In our study of Job chapter seven, we look at the fact that, even when things in our life are at their worst, we still have something very important that we can lose. Can you guess what that is? (Hint: it is not our salvation)
'Do not mortals have hard service on earth? Are not the days like those of hired laborers? Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired laborer waiting to be paid, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me.'
Job continues to address his "friends" as we remember that they had questioned his integrity and accused him of hiding his sin. This assumption was based on their observations about his current physical state. The Hebrew word for integrity is "tummah" and it basically means innocence or blamelessness and we are reminded of the fact that God had described Job as "blameless" or a man of integrity (see Job 1:1). The idea of innocence and being blameless brings to mind the fact that there must be someone or something that makes a judgment concerning this state. In chapters 4 & 5, Eliphaz had made the judgment that Job did not have integrity and this was, in effect, idolatry as he had elevated himself to the place of judgment which is reserved for God. Here, Job's answer reminds them that all men have to face daily struggles and the fact that a man is facing a struggle does not mean that he lacks integrity. In his answer, Job seems to be accepting the fact that the struggle that he is facing is a normal part of life as he compares it to the life of a slave or a paid working man. In effect, he was reminding his friends of the fact that toil and struggles are a normal part of life for all men as a direct result of Adam and Eve's fall in the garden. So, what does all of this have to do with our lives today? Even as Christians, we may fall into the same trap that Job's friends did where we judge someone's relationship with God (integrity) based on their current circumstances. Let us be reminded of the fact that we were all without integrity until it was granted to us through the blood of Jesus Christ.
'When I lie down I think, "How long before I get up?" The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn. My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and they come to an end without hope.'
Job continues to describe his suffering and speaks of the fact that he cannot even escape by going to sleep at night. It seems that he had dreams and visions at night that scared him and this lack of sleep can make problems even worse. Here, he sees his life coming to a swift end, just as cloth was made quickly with the aid of a weaver's shuttle, with no hope of being cured. The word that is translated as "hope" is the Hebrew word "tiqvah" which literally refers to a cord or rope. We are all familiar with people using a safety rope (lifeline) so that they can be pulled out of a situation by others if it gets too dangerous. Here, Job is basically saying that he is going through this without any rope (lifeline) and we are reminded that he is still talking to his friends that he thought were coming to comfort him. We are also reminded of the fact that Satan was behind this attack on Job and this is one of his favorite tactics for attacking men. Job felt like he was completely alone (without a lifeline) and we get the picture of a wolf scattering a flock of sheep in order to isolate one from the others. This isolation can bring on a growing sense of depression which is what was happening with Job. If unchecked, this depression can lead to the thought that there "is nothing to lose" and even to desiring death. What would have happened, in this story, if Job's friends would have came and reassured him that he was not alone? What if they had reminded him that he was one of God's people and that God had promised to be with him? We will never know but we are reminded of the fact that, as Christians, we have this same opportunity. When we see fellow Christians involved in hard times (whether they are physical, mental, or spiritual), we can be there to remind them that Jesus is their "lifeline" and that He is with them. We can be like the first line of defenses against the attacks of the devil for our fellow Christians or, like Job's friends, we can be used by the devil to make the situation worse. It is like the old saying "If you are not a part of the solution, then, you are a part of the problem.".
'Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again. The eye that now sees me will see me no longer; you will look for me, but I will be no more. As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so one who goes down to the grave does not return. He will never come to his house again; his place will know him no more.'
Now, we see that Job has taken a turn for the worse as he turns his words to address the Almighty God and he speaks to God as if He were a mere man. Job compares his eyes and lack of vision with the eyes of an all-seeing and all-knowing God.
'Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.'
We are reminded of the fact that the devil wanted to separate Job from God. Sadly, it seems that Satan is winning as Job has now decided to complain to God about how he is being treated. So, what is wrong with crying out to God about your problems? There is nothing wrong with taking all of our cares and concerns to God but, as we will see, Job is going to complain about the actions of God. That is a big difference as it is a form of idolatry to raise our thinking and understanding above that of the Almighty God.
'Am I the sea or the monster of the deep, that you put me under guard?'
The Hebrew word that is translated as "monster of the deep" here, is "tanniyn" which means dragon or sea monster and was used to describe the devil. Here, Job is accusing God of treating him as He treats the devil and is basically accusing God of injustice. In this, we see that Job is, in fact, losing his integrity (blamelessness) as he has lost the right perspective of man's relationship to God. As creations of God, we do not have the right or ability to decide whether His actions are just or unjust. This happens when our spiritual eyes are closed and we look at things from a strictly physical perspective.
'When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with visions, so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. I despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning.'
Job has lost his integrity as he is now accusing God of wrongdoing. Evidently Job was having nightmares and was unable to rest as they terrified him. Instead of recognizing the fact that the devil was at work, he accused God of doing it. Before we are too hard on Job, we should ask ourselves if we do not do the same type of thing at times. When tough times hit, we often accuse God of causing the problem and, by doing that, we imply that God is doing wrong. We are reminded of the fact that God was allowing the testing of Job but He was not actually causing the things to happen. That is a big difference as we are reminded that God also allowed Satan to test Jesus in the wilderness. We can also be sure that, if we are Christians, then, the devil will be trying to test us as he hopes to separate us from God. In Job's case, it seems that Satan is accomplishing his goal as Job asks God to leave him alone. We also see that Job does not see the opportunity that is wrapped in this testing. He says that his life has no meaning but does not see the testimony that his life will be and the fact that his story is even included in the Bible. In this we see a pattern as it is the people that God has destined for great things that Satan tests and tries to derail the most. It was that way with Job, with Jesus, and with many others. When you are facing a big testing of your faith, take comfort in the fact that you are facing this test because God has very big things ahead for you at the end of the test. At this point in his story, it looks like Job is failing the test but we also must remember that God sees the end at the beginning.
'What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention, that you examine them every morning and test them every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant?'
We continue to watch as Job's integrity (blamelessness in God's eyes) evaporates. In the previous passage, he accused God of wrongdoing and now he basically accuses God of being too critical in His examination of mankind. He describes God as if he were a slave master just waiting for men to "mess up" so that He can beat them down. This is a horrible misconception about the nature of God and it is still widespread in our world today. Why does God watch over His children and even discipline then in some cases? The simple fact of the matter is that God does so because of His love for us and the fact that he knows what is best for us. Nevertheless, God is not just waiting for us to mess up so that He can beat us down. On the contrary. He accepts us where we are and gently corrects us as we grow and mature in our faith.
'If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who see everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more.'
We see the fact that Job's integrity is gone as we see evidence of self-righteousness in his words: "If I have sinned". Job offers up several questions basically continuing to accuse God of wrongdoing. We remember that this story began with Job presenting offerings to God just in case his children had sinned but, now, he does not see this sin of self-righteousness on his part.