wonder and in celebration of his work and intervention. The heart of the psalmist is full of praise and joy. He wants the world to know just who is this God!

In God’s kingdom the humble are celebrated, the weak are protected and the violators of peace are brought to justice. He will remember those who have suffered innocent bloodshed and he brings judgement on their oppressors.

Death is depicted like an earthly city, surrounded by a wall, where people are held captive – hence the reference to the gates of death.

The idea in verses 13 & 14 is, that the dead could not praise God, that his work of  is not yet complete, so he calls on God to intervene and save him so that he can continue to worship and praise him on the earth. This of course is an earthly perspective.

The psalm finishes by telling us 2 things:

  ·   God will remember the oppressed, even if they have to wait what appears to be a long time

  ·   God will teach us that we are only human and therefore mortal. It is only God that is really powerful

In verses 15-16, we are presented with God’s unfailing  boomerang. The principle of exact retribution. This in popular culture today is called karma or “what goes around, comes around”.


Reflections from my original journal notes in August 2015

I spent a good amount of the day going through the loft looking for things to list on eBay. I have a lot of vinyl records, some that are worth decent sums of money but are a bit awkward to list from the phone and the computer is painfully slow but I managed to get a few items up. I was trying to find my EWI (Electronic woodwind instrument). I am sure I could get at least £200 for that but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was quite puzzled and a little consumed by the apparent loss of this instrument. I could not  remember taking it out of the house for many months and was sure I had seen it since. I found it eventually at about 11pm and was so relieved.

My dad phoned. It was a better conversation than last time. A little less of an edge. It must be difficult for him. I am sure it must bring up some of his own stuff plus I just learned that his sister, my aunt had just come out of a coma so he had all that going on when he last called. I knew she was very sick but I had no idea that she was in a coma until today. He was still mainly concerned about me being out of work, the financial situation but he did ask towards the end of the conversation “what are the chances of a reconciliation with my wife”. I told him that it was early days yet and that we both needed space and processing time but I would not rule it out.

PSALM 9
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
…………………….
I hold on to these words in Psalm 9. God is my stronghold in times of trouble. All I can do in this moment is to seek God. He will not forget about me.

My experience of God is an absent God…he’s out there doing his thing, being God but he’s not so interested in me. He is busy with the universe and other people who are more connected to him and have better hearts than me. Of course that experience is erroneous and in contradiction to scripture.

I know Jesus saved his strongest words for the self righteous and religious. I am a sinner of the highest order. I can see Jacob the deceiver in me, Samson the manipulator, David the adulterer who covered his steps by killing her husband, I am Jonah the moaner who ran away. I am not a pretty picture but God used all these people despite their flaws.

One of my friends and journal recipients came round in the evening and we spent a couple of hours together. It was great to see him. I talked through my story and he asked me a number of questions. We prayed and he told me that it was really helpful for him to be able to have more empathy for me. I really am glad that he is in this loop. He is a great friend. Meeting with him gave me the confidence and desire to make some more connections. I thinking about others I want to connect with. Yesterday was a pretty good day in the end.


Reflections two years on

The first thing that strikes me about this Psalm is that gratitude is key. I didn’t have a whole lot of gratitude two years ago. My thought life was dominated by fear, anxiety, anger, judgement, sadness and mostly self pity.

There was however a small glimmer of light and enough of an awareness of the presence of God to edge me forward. People were generally more gracious than I expected to. This gave me confidence to edge further forward, make apologies, some amends and reconnect.

Psalm 9 is a celebration of who God is. It is a Psalm of wonder and confidence in his absolute sovereignty.

It reminds me that though I have many limitations, God compensates for all this. In him there is more than hope. There is surety that every injustice, every despair, every failing will be put right. God is God…we are not.

Job 41

IMG-20170715-WA0005 (2)

Okay, so I know the picture is not a leviathan. Hang in there with it. The picture has some relevance. Besides, the leviathan images I looked at were a bit too influenced by mythology and fantasy animation. 

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Job 41:1-2

41 “Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down its tongue with a rope?
2 Can you put a cord through its nose
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
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One commentary puts it like this:

“Leviathan is a symbol of evil, drawn in part from Ugaritic myths about a fire-breathing sea dragon (Psalms 74:14; 104:26; Isa. 27:1). Dr. Henry Morris points out that the “Leviathan” was evidently the greatest of the marine reptiles or dinosaurs, something like a plesiosaur, perhaps, though modern commentators tend to call it a crocodile.” Ultimately, Leviathan points to Satan, the paragon of evil, whom Yahweh has in control and one day will destroy (e.g., Isa. 27:1; Rev. 20:1-3).”

That seems quite a credible explanation. Most modern translations use the word crocodile and most mainstream commentators will also refer to the crocodile.

The crocodile of course is an animal of great strength and an extremely dangerous animal which cannot be tamed by man and cannot be controlled. The point is that God controls it. He has power and authority over it.

Leviathan is a large sea creature, whose exact identity is unknown.

“Leviathan appears in 4 other Old Testament texts (Job 3:8; Psalms 74:14; 104:26; Isaiah 27:1). In each case Leviathan refers to some mighty creature who can overwhelm man but who is no match for God. Since this creature lives in the sea among ships (Psalm 104:26), some form of sea monster, possibly an ancient dinosaur, is in view.

Some elements of the description match the idea of the crocodile, which had scaly hide (verse 15), terrible teeth (verse 14), and speed in the water (verse 32). But crocodiles are not sea creatures and clearly this one was (verse 31).

