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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Job

(Return to Old Testament Contents)

 

Context:

Because the final speech of Job covers six chapters, we provide the following structure to help the reader follow it:

26. Job (9) Part 1: Attack - Rebuke of the ‘friends' for only God knows the truth'

27. Job (9) Part 2: Defence - Job's Personal Integrity & the fate of his enemies

28. Job (9) Part 3: Interlude: Where Wisdom is Found

29. Job (9) Part 4: The Past - Job looks back almost nostalgically

30. Job (9) Part 5: The Present - Roles Reversed & a Resultant Wreck

31. Job (9) Part 6: Final Defence - Job's Final Words of Self-Vindication

 

 

FRAMEWORKS: Job 31: Job's Final Words of Self-Vindication

 

[Preliminary Comments: In this remarkable final chapter of Job's speeches, the word ‘if' occurs nineteen times, each one in respect of possibility of a sin that Job has been careful to avoid. Earlier he has protested his innocence and in this final chapter he goes to great lengths to expound on his righteousness. He does it by denying a whole series of potential sins and invokes a curse on himself if he has been dishonest in respect of any of them. We will summarise them at the end.]

 

 

v.1-4 He protests purity in his looking

v.1  “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. 

v.2 For what is our lot from God above, our heritage from the Almighty on high? 

v.3 Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? 

v.4 Does he not see my ways and count my every step? 

 

v.5-8 He protests honesty & integrity

v.5  “If I have walked with falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit— 

v.6  let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless— 

v.7  if my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, 

v.8  then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted. 

 

v.9-12 He protests faithfulness to his wife.

v.9  If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor's door, 

v.10 then may my wife grind another man's grain, and may other men sleep with her. 

v.11 For that would have been wicked, a sin to be judged. 

v.12  It is a fire that burns to Destruction; it would have uprooted my harvest. 

 

v.13-15 He protests right dealings with his servants

v.13  “If I have denied justice to any of my servants, whether male or female, when they had a grievance against me, 

v.14  what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account? 

v.15 Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers? 

 

v.16-23 He protests his care for the poor and needy

v.16  “If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, 

v.17  if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless— 

v.18 but from my youth I reared them as a father would, and from my birth I guided the widow— 

v.19 if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or the needy without garments, 

v.20  and their hearts did not bless me for warming them with the fleece from my sheep, 

v.21  if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, 

v.22 then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. 

v.23  For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things. 

 

v.24-28 He protests he has rejected avarice or idolatry

v.24  If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,' 

v.25  if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, 

v.26  if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, 

v.27 so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, 

v.28 then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high. 

 

v.29-32 He protests his good attitude towards enemies & strangers

v.29  “If I have rejoiced at my enemy's misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him— 

v.30 I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against their life— 

v.31 if those of my household have never said, ‘Who has not been filled with Job's meat?'— 

v.32 but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler— 

 

v.33-37 He protests his integrity in respect of personal sins

v.33  if I have concealed my sin as people do, by hiding my guilt in my heart 

v.34  because I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent and would not go outside— 

v.35 (“Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. 

v.36  Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. 

v.37 I would give him an account of my every step; I would present it to him as to a ruler.)— 

 

v.38-40 He protests his honesty with his tenants

v.38 if my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, 

v.39  if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants, 

v.40 then let briers come up instead of wheat and stinkweed instead of barley.” The words of Job are ended.

 

 

[Concluding Comments: So how has Job vindicated himself in this chapter? He has denied sinning in respect of:

•  the way he looks at young women [v.1-4],

•  his general honesty and integrity [v.5-8],

•  his faithfulness towards his wife [v.9-12],

•  his dealings with his servants [v.13-15],

•  his care for the poor and needy [v.16-23],

•  his rejection of avarice and idolatry [v.24-28],

•  his attitudes towards enemies and strangers [v.29-32],

•  his integrity in respect of personal sins [v.33-37]

•  his honesty towards his tenants [v.38-40]

In all these ways he seeks to bolster his righteousness before his three friends and deny the various accusations he has received from them. With this we come to the end of the interaction between Job and his three friends.]

   

 

CONTINUE to Chapter 32