Job 13:4-5 (NIV) 4 You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you! 5 If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.
On verses 1-5: Job is frustrated and fed up with hearing from his so-called “friends”. He tells them that whatever they have already told him he already knows (v1-2) – “what you know, I already know. I am not inferior to you” (v2). He calls his friends “worthless physicians” (v4), lie-smearing accusers whose advice did not help. He tells them it would be wiser for them just to shut their mouths (“If only you were altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.” (v5)).
What can we learn from this? Sometimes the best thing you can do as a friend is to lend your ear and hold your tongue. Job’s friends would have helped Job far more, and been much better off themselves, had they been “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). As Proverbs 21:23 (MSG) says, “Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.”
Job 13:6 (NIV) 6 Hear now my argument; listen to the plea of my lips.
On verses 7-13: Rather than trying to speak for God (v7-12), Job just wants his friends to “keep silent and let me speak” (v13). What’s going on here? While Job is fed up with hearing from his friends, Job still needs his friends to hear him out. That’s because talking out his frustrations with someone is still the most comforting thing he can imagine doing in his pain. As much as Job will boast about how he wants to confront God face to face, there is a unique comfort that comes from venting your frustrations before your friends, especially when you’re in great pain.
What can we learn from this? We all need a listening ear. While there is great comfort in talking to God directly about our problems, there is also a certain and different kind of comfort that comes from talking about your problems with someone who can point you to Jesus. That’s one of the great benefits of being married to a loving Christian spouse or having a close Christian friend. That’s also one of the benefits of being part of a small group at church. Not everyone needs to know about your deepest problems, but it can help to share your pain with a select and trusted few who love God and who love you. May you be wise in using both the vertical and horizontal channels that God has given you when you are in pain.
Job 13:15-19 (NIV) 15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. 16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him! 17 Listen carefully to my words; let your ears take in what I say. 18 Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. 19 Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die.
On verses 15-19: When you hear Job speak, Job vacillates between two extremes. The first extreme is “I can’t approach God, for He will find me guilty no matter what” (e.g. see Job 9:14-20). The second extreme is “I need to present my case before God and I believe I will win” (e.g. like in verse 18 here). On one hand, Job considers himself sinful and unable to approach God. On the other hand, Job thinks of himself as blameless and able to approach God. So which one is it? The answer, for Job and for us, is both.
On one hand, we like Job are sinful and unable to stand in the presence of a holy God without being condemned. On our own there is no way we could ever win an argument with God about our righteousness. To the extent that Job truly thought he was blameless in God’s sight on his own merit, Job was deluded by pride.
On the other hand, those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Saviour are covered in the perfect blood of Jesus, so that when God sees us, He sees not our sin but sees His Son and declares us righteous. Thus, to Job’s question, “can anyone bring charges against me?” (v19), the answer is: without Jesus, yes, absolutely; but with Jesus, no, not at all. As Romans 8:33 says, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.”
I believe the reason why God would boast about Job as being blameless was not because Job had never sinned (for all have sinned). Rather I believe it’s because God saw Job through the lens of His Son Jesus. For long before Job ever lost his ten children in a hurricane, God knew He would lose His one and only Son on the cross. It was through the future shedding of His Son’s blood that God could then look at Job as righteous and declare Job to be blameless. As much as I admire Job’s perseverance and integrity, no one, not even Job, could be blameless in God’s sight without God’s help.
Heavenly Father, may I be the kind of friend who is quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. May I also be wise in using the vertical and horizontal channels You have given me when I am in pain. Most of all, thank You that by faith in Your Son Jesus, I am covered in His blood and declared righteous in Your sight. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!