Some have speculated that it is a killer whale or a great white shark, because he is the ultimate killer beast over all other proud beasts (verse 34). It could also have been some sea going dinosaur.

Whatever it is, God is speaking of the unlikelihood of catching one on a hook, or of tying his tongue down with a rope.
Job imagined that God was responsible for Job’s troubles. But chapters 1 and 2 explain that, in fact, the accuser called Satan was responsible.

There are some similarities between Satan and Leviathan

· Nobody can control Satan, except God. The same is true of leviathan.

· The devil is a fierce enemy. A crocodile or leviathan never tries to escape from trouble. It does not retreat, its reaction is always to attack.

· A person cannot defeat the devil by his own skills or intelligence. We need divine assistance from God. Even the most skilled experts in reptile behaviour will have trouble restraining the crocodile!

· Satan is filled with pride and arrogance. The crocodile behaves as if it is the proudest animal.

So whether we are talking about some fantastic mythical beast or a crocodile or some other fearsome animal, the point is that there is some comparison to Satan whom man has no power or authority over but God can comfortably restrain and manage.

Job had no place to stand before God and tell him that he was unjust or unfair or ask why all of this happened. In the big scheme of eternity, the heavens and the passages of time …this was trivial stuff even though it was huge and monumental to Job. There really was no case to answer because God knows what he is doing, when he is doing it, how he is doing it and why he is doing it. Everything is for ultimate good and is motivated by his love for his people and his creation.

If our earthly lives are all there is then these questions of Job’s seem justified but we are created to be spiritual beings that will ultimately live eternally with God in harmony with his purposes and his Kingdom.

Satan will do what he will do and many things in life cannot be controlled by human effort. We are not in control even though we think we are.
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Job 41:3-5

3
Will it keep begging you for mercy?
Will it speak to you with gentle words?
4
Will it make an agreement with you
for you to take it as your slave for life?
5
Can you make a pet of it like a bird
or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
_________________________
The idea of taming or domesticating the leviathan or crocodile is absurd. It is presented here almost as sarcastic. Job is asked if he would have it as a pet !!!
God could control it but Job certainly would have no control over such a beast.
_________________________

Job 41:6-11

6 Will traders barter for it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill its hide with harpoons
or its head with fishing spears?
8 If you lay a hand on it,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
9 Any hope of subduing it is false;
the mere sight of it is overpowering.
10 No one is fierce enough to rouse it.
Who then is able to stand against me?
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.

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Overpowering the leviathan or crocodile is near to impossible for one man, fishing spears would be ineffective. It would be futile and certainly a man would be worse off for trying. Fighting God is as futile. God has no problem subduing or restraining such a beast but Job wanted to contend with God and question him over his suffering.
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Job 41:12-17

12 “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs,
its strength and its graceful form.
13 Who can strip off its outer coat?
Who can penetrate its double coat of armour?
14 Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
15 Its back has rows of shields
tightly sealed together;
16 each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another;
they cling together and cannot be parted.
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These verses almost certainly describe the crocodile… impenetrable skin, scales, fearsome teeth. God’s variety in creation is amazing and what is even more amazing is how the whole eco system works in perfect balance to sustain life on earth in all of it’s variety and complexity.

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Job 41:18-21

18 Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Flames stream from its mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
21 Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.
————————————–
These verses are dense Hebrew poetry and filled with metaphor but it is easy to see why people have been led to believe that God is describing a dragon or some other mythical creature. Unfortunately one of the common misrepresentations of scripture is to misunderstand literary genres. This is poetry and as such it should be read as poetry.

This is a description of something fearsome and unbridled or unleashed out of control and impossible for man to control. The emphasis is that this creature surrenders to God’s ways and is obedient to God’s design.

The variety in God’s design is amazing. It is breath taking. He has described a number of animals in the book of Job. I watched a documentary last night about deep sea creatures in the darkest parts of the ocean. The Mariana trench etc., and some of those seem otherworldly.

The amazing thing is that all of nature is true to it’s design …except us. We decide that we want to live by our own self imagined design and assert our ways over God’s ways and yet God lavishes us with affection.

amazing …

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Job 41:22-25

22 Strength resides in its neck;
dismay goes before it.
23 The folds of its flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm and immovable.
24 Its chest is hard as rock,
hard as a lower millstone.
25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before its thrashing.
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The poetic description of the leviathan continues. Our translation doesn’t really do it justice but it captures an image of a fearsome beast whether crocodile or otherwise. Whilst we don’t really get animals in this country that we need to fear too much. Myself and my wife had an encounter with a herd of cows yesterday was quite scary. There was a point of realization where I knew if they ran at us we would not stand a chance and they were definitely not too pleased by our presence.

We went out to the depths of Essex, somewhere near Thaxted and attempted a walk that to be fair we were warned was not very well signposted. We managed to get off track and back on track on a couple of occasions the most notable being a dramatic encounter with some aggressive cows (see attached pic). According to the walk instructions we were to climb over a stile and walk diagonally across the middle of the field to a gated a bridge to reach another bridge and then a peaceful meadow and riverbank. Sounded fantastic and though the field was full of cows, I have never been too bothered about cows as long as you treat them respect and proceed with caution.

