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Job 13:1-12 – Do Not Lie for God

Summary

Job gives up on his counselors. They talk down to him as if he does not know anything, and they are more interested in protecting God's reputation than in taking Job's side in his plea of innocence.

Analysis

At this point in the book, all three of Job's friends have had their say. Job has listened to them and argued with them. Now he gives up on them. There will be no helpful words coming from them. They talk to Job as if he has never thought about these matters before. They simply rehearse all the traditional explanations of why there is suffering in a world ruled by a just God. Job has heard it all before. He may even have used some of the same teachings as he has counseled others. The problem is that these answers do not work anymore for him in his present situation of suffering, and yet his friends keep repeating them as if they are uttering words of great profundity.

The basic belief of the three counselors is that God is just and people suffer according to what they deserve. It would be easier to maintain this belief if Job were an obvious, flagrant sinner. It is hard to make the case when Job has such a stellar reputation as a good and devout man. So, they slowly move in the direction of trying to find some sin in Job that would justify God's treatment of him. They even get to the point where they are willing to tell lies about Job in order to make God look better. They "blame the victim." By so doing, they find some relief from nagging questions about why God lets good people suffer (and often lets wicked people off the hook).

Job says God will not like what they are doing in their efforts to defame Job. God wants the truth, not simplistic theology that refuses to challenge God but, rather, always blames human beings for all the troubles of the world.

Job 13:1-12

13‘Look, my eye has seen all this,
   my ear has heard and understood it.
2 What you know, I also know;
   I am not inferior to you.
3 But I would speak to the Almighty,*
   and I desire to argue my case with God.
4 As for you, you whitewash with lies;
   all of you are worthless physicians.
5 If you would only keep silent,
   that would be your wisdom!
6 Hear now my reasoning,
   and listen to the pleadings of my lips.
7 Will you speak falsely for God,
   and speak deceitfully for him?
8 Will you show partiality towards him,
   will you plead the case for God?
9 Will it be well with you when he searches you out?
   Or can you deceive him, as one person deceives another?
10 He will surely rebuke you
   if in secret you show partiality.
11 Will not his majesty terrify you,
   and the dread of him fall upon you?
12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes,
   your defences are defences of clay.

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10 February 2011

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