Job makes his complaint to God

by | Nov 9, 2021 | Bible Study | 0 comments

We are a little over halfway through the book of Job. We have been shown the dynamics going on behind the scenes that brought about Job’s calamities. We saw Job’s despair at his circumstances and his dark night of the soul. We read the advice of Job’s friends and saw that while much of what they said was true, each of them still had a misunderstanding because they didn’t know all the circumstances.
In chapter 22, we saw Eliphaz’s condemnation against the rich and powerful that oppressed with impunity, and in chapters 23-24 Job does agree with Eliphaz that the actions he lists are cause for judgment; however, Job points out that judgment does not always fall in this life. Over the course of the dialogues, we have seen the confidence of Job rise. Job begins in chapter 3 feeling completely abandoned, that God doesn’t care about him, and there is nothing left for him but to curl up and die. After the sometimes encouraging and sometimes agitating words of his friends, Job’s spirit begins to rise up and he pushes back. In Job 14, Job proclaims his confidence in the resurrection and ultimate deliverance by God. Job states he has an intercessor “pleading his case as a friend” before God in Job 16. By chapter 19, Job has moved on to declaring that not only does he have a mediator in heaven on his side, but that his “Redeemer lives and will stand upon the earth at last.” From his despair in chapter 3, Job has come to a place where he is putting his confidence and trust in a good God who will complete his good plan for his life. Job has persisted in calling out to God, in calling upon God’s goodness and faithfulness. He has such confidence that now, in chapter 23, he wants to present his own case before God. And he does. Job 25 is Bildad’s final response to Job, which we will read. Chapters 26-31 are Job presenting his case before God.

Job 25[1] 25 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said: 2 “Dominion and fear are with God;
he makes peace in his high heaven.
3 Is there any number to his armies?
Upon whom does his light not arise? 4 How then can man be in the right before God?
How can he who is born of woman be pure?
5 Behold, even the moon is not bright,
and the stars are not pure in his eyes;
6 how much less man, who is a maggot,
and the son of man, who is a worm!”

In Bildad’s other two responses, he encourages Job to call out to God if he is righteous and that God will vindicate him if Job has truly done no wrong. But when Job comes to the point where he is ready to follow Bildad’s previous advice, Bildad changes his tune. Now Bildad is saying “who are you to approach God?” This is good reminder that there will always be attempts at discouraging or blocking us coming into relationship with God, but we need to continue to seek him. Rather than being discouraged, Job makes his case with God.

Job 26 26 Then Job answered and said: 2 “How you have helped him who has no power!
How you have saved the arm that has no strength!
3 How you have counseled him who has no wisdom,
and plentifully declared sound knowledge!
4 With whose help have you uttered words,
and whose breath has come out from you?

Some commentators take the first verses of Job 26 as directed towards God, but I don’t think so. This is Job responding to Bildad. Job asks “with whose help have you uttered words, and whose breath has come out from you?” This would not be referring to God. Job is asking Bildad “what good have you done?” Job is asking Bildad to name those he has helped and counseled and ends his question with the source of what Bildad is saying. Before Job was devastated, he had done those things. Job had helped those who had not power and “saved the arm that has no strength.” He had given counsel and “sound wisdom.” Bildad was telling Job that he needed to do what Job had been doing all along. At this point, Job is telling Bildad that he has nothing but hot air.

5 The dead tremble
under the waters and their inhabitants.
6 Sheol is naked before God,
and Abaddon has no covering. 7 He stretches out the north over the void
and hangs the earth on nothing.
8 He binds up the waters in his thick clouds,
and the cloud is not split open under them. 9 He covers the face of the full moon
and spreads over it his cloud.
10 He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters
at the boundary between light and darkness.
11 The pillars of heaven tremble
and are astounded at his rebuke. 12 By his power he stilled the sea;
by his understanding he shattered Rahab.
13 By his wind the heavens were made fair;
his hand pierced the fleeing serpent. 14 Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways,
and how small a whisper do we hear of him!
But the thunder of his power who can understand?”

Then Job continues with the greatness of God saying even the dead tremble before him and that Yahweh has power over death and the grave. Here too, Job is prophesying the resurrection of Christ. Job next highlights God’s power and plan over all creation. God is Lord over all. This is unspoken power, visible action, but God does not explain or reveal himself. These are things that are seen, how much more is unseen?

Job 27 27 And Job again took up his discourse, and said: 2 “As God lives, who has taken away my right,
and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,
3 as long as my breath is in me,
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,
4 my lips will not speak falsehood,
and my tongue will not utter deceit.
5 Far be it from me to say that you are right;
till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
6 I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go;
my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.

Job knows how great his God is and he will not let go.