However, the cows had another idea as we began our journey towards them. They herded together and began to walk towards us. That’s okay we thought, we would navigate our way around them and keep our distance. They were having none of it. They decided to move rather speedily towards us (as speedily as cows move without looking undignified). They picked up pace a little but perhaps the scariest part of it was their solid conviction in their eyes that either we were going to get out of their field or they were going to fight to the death. These cows meant business. We moved back towards the stile as the cows edged closer towards us, with us scrambling over the stile whilst they were merely feet away. They then stood staring at us by the stile pretty much telling us don’t even try to pass. This is the moment I took the picture.

It was a close shave that took us back to the road and the long walk back to base, adding possibly a good thirty minutes to the walk. We did however have a fantastic time and enjoyed sending the story to the rest of the family on whats app with pictures.

We had the last laugh. I made a corned beef curry last night as we had friends over to eat with us.  

The point is that God has carved out the most amazing detail in creation and every part does it’s work. Crocodiles do a lot to ensure that rivers are clean by eating carcasses of other species and keeping population of other species down they are in some ways guardians of certain rivers ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

There is incredible design in nature. Day to day we might observe a few things that inspire us but the deeper we dig, the level of detail is fascinating.

Yesterday on our walk apart from the cow encounter we saw flowers that we had not seen before and blue dragonflies hanging around stinging nettles … great swarms of them. I also saw a red beetle like creature feeding off the pollen of a large daisy as well as hover flies and other flying things that looked like they were pretending to be wasps. Amazing..

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Job 41:26-29

26 The sword that reaches it has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron it treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make it flee;
slingstones are like chaff to it.
29 A club seems to it but a piece of straw;
it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
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All weaponry is completely useless against the leviathan or crocodile. This is a fearsome beast that cannot be overcome by man and his weapons of war. Some commentators have suggested that this is an allegory for Satan. I am not sure that it is, but if it is then it would carry a similar meaning that only God can subdue Satan. Man is powerless against such a force. Satan devours without any fear of man.

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Job 41:30-32

30 Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
31 It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it;
one would think the deep had white hair.
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The crocodile leaves when it chooses to leave. Nobody can tell it what to do. Its legs are short, so its body leaves a track in the mud.

It stirs the water as it returns to the river. And the crocodile also leaves a track of bubbles (called foam) on the surface of the water.

The beauty and artistry observed in nature is beautiful and awesome when you stop to think about it and pause to contemplate what is happening.

The movement of the leviathan is expressed in a very poetic way here. There is much poetry in nature. It’s important to me to slow down and just take in what is actually happening in a moment. We live life too fast in general.

We talk sometimes about how life would be if civilization collapsed when we are on our walks. It’s something that I think about quite a lot. I am quite certain that although our years would be less in number, time would feel as though it were going more slowly.

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Job 41:33-34

33 Nothing on earth is its equal—
a creature without fear.
34 It looks down on all that are haughty;
it is king over all that are proud.”

—————————————–
We close the penultimate chapter of the book of Job with the final words of God to Job. He leaves him with much to ponder about the world around him, creation and where he fits into the big scheme of things.

The leviathan or crocodile will bring down the proudest of creatures. You cannot help to look at him with reverence and fear

The words imply, that he is created not to be afraid; he has no dread of others. In this respect he is different from other animals. The Septuagint says, “He is made to be sported with by my angels.”

So God has demonstrated his wisdom and power in the context of creation known to Job.

This wisdom and power of our creator prompts a response of reverence and humility. We don’t understand why God’s providence allows certain events to occur but we have no choice but to accept that they are wisely and justly ordered if we are to accept that God is a God of love and our part is to submit to his divine order of things.

Psalm 104 is similar to Job chapters 38-41. Psalm 104 also describes various animals:

· Psalm 104:11 and Job 39:5-8. These passages are both about the wild donkey

· Psalm 104:18 and Job 39:1-4. These passages are both about the wild goat.

· Psalm 104:26 and Job chapter 41. These passages are both about the crocodile or leviathan.

· Psalm 104:7-9 and Job 38:8-11. These passages both describe how God made a boundary for the sea.

· Psalm 104:21-22 and Job 38:39-40. These passages both describe how God provides food for lions.

There are also other similar passages.

In Job chapters 38-41, God was testing Job (Job 38:3; Job 40:7).

Psalm 104 is like an answer to Job’s test. The Psalm praises God, who did all these things by his wisdom (Psalm 104:24). He will punish wicked and bring about justice in his own way and on his terms (Psalm 104:33-35).

Job 38

a creation

Job 38:1-3
The Lord Speaks
38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
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Job had requested to meet God. He assumed that God would act like a judge by vindicating him and explaining the reason for his suffering. However, he believed that God had caused his trouble. He wrestled with the idea that God may be a cruel enemy(Job 16:9-14). He argued that he himself was right and that God was unfair (Job 32:2).
God now enters the dialogue out of the storm and instead of giving the answers that Job requested he lists a number of things that Job could not explain or comprehend.

Job had spoken of his own greatness and had taken the position of advising God (Job 23:13-17; Job 24:1). Hearing God’s speech however exposed his erroneous thinking (Job 42:1-6).

God’s speech is a little reminiscent of Jesus words in Luke 12:13-15. A man asked Jesus to act as a judge. The man wanted his fair share of his inheritance. But Jesus refused to be the judge. Instead, Jesus used it as an opportunity to teach the man about where he should place his security.

