Category Archives: Hope

Singing the Desert Blues (Job 30-31)

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Scripture reading – Job 30-31

Our previous devotional found Job recalling the way life used to be (Job 29). He had enjoyed the blessings of God’s favor, as well as the esteem from family, friends, and fellow citizens. In former years, young men shied from his company, while elders stood in his presence (29:8). His counsel was valued (29:7-17), and he supposed he might forever be the benefactor of God’s grace (29:18-23). Of course, those were the “good old days,” before Job experienced catastrophic losses and afflictions.

Job 30

Disdained by Lesser Men (30:1-14)

Job’s circumstances were now changed, and instead of esteem, he was mocked by lesser men (30:1-14). They were young men, whose fathers he would not have entrusted with the care of sheep dogs. Those men openly disdained Job (30:1). They were slothful, and Job loathed them (30:2-4). They were “children of fools” (30:8), who sang ballads deriding his afflictions (30:9). They spat in his face (30:10), and Job’s sorrows (30:11) served as a “righteous reason” for them to treat him spitefully (30:12-13).

Wrecked by Physical Disease (30:16-18)

Grief took hold of Job (30:16), as the toll and pain of his afflictions pierced him to the bone (30:17a). His muscles ached (“my sinews take no rest”) beneath his skin, while open oozing sores exposed the extent of the infection above. Job felt as though his flesh had been exchanged – that he had swapped healthy flesh for loathsome (30:17b-18). He was well-nigh hopeless, and felt God opposed him. When he prayed, it seemed God refused to hear his cry for pity and compassion (30:19-20). He had come to a place he accused the LORD of cruelty (30:21), and felt abandoned (30:22-24).

Job complained, for the compassion he formerly extended to others was forgotten, and it seemed his good deeds were rewarded with evil (30:25-26). He moaned and groaned (30:27-30), and in the words of the late preacher J. Vernon McGee, sang “The Desert Blues” (30:31).

Job 31 – Job’s Finale and Defense

Job 31 recorded the conclusion of Job’s deposition of his righteousness, and his assertion of innocence. I invite you to consider eleven virtues stated by Job in his defense.

Personal chastity is the first virtue. Declaring he was not guilty of lusts, Job stated, “I made a covenant [vow; agreement] with mine eyes; Why then should I think [i.e., lust after] upon a maid?” (31:1)

The second virtue suggested was an assertion of innocence. Though his “friends” accused him of lies and deceit, Job demanded he be “weighed in an even balance.” He believed God would find him a man of integrity (31:5-6).

Job’s commitment to purity and uprightness was his third virtue. He declared his hands were clean of wrongdoing. In fact, he suggested, should a stain be found on his life and character, he would relinquish the fruits of his labor (31:7-8).

Marital fidelity was the fourth virtue claimed by Job. He professed he was innocent of adultery (31:9-12).

A fifth virtue was a claim to have been a faithful master, and a kind employer. Believing all men are created in the image and likeness of God, Job believed he was no better than his servants. He understood God was Creator of both the servant and his master (31:13-15).

Sixthly, Job declared he had been charitable to the poor, widows, and fatherless (31:16-20). His friends accused him of being an oppressor and abuser of the less fortunate. Job, however, wished his arm would fall from his body, had he taken advantage of the less fortunate (31:21-22).

Closing thoughts (31:23-40) – In quick order, consider five remaining virtues claimed by Job as evidence of his righteous character. While he lived in the midst of an idolatrous people, Job declared he was innocent of idolatry, for his faith and trust were in God alone (31:23-28).

He had been kind to his enemies, and never took satisfaction in their misfortunes (31:29-30). He was a man given to hospitality, and known for generosity to strangers (31:31-32). Unlike Adam, the first man who sinned and sought to hide his transgressions from God (31:33), Job declared he was innocent of hypocrisy, hiding no secret sins (31:33-37). Finally, Job stated he was honest in business (31:38-40). He had not leased another man’s field, and failed to pay him what was owed when harvest time came.

Job’s longest speech concluded (Job 31:40) with him being like most men: He boasted his virtues, but was blinded by pride, and unable or unwilling to see his flaws.

* Note – Our next devotion (Job 32) will introduce Elihu, a fourth “friend” of Job’s. His youthful zeal will heap upon Job sorrow upon sorrows.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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Ever wonder, “Where is Justice?” (Job 24)

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Scripture reading – Job 24

Eliphaz, the third of Job’s friends to argue Job’s troubles were like those of the wicked, evoked a response from Job that began in chapter 23 and continued to chapter 24. Having slandered Job’s character, Eliphaz accused him of some great evil and urged him to repent promising God would restore him (22:23-27).

