16 Then Job reiterated his innocence.
2 Job: All the things from you sound the same.
You are all terrible as comforters!
3 Have we reached the end of your windy words,
or are you sick with something that compels you to argue with me?
4 If we were to trade places,
I could rattle on as you do.
I could compose eloquent speeches as you do
and shake my head smugly at you and your problems.
5 But I believe I would use my words to encourage you;
my lips would move only to offer you relief.
6 And yet, I am not you, you are not me,
and my words are of no real use:
When I speak, my pain is not relieved;
if I remain silent, it does not go away.
7 God has drained me utterly;
He has made those near to me desolate—killed my family and my servants.
8 You have shriveled me up;
my withered form stands as a witness against me;
my body, haggard and thin, testifies to my face.
9 In anger He hunts me down and tears at me;
in rancor His teeth grind on my flesh;
His eyes are locked on me as a foe,
eager to destroy still more of me.
10 My foes taunt me, their mouths gape in derision,
they slap my cheek in disgust, and they conspire against me.
11 God has forsaken me to young thugs
and flung me into the hands of evildoers who lie in wait for me.
12 I was living a good life—a quiet, peaceful life—
when He began to beat on me;
He throttled my neck, tore me apart,
and then propped me up
at the far end of the field, making me a target.
13 His archers have now gathered around me.
In cold blood He splits my belly open and spills my bile on the earth.
14 He charged like a soldier storming a stronghold
until my walls were breached, broken down, one after another.
Job in his despair and frustration responds as he and his friends have been taught by previous generations to display grief: by donning sackcloth and covering the head with dust to show devastation, as if everything has been lost even to the point of death.
15 Job: Well, I have sewed the sackcloth to my very skin
and buried my mighty forehead in the dirt.
16 My face, red and hot, boils over in tears;
the shadow of darkness lies heavy on my eyelids,
17 No matter that my hands are free of violence,
and my prayer is pure.
18 O earth, do not conceal my blood!
And when they seek to silence my cry, refuse a place for its burial.
19 Look! Even at this very moment, my witness is there, in heaven;
my advocate is seated on high.
20 My only friends scoff at me; they persist in mocking me;
even now my eyes well up in tears to God,
21 Appealing to God as a mere man,
as a human being might for the sake of his friend.
22 Only a few years left now,
and I will go down the path from which I cannot return.
17 Job: My spirit has collapsed; my days have been blotted out;
the grave is prepared for me.
2 There are mockers all around me;
my eyes are fixed on their unwarranted opposition of me.
3 Show me a sign! Vouch for me, God!
Who is there to give me his hand, guaranteeing his pledge?
4 I think no one is there because You have closed up their minds,
made them unable to see or understand;
so You will honor none of them.
5 You have heard, “Whoever denounces his friends for land
will watch his children go blind.”
6 But God has turned me into a swear word for everyone;
I have become a symbol of human darkness;
I am the face on whom one spits.
7 All my afflictions cloud my vision;
the members of my body are wasting away;
I am a mere shadow of what it once was.
8 Those of moral fiber are appalled at this;
innocent men grow indignant at the wicked.
9 Even still, the righteous embrace their way of life;
those with clean hands go from strong to stronger.
10 By contrast, I look to you, my friends, and I say,
“Come ahead, all of you; try your words once more.”
I still won’t expect to find a wise man among you.
11 Even now my days have passed me by;
My plans lie broken at my feet;
the secret wishes of my heart grow cold.
12 And yet my friends say, this loss of hope is for good,
turning my dark night into what appears to them as day.
In the pitch darkness, these broken plans and secret wishes speak to me.
They say, “There is light nearby.”
13 If I hope only to live in the land of the dead,
if I prepare for myself a bed in the darkness,
14 If I speak to my burial pit, calling it “Father,”
and to the worms in the earth, calling them “Mother” and “Sister,”
15 Then where will I find my hope?
And who will see it?
16 Will hope go with me to the place of death?
Will hope accompany me into the ground?
18 Bildad the Shuhite encouraged Job to righteousness.
2 Bildad: How long will you keep up the hunt for words?
Show some sense, and then we can actually converse.
3 Why is it we are like cattle to you,
dumb animals in your eyes?
4 You speak of how God “tears at you,” you!
You tear at yourself in your rage.
Oh, how self-centered you are!
Ought the earth be emptied of its inhabitants for your sake?
Ought the rocks roll away for your convenience?
5 Remember, the flame of the wicked is extinguished.
His fire no longer lends light to anything.
6 His tent-lamp goes dark;
his bedside lamp flickers and dies.
7 His long strides falter, as his own plans take him down.
8 His then-weakened feet lead him to a net,
And wander into its waiting mesh.
9 A snare clamps around his heel;
he feels it dig into him.
