“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me…I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame…I was a father to the needy…I broke the fangs of the unrighteous, and made him drop his prey from his teeth” (29:14a, 15, 16a, 17).
There is something marvelous about the picture of breaking the fangs of those who do not turn away from evil, making them drop their prey! Surely this is what Jesus has in mind for us by learning how to perfect ourselves in unity with never-ending love.
But for Job, all that glory has now passed. In Chapter 30, he describes becoming the prey of the prey, lowliest of the low, scorned by the scorned:
“God has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes” (30:19).
Job would call this judgment resulting from disobedience, except that Job did not practice disunity and was never given warning, which is a key part of the Cycle. This is why Job so resolutely maintains that he was not guilty of sin before God!
Now note something very interesting: up through the previous verse, Job refers to God in the third person (“he”) because he is still speaking to his now-silent “friends.” But in the next verse, he switches quite suddenly to the second person (“you”). All traditional interpreters take what follows as a rant against God for his injustice against the innocent Job. I found this odd and awkward – why would Job suddenly attack God so violently and disrespectfully?
So I am stepping off the beaten path here. Follow this excerpt from the “rant” and ask yourself if it describes what God is doing to Job, or whether Job might be describing someone else:
“I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; you have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me; you lift me up on the wind; you make me ride on it; and you toss me about in the roar of the storm” (31:20-22)
To be honest, every commentator I can find believes this is Job talking to God, but nowhere does he pray to God in front of his “friends.” While Job is certainly confused about why God tested him, he has been speaking directly to his “friends” in the second person for six chapters now. Job says point blank to his “friends”:
“Yet does one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand, and in his disaster cry for help?...But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came” (31:24,26).
In other words, where were my friends when I needed them most?
Job proceeds to list all the ways he turned away from evil is his life and helped the poor and needy. He laments:
“Oh, that I had one to hear me!...Let the Almighty answer me!...Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!...I would give him an account of all my steps; like a prince I would approach him” (31:35-37).
The “one” who did not hear him was each of his “friends.”
The “One” who will hear him knows Job’s fear and respect and will treat him like a prince, not a convict!
Wisdom lies in fear of the Lord; understanding is turning away from evil.
Where shall wisdom be found? Not only in the patience of Job, but in the faith of Job.