Nevertheless, though he suffered overwhelming afflictions and felt abandoned by God, Job maintained his innocence (Job 23). He lamented, if God would give him a hearing, he would maintain his troubles were greater than his sins (23:1-7). Yet, though he was wrongly accused by his friends, Job was confident God knew he was a man of integrity, who desired to walk according to His commandments (23:8-12).

Job 24

Accused of gross wrongdoing, the accusations brought against Job by his “friends” left him wondering why he suffered, when the wicked prospered and went unpunished? Job’s reflections on the sins of the wicked was recorded in Job 24:2-17.

Wrongs Committed by the Wicked (Job 24:2-17)

Tyrannical Thieves (24:2-8)

Job first considered the company of thieves, and their wiles, deceptions, and effronteries  against God and humanity. (Remember, as you read verses 2-8, the setting was an agrarian society, and the perspective was rural and agricultural. Of course, thievery and robbery are the same, though the coveted objects of the thief change with the culture). Times have changed, but the nature of man is as wicked as ever!

Before making an application to 21st century society, let’s consider Job’s observations. The first were land thieves who removed “landmarks,” essentially physical stakes, that designated the boundaries of a family’s lands (24:2a).  Not surprising, but the same criminal activity continues in our day. (Note – Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17; Proverbs 23:10-11). There were thieves who would seize a neighbor’s sheep, and move them to graze in his pastures, thus robbing a man of his livelihood (24:2b).

Tragically, the wicked have always preyed upon the most vulnerable of a society, the poor and the weak (24:3-8). In Job’s day, evil men would steal the donkey of an orphan (24:3a), and demand a widow’s ox for surety or collateral (24:3b). They would abuse the poor, and mislead them (24:4), and leave them to forage for food and shelter like wild beasts (24:5-8).

Cruel Oppressors of the Weak and Defenseless (24:9-17)

Job described children taken from their mothers (24:9) as collateral for debt (tragically, the 21st century has revived this abuse with “human trafficking,” and the mass movement of humanity across international borders). The wicked would take the robes of the poor (a symbol of the bare necessities for life) as collateral for debt (24:10). Such is the way of the wicked. While a farmer would reward an ox with the grain he treads, the wicked would leave the poor destitute, hungry, and thirsty (24:11-12; Deuteronomy 25:41 Corinthians 9:91 Timothy 5:18).

Murderers and Adulterers (24:14-17)

The rise of violent crimes and murder in 21st century society is akin to the observations of Job. He observed murderers who plotted and preyed upon the poor and needy (24:14). Numbered among the wicked were adulterers who disguised their faces to avoid recognition (24:15). Rounding out the society of the wicked were thieves who marked houses in the day, and enjoyed the guise of darkness to break into them and steal at night (24:16-17).

The Character and Fate of the Wicked (24:18-25)

Having considered the character and sins of the wicked, Job agreed with his friends, for the wicked will not go unpunished. The wicked are swift to steal the fruits of other men’s labor, because they are unwilling to toil in their own vineyards (24:18). Nevertheless, the end of the wicked is akin to “drought and heat [that consumes] the snow;” they will go the way of all sinners, to “the grave” (24:19).

Closing thoughts (24:20-25) – Describing the fate and destiny of the wicked, Job graphically detailed his end, writing: “20The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; He shall be no more remembered; And wickedness shall be broken as a tree” (24:20).

Rich or poor, famous or infamous, powerful or weak, the bodies of the dead eventually become the diet of worms. While the most stately of trees will eventually be broken and fall, the bodies of the powerful will inevitably decay in their graves. We might ponder with Job, why the LORD is patient with the wicked, and his pernicious ways; however, we are assured, “His eyes are upon their ways” (24:23).

Warning: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). 

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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The Tragic Consequences of Generational Sins (Job 20; Job 21)

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Scripture reading – Job 20; Job 21

Our study of the trials and troubles of Job continues with today’s Scripture reading (Job 20-21). Admittedly, the text is dark, but the insights we gain from our study are illuminating. The chapters before us are lengthy, and at best, time and space permit only a brief commentary. As you read chapter 20, remember Zophar (the third of Job’s friends) is coming from an earthly, human vantage. His purpose was not to impart spiritual wisdom, but to assert that Job’s afflictions were the reward of the wicked.

Job 20

Job 20 is the record of the second and final response of Zophar the Naamathite (his first speech was recorded in Job 11). Zophar was offended by Job’s admonition in the closing verses of chapter 19. Job had maintained his innocence, and warned his “friends” would face God’s wrath for their harsh judgments (19:28-29). Zophar’s rebuke came swift and furious (20:1-3).

Job 20:4-29 – The Fate of the Wicked

Like his friends, Zophar inferred Job’s afflictions were to be expected by those who are wicked. His contentions revealed three erroneous opinions concerning the state and reward of the wicked.