There are a total of 39 questions in chapter 38, which easily ranks it as the chapter with the most questions in all the Bible. When added to the 20 questions in 39:1 – 40:2, the total comes to 59 questions that God asked Job in the first cycle of interrogation. The second cycle 40:6 – 41:34) contains another 24 questions. The significant thing about these questions is that Job cannot answer a single one! God answers to no one.

Some are the same questions that Elihu had asked Job. Now, God demanded Elihu to answer the same questions. If he knew God better than Job, then he could answer the questions.

Verses 38:4-38: The questions cover a wide range of the marvels of God’s creation, with the emphasis placed on the inanimate world: earth (verses 4-7), sea (verses 8-11), the dawn (“dayspring” verses 12-15), unseen wonders (verses 16-21), weather phenomena (verses 22-30), and heavenly bodies (verses 31-38).

In verses 4-11 we will read how God challenged Job’s wisdom immediately with an inquiry about Job’s lack of omnipotence and omnipresence. Proverbs 3:19-20 and 8:22-31 reveal the connection between God’s wisdom and creation.

In verses 4-38 God asked Job if he participated in creation as He did. That was a crushing, humbling query with an obvious “no” answer.

In verses 4-7 Creation is spoken of using the language of building construction.
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Job 38:4-7
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
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Suddenly everything that has been brought to the table in the discussion about God’s ways and his intervention with Job is put in it’s place with this first question alone
Job was not there at the creation. But Job had spoken as if he was wiser than God (Job 23:13-17). He knew nothing of how the world was formed or of the heavenly realms. His friends also knew nothing.

What about me? I am quick to decide that God has caused or allowed something to happen because of a certain observation or judgment I have made but my understanding is so unbelievably limited. I would not count myself as wise as Job and yet sometimes I can act as though I know the mind of God or have some special insight.

I should probably shut up and let God be God. He is better at it than me. He’s been doing it a lot longer and he has never made a mistake in his entire existence. My life however is littered with mistakes, erroneous judgments and dishonesty to cover my tracks.
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Job 38:8-11

8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?

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God’s power over the sea by raising the continents is described. God set the laws of nature in motion which restrains even the sea!

We get a little more insight to the DNA of creation in Job’s encounter with God. Centuries later when Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples asked the question “Who is this that controls the wind and the waves”. They would have been familiar with this passage in Job. They perhaps were asking a rhetorical question!

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Job 38:12-15
12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.
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I am such a morning person. I love the break of day when first light appears and most days I am lucky enough to see it and experience it. I love the quiet and the peace and seem to experience a very special connection with God and my own spirituality in those moments. There is something special about the early morning. One time I remember driving through the Highlands in Scotland just as day is breaking we experienced some of the most breath taking sights. A stag looking very majestic watching us from a distance, mist on a beautiful lake.

and No, I have never been able to give orders to the morning or shown the dawn it’s place. At the break of day and first light everything looks new and untarnished but you see it’s imperfections as the day moves forward and interacts with humans.

Dark activities take place at night when they cannot be seen. Most of my extreme behaviour either took place at night or was schemed during the night. Daylight brings clarity and focus.

The point in these verses is that as dawn rises it brings light and exposes the evil deeds in the same way we take the edge of a cloth and shake it to get the dirt out of it.
In the darkness everything is seen in shadows but the detail can be seen when light breaks
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Job 38:16-21

16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!
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A series of unanswerable questions continues as God challenges Job and his friends with what do you know?

The sources or the depths of the sea? Do you know where they are? Have you been there?

Job had wrestled with what happens after death in chapter 3 and chapter 26 but of course God knows exactly what happens after death. Job barely knew anything about the earth, the planet he lived on let alone what is outside of that.

Where does the sun go at night? What happens to the darkness during the day? Are older people really wiser … Job you are really not that old at all !

We may know a little more than Job did in his day but still the more we know and discover, the more we are baffled and filled with wonder about the things we don’t know about or the complexity and perfection of design in the universe.

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Job 38:22-30
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
—————————————-
God controls the weather. End of story. We have no control over the weather, we barely can predict the weather. He is in control of wars and battles.

Job was not sure that God would act as judge (Job 24:1). Later he remembered that every evil person will die (Job 24:18-24). In a situation where death intervenes he can no longer cause trouble. Therefore death is like God’s judgement. The result being that the evil man is snuffed out and those that are still here are no longer under his tyranny.

There is a lot of war recorded in the Bible. War is established under the designs of man for reasons of control, power, fear, pillaging resources and whatever else causes war. In these wars, God would be impartial (Joshua 5:13-14). Instead, God would use them to serve his own purpose and will.

God intervened in some spectacular ways in some of these battles. In Joshua 10:13-14, God delayed the end of the day. In the same battle, he caused large hailstones to fall from the sky (Joshua 10:11). These were a clear display that God’s people did not win the battle by their own strength. God won the battle.

God controls the weather. And he uses the weather for his own purposes. He even waters the grass where nobody lives (verse 27). A man would not choose to water that grass.

Everything is under his sovereignty and he is in complete charge. This is a world where rivers flow to the sea but the sea does not get over full, rain comes down, water turns to ice … Job and his friends had no clue how all that occurred or how this complex and beautiful world is synchronized to provide perfect living conditions with incredible provision.

Really, what could they bring to God? What could they offer him? What can they question him about? What about me? Here I am complaining about work and life and tiredness and yet God has given me all I need and taken care of me in a way that is way more than I deserve. Incredible.
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Job 38:31-33

31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

——————————————-
Pleiades, Orion and the Bear (Arcturus in some translations) are stellar constellations of the stars. What does Job and his friends know about the operations of the heavens? What do we know? Again we may know more than the ancients but everything newly discovered brings with it many more unanswered questions.