7 “Let my enemy be as the wicked,
and let him who rises up against me be as the unrighteous.
8 For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts him off,
when God takes away his life? 9 Will God hear his cry
when distress comes upon him?
10 Will he take delight in the Almighty?
Will he call upon God at all times? 11 I will teach you concerning the hand of God;
what is with the Almighty I will not conceal.
12 Behold, all of you have seen it yourselves;
why then have you become altogether vain?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.[2]

Everyone will go through trials in life. The difference is, as Job points out, that the righteous can “call upon God at all times?” Job points out his friends’ pride that what happened to Job couldn’t happen to them.

13 “This is the portion of a wicked man with God,
and the heritage that oppressors receive from the Almighty: 14 If his children are multiplied, it is for the sword,
and his descendants have not enough bread.
15 Those who survive him the pestilence buries,
and his widows do not weep. 16 Though he heap up silver like dust,
and pile up clothing like clay,
17 he may pile it up, but the righteous will wear it,
and the innocent will divide the silver. 18 He builds his house like a moth’s,
like a booth that a watchman makes.
19 He goes to bed rich, but will do so no more;
he opens his eyes, and his wealth is gone. 20 Terrors overtake him like a flood;
in the night a whirlwind carries him off.
21 The east wind lifts him up and he is gone;
it sweeps him out of his place.
22 It hurls at him without pity;
he flees from its power in headlong flight.
It claps its hands at him
and hisses at him from its place.

In this section, it almost seem as if Job is contradicting himself in his previous response to Eliphaz. The answer is, in the end, justice will come … but that justice doesn’t always come in the same way for everyone. For some people, judgment will not fall on them but their children. Some may see the fruit of the ill gotten gain vanish. Others will never have mental or spiritual peace, but will live in inner torment. The means and timing of judgment may vary, but justice does come.

Job 28 “Surely there is a mine for silver
and a place for gold that they refine.
2 Iron is taken out of the earth,
and copper is smelted from the ore.
3 Man puts an end to darkness
and searches out to the farthest limit
the ore in gloom and deep darkness. 4 He opens shafts in a valley away from where anyone lives;
they are forgotten by travelers;
they hang in the air, far away from mankind; they swing to and fro.
5 As for the earth, out of it comes bread,
but underneath it is turned up as by fire.
6 Its stones are the place of sapphires,
and it has dust of gold.

Job reflects on the works of man, seeking out the hidden things in the earth. They mine for silver, gold, iron, sapphire, and copper and make it into a thing that they can use and will serve them. Man knows that there are hidden things in the physical world and seeks them out.

7 “That path no bird of prey knows,
and the falcon’s eye has not seen it.
8 The proud beasts have not trodden it;
the lion has not passed over it. 9 “Man puts his hand to the flinty rock
and overturns mountains by the roots.
10 He cuts out channels in the rocks,
and his eye sees every precious thing.
11 He dams up the streams so that they do not trickle,
and the thing that is hidden he brings out to light.

There is a lot of debate today about science and what should or should not be done. What is science other than exploring the physical world and learning how to put it to a purpose. We are doing the same today as those in Job’s time did, shaping and using creation to our will. Then then tamed wild birds of prey, “overturned mountains,” cut channels in rocks, and damned up streams. Today, we explore the skies and the bottom of the seas. We communicate through space and fight wars in our own cells battling disease. Today, as then, “the thing that is hidden [we] bring out to light.”

12 “But where shall wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?
13 Man does not know its worth,
and it is not found in the land of the living. 14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’
and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’
15 It cannot be bought for gold,
and silver cannot be weighed as its price.
16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
in precious onyx or sapphire. 17 Gold and glass cannot equal it,
nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.
18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
the price of wisdom is above pearls.
19 The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it,
nor can it be valued in pure gold. 20 “From where, then, does wisdom come?
And where is the place of understanding?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living
and concealed from the birds of the air. 22 Abaddon and Death say,
‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’ 23 “God understands the way to it,
and he knows its place.
24 For he looks to the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens. 25 When he gave to the wind its weight
and apportioned the waters by measure,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a way for the lightning of the thunder,
27 then he saw it and declared it;
he established it, and searched it out. 28 And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

Job Bible Study Resources

Job points out all the things that man can find, do, and work to his will, but asks “where does one find wisdom and understanding?” It cannot be found, worked, or made; it comes from God alone. Then Job gives us the key, the true secret to success and wisdom. The oldest book of the Bible gives us the one instruction we must follow to understand, one that is repeated throughout the rest of the Bible,

‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

We like to think we know all the answers, but we don’t. We don’t begin to have wisdom until we truly have the fear of the Lord. We can understand nothing until we are willing to repent and turn from evil. In the next section, Job remembers the way things used to be.