First error: The wicked always come to destruction. (20:4-11)

Zophar suggested the rejoicing of the wicked is brief (20:4), the honors bestowed on them perishes with them, and they are soon forgotten (20:5-8). Neither of those statements are necessarily true. In fact, the wicked often live out their lives enjoying ill acquired wealth, and their funerals and tombs are often grand spectacles to behold.

Second error: The wicked do not prosper. (20:12-23)

Continuing his erroneous observations, Zophar suggested the prosperity of the wicked is brief (20:12), inevitably bites like a poisonous viper (20:13-16), and he dies in want.

The error in Zophar’s observations is evident when we remember the LORD’s parable of a rich fool (Luke 12:16-21). Beguiled with the pleasures of his riches, the rich man ordered his barns be torn down to build greater barns, and said to his soul, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). Rather than die in want, the rich fool died as he lived, enjoying his wealth until he heard in eternity that he was the poorest of men: “20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20–21).

Third error: Only the wicked suffer devastating sorrows, and catastrophic losses. (20:24-29)

Zophar maintained the wicked are struck down (20:24-25), and all he has is destroyed (20:26).  He declared the wicked feels everything is against him, until his riches are consumed by God’s wrath (20:27-28). (While it may be argued how the wicked often suffer loss; I suggest it is more often true they are rewarded by the system of this fallen world, and hailed for their ill-gotten gains, John 15:19a).

Of course, the implication of Zophar’s argument was that Job’s sorrows were a wicked man’s afflictions, and such is the lot or “heritage” God has “appointed” for the wicked (20:29).

Job 21 – Rather than Suffer, the Wicked Prosper

Job 21 recorded Job’s response to Zophar’s fallacies. He demanded his friends be silent that he might speak, and challenged them, sarcastically, after he had spoken, “mock on” (21:1-2). Job confessed his struggle was with God, and not with men (21:3-6).

Contrary to Zophar’s assertions, he observed the wicked and their children often live long lives, and enjoy prosperity (21:7-13). He contended the riches of the wicked cause their hearts to be calloused, and “they say unto God, Depart from us; For we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. 15What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” (21:14-15) The wicked fail to acknowledge they deserve nothing. Indeed,  all they have is a testimony of God’s grace and longsuffering, and the prosperity of the wicked moves them to reject God (21:16).

Closing thoughts (21:17-34) – Warning: Do not assume the wicked go unpunished.

The consequences of sin are inevitable, and the wicked are “as stubble before the wind, And as chaff that the storm carrieth away. 19God layeth up his [the wicked’s] iniquity for his children: He rewardeth him, and he shall know it” (21:18-19).

Generational Sins: Children are not punished for the sins of their parents; however, they often suffer the influence of their sins (Jeremiah 31:29-30; Deuteronomy 24:16). Three times the Law stated: “The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation” (Numbers 14:18; Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9).

Warning: The consequences of your sins may be borne by your children.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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“Overcoming Bitterness: I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” (Job 19)

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Scripture reading – Job 19

The sad drama between Job and his friends continued in Job 19, as he responded to the callous, unloving reproofs of Bildad the Shuhite (Job 18). Though Job might have anticipated his friends’ arrival would bring some comfort and pity, he soon realized they had come with one opinion – that Job’s afflictions were characteristic of the troubles that befall wicked men.

With that fabricated premise, Bildad assailed Job for being long-winded in his protests (18:2), and too proud to receive counsel (18:3). According to his estimation, the wicked have a hard life, characterized by calamity (18:5-18), and go to their graves with none remembering them (18:16-20). The implication was that Job’s troubles were such as should be expected of the wicked (18:21).

Job 19

An old English adage reads, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Alas, life experiences teach us that sticks can leave scars, and stones may indeed break bones; but eventually the body will mend and heal. However, the effect of cutting words from a loved one, or friend, sometimes result in sorrows that follow us to the grave. Such is the protest we read from Job in chapter 19.

Job’s Complaint Against His Friends (Job 19:1-5)

Job answered the scorn of his friends, and challenged them, saying, “How long will ye vex my soul, And break me in pieces with words?(19:2) The harsh judgments of his friends had left Job wounded and despairing of life. He protested, they had treated him reproachfully, and should be ashamed of how they humiliated him while in the throes of sorrows (19:3). Though wronged by groundless judgments, Job fell into the well-worn rut commonly found among the embittered: He kept a tally of the wrongs committed against him. Job declared, “These ten times have ye reproached me (19:3). His heart was turned from the LORD, to those who wronged and accused him. Frustrated by meddling, Job suggested if he was wrong, let it be his business, and his alone (19:4).