The stars were of great use to the ancient world and they would be watched with great care. The stars are like a calendar, because different stars appear in each season. The stars also helped travellers with their navigation.

Job and his friends would have known the patterns of stars but would not be able to explain how God arranged them or how they came into being.

There are millions of stars that we cannot see and don’t have much idea about. The distances between the stars are immense. God created the stars. Scientists and astronomers have discovered a lot about the stars and the data is mind blowing. We can celebrate our brilliant minds that filled with the ability to work out all this data but we are only describing what God has already done. The description of Gods handiwork .
——————————————-
Job 38:34-38
34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who gives the ibis wisdom
or gives the rooster understanding?
37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
38 when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?
————————–
Job and his friends had just watched a storm. It had given them insight into the power of God. The lightning was a visible reminder of God’s power. The rain changed the solid ground into mud. Job had said that God’s power was like the power of a storm (Job 26:14). Of course a great storm is a mere shadow of God’s power. Some storms are spectacular and even scary.

I can remember one time when I was about 18, I visited Yugoslavia on holiday with my family. I experienced the most incredible thunderstorm all around the mountains. I had never seen such a scary storm. English storms seemed tame by comparison. The dramatic setting of the mountains and the sea and the ferocity of the storm was a combination that made me think about God and his power. There are times the weather can make us feel vulnerable and exposed and be aware that all we have to protect us is God. Even our most brilliant engineering and clever structures and buildings can be crushed by the weather or a flood or some natural force that reminds us of God’s power. We have no control over the weather.
————————————————-
Job 38:39-41
39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?
————————————————-
God switches his discourse from the control of the cosmos to the provision of food for wild animals. Job does not even have any part to play in taking care of the beasts of the earth.

God has taken care of all the minute details in creation and the sustainability of the earth to ensure that all of creation is taken care of.

Lions lay in wait for God to provide their food, ravens do not wait for their food to come to them, they make a lot of noise and go searching for their food but God takes care of the raven and the lion.

The point is that God has taken care of all of the details of provision throughout creation in a way that everything has been perfectly balanced. What has Job done? What does he know about the eco system and perfect sustainability? Evidently not much.

Job 7

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Job 7:1-5
“Do not mortals have hard service on earth?
Are not their days like those of hired labourers?
2 Like a slave longing for the evening shadows,
or a hired labourer waiting to be paid,
3 so I have been allotted months of futility,
and nights of misery have been assigned to me.
4 When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.
5 My body is clothed with worms and scabs,
my skin is broken and festering.
—————————————–
Job’s words now turn away from Eliphaz and turn back towards God as his lament continues. The language here is similar to the language that Solomon uses in Ecclesiastes. There is an evident wrestling going on as he attempts to reconcile his plight with a gracious and loving God.

Job complains that even a slave has relief from his labour and masters control at night, that even a slave is rewarded for his work but his suffering knows no end.
Like the worker and the slave, Job waited. But Job was waiting to die. Job’s death was the only reward that Job expected.

He could not sleep at night such was his suffering. He would long for dawn which would only bring more suffering but his night terrors would at least subside.
—————————————–
Job 7:6-10
6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
and they come to an end without hope.
7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
my eyes will never see happiness again.
8 The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;
you will look for me, but I will be no more.
9 As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
so one who goes down to the grave does not return.
10 He will never come to his house again;
his place will know him no more.
————————————–
Job uses metaphorical language to convey life’s transience. The words are similar to those found in the Psalms (Psalms 39:4-6; 62:9; 89:47-48; 144:3-4). The reality of life and death drove the psalmist to God. In contrast Job spoke as one without hope.
The weaver’s shuttle spins rapidly. In the same way, life appears to pass quickly.
All our lives are but a breath, this does not just refer to Job and his predicament but me too. Life is fragile, very precarious and uncertain. It is a “vapour”, a mist, easily broken and dissipated. It soon vanishes.

It is like the “wind”, noisy and blusterous, full of stir and tumult but then it swiftly passes and sweeps away, and does not return.

I think about people I knew who are no longer with us. My grandparents, my Vicki my first wife, my friends and fellow band members John & Chris and the list goes on. I think about Bayo a great friend from my early Christian days up until his untimely death a few years ago, I think about Juvarne who sang beautifully at our wedding.

I think about even well known people who died in the last several years …Michael Jackson, David Bowie and many others. They all made some kind of noise in my life for one reason or another but they are mist. They make no more noise. Life has gone. The same will happen to everyone.

The idea of never coming to his house again is an interesting and somewhat haunting thought. Sometimes I have had the opportunity to revisit houses I used to live in or even simply go past them. So many memories were created in those places and yet to see them again, they are inhabited by someone else who has no attachment to those memories that are mine. The houses are changed. A cutting from my grandfathers grapevine that I planted in my house in Braintree is gone. It is no more. The story has ended.
We are a mist but something greater awaits.
————————————–
Job 7:11-16
11 “Therefore I will not keep silent;
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep,
that you put me under guard?
13 When I think my bed will comfort me
and my couch will ease my complaint,
14 even then you frighten me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I prefer strangling and death,
rather than this body of mine.
16 I despise my life; I would not live forever.
Let me alone; my days have no meaning.
—————————————
Job now turned his lament toward God, with questions that are focused on his prolonged misery. If Job’s life was a breath that would inevitably expire one day, why did God bother guarding him like some monster of the “sea”? Why not train His eye elsewhere and let Job slip this mortal coil? Is this some macabre game or experiment?
The use of the word “therefore” indicates a conclusion on the basis of all he had said in verses 1-10.