Job 29 29 And Job again took up his discourse, and said: 2 “Oh, that I were as in the months of old,
as in the days when God watched over me,
3 when his lamp shone upon my head,
and by his light I walked through darkness,
4 as I was in my prime,
when the friendship of God was upon my tent,
5 when the Almighty was yet with me,
when my children were all around me,
6 when my steps were washed with butter,
and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!

Job recognizes that his previous prosperity was from the hand of God. It was God’s presence that blessed him and kept him safe.

7 When I went out to the gate of the city,
when I prepared my seat in the square,
8 the young men saw me and withdrew,
and the aged rose and stood;
9 the princes refrained from talking
and laid their hand on their mouth;
10 the voice of the nobles was hushed,
and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth.
11 When the ear heard, it called me blessed,
and when the eye saw, it approved,
12 because I delivered the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to help him. 13 The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me,
and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
my justice was like a robe and a turban.
15 I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
16 I was a father to the needy,
and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.
7 I broke the fangs of the unrighteous
and made him drop his prey from his teeth.

Job’s prosperity and blessing was because he walked in the fear of the Lord and acted with integrity. It is not just an “idea” or “good thoughts,” it is good doing. He helped the widows and orphans, sought out justice, took care of the needy. He did what Micah instructs in Micah 6:8,

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

The fear of the Lord is action.

18 Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,
and I shall multiply my days as the sand,
19 my roots spread out to the waters,
with the dew all night on my branches,
20 my glory fresh with me,
and my bow ever new in my hand.’ 21 “Men listened to me and waited
and kept silence for my counsel
22 After I spoke they did not speak again,
and my word dropped upon them. 23 They waited for me as for the rain,
and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain.
24 I smiled on them when they had no confidence,
and the light of my face they did not cast down.
25 I chose their way and sat as chief,
and I lived like a king among his troops,
like one who comforts mourners.

Because of God’s blessing on Job, everyone respected and honored him.

Job 30 “But now they laugh at me,
men who are younger than I,
whose fathers I would have disdained
to set with the dogs of my flock. 2 What could I gain from the strength of their hands,
men whose vigor is gone?
3 Through want and hard hunger
they gnaw the dry ground by night in waste and desolation;
4 they pick saltwort and the leaves of bushes,
and the roots of the broom tree for their food. 5 They are driven out from human company;
they shout after them as after a thief.
6 In the gullies of the torrents they must dwell,
in holes of the earth and of the rocks.
7 Among the bushes they bray;
under the nettles they huddle together.
8 A senseless, a nameless brood,
they have been whipped out of the land.

Job used to be respected, but now that he has lost everything the very people he helped in the past have turned on him. But he notes, even if they hadn’t … how could they help him? But the point is, even the lowest of the low now despise Job.

9 “And now I have become their song;
I am a byword to them.
10 They abhor me; they keep aloof from me;
they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me. 11 Because God has loosed my cord and humbled me,
they have cast off restraint in my presence.
12 On my right hand the rabble rise;
they push away my feet;
they cast up against me their ways of destruction. 13 They break up my path;
they promote my calamity;
they need no one to help them.
14 As through a wide breach they come;
amid the crash they roll on.

After everything Job has gone through, those who used to hold Job in respect now make those bad times worse.

15 Terrors are turned upon me;
my honor is pursued as by the wind,
and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud. 16 “And now my soul is poured out within me;
days of affliction have taken hold of me.
17 The night racks my bones,
and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest. 18 With great force my garment is disfigured;
it binds me about like the collar of my tunic.
19 God has cast me into the mire,
and I have become like dust and ashes. 20 I cry to you for help and you do not answer me;
I stand, and you only look at me.
21 You have turned cruel to me;
with the might of your hand you persecute me. 22 You lift me up on the wind; you make me ride on it,
and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.
23 For I know that you will bring me to death
and to the house appointed for all living.

Job now turns to present his current situation before God and describes his current destitution in his lament.

24 “Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand,
and in his disaster cry for help?
25 Did not I weep for him whose day was hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
26 But when I hoped for good, evil came,
and when I waited for light, darkness came. 27 My inward parts are in turmoil and never still;
days of affliction come to meet me.
28 I go about darkened, but not by the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. 29 I am a brother of jackals
and a companion of ostriches.
30 My skin turns black and falls from me,
and my bones burn with heat.
31 My lyre is turned to mourning,
and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.

Job knows that he has no hope other than to call to God for deliverance. In the final chapter of Job’s plea to God, he asks God to show him if he has done anything wrong and lists the things that he knows will bring judgment. He is saying to God, “If I have sinned … show me and I will repent!”

Job 31 31 “I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I gaze at a virgin?
2 What would be my portion from God above
and my heritage from the Almighty on high? 3 Is not calamity for the unrighteous,
and disaster for the workers of iniquity?
4 Does not he see my ways
and number all my steps?

Job calls upon the justice and righteousness of God to vindicate him.

