“I hear censure that insults me, and out of my understanding a spirit answers me…” - Job 20:3
Zophar has some sharp words for Job at the opening of today’s reading, in response to Job’s complaints that everyone – his relatives, his friends, and God – has failed him. Try to picture Zophar’s posture, as you would an actor on stage, when he tells Job, “You’ve insulted me…”
Job’s response pushes in a deeper, darker direction, and his burgeoning argument hits a crescendo in chapter 23. Giving full voice to the lament within him, he asks: “Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? Their offspring are established in their presence, and their descendants before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them.” Furthermore, “They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways…’”
Feel Job’s torment in these chapters. He is no longer concerned with justifying himself to his friends, asking rhetorically, “is my complaint against man?” ‘No,’ we hear. It is against God; it is against the injustice that Job has witnessed from both directions – he suffers, while the wicked prosper. This is what Job wants his friends to wrap their heads around – and so we’re forced to wrestle with it, too.
At this point, it might feel like we’ve walked far enough into the dark woods and now it’s time to turn back. For some time we’ve come upon no fresh water, no clearing has materialized, and the crest of each hill just presents even darker valleys. The forest is getting thicker, and the hour is getting late. It feels like if we go much further, we will not be able to find our way back to the safety of camp.
But we can, and should, keep walking with Job, for he cannot turn back. The story drives further, relentlessly, toward an unknown destination. Our trust is that the payoff, whatever it is, will be worth it.
Our verse for this week is Luke 16:13: No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Job 20 through 24. Now let’s read it!
No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”