“Not Fair!” – Job’s Complaint Against God (19:6-12)

Job then raised a complaint against the LORD, for he believed he was unfairly entangled with sorrows exceeding his failures (19:6). He cried to the LORD, but it seemed heaven was silent (19:7). He felt entrapped (19:8), humiliated (19:9), and his world destroyed (19:10). He complained, it seemed the LORD had become his enemy, and his life under siege (19:11-12).

A Crisis of Alienation (Job 19:13-20)

God’s Word gives us an insight into the human psyche, for in Job’s afflictions, he retreated into the seclusion often sought by those who suffer. If you have known rejection, endured personal attacks, or been dealt a setback, you might have known the temptation to retreat into solitude like a wounded soul.

Job had experienced the alienation of family and friends. He wrote, “[God] hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me” (19:13). He understood God was author of his troubles, but the response of his family, friends, and acquaintances wounded him. Job felt alone, forsaken by family (19:14a), and forgotten by friends (19:14b). Even the servants of his household dishonored him (19:15-16), and his wife abhorred his “breath [life, spirit]” (19:17). “Young children,” the picture of innocence, disdained him (19:18), and his most intimate friends turned against him (19:19).

A Plea for Pity and Vindication (Job 19:20-25)

His body physically wasted (19:20), Job turned his thoughts from self-pity, and plead with his friends for pity and understanding. He asked, “Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?” (19:21-22). He begged for the vindication of his innocence to be recorded for future generations to consider, and pity him (19:23-24). Though he was overwhelmed by sorrows, and did not know the cause of his afflictions, Job declared his faith saying, 25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth”(19:25).

Closing thoughts (19:26-29) – Though he was looking through the lens of inexplicable sorrows and losses, Job’s faith remained unshaken. He was confident the LORD was his Advocate and Redeemer, and believed He would rescue and ransom him out of trials. Job reasoned, even if his afflictions ended in death, and worms destroyed his body, he believed his Redeemer would raise him from the dead, and he would see God (19:26-27). Job’s rebuttal of Bildad concluded with a warning we should all consider: God is the final judge, and the day of his judgment will come (19:28-29; 42:7-9).

A word of invitation – Don’t be guilty of keeping a tally of wrongs committed against you (19:3). An angry, unforgiving spirit will eat at your soul and make you a slave to bitterness! Follow Job’s example, answer your enemies (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8), and turn to the LORD (Ephesians 4:30-32).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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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

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
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Wise Counsel, Foolish Heart (Job 11)

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Scripture reading – Job 11

Job 11 introduces us to the third of Job’s friends, “Zophar the Naamathite” (11:1). While his age is not given, I offer two observations that lead me to suggest he was the youngest of the three. The first, Zophar was the last to speak, and culturally would have deferred to his elders. Secondly, his zeal and untethered speech seemed unusually harsh. Like his companions, Eliphaz and Bildad, Zophar’s counsel was unkind, direct, and insensitive. He had listened when his elders interrogated Job, and was offended when he asserted he had committed no sin to warrant his afflictions.

Zophar Accosted Job with Four Rebukes (11:2-6)

Zophar accused Job of being full of pious talk, saying, “Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be justified [righteous in God’s eyes]?” (11:2) He assaulted Job’s character, and faulted him for lies, saying, “Should thy lies make men hold their peace?” (11:3a) Thirdly, he suggested Job was irreverent, and mocked men by his answers, when he should be ashamed (11:3b). Finally, He charged Job was a hypocrite, and observed, “For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, And I am clean in thine eyes” (11:4).

A personal note to those who aspire to counsel others: Notice, Zophar lacked the humility and compassion required of godly counselors (Galatians 6:1). He was proud and judgmental, and gave Job no opportunity to respond. He not only accused Job of sin (excessive speech, lies, irreverence, and hypocrisy), but asserted he deserved all that befell him (11:5-6).

The Sovereignty and Wisdom of God (Job 11:7-12)

Like some who profess a knowledge of God and a zeal for His Word, Zophar lacked the compassion and longsuffering of the LORD. Job was overcome by sorrows, and surely the Lord’s invitation would have resonated in his heart: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Yet, in spite of his youth, Zophar had knowledge and understanding regarding His Creator (11:7-9). He confessed; no man can know God apart from His revelation (11:7a). What had the LORD revealed of Himself? Our God is El Shaddai, “the Almighty,” omnipotent, all-powerful God (11:7b). His wisdom is “as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know? 9The measure [of His wisdom] thereof is longer than the earth, And broader than the sea” (Job 11:8–9). (Stop and ponder: Zophar, like Job, was among the most ancient of men in the Scriptures after the flood; yet he had insight into the size of the earth and the breadth of the ocean.)

Then, Zophar boldly declared, God knows all that lies within the heart of man, and challenged Job, saying, the LORD “seeth wickedness also” (11:11b).

