In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, Jesus is described with these words:
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
A man of sorrows who was also acquainted with grief … both phrases could easily be applied to Job. Continuing to compose sonnets through The Book of Job, we’ve arrived today at chapter 16. In some ways, it seems as though the narrative repeats itself. Job is suffering, his friends are superficially comforting (or attempting to comfort) Job, and all this wrangling has gotten them nowhere.
Except for the first two chapters which reveal (to the readers) events Job and his friends are not privy to, God has yet to make His thoughts known to the humans … but He will.
In the previous chapter, Eliphaz (one of Job’s friends / comforters) has spoken a second time. This know-it-all friend blames Job’s suffering solely on his own cussedness related to the obvious sin in his life. In the opinion of Eliphaz, his observation is (to borrow a phrase) settled science … beyond dispute. Essentially, Eliphaz communicates, it’s your fault you’re suffering, Job. (Here’s a review of last week if you care to click over.)
Forbearance will last only so long. Even a man suffering like Job may practice “strategic patience” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) for a while, but eventually, this individual is going to reach a point where forbearance ends and direct confrontation begins. In Job 16, Job refutes the silly explanations of his friends.
Job’s refutation is brief and he assures his friends he would be a better comforter than they, were the shoe on the other foot. Within a few short sentences, Job addresses his comments directly to Almighty God … for indeed, that’s the One with whom his argument mostly centers. He acknowledges that God is “at war” with him … he just wants to understand why. Job challenges God to provide (1) an explanation and (2) to plead Job’s case … because God knows Job is innocent … and Job knows God knows it!
The sonnet posted below summarizes Job’s approach from chapter 16. He will continue his complaint to God in chapter 17 and we’ll look at that next Sunday.