10 This trap was set for him beforehand:
a snare is hidden on the ground;
a net is overhead along the path.
11 Terrors press in on every side
and badger his every step.
12 His deepest fears stalk him as he staggers, craving him,
and awaiting his imminent collapse.
13 Bit by bit, disease eats at his skin;
bit by bit, the firstborn of death gnashes at his limbs.
14 He is torn violently from the safety of his tent
and forced to march before the king of terrors.
Bildad sees the realm of death not just as a place of rest and waiting, but as a growing society ruled by a king. Sheol always has room for more citizens and always wants more. Like an infant, this place—this firstborn of death—has a voracious appetite for the wicked. And the infant’s father, the king of terrors, has many ways to provide for his child. His terrors are not nightmares or phobias or any other psychological device. Instead, he rules over disaster, disease, and famine—anything that brings death. Through his vibrant imagery, Bildad explains that death is the ultimate fate of the wicked; he implies that Job cannot be evil because the terrors he has faced have not yet killed him.
15 Bildad: Nothing of his remains in his tent,
and burning sulfur has been scattered on it so no one will dwell there again.
16 Death comes from both directions:
from below, his roots dry out;
from above, his branches wither.
17 On the earth, he disappears from memory;
on the outside, no one recalls his name.
18 He is pushed out of the light into darkness
and chased from the inhabited world altogether.
19 He has no children, no descendants among his people;
no one survives him or escapes from his homeland.
20 His fate is unanimously viewed:
with dismay in the West,
with horror in the East.
21 Surely this is the way it goes with all evil people;
surely this is the lot in life for those who do not know God.
19 Job answered his friends in frustration.
2 Job: O how long! How long will you torture me and pound me with your chatter?
3 What is it now? Eight times? Nine times?
No, surely it’s ten times you have insulted me.
Ten times you’ve shamelessly acted to harm me.
4 Even if I have erred, my faults lie with me alone.
5 However, if you must exalt yourselves at my expense,
if you must proffer my own disgrace as evidence against me,
6 Then you ought at least to know that I have been wronged by God.
Yes, His net is closed about me.
7 Look! I cry out, “Violence!” but no response comes.
I shout for help, but justice eludes me.
8 He is a roadblock. He will not let me pass;
He has covered my roads in darkness.
9 He has stripped me of my honor,
torn the crown off my head.
10 He comes at me from all sides, but I attempt to leave;
He rips out my hope as if it were a tree in dry ground.
11 His anger burns white-hot against me,
and He considers me His enemy.
12 His militia arrives to raise a siege ramp against me
and to surround my dwelling.
13 He has driven my relatives far from me;
I am cut off from my friends.
14 My entire family has failed me;
my best friends have forgotten me.
15 Everyone in my house, including my maidservants,
treats me like an outsider;
I am a stranger to them now.
16 When I send for my servant, he does not come.
I even plead with him with my own voice.
17 My breath is strange; even my wife avoids me;
I’m loathsome to my relatives; they can’t stand to be around me.
18 Even young children taunt me,
and when I seek to rise, they mock me.
19 My closest friends can no longer bear me,
and anyone I have ever loved has turned against me.
20 I am reduced to skin and bones;
I have barely escaped by the skin of my teeth.
21 Show me your pity, my friends, show me your pity!
For truly, I have been struck by the hand of God.
22 Why do you pursue me as God has done?
Is my emaciated body not satisfying enough for you?
23 What I would give to have my words taken down,
to have them inscribed for posterity on a scroll.
24 No! More than that!
To have them chiseled with iron filled with lead—
carved in stone for all eternity.
25 Besides, I know my Redeemer lives,
and in the end He will rise and take His stand on the earth.
26 And though my skin has been stripped off,
still, in my flesh, I will see God.
27 I, myself, will see Him:
not some stranger, but actually me, with these eyes.
Toward this end, my deepest longings pine away within my chest.
Literally, a redeemer “buys back” something that was taken away. In the Old Testament, kinsmen-redeemers are men who buy their relatives out of slavery, buy family property back from creditors, or marry their brothers’ widows to save the women from destitution. What is it that Job needs returned to him? Acknowledgment of his innocence and a renewed life. Because all of his family and friends have abandoned him, Job is trusting in his plea to God. As he did in chapter 16, Job is personifying his words and hoping in the redemptive power of his own argument.
Many millennia later, Christians do not have to trust in their own actions or persuasive reasoning to save their lives. Jesus redeemed all when He died on the cross—trading Himself to buy back our lives. He is the ultimate Redeemer.
28 Job: If you ask, “How will we pursue him
since the root cause of his suffering lies in him?”
29 You ought to fear the sword yourselves;
for the sword bears fury’s punishment
in order that you might realize there is, in fact, a judgment.
