Today’s passage is Job 17:1-16. It is one of the harder passages in Job so far to interpret, but the lessons are worth digging for.
Job 17:1-3 (NIV) 1 My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me. 2 Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility. 3 “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me?
On Job 16:22 to 17:3: Job feels like his life is slipping away (v1). He is bothered by those who mock him (v2). So Job looks to God as his back up (v3). In verse 3 Job says to God, “Lay down a pledge for me with you; who is there who will put up security for me?” (Job 17:3 (ESV)) What does Job mean? Job is boldly asking God to put up security on his behalf. When I put up security for a friend, I’m saying, “If my friend doesn’t perform what he said he would perform, I will perform it for him. If he owes you anything, take it from me instead.” The Bible actually warns about the dangers of putting up security for others. For example, Proverbs 11:15 says, “He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.”
What can we learn from this? Job wished that God would put up security for him. That wish would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. When our enemy Satan was accusing us of all that we had failed to do, Jesus put up security for us. Jesus basically said, “Whatever JB owes you, I will pay instead. And if JB owes you his life, you can take mine.” Jesus did what Job had hoped for:Jesus put up security for us and suffered for it.
Job 17:4-9 (NIV) 4 You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph. 5 If a man denounces his friends for reward, the eyes of his children will fail. 6 “God has made me a byword to everyone, a man in whose face people spit. 7 My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow. 8 Upright men are appalled at this; the innocent are aroused against the ungodly. 9 Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways, and those with clean hands will grow stronger.
On verses 4-9: Job is disturbed, saddened and worn out by how people mock him (v6-7). Although the exact meaning of verse 8 remains a bit of a mystery, overall Job seems confident that all this mockery will ultimately make him stronger (v8-9) and that God will not allow those who mock him or who try to take advantage of him to prosper in the end (v4-5).
Job 17:10-12 (NIV) 10 “But come on, all of you, try again! I will not find a wise man among you. 11 My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart. 12 These men turn night into day; in the face of darkness they say, ‘Light is near.’
On verses 10-12: Job finds that his friends foolishly make light of his plight. Rather than grieving with him and trying to understand how deep is the pain he feels (v11), his friends speak as if Job should be able to quickly get over the loss he has sustained. In talking this way they show how little they sympathize with Job’s situation. What can we learn from this? When your neighbour has suffered unspeakable loss and is grieving, do not make light of their situation or speak as if what they are going through is no big deal.
Job 17:13-16 (NIV) 13 If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in darkness, 14 if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ 15 where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me? 16 Will it go down to the gates of death? Will we descend together into the dust?”
On verses 13-16: To paraphrase Job, “If all I long for is to die and be buried, what hope do I really have?” Job is right. Ours is a sad existence if our greatest hope is nothing more than to die. Praise God that in Jesus Christ we have a hope that is stronger than death and that goes beyond the grave.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly put up security for me, even if it meant putting Yourself at risk. Thank You that You are my defender, my protector and my security. May I not make light of other people’s suffering. Thank You in You we have a hope that is stronger than death. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!