5 “If I have walked with falsehood
and my foot has hastened to deceit;
6 (Let me be weighed in a just balance,
and let God know my integrity!) 7 if my step has turned aside from the way
and my heart has gone after my eyes,
and if any spot has stuck to my hands,
8 then let me sow, and another eat,
and let what grows for me be rooted out. 9 “If my heart has been enticed toward a woman,
and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door,
10 then let my wife grind for another,
and let others bow down on her.
11 For that would be a heinous crime;
that would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges;
12 for that would be a fire that consumes as far as Abaddon,
and it would burn to the root all my increase. 13 “If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant,
when they brought a complaint against me,
14 what then shall I do when God rises up?
When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him?
15 Did not he who made me in the womb make him?
And did not one fashion us in the womb? 16 “If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,
or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
17 or have eaten my morsel alone,
and the fatherless has not eaten of it
18 (for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father,
and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow), 19 if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,
or the needy without covering,
20 if his body has not blessed me,
and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep, 21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
because I saw my help in the gate,
22 then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,
and let my arm be broken from its socket. 23 For I was in terror of calamity from God,
and I could not have faced his majesty. 24 “If I have made gold my trust
or called fine gold my confidence,
25 if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant
or because my hand had found much, 26 if I have looked at the sun when it shone,
or the moon moving in splendor,
27 and my heart has been secretly enticed,
and my mouth has kissed my hand,
28 this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges,
for I would have been false to God above. 29 “If I have rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me,
or exulted when evil overtook him
30 (I have not let my mouth sin
by asking for his life with a curse), 31 if the men of my tent have not said,
‘Who is there that has not been filled with his meat?’
32 (the sojourner has not lodged in the street;
I have opened my doors to the traveler), 33 if I have concealed my transgressions as others do
by hiding my iniquity in my heart,
34 because I stood in great fear of the multitude,
and the contempt of families terrified me,
so that I kept silence, and did not go out of doors— 35 Oh, that I had one to hear me!
(Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)
Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary! 36 Surely I would carry it on my shoulder;
I would bind it on me as a crown;
37 I would give him an account of all my steps;
like a prince I would approach him. 38 “If my land has cried out against me
and its furrows have wept together,
39 if I have eaten its yield without payment
and made its owners breathe their last,
40 let thorns grow instead of wheat,
and foul weeds instead of barley.” The words of Job are ended.

The next time you read through the books of Law, particularly Leviticus through Deuteronomy, read Job 31 again and notice how tightly the offenses Job lists here line up with what the Israelites are told will bring about a curse. It is the same thing: idolatry (worshiping the sun, verses 27-28), putting trust in money other than God (verses 24-25), exploiting the land (verses 38-40), exploiting the poor and orphans (verses 21-22), adultery, sexual immorality, and not caring for his wife (verses 9-12); not providing for those in need (verses 16-18); not seeking out justice and taking advantage of those who work for you (verses 13-15); not standing for right  or not confessing your own wrongdoing (verses 33-34). All of these things are listed in the Law as bringing judgment.

Job was written before the Law was given. Some people like to think that anything given in the Law is under the Old Covenant and doesn’t apply to them. Living with integrity is not about the old covenant, it is about understanding … the turning away from evil. It is choosing to walk in the fear of the Lord.

Doing those things didn’t save the Israelites and it doesn’t save us. Saving is and always   has been through the goodness and grace of God when we put our faith in him. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Abraham believed God and his faith was credited to him as righteouness (Genesis 15:6).

This is what Job is doing.  He is believing in the goodness and grace of God. Job is putting his faith in God.

In all the words of these six chapters, Job is presenting his case, pouring out his heart and saying “I have nothing left, my only hope is in you.”

And Job is willing to repent. He doesn’t think he has done anything wrong, but if he has, he is willing to acknowledge it if God reveals it to him.

Job’s answer begins to come in the next chapter, and we know that Job personally has done nothing wrong, but each of us should be willing to put ourselves in the same position as Job. We should be willing to ask God, “Am I guilty of any of these things?” and be ready to hear the answer.

Because God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

What brought judgment in the days of Job, in the days of Moses, and in the days of Jesus are still the same things that will bring judgment today. The difference it that today we have a better remedy. The blood of Jesus atones for and wipes away our sins rather than the blood of animals simply covering and pushing back the judgment. But we have to confess and repent, and if we refuse to repent and continue on in the actions that bring judgment … that is denying, or quenching, the Holy Spirit.

The unforgivable sin is refusing to repent.

Read Job 31 and ask yourself what the offenses he lists would look like today and spend some time with God asking him to show you the truth of your actions and attitudes.

This Bible study is part of A Study of Job (2021)


  • [1] ESV
  • [2] Matthew 5:44-45 ESV