Job had decided that since his life seemed to be so hopeless, he would complain. He had not previously revealed his bitter feelings. Now was time to open up and express his hurt.

He questioned God about the issue of attempting to control him like some sea monster.
“Is it so needful to watch me as you would watch a threatening sea monster?”
Job was not an animal, or a sea monster that had no control over their lives. He was a man with feelings. He was restrained as if he had no thoughts or feelings. He felt as if God had forgotten him.

The agony Job experienced was constant. He could barely sleep, yet when he did, he was haunted by nightmares he believed came from God. He longed for death to relieve him of this terror.

The word for “no meaning” is the same word “hevel” often translated “meaningless” or “futile” in Ecclesiastes. It is frequently used in scripture to describe transience of life, that life is a vapour or mist (Ecclesiastes1:2-4).

Man does not live in this body forever. Job wanted to know why he could not just die now and cut the time short. It appears that Job does not have a sense of the eternal in these early chapters and it makes me wonder if that is the point of the wisdom literature …to point us to eternity.
—————————————
Job 7:17-21
17 “What is mankind that you make so much of them,
that you give them so much attention,
18 that you examine them every morning
and test them every moment?
19 Will you never look away from me,
or let me alone even for an instant?
20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
you who see everything we do?
Why have you made me your target?
Have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my offenses
and forgive my sins?
For I will soon lie down in the dust;
you will search for me, but I will be no more.”

————————————————–
The language in verses 17-19 resembles that of Psalm 8:4, except that Job associates God’s excessive attention with testing.

Job is now immersed in self pity and darkness. It’s really not surprising when you consider the torment and suffering he is experiencing but he questions God about why he is so important, , that God would spend all this attention on him? Why did God cause all this misery to someone so insignificant?

God refines us through suffering, he use it to shape us, to form Christ in us and to increase our trust in him (Hebrews 12:7-11) (Romans 8:28-30). This lesson would become clear to Job later (Job 23:10).

Why God should take a pleasure in his daily suffering? Why does not God allow one morning, or one moment, to pass without inflicting pain on a creature so feeble and so frail?

These are raw but honest questions.  In the bigger picture there is an authentic wrestling going on much like the wrestling we see in the Psalms. Many of the Psalms follow a pattern of “why are you doing this to me God? Why are you against me?” but finish on a point of surrender and trust “I will praise your name forever”, “Your unfailing love is amazing, I take pleasure in your presence”. The book of Job is effectively doing the same thing across 42 chapters.

The expression “Till I swallow down my spittle” is a strange statement. It was an Arabic proverb, indicating “a brief moment”. Job was asking for a moment “to catch his breath”.

This section ends on a resignation of him laying down in the dust and blotted out from the presence of God and any connection with God.

Job – Introduction

Book_of_Job
JOB – INTRODUCTION
The book of Job is a unique book in the Bible for many reasons. It is set in a land far away from Israel named Uz. The main character is not an Israelite and the anonymous author does not set the story in any clear period of history.

All of this appears to be intentional. It’s as though the author wants us to focus on the point and the message of the story, the questions raised as a result of Job’s suffering rather than the historical detail.

The book of Job has a very clear literary design. It opens and closes with a short narrative prologue and epilogue. The central body of the book is dense Hebrew poetry representing conversations between Job and four dialogue partners called “the friends.”

These conversations are then concluded by a series of poetic speeches given by God to Job.

Proverbs showed us that God is wise and just. God has ordered the world so that it is fair. The righteous are rewarded and the wicked are punished. That you get what you deserve.

Then we go into Ecclesiastes who observes that actually the world is not always fair. That life is unpredictable and hard to comprehend. It is like smoke, a vapour, a mist. So this makes you wonder, is God wise and just?

So this is the question that is being explored in the final book of wisdom.

Job begins with a strange story which takes place up in the heavens which is described like a heavenly command centre. God is there with Angelic beings called “the sons of God” all reporting for duty. God points out Job, his servant. He shows how righteous and good he is. Then one of these angelic beings approaches. He is referred to in Hebrew as “the Satan”, The word is actually a title rather than a name. The title means “the one who is opposed” or “The accuser” or the “prosecutor”

So out of this angelic assembly, he is the one questioning how God is running the world. He proposes that Job might not actually love God and that he is only a good person because God rewards him. That if he took everything away from him then we would see his true colours.

So he thinks that Job is working the system and only obeying God to get what he wants. God agrees to this apparent social experiment and allows the Satan to inflict suffering on him. Job loses everyone and everything he cares about.

This is not a punishment that he deserved, in fact quite the opposite. God himself said so.

It’s at this point in the book that we typically respond with a question. Why did God do that? and we assume that this book is going to answer that question and the broader question of why God allows good people to suffer. A question that has perplexed people through the ages.

The book however, does not answer that question. Nothing in the book answers that question. The prologue is setting up the real questions that the book is trying to get at: Is God Just? and whether he operates the universe according to the strict principle of justice. The response to those questions come as you read through to the end of the book. The ultimate reason for Job’s suffering is never revealed.

The remarkable thing is that in the midst of all the suffering Job still praises God.
—at least for the first two chapters!

