Job 19:1-22 (ESV) - Then Job answered and said:
“How long will you torment me
and break me in pieces with words?
These ten times you have cast reproach upon me;
are you not ashamed to wrong me?
And even if it be true that I have erred,
my error remains with myself.
If indeed you magnify yourselves against me
and make my disgrace an argument against me,
know then that God has put me in the wrong
and closed his net about me.
Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered;
I call for help, but there is no justice.
He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass,
and he has set darkness upon my paths.
He has stripped from me my glory
and taken the crown from my head.
He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone,
and my hope has he pulled up like a tree.
He has kindled his wrath against me
and counts me as his adversary.
His troops come on together;
they have cast up their siege ramp against me
and encamp around my tent.
“He has put my brothers far from me,
and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me.
My relatives have failed me,
my close friends have forgotten me.
The guests in my house and my maidservants count me as a stranger;
I have become a foreigner in their eyes.
I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer;
I must plead with him with my mouth for mercy.
My breath is strange to my wife,
and I am a stench to the children of my own mother.
Even young children despise me;
when I rise they talk against me.
All my intimate friends abhor me,
and those whom I loved have turned against me.
My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
Why do you, like God, pursue me?
Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?
Question to consider: Was Job really accusing God of injustice here?
Job’s response to Bildad was to point out that they had utterly tormented him and brought reproach upon him and to ask how long they would continue to do so. It was bad enough that Job had to endure such pain and suffering, but Job’s friends added to it by destroying his reputation and not sticking up for him in the community. Everyone had been led to believe that all of the calamity on Job’s household was his fault due to his own wickedness even though they couldn’t point to any specific sin. Had they no shame in causing this humiliation on top of his calamity?
The rest of the passage shows the absurdity of their argument because if they were correct in saying that it was God who was judging him in this way, then God was responsible for a grave injustice— then it would be God who imprisoned him and took the crown from his head. It would be God who completely uprooted his life and provided no hope and laid siege works against him like He would against a wicked city. When God destroyed a city, it was for years of unrepentant sin, and yet if his friends were correct in their accusations, Job was being destroyed over some sin that was unknown even to him.
On a more personal level, Job’s loved ones had all turned against him, his servants ignored him, and he was estranged from his wife. Even if God were doing all of these things to him, Job could not understand why his friends refused to defend his reputation and bring comfort to him.
We of course know that it was not God who had done these things to him but Satan, and rather than defend and comfort their friend, Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz made Satan’s job even easier by being his mouthpiece. I don’t believe that Job was leveling his accusations against God here but saying that if he listened to the arguments of his friends, this would be the only conclusion he could draw.
Dear heavenly father, we thank You that You are just, and that we can put our faith and trust in You even when others may let us down. Please give us friends and family who will strengthen us and protect our reputation and help us to do the same for others. We look forward to the day when we will experience no more injustice. Amen.