1: Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling? 2: As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work: 3: So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me. 4: When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day. 5: My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome. 6: My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope. 7: O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good. 8: The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not. 9: As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. 10: He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more. 1: Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. 12: Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me? 13: When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint; 14: Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions: 15: So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. 16: I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity. 17: What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? 18: And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? 19: How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? 20: I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself? 21: And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.
Bildad speaks to Job
1: Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, 2: How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind? 3: Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice? 4: If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression; 5: If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; 6: If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. 7: Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase. 8: For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers: 9: (For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow:) 10: Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart? 11: Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water? 12: Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb. 13: So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish: 14: Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web. 15: He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure. 16: He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden. 17: His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones. 18: If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee. 19: Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow. 20: Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers: 21: Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing. 22: They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought.
1: Then Job answered and said, 2: I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? 3: If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. 4: He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? 5: Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. 6: Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. 7: Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. 8: Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. 9: Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. 10: Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. 11: Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not. 12: Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou? 13: If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him. 14: How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him? 15: Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge. 16: If I had called, and he had answered me; yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice. 17: For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause. 18: He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness. 19: If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead? 20: If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. 21: Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life. 22: This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. 23: If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent. 24: The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he? 25: Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good. 26: They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey. 27: If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself: 28: I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent. 29: If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain? 30: If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; 31: Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me. 32: For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. 33: Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. 34: Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me: 35: Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with me.
In today’s Bible reading Job continues to answer the advice and ‘comfort’ of Eliphaz. Then Bildad has a go at trying to be a help to his friend Job and then we read of Job’s reply. So Job continues saying doesn’t man have a set time on the earth? Aren’t his days like the hours of a labouring man? Like a field worker who longs for the shade? Or a labourer who looks forward to pay day? I am made to put up with months of pointlessness and weary nights are my lot. I lie down and long for the morning. All night long l toss too and fro. My flesh is teeming with worms and clods of dirt and my skin is broken and is loathsome. My days pass as quick as a flash and I spend them without any hope of relief. My life is like a wind that has passed and l think sometimes that l will never see good things ever again. Very soon l will be gone, like a cloud that has evaporated, like a man that is buried never to be seen again. Like a man who will never walk home again, in fact his home will never recognise him anymore. So l will speak and not hold back. I will tell how l feel in my troubled spirit. I will complain to the LORD because of the bitterness in my heart. When l say my bed comforts me l mean that my bed gives me a little comfort. The Lord scares me with bad dreams and terrifies me through day-dreams, so that l could wish to be strangled and die rather than live. I don’t want to live like this. Leave me alone because my days are pointless. Why would you want to think about men? Why would you want to visit him every morning and test him moment by moment? How long, Oh Lord will you not forsake me? Or leave me alone to perish? I have sinned so what do you want me to do about it? Why have you made me a target to shoot at? So that l have become a burden even to myself? And why do you not forgive me of my sin and take away my iniquity? If l die tonight you will seek for me in the morning and l will not be here. After this long bitter complain to the Lord. Bildad has a go at offering ‘comfort’ to Job. The best comfort that men can offer. He said, how long will you go on and on Job? Will God alter his judgments - will he change his justice? If you were a righteous man then God would have rescued you already. We are all the product of former days. So look into your history to find the fault within yourself. In some way you have forgotten God and your acting at being righteous will give you no hope of help in God. Your trust will be like a spider’s web – frail in the extreme. You may trust in your home but one day it will fall. You are like tender grass to the blasting heat of the sun. If you are destroyed the Lord can say l did not notice him. This is the only joy of life that others will grow up after you. God will not cast away a perfect man nor will he help evil men. He will fill your mouth with laughing and you lips with rejoicing. Those that hate you will be full of shame and the homes of the wicked will be destroyed. Then Job replied saying I know that what you are saying is the truth but how can a man be made right with God? How can a man argue his case with the LORD? Even the wise and the strong who stands up to the Lord – can he made headway with a God who can move mountains? - who makes the earth tremble and who orders the sun not to shine and the stars to hid themselves. He alone spreads out the heavens and walks on the sea. He puts Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades in the night sky. He does great things and wonderful things beyond our imagination. The LORD passes me by and l do not see him. Who can resist the Lord or who can ask him what he is doing? If God will not withdraw his anger who will answer him? I certainly cannot. I have no words to talk to him. Even though l am righteous l will not answer back to God, but l will plead with him for my case. Even if l called on the LORD and he answered me yet l would not presume to think that he would answer me. He breaks on me like a storm and he inflicts wounds on me without a reason. He will not give me time to draw breath but fills me with bitterness. If l speak of strength – he is strong. If I speak of judgment who will give me a moment to plead my cause. If l try to justify myself my own mouth will condemn me. If l said ‘l am perfect’ it would prove to be my undoing. Even if l were perfect before the Lord yet l would not know whether l am and l would think that l am not. So this is the one thing l have discovered he can destroy both the righteous and the wicked. Perhaps the scourge will kill a man suddenly and the Lord might laugh at the condemnation of the innocent. The Lord places earth under the power of the wicked and he blinds the eyes of judges. And if God does not do this, then who is doing it? My days are passing by so quickly and they do not see good things. They disappear like a ship on the horizon and an eagle with food for its young. If l say to myself ‘forget it’, ‘forget about your troubles before the Lord look after yourself then l would be afraid of all my sorrows and l know that you will not hold me innocent of this sin. If l am a wicked man then why am l trying to discover what has happened to me? Even if l washed myself in the purest of water yet you can plunge me into the dirty ditch and make my clothes stink. God is not a man that l should answer back to him or that we should decide my case in conference with him. And there is no intermediary between us to bring us together. May the Lord remove his rod from me and may his fear not terrify me. Then l would be able to speak freely but l do not think l can do this in this state. (These passages are long and involved and sometimes difficult to follow.)