Then in chapter three we discover an internal wrestling. He unleashes this poem that reveals his devastation. It’s a long and elaborate curse on the day that he was born.
After this, some of Job’s friends come to visit him and offer their help. All of them assert that Job must have done something horribly wrong to deserve this. After all we know that God is just and we know that the world is ordered by God’s justice and fairness so you must be getting what you deserve.

Having been rebuked by his wife to curse God and die, his friends Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Na’amathite represent the best of Ancient near East thinking about God and suffering and the human condition.

The next 34 chapters the friends and Job go back and forth in very dense Hebrew poetry.

First Job speaks followed by a response from one of his friends. Job responds to that response and then the second friend responds to Jobs response to the response of the first friend. This goes on for three cycles. Chapter 3-14, Chapter 15-21 & Chapter 22-28.

His friends start speculating about why God might have sent such suffering and they even start making up list of hypothetical sins that Job must have committed. After each accusation Job defends his innocence. Job is after all innocent. He is also on an emotional rollercoaster. There are moments that he is very confident that God is sovereign and just. Other moments he is doubting God’s goodness. He even comes to accuse God of being reckless, unfair and corrupt.

Some of the highlights include accusing God of being a bully (16:9) and orchestrating all of the injustice in the world (9:22-23). Job and friends are working from a huge assumption about what God’s justice ought to look like in the world. There is learning for us in that. We are after all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) but most often the battle of the human condition is that we want to make God in our own image. We invent the God that pleases us and our view of the world. …but the problem is that it’s not our world. We did not create it and we do not understand it’s DNA and how it works.

Job is eventually worn down and arrives at a conclusion that God does not run the world according to principles of justice or even worse that God himself is unjust. He concludes by accusing God on these points.

His friends however, do not accept that God runs an unjust world or is unjust himself and their accusation lands squarely on Job.

Job is exasperated by his friends and gives up on them. He has only one place now to take up his case. He makes one last statement of his innocence (Chapters 29-31) and then Job demands that God come and explain himself in person. At this point (Chapters 32-37) we get a surprise appearance of another friend Elihu who is not an Israelite but has a Hebrew name.

Elihu has the same assumption of Job and his friends. His assumption is that God is just and runs the universe with justice but he draws a more sophisticated conclusion about why good people suffer.

He concludes that it may not be punishment for sin in the past. God might afflict suffering as a warning for people to avoid sin in the future, that he might use pain and suffering to build character and teach people valuable lessons.

Elihu doesn’t claim to know why Job is suffering but one thing he is certain of and that is that Job is wrong to accuse God of being unjust. Job doesn’t even respond to Elihu and the dialogues come to a close. It is as though the wisdom of the ancients has been spent and the mystery remains.

All of a sudden God comes in the form of a great storm cloud. God doesn’t give Job a direct answer but he does respond to him personally. He doesn’t tell Job about the conversation with the Satan. He is not privy to what is going on in the heavenly realms. He does something very different.

He takes Job on a virtual tour of the universe. He shows Job how amazing the world is and he asks if Job is capable of running it or understanding it. He shows Job, how much detail there is in creation. Things that we might see every day but we really don’t understand at all. Job of course doesn’t have a clue but God does … he knows it all intimately.

He pays attention to the beauty and operations of the universe in ways that we haven’t imagined and in places that we will never see.

Then to conclude God shows Job two wondrous beasts and brags about how great they are. They are dangerous beasts that would take the life of a man without thinking about it. God says that they are not evil. They are a part of his “good” world and then that’s it. That’s God’s whole defence. It’s kind of weird. What was that all about?

From Job’s point of view it looks like God is not just but God’s view is infinitely bigger. He is dynamically interacting with the whole universe of complexity when he makes decisions. This virtual tour deconstructs the assumptions of Job and his friends about what the justice of God looks like in the world.

The point is made: All of the complexity of the universe versus Jobs’ limited view based on his own life experience.

So Job asking God to defend himself is absurd. He couldn’t comprehend for this kind of complexity even if he wanted to. This leaves Job in a place of humility. He never learned why he suffered and yet he is able to live in peace and in the fear of the Lord.

God has made the point that Jobs’ friends’ conclusions were too simplistic and black and white. They were wrong to arrive at such conclusions. He then says that Job has spoken rightly about him.

Now we know that not everything that Job spoke was accurate but God still approves of Jobs wrestling with all his emotion and pain, coming honestly before God and wanting to talk with God directly about these things is the right response.

But that’s not where the book ends because God restores to Job double everything he had lost and this again is surprising. Is it a reward? Is it an approval from God? Congratulations Job you passed the test?

No, the whole book just made the point that losing everything was not a punishment and getting it back by natural deduction is not a reward. Apparently God, in his wisdom decided to give Job a gift. But we know that through the whole story that Job is the kind of man that no matter what comes good or bad, he can trust God’s wisdom.

The book of Job doesn’t unlock the puzzle of why bad things happen to good people but it does invite us to trust God’s wisdom when we do encounter suffering rather than try and figure out reasons for it. When we search for reasons we tend to simplify things like the friends or accuse God with a limited perspective and information. The book is inviting us to honestly bring our pain and grief to God and to trust that God actually cares and he knows what he is doing.

