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Chapter 17:4-16 (ESV)

Posted on May 23, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 17:4-16 (ESV) - Since you have closed their hearts to understanding,
    therefore you will not let them triumph.
He who informs against his friends to get a share of their property—
    the eyes of his children will fail.
He has made me a byword of the peoples,
    and I am one before whom men spit.
My eye has grown dim from vexation,
    and all my members are like a shadow.
The upright are appalled at this,
    and the innocent stirs himself up against the godless.
Yet the righteous holds to his way,
    and he who has clean hands grows stronger and stronger.
But you, come on again, all of you,
    and I shall not find a wise man among you.
My days are past; my plans are broken off,
    the desires of my heart.
They make night into day:
    ‘The light,’ they say, ‘is near to the darkness.’
If I hope for Sheol as my house,
    if I make my bed in darkness,
if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’
    and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’
where then is my hope?
    Who will see my hope?
Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
    Shall we descend together into the dust?

Question to consider: According to scripture, how did God give us life?

In today’s passage, Job said that the plans of those who were against him would fail because of their hardness of heart toward true understanding. The one who closed their hearts was God, and the understanding they lacked was the righteousness of Job despite his calamitous circumstances. This is another way of saying they believed their relationship with God was established by their own righteousness rather than by faith. While I can’t say why God hardens the hearts of some and enlightens others, I can say that the means by which God acts is through our circumstances. While there may be a specific point in time when we recognize our salvation in Christ, our hearts are more like a combination lock than a light switch. We experience a particular combination of circumstances that creates faith in us, and those same circumstances can serve to destroy faith in others. Because of this, there is no combination of circumstances which will bring everyone to a saving faith, but I believe that God intervenes in history to bring about the salvation of as many people as possible. The apostle Peter pointed out that God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Part of God’s plan in this was to make Job a byword among the peoples. The calamity which was perpetrated on Job by Satan became something people used as an example of God’s judgment against the wicked even though Job had not acted wickedly. When Job wrote that his eye had grown dim from vexation, he may or may not have been referring to physical blindness. There was also a common belief that life came to man as a divine spark that emanated from the eyes so the dimming of the eyes could refer to the waning of their life. This makes sense in light of Job speaking about the eyes of the children failing because of those who spoke against someone for dishonest gain. By this, he was saying their greed resulted in their ancestral line dying out.

Of course, scripture tells us that life came by way of the breath of God and not a divine spark. We were formed from the dust of the earth, and God breathed life into Adam. We see this played out at every birth when a baby takes his first breath. I’m sure Job knew this, but he used the common metaphor for life and death in speaking of life and death. Job saw Sheol drawing nearer, and he was losing hope that a righteous one would come and renew his life.


Dear heavenly Father, please soften our hearts to Your word so that we may see our sin and need for Your righteous one to secure us before You. We ask that You draw near to us in our pain and suffering so we can be comforted. Amen.