1 Corinthians 16
16 Now I call you, just as I did the churches gathering in Galatia, to collect funds to support God’s people in Jerusalem. 2 On Sunday, the first day of the week, I want each of you to set aside an amount, as God has blessed you, so the funds will be collected by the time I come. 3 When I get there, I will send those you recommend by your own letters to carry your generous and gracious donation to Jerusalem. 4 If you think it seems appropriate for me to travel with them, then we’ll go together.
5 Get ready. I will come your way after traveling through Macedonia. For I’m just passing through Macedonia 6 and will probably stay with you through the winter so that you may provide for my next journey (wherever that may be). 7 I want to reconnect with you, not just pass through; if the Lord is willing, I hope to stay awhile. 8 But until Pentecost, I plan to stay in Ephesus 9 because, not only has God opened a significant door here for me to serve, but also there is a lot of opposition against me.
Churches are often characterized by words such as “independent” and “autonomous.” But one would be hard-pressed to find any of these ideas in the Scriptures. Instead, Paul seems to be modeling submission and interdependence. We must always consider others and shape our actions to bless them. But he does not stop there—it is clear that we are responsible to care for one another in physical and monetary ways. What might Paul say to the church today, given the drastic disparity between the wealthy churches of the West and the brothers and sisters in the rest of the world who lack food, water, or shelter?
10 If Timothy comes, see that he is comfortable and untroubled; his work is the Lord’s, as is mine. 11 No one should treat him badly. Send him on to meet me in peace because the brothers and sisters here and I are looking for him. 12 You shouldn’t expect to see our brother Apollos, although I tried to persuade him to come to you with the rest of the brothers and sisters, because now is not the best time for him to come. When it’s his time, he will come.
13 Listen, stay alert, stand tall in the faith, be courageous, and be strong. 14 Let love prevail in your life, words, and actions.
15 Finally, brothers and sisters, I call on you to follow your leaders. People like those in the house of Stephanas—you know they were among the first believers in Achaia, and they have devoted their lives to serving God’s people— 16 I urge you to submit to the authority of such leaders, to every coworker, and to those who offer their backs and shoulders for the work. 17 I celebrate the arrival of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, as they have supplied me with what you could not. 18 They have been a breath of fresh air for me as I know they are for you, so respect and honor those like them.
19 The churches in Asia salute you. Aquila and Prisca send a heartfelt greeting in the Lord along with those who gather at their house. 20 The entire family in faith here sends their greetings. Be sure you greet one another by a holy kiss.
21 This closing greeting is written by my own hand—Paul’s: 22 May those who have no love for the Lord be cursed. Maranatha, “Our Lord, come!” 23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love to you all in the name of the Anointed One, Jesus. [Amen.][a]
- 16:24 Some manuscripts omit this word.
For the worship leader. A song of David.
1 I waited a long time for the Eternal;
He finally knelt down to hear me.
He listened to my weak and whispered cry.
2 He reached down and drew me
from the deep, dark hole where I was stranded, mired in the muck and clay.
With a gentle hand, He pulled me out
To set me down safely on a warm rock;
He held me until I was steady enough to continue the journey again.
3 As if that were not enough,
because of Him my mind is clearing up.
Now I have a new song to sing—
a song of praise to the One who saved me.
Because of what He’s done, many people will see
and come to trust in the Eternal.
4 Surely those who trust the Eternal—
who don’t trust in proud, powerful people
Or in people who care little for reality, chasing false gods—
surely they are happy, as I have become.
5 You have done so many wonderful things,
had so many tender thoughts toward us, Eternal my God,
that go on and on, ever increasing.
Who can compare with You?
6 Sacrifices and offerings are not what You want,
but You’ve opened my ears,[a] and now I understand.
Burnt offerings and sin offerings
are not what please You.
7 So I said, “See, I have come to do Your will,
as it is inscribed of me in the scroll.
8 I am pleased to live how You want, my God.
Your law is etched into my heart and my soul.”
9 I have encouraged Your people with the message of righteousness,
in Your great assembly (look and see),
I haven’t kept quiet about these things;
You know this, Eternal One.
10 I have not kept Your righteousness to myself, sealed up in the secret places of my heart;
instead, I boldly tell others how You save and how loyal You are.
I haven’t been shy to talk about Your love, nor have I been afraid to tell Your truth
before the great assembly of Your people.
- 40:6 Greek manuscripts read, “but You have prepared a body for me.”
We do not like or want to believe it, but there are limits to what humans can accomplish. Whatever wisdom and knowledge we think we possess is nothing compared to God’s. Whatever plans we make will come to nothing unless they line up with God’s plans and purposes for us.
22 A good reputation is preferable to riches,
and the approval of others is better than precious silver or gold.