Be Thankful, God is Longsuffering (Job 17; Job 18)

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Scripture reading – Job 17; Job 18

Eliphaz, one of Job’s friends, contended only the wicked “travaileth with pain all his days” (15:20a). Of course, the implication was that Job’s troubles were a consequence of sins he had been unwilling to address with God. Job’s answer and rebuttal of Eliphaz’s judgment began in chapter 16, and continued with today’s Scripture reading (Job 17).

Job 17

In chapter 16, Job refuted Eliphaz’s charges of wrongdoing, and appealed for compassion. He then turned his focus from man to God, and lamented, My breath [lit. life; spirit] is corrupt [spent], My days are extinct, the graves are ready for me (17:1). Job longed to be free of his “friends” whom he described as “mockers” (17:2), and free of their foolish counsel. They came pretending to have wisdom, but Job complained God had “hid their heart from understanding,” and such men would never be exalted by Him (17:4).

Though Job was a man living in a day far different from our own, there is a lesson we should take regarding the physical toll of trials and sorrows. Job confessed, 7Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow [perhaps because of weeping], And all my members are as a shadow” (17:7). We know little of Job’s physical state before he became victim of catastrophic losses, but he confessed he was but “a shadow” of the man he had been (17:7b).

Job had listened to his friends’ counsel, and was offended by their observations. He pondered their words, and honestly rebuked them, saying, “I cannot find one wise man among you” (17:10b).

Once again, Job returned to his belief that death alone was his hope of deliverance from his sorrows (17:11-16). His longing for better days was faded (17:11), and he confessed his thoughts troubled him night and day (17:12). Tragically, Job resolved his death was imminent, and then rest would come (17:13-16).

After hearing Job’s pitiful plea for mercy, one would think a friend would have compassion and encourage him; however, that was not the case.  Chapter 18 opened with Bildad reproving, rather comforting Job (Job 18).

Job 18 – Bildad’s Second Speech in Response to Job’s Mournful Defense

Then, Bildad, the second of Job’s friends, employed a series of proverbs in response to Job’s forlorn answer (a proverb being a brief, practical truth that is so evident it needs no debate or discussion). As you read chapter 18, reflect on Bildad’s pride, and his impatience with Job, whom he accused of long-winded protests (18:2).

Bildad took the initiative, and accused Job of counting his friends’ counsel as little more than the advice of dumb beasts (18:3). In fact, he accused Job of acting like a madman (“he teareth himself in his anger,” 18:4), and supposing God would suspend natural laws to accommodate him (18:4b). He then returned to the opinion voiced by the others, and asserted Job’s afflictions were the natural course of God’s judgment on the wicked (18:5-21). Beginning with a wrong assumption (that only the wicked suffer sorrows in life for their sins), Bildad arrived at the wrong conclusion—that Job’s sorrows were the consequence of his sins.

Closing thoughts – Remember, when you read Job 18:5-21, the proverbs recorded there originated with a man (Bildad) whose heart was proud, and spirit was unloving. Much of what Bildad concluded was true. Yet, know that God is longsuffering and His patience with sinners seems tireless. Nevertheless, He is just, and His justice is sure.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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