Most people, at some time or another in their lives, have known the crushing weight of aloneness … not only because their current circumstances appear bleak but also because it seems God isn’t there, His silence baffles and depresses! In Job chapter 29, the long-suffering Job laments his loneliness and yearns for previous days (verse 2) “when God watched over me.”
Having progressed more than halfway through Job’s saga, we can begin to intuit from his remarks that he’s adjusting to his diminished state. He notes in the early verses of the chapter how God had richly blessed him … he and God had experienced a precious friendship (verse 4).
No longer is Job defending himself against his friends’ accusations. Instead, his backward glance at previous days provides perspective. He acknowledges it was a good life, he enjoyed God’s blessings, offspring around him, the respect and admiration of those who sat at the city gate, and a reputation for helping others and ministering to the poor.
The chapter reflects a softening of Job’s voice. He doesn’t complain or groan. He simply points out the manner of his previous life. As I read the last verses of the chapter, it seems as though Job has found new insight in his situation. Yes, he previously showed compassion for the poor and widows and others in need.
Now, he begins to see things from their perspective. He recognizes the downtrodden were in awe of him, they lowered their gaze in deference to him, they eagerly listened to his words, drinking them in like rain. Job acknowledges what great responsibility there is to be a leader, a chief, a king. Even though he was compassionate before, I think he is now more sensitized. His experience of suffering is no longer theoretical.
Chapter 29 doesn’t tie up in a neat bow, as we’d like. The chapter breaks between 29 and 30 and 31 are slightly abrupt. But this is a lengthy discourse and the breaks allow time for reflection. As Chapter 29 concludes, Job is not yet ready to step back from the podium. He will dive right into Chapter 30 and we’ll learn more of his perspective … next Sunday.
Today’s sonnet speaks for itself, noting Job’s longing for better days even as he takes time to recount his diligence in ministering to those who looked to him for guidance.