Three Admonitions Concluded Zophar’s Criticisms of Job (Job 11:13-20)

Repent: Zophar assumed Job’s troubles were God’s punishment, and urged him to repent, prepare his heart, and humble himself before the LORD (11:13). He counseled Job, and “let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles [lit. tent; house or household]” (11:14), in other words, put away your sin.

Be Restored: Zophar promised, if Job repented, the LORD would restore him (11:15-16). He would soon forget his miseries as swiftly as flood “waters that pass away” (dry up; 11:16). Zophar assured Job his “age” (life; days)would become as bright as the noonday sun (11:17), his hope would be restored (11:18a), and he would find rest (11:18b-19).

Be forewarned: Those who fail to repent will look in vain for rest (“eyes of the wicked shall fail”), find no refuge (“shall not escape”), “and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost” (hopeless; 11:20).

We will consider Job’s response to Zophar’s allegations in Job 12-14.

Closing thought – Zophar unlovingly and presumptuously reproached his elder. Nevertheless, there was truth in his counsel, and a lesson for us: Sincere believers will humble themselves, confess, and repent of sin. Remember:

1 John 1:9–109If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
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God Will Do Right as It Pleases Him, For He is God! (Job 9; Job 10)

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Scripture reading – Job 9; Job 10

Bildad had made his case, and accused Job of hypocrisy (Job 8). Job, however, rather than address Bildad’s harsh judgments, directed his lament to God (Job 9). Notice in Job’s answer, though he was a man of ancient days, he had profound insight into the character and attributes of His Creator. Looking to the God of heaven, Job asked the LORD, “How should a man be just [i.e., justified, righteous, perfect, sinless] with God?” (9:2). For Job, the implication was no man can be “just” or righteous in the sight of God Who is holy, “wise in heart, and mighty in strength” (9:4a).

Though he did not possess the Scriptures as we have them, Job had the knowledge of God’s revelation of Himself as Creator, Sovereign, and Sustainer of creation (9:5-9). Think about it…the LORD can move mountains (9:5), shake the foundations of the earth (9:6), and command the sun, moon, and stars in their orbit (9:7). His wonders cannot be numbered (9:10), and His ways are invisible (9:11). He is Sovereign of all, and “taketh away,” and no man dare say to Him, “What doest thou?” (9:12)

What were the things Job had seen, but the LORD had taken away? He lost his family, possessions, and health. When his “friends” came under the pretense of comforting him, they betrayed him with harsh judgments.

Job Pleads His Cause (9:14-35)

To interpret the balance of Job 9, I invite you to picture a heavenly courtroom, where God sits in judgment (9:15). We find poor Job standing before the presence of the Almighty, and he is both the defendant and his own advocate. Job realized God was a righteous Judge, and he dare not debate Him. After all, the LORD is altogether Just and Omniscient, and under no obligation to answer mortal man (9:16).

Job did not understand the cause for his troubles, and believed he was suffering “without cause” (9:17). In other words, he could think of no transgression to justify what he suffered. His troubles had come so swiftly, he could not catch his breath, before another assailed him (7:18). He searched his heart, and could think of no sin that deserved so many troubles. Nevertheless, with humility, Job acknowledged he had no grounds to protest or declare his innocence. He confessed, “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: If I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse” (9:20). Job realized the LORD knew him, better than he knew himself (9:21).

Warning: Never Judge a Man’s Character by His Circumstances (9:22-24)

Eliphaz and Bildad contested, Job’s troubles were upon him because He was proud and unwilling to confess His sin (Job 4-5; 8). They declared his trials were God’s judgment for an egregious sin he had not confessed. Job, though, disputed their harsh judgment, and maintained, “This is one thing, therefore I said it, He [God]destroyeth the perfect and the wicked” (9:22). Job contended, the righteous and the wicked are both afflicted in this world (9:23).

Closing thoughts (9:25-35)

Our study of Job 10 will wait for another time and another year. I conclude today’s study with an invitation to marvel at the insight, discernment and wisdom of ancient Job. He was a man of flesh like you and me, but oh the depth of his wisdom and knowledge of the Creator! His trouble had come upon him “swifter than a post” (literally, a mail courier), and his days were passing like “swift ships…[and] as the eagle that hasteth to the prey” (9:25-26). Job set his heart to stop complaining, and turn to the LORD (9:27). His afflictions had given cause for his “friends” to accuse him of wrong (9:28-29). Yet, though he contended his innocence, he realized no man is pure and innocent before God who is perfect, holy, and immortal (9:30-32).

