In our study of Job chapter six, we look at the fact that our help comes from the Lord and not men with limited understanding.
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Then Job replied: 'If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas - no wonder my words have been impetuous.'
In chapters 4 & 5, Job listened to his friend accuse him of hiding his sin. Job begins to answer by explaining how deep his frustration is at his present situation. He goes on to explain that his words may seem like they are without thought or understanding but it is to be expected when a man is faced with what has come upon him.
'The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God's terrors are marshaled against me. Does a wild donkey bray when it has grass, or an ox bellow when it has fodder? Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow? I refuse to touch it; such food makes me ill.'
Job goes on to describe his frustration and the fact that it is not without reason but he mistakenly sees his situation as a punishment from God. A big part of his frustration is in the fact that he does not know why God is "punishing him". He goes on to describe the fact that the advice of his friend was just like bland (tasteless) food. They had seen his pain and his circumstances but, instead of sharing wisdom from God, they just gave him the old standard religious responses. Instead of comforting and helping him, his friend had brought accusation that had added to his frustration. This is a reminder to us that, when we seek counseling on things that are going on in our lives, we must be very careful to know the source. Even friends with good intentions can make a situation worse if their advice is not based on God given wisdom concerning His word. Job was strong enough in his faith to reject the words of Eliphaz where a less mature person might have stumbled under their weight.
'Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut off my life!'
Job continues to describe his frustration as he repeats the fact that he wishes that God would call him home. Have you ever been so physically tired that you just did not want to go on anymore? That is similar to what Job is describing here as he has reached the limits of his physical, mental, and spiritual abilities. He found no help or comfort from his friend and is ready for life to just be over.
'Then, I would still have this consolation - my joy in unrelenting pain - that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.'
Even in his suffering, Job is still concerned about his relationship with God. We see that a reason that he wants his life to be over is so that he will not dishonor God. He knows that he has reached his limits and is concerned that his faith might break. We can imagine how the devil must have cringed as Job spoke these words.
'What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient? Do I have the strength of stone? Is my flesh bronze? Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?'
Job realizes that he is at the end of his rope and that there is nothing that he can do as he faces this "punishment from God". We are reminded of the fact that he is feeling so hopeless because he has the misconception that he is being punished by God. The same thing can happen in our lives as Christians if we forget that Jesus took ALL of our punishment upon Himself. He not only paid the price for our previous sins but He also paid for all of our future sins at the same time. Many times the devil will play with our minds and use people around us to try to get us to forget or even doubt that fact. We must remember that our hope was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ.
'Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.'
Now, Job speaks of the fact that his "friends" were not honoring God by giving some religious sounding advice that had nothing to do with his troubles. The Hebrew word that is translated as kindness here is "checed" and it is frequently used to speak of mercy or kindness. Instead of listening and comforting Job, his friends judged him by his situation and judgment is the opposite of mercy. We are reminded of the fact that God is the judge and so, when we judge others, we are elevating ourselves to God's position which is idolatry.
'But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow, but that stop flowing in the dry season, and in the heat vanish from their channels.'
Job compares his friends to streams in the desert that flood at certain times but during the hottest part of the year they dry up. He is in effect telling them that they are no help to a friend in need when that help is needed most.
'Caravans turn aside from their routes; they go off into the wasteland to perish. The caravans of Tema look for water, the traveling merchants of Sheba look in hope. They are distressed, because they had been confident; they arrive there, only to be disappointed. Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid.'
Job continues to describe the fact that these dry streams can mislead people to go the wrong way in the desert and end up dying without water. He goes on to say that his friends have sorta done the same thing as he had hoped for comfort when he saw them approaching but, like the dry streams, when they arrived there was no refreshment. So, what does Job mean by saying that they "see something dreadful and are afraid"? Everyone knew that Job was a righteous man and so the dreadful thing that they see is the fact that "bad things happen to good people". This concept is the opposite of religion where you earn good things with good behavior.
'Have I ever said, "Give something on my behalf, pay a ransom for me from your wealth, deliver me from the hand of the enemy, rescue me from the clutches of the ruthless?"'
Job goes on to describe the fact that he was not looking for his friends to bail him out of trouble but to simply bring him comfort much like the water that was expected to be in the streams that he mentioned before.
'"Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat my desperate words as wind? You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter away your friend."'
Job not only says that they were not speaking the truth about his situation but he goes on to say that their words were cruel.
'"But now be so kind as to look at me. Would I lie to your face? Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake. Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice?"'
Job pleads with his friends to reexamine the situation and to have a change of heart. He is, in effect, asking them to put their religion aside and to just be a friend. This is a reminder that religion is not a display of love for God but showing love to people is.