Posted: 07 Feb 2011 11:00 PM PST
IN THE SECOND PART OF HIS RESPONSE TO ELIPHAZ, Job addresses God directly (Job 7), though we are meant to understand that this agonizing prayer is uttered in such a way that Eliphaz and his friends overhear it. In fact, as we shall see, there is a tight connection between chapters 6 and 7.
The first ten verses of moving complaint, full of descriptions of sleepless nights and festering sores, are