I pray those caught in trials and afflictions of any kind, might not despair. Remember, Job will come to realize God’s hand was never against him. God tried him, to the end his love and faith might be proved and “come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). If you are in the midst of sorrows, meditate on this principle, and claim it:

2 Corinthians 1:3-43 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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When Hope Fails, Be Confident God is Just and Faithful (Job 7; Job 8)

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Scripture reading – Job 7; Job 8

We continue our chronological Scripture reading in the Book of Job. There are some difficult passages in Job, but I pray my efforts through Heart of A Shepherd will be an enhancement to your understanding. Thank you for embarking on this devotional journey.

Review – Remember, Job was in a dark place in life. He had suffered the loss of possessions (1:14-18), and the deaths of sons and daughters (1:15-19). Boils and open sores from his head to his feet added to his misery (2:7-8), and the harsh judgments of three “friends” well-nigh overwhelmed him (Job 4-5). Job’s friends came to him under the pretense of pity and compassion (2:11-13), but their words betrayed their prejudice of his present state.

The first friend to speak was Eliphaz, who argued God blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked. The implication was, in spite of his plea of innocence, Job was afflicted because he refused to confess his sin (Job 4-5). Job’s response to Eliphaz’s harsh judgment began in chapter 6, and continued to chapter 7.

Job 7 – Failing Hope

In his anguish, Job found Eliphaz’s words weighty and unsettling. Disheartened and despairing of life, Job’s thoughts turned dark, and he reasoned death alone might afford him relief from his distress.

Job’s Lamentations (7:1-6)

In his dejected state, Job pondered the brevity of life and that every man has his “appointed time…upon earth” (7:1). Physically afflicted, and emotionally despondent, he felt his days had come to nothing (7:3). With his body consumed by illness and disease, Job tossed and turned on his bed through the night (7:4-5). He felt his days rushing toward death, and confessed he was in a hopeless state (7:6).

Job’s Reflections on Death (7:7-10)

Praying to the LORD, Job was reminded his life was as unpredictable as the wind (7:7). He realized the inevitability of death (7:8-9), and all that a man has attained in life is soon passed, and will belong to others (7:10). Oh the tragedy of sinners whose treasures are in this world, and not in heaven. All such men are fools in God’s judgment, for they lay up treasures for themselves, and are “not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21).

Job’s Longings for Afflictions to Cease (7:11-16)

Eliphaz had berated Job for looking to death as an escape from his sorrows (Job 4-5). Yet, Job answered him and declared, “I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (7:11). He confessed, if his spirit were like a roaring sea, or a whale, he could have a boundary to reign in his sorrows (7:12). But when Job retreated to his bed, there was no relief from the terrifying dreams that emanated through the black expanse of night (7:13-14). He was so overcome with sorrow, he felt as though his very life (i.e., soul) was strangled (7:15). In fact, he had come to literally “loathe life” (7:16).

Job’s Petition for Pardon and Deliverance Him (7:17-21)

Our study of Job 7 concludes with Job asking a question that would later be echoed by David, “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him?” (David wrote, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (7:17; Psalm 8:4) Stating the same in the vernacular of the 21st century: “Why should God be concerned with common man?” After all, man is unpredictable, and ever given to change, and the LORD is ever trying the heart of man (7:18). Job wondered, how long before he would be left alone to die (7:19).

Job’s Confession: “I have sinned.” (7:20-21)

Some scholars suggest Job said, “If I have sinned” (7:20). He acknowledged God as the giver and preserver of life, but complained it seemed he was a man marked for afflictions and troubles (7:20). He felt his life was wasted under the burden of sin (7:21), yet, he found no pardon or forgiveness (7:21). So, Job resigned himself to death, and said, “now shall I sleep in the dust” (7:21).

Job 8 – The Counsel of Bildad the Shuhite

Chapter 8 recorded the counsel of Bildad the Shuhite, the second of Job’s friends. Like Eliphaz, Bildad came “to mourn with [Job] and to comfort” him (2:11); however, his counsel was insensitive and severe. He had listened to Job’s response to Eliphaz, and his plea for mercy and understanding. However, unlike Eliphaz, Bildad made no pretense of kindness, and his words were harsh and judgmental (8:2).

Bildad’s proud tone evidenced he had little experience with trials and hardships that bear the fruit of humility. He condemned Job’s lament (8:2), and alleged he had inferred God was unjust (8:3). Indirectly, Bildad implied Job’s children were dead because they sinned against God (8:4). Echoing Eliphaz’s counsel, Bildad reasoned, if Job was “pure and upright” God would bless him (8:5-7).

Closing thoughts (8:8-21) – So much more could be taught from this passage, but those lessons must wait until another year. Our devotion concludes with Bildad charging Job as a hypocrite (8:8-19), suggesting he had been forsaken by the LORD: “Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, Neither will he help the evil doers”(8:20). Bildad’s counsel lacked compassion, and his reasoning lacked humility and spiritual discernment. He not only failed Job as a friend, he added to his sorrows. Tragically, His judgments were contrary to the ways of the LORD who is loving, compassionate, longsuffering, and just.

