|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
1-10 roughly cover Ch.1-4
11-20 roughly cover Ch.4-7
21-30 roughly cover Ch.8-11
31-40 roughly cover Ch.12-15
41-50 roughly cover Ch.16-21
51-60 cover Ch.22-33
61-68 cover Ch.34-42
Meditation No. 57
Meditation Title: I can Justify My Cause
Job 31:5,6 If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit-- let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless
In his closing words in this final chapter of his speeches, Job goes through his life and justifies his actions to show that he is righteous. This is his central concern, that he has not strayed into unrighteousness. He starts with what he had determined: I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl. (v.1) He had determined a life of purity and righteousness. He explains his thinking: For what is man's lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on high? (v.2) After all, he says, our lives will be what God determines as He looks on who we are and what He sees in us. He deals with us according to what He sees: Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? (v.3) I know that is what He does, so I determined to avoid that sort of life. Indeed, Does he not see my ways and count my every step? (v.4) God looks on me and knows this is true. That's why, going on to our verses above, he asks the Lord to weigh his life and determine and declare that he is blameless. He is so certain of this that he is willing to lay a curse on himself if it is not true: if my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted. (v.7,8) i.e. may others take what I have if I have been untrue!
In the verses that follow, he applies the same thinking, going through a series of wrongs that he is sure he has not done, and declares judgments if such things can be found against him. If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbour's door. (v.9) and If I have denied justice to my menservants and maidservants when they had a grievance against me. (v.13) and If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, (v.16) and if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless. (v.17) and if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or a needy man without a garment, (v.19) and if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, (v.20) and If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, `You are my security,' if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, (v.24,25) and If I have rejoiced at my enemy's misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him. (v.29) and if the men of my household have never said, `Who has not had his fill of Job's meat? (v.31) and if I have concealed my sin as men do, by hiding my guilt in my heart, (v.33) and if my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, if I have devoured its yield without payment. (v.38,39)
Thus he lists off all the things that he can think of that in his mind constitute unrighteousness, things he is certain he has not done! This is a very moral list and many of us might be challenged to wonder whether we could say such things. All of these things he puts under a curse, so sure is he of his own right doing.
In it he makes a cry for God to come and give him an answer: Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defence--let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. I would give him an account of my every step; like a prince I would approach him. (v.35-37) i.e. if only God would come and lay out His claims against Job, then Job would be able to give an account for everything he had done and thus be able to show that he had not strayed from the path of righteousness.
Now if we ever go down this same path, we are on dangerous ground. Job is going to be chided for speaking without knowledge. He has focused on his righteousness but this hasn't been about that. He has misunderstood because he doesn't have the counsel of heaven. If there is a wrong in Job, this is it, but he doesn't realise that yet.
Perhaps our biggest difficulty in the Christian life is that spiritual realities are invisible and we are used to operating in a material visible world. That's why the apostle Paul declared, We live by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7). So much of the time our walk has to be purely on the basis of what we believe we have heard from God so far, and that is not always easy. If we start focusing on our behaviour we fall into a variety of traps. There is the trap of only partial truth, so we think we are all right but in reality we are blind to bad thinking and bad behaviour and it needs to Lord to reveal it to us. There is the trap of pride whereby we start thinking how good we are especially in comparison to others and we don't realise that that pride is a sin. There is also the trap of self-effort whereby, just like the apostle Paul before he was saved, we work at what is, in fact, self-righteousness and that is a form of ungodliness as we forget about God in our endeavours.
Job has been speaking rightly about his life, but wrongly about what has recently been happening to him. His words may be right but not in this context! He would have done better to have said nothing. Solomon understood this when he wrote, When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Prov 10:19). The more we speak, the more likely we are to get it wrong. Listen up!