At its beginning, Job seems to be a book about human suffering. By its conclusion, the true subject of the book emerges: God’s sovereignty. In a matter of probably hours, Job had lost everything that was important to him except his wife and his own life. But he held fast to his integrity, determined to unravel the mystery of why he, a man who had done his utmost to live an upright life, was being treated by God as the chief of sinners. If he was a sinner deserving divine punishment, he demanded his friends tell him what he had done – which they could not. He also asked the same of God – and received more silence in response.

The truth is, Job never received an answer as to why he suffered. But more importantly, he received a deeper understanding of who God is. The Bible is unique because the reader knows, at least in part, what the main character would have loved to know: Job suffered because Satan accused him of a self-serving devotion to God, claiming that Job was not really righteous but was simply manipulating God.

God used the accusation as an opportunity to prove Satan wrong, and all the hurtful events in Job’s life unfolded from there. In the Old Testament, sin and suffering were connected because of the nature of the covenant. It was believed that keeping God’s statutes resulted in blessing, and not keeping them resulted in a curse (Lev. 26:1-46); Deut. 28:1-68).

Even though Job lived in the patriarchal period (before the Law was given), such a natural law would have been understood. So Job’s friends could be excused from assuming Job guilty of a secret sin – secret and serious, given the level of calamity that befell him. But the Bible adds more ingredients to the recipe for suffering, all of which are found in this book.

To begin with, righteous people like Job do sometimes suffer. Righteous does not mean totally being without sin, but living upright in God’s sight or having the right heart and attitude. The book portrays Job as a faithful man who honestly tried to do right before God, and who acknowledged his errors and sought to correct things when he faltered (42:1-6). Still, he suffered, but not because of sin. So deeper questions must be asked and answered. Job asked, but he got an answer he was not expecting.

Second, a third party operates between God and man, with God’s permission. In Job, we see Satan’s primary method of spiritual warfare: attempting to discredit God in man’s sight. Satan cannot harm God, but he can attempt to influence how man perceives God, whether as unjust, unfair, or unloving. Satan causes Job to suffer unjustly in an attempt to get Job to attack God. He also accuses Job of being self-serving, trying to make God look unjust in the eyes of the heavenly hosts for not punishing a sinner like Job. But Satan’s plot was foiled by the third variable, that there can be godly purposes in suffering unrelated to sin or punishment.

Job suffered so he might have a deeper and more accurate knowledge of God. This happened without him even knowing about the precipitating conversation between Satan and God. This is poignant as I know that from my own limited experience of 53 years of life on this earth and from what I have observed in my closest friendships is that spiritual growth, a deeper understanding of God and self are always accompanied by suffering of some kind. It seems to be that way in the Biblical accounts no matter what period of Biblical history we are looking at. It seems to be that way in human history and church history and it is that way in my own life. I never had a spiritual revelation or broke new ground when things were going well for me in life or ministry. I don’t know anyone who had a spiritual revelation in time of tranquillity and peace in the soul. Growth comes from turmoil, suffering, being out of our depth, being naked and exposed being put into a situation where there is nothing for a man to hold onto except God.

In August 2015, as a result of my thievery, relentless sexual immorality, dishonesty, cruelty in my relationships I found myself living in my car in a supermarket car park with no access to money, a mere £3 in my pocket. It was at that time that I began to walk with God again, it was at that time that wrestled with who I am and who God is and it was at that time, the greatest spiritual change in my life to date was formed. I began to live with authenticity rather than religiousness, I began to live with gratitude rather than resentment, I began to love people rather than use them, I began to live with courage rather than fear, I began to be ruled by desire to walk with God rather than be manipulated into religiousness by shame, I had nothing to prove and nothing to lose or gain. The pedestal on which my reputation was placed had crashed and smashed into so many little pieces that it no longer had any value to me or anyone else.

It was the Spring of 2016 that I was able to begin to repair a relationship with one of my daughters. My 18 year old daughter said to me “I never really had a relationship with you dad. My relationship was with your reputation… but it’s okay we can start now!”

It was painful and beautiful. Human authenticity comes from suffering. The trauma I put my family through was immense and I will forever be wounded by that as we all will but what emerged from this brokenness, this devastated mess is priceless and has taught us much about who God is and our place in relation to him.

“Authorship”: The book does not name its author. Job is an unlikely candidate because the book’s message rests on Job’s ignorance of the events that occurred in heaven as they were related to his ordeal.

One Talmudic tradition suggests Moses as author since the land of Uz (1:1) was adjacent to Midian where Moses lived for 40 years, and he could have obtained a record of the story there. Solomon is also a good possibility due to the similarity of content with parts of the book of Ecclesiastes, as well as the possibility that Solomon may have written the other Wisdom books.

The date of the book’s writing may be much later that the events recorded within. This conclusion is based on (1) Job’s age (42:16); (2) his life span of nearly 200 years (42:16) which fits the patriarchal period (Abraham lived 175 years; Gen. 25:7); (3) the social unit being the patriarchal family; (4) the Chaldeans who murdered Job’s servants (1:17) were nomads and had not yet become city dwellers; (5) Job’s wealth being measured in livestock rather than gold and silver (1:3; 42:12); (6) Job’ priestly functions within his family (1:4-5; and 7), a basic silence on matters such as the covenant of Abraham, Israel, the Exodus, and the Law of Moses. The events of Job’s odyssey appear to be patriarchal.

Job, on the other hand, seemed to know about Adam (31:33) and the Noahic flood (12:15). These cultural and historical features found in the book appear to place the events chronologically at a time probably after Babel (Gen. 11:1-9, but before or at least the same period as Abraham (Gen. 11:27).