I conclude with a treasured principle for all who love the LORD:

“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Why Does God Allow Sickness and Sorrow? (Job 4; Job 5)

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Scripture reading – Job 4; Job 5

Continuing our study of the Book of Job, we have noted it served as a record of one man’s righteous response to sorrows and troubles. It is a story of a heavenly drama between Satan and the LORD, concerning a godly upright man named Job (Job 1). Unbeknownst to Job, the trials that came upon him were a test and proof of the confidence the LORD had in him as a man of faith and integrity (1:8; 2:3).

Job proved to be worthy of the LORD’s confidence, even when his sons and daughters perished, his possessions were lost, and his body was afflicted with sores. When his wife looked upon him with disdain (2:9), Job rebuked her and placed his trust in the sovereignty of God (2:10).

Surely the arrival of “three friends” (2:11-13), renewed Job’s long for encouragement in the midst of sorrows. Nevertheless, as we will see in today’s Scripture reading, the opposite would be true. Shaken by his troubles, and overcome with sorrow, Job shared with his “friends” his longing for death to deliver him from his suffering (Job 3).

Job 4 – The Counsel of Eliphaz the Temanite

Eliphaz was the first of Job’s friends to respond to his desire to escape suffering by death (note, this does not imply suicide, but a natural course of life that inevitably ends in death). Job 4-5 records the first of three speeches given by Eliphaz to Job. The second and third discourses are recorded in Job 15 and Job 22.

Breaking his silence, and holding his tongue no longer, “Eliphaz the Temanite” (4:1), perhaps the eldest of the friends, questioned Job. Would he, a man who had counseled others, accept counsel himself? (Job 4:2-6) Eliphaz began with a conciliatory tone (4:1-4), but soon became accusatory, and suggested Job’s troubles were those of the wicked, and not a righteous man (4:5-8).

Rather than comfort, Eliphaz proposed a question that haunts some who have the privilege of ministering to others: 7Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off?” (4:7)

It is difficult to accept, but sadly true: There are some who come on the pretense of offering sympathy, who take pleasure in a man’s troubles. Eliphaz’s words were biting, and implied Job’s pretense of faith was “fair-weathered,” for now that storms touched his life he was viewed as having fainted (4:7-11). He indicted Job’s character (4:6), and asserted, “They that plow iniquity, And sow wickedness, reap the same” (4:8). (In other words, he was reaping what he had sown.) Wrongly judging his friend, Eliphaz implied the losses and sorrows Job suffered were indicative of a man who lacked piety and was guilty of sin (4:12-21).

Eliphaz then claimed he had received a vision, and heard a voice (4:12-16). He asked Job, “17Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his maker?” (4:17). The implication was, Job’s troubles were because he failed to confess his sins (4:18-21).

Job 5 – Eliphaz Proclaims the Greatness of God

Eliphaz continued to contend Job’s trials were a consequence of his sins, and questioned, “To which of the saints wilt thou turn?” (5:1) In other words, “Job, to whom will you turn, if you don’t turn to the LORD for help?”

Eliphaz then accused Job of failing to respond to God with humility. He warned him, “2For wrath killeth the foolish man, And envy slayeth the silly one” (5:2). Increasing his assault on Job’s character, Eliphaz seemed to imply the deaths of his children were a result of his sin (5:4; 1:18-19). He encouraged Job to accept his troubles as a sign of God’s chastening, and urged him, “despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” (5:17; 5:18, Hebrews 12:5; Proverbs 3:11-12).

Eliphaz urged Job to accept his troubles as God’s loving discipline, and then enumerated seven troubles from which the LORD delivers His people (seven being the number of perfection and wholeness). The seven troubles were: famine (5:20a), war (5:20b), a slanderous tongue (5:21a), natural calamities (5:21b), destitution (fear of famine or poverty, 5:22a), wild beasts (5:22b), and early death (5:26). The implication of Eliphaz’s observation was: “If the LORD delivers His people out of trouble, why are you (Job) left to suffer so much?”

Eliphaz’s reasoning reflects some truth; however, his argument that Job’s losses were God’s judgment was a false presumption. The wicked do suffer loss as a result of God’s punitive judgment; however, God chastens the righteous with the love of a Father (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19). There are times He also allows trials and suffering, not because of sin, but as a means of deepening our walk of grace and dependence on Him (1 Corinthians 11:32; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 5:11).

A Closing Word of Caution – Lest some believers accept Eliphaz’s counsel as truth, and apply his statements to themselves, remember: Job’s trials were not caused by sinful failures or unconfessed sins. The LORD allowed him to suffer as a means of testing, that would eventually yield blessings. You and I cannot grasp all that is in the mind of God; however, we must accept He is Sovereign. When trials and sorrows come (and they will), remember they are temporal, and you can be confident in this:

The way of the LORD is perfect (Psalm 18:30).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

From Riches to Rags: When Things Go from Bad to Worse (Job 1; Job 2)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.
(Other translations are available upon request.)

Scripture reading – Job 1; Job 2

Introduction to The Book of Job

Our chronological study of The Book of Genesis is interrupted by a diversion to The Book of Job. Among Bible scholars, The Book of Job is commonly believed to be the oldest book of the Bible. So far, our renewed chronological study of the Scriptures has given us a perspective on Creation and the fall of man (Genesis 1-5), and carried the historical narrative from the worldwide Flood, to God calling out Abraham (Genesis 6-11). Job, the subject of the book before us, was believed to have been a contemporary of Abraham. There are several details of the book that lead us to accept that conclusion, but particularly the names of ancient cities whose names were derived from men who were contemporaries of Abraham.

Job 1

Job, the Man (Job 1:1-5)

The Book of Job introduces us to the man whose name it bears; however, we are not presented with any background of the man, nor how he became so incredibly wealthy. We read, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1).

The exact location of the “land of Uz” is one of speculation; however, there are cities mentioned in this book that were located in the land we will later identify as Edom. So, we might place Uz in that geographical region (southeast of today’s Israel, and on the border of Jordan to the east and Egypt to the south). Yet, it is not Job’s birthplace, but his character that identifies him as an important figure in the Bible. Arguably, he was what God would have every man to be: “Perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (1:1). He was perfect, meaning blameless, guiltless, a man of integrity. He was an upright man, righteous, and honest before God and man. He was a God-fearing man who revered his Creator, and eschewed, or shunned evil (1:1).

Job was blessed with a large family, having “seven sons and three daughters” (1:2). He was also a man of great wealth (1:3). In our story, we find his children were adults, with their own households (1:4). They shared in their father’s wealth, and enjoyed the bounty of their own riches. As a family, we find they observed a week of feast days, perhaps as a celebration of the harvest. When the feast days were ended, Job, acting as the spiritual priest of his household, summoned his children to offer sacrifices to God, reasoning, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (1:5). Notice the last phrase: “Thus did Job continually.” Worship and sacrifices were a pattern of Job’s life, and one he did not take lightly as the spiritual head of his family.

A Heavenly Council (Job 1:6-12)

Job 1:6 carried us into the midst of a heavenly council where “the sons of God” (whom I believe were angels), were standing before God’s throne. In their midst was Satan, the serpent, the wicked one, fallen angel Lucifer, the spiritual adversary of God and man (1:6). The LORD inquired of Satan, “Whence comest thou?”, and he answered, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (1:7b).

God then turned the focus of the heavenly council to a man in whom He found great joy. The LORD asked Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (1:8).

Evidencing his adversarial heart, Satan questioned God, and disparaged Job asking, “Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (1:9-11).

From Riches to Rags (Job 1:12-19)

The LORD accepted Satan’s challenge, and gave him liberty to accost Job in a series of devastating trials. Mercifully, God limited the extent of the devil’s power and commanded him, “Behold, all that he [Job] hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (1:12a). Satan departed from God’s presence, and initiated a series of disastrous events that destroyed all Job’s earthly possessions (1:13-17). Eventually, the devil’s assault took that which was dearest to Job, his sons and daughters (1:18-19).

Satan had slandered Job, and suggested he was faithful to the LORD only because he was lavishly blessed, and protected by Him (1:9-11). How did Job respond to his losses? Did he curse God as Satan alleged he would? (1:11)

Rather than reprove his Creator, Job responded with humility, and acknowledged God’s sovereignty over His creation. Then, he worshipped the LORD, and prayed, “Yahweh gives, and Yahweh takes away; blessed be the name of Yahweh” (1:21b). Contrary to Satan’s accusation, Job “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (1:22).

Job 2 – Job: His Body Afflicted, His Friends’ Inquisition

A thorough study of Job 2 will have to wait for another time, and another year; however, Job 2 records a second heavenly council (2:1-3), and introduces a trial that will afflict Job’s body and rob him of his health (2:4-7). You will meet Job’s wife who questions why he maintains his integrity in the midst of sorrows (2:9-10), and meet Job’s “three friends” who will assert his losses are a punishment for unconfessed sin (2:11-13).

A Closing Thought: Satan is a real person, and an adversary of believers; however, God limits his power and influence. When trials come, and they will, trust God knowing He is intensely interested in your soul and well-being.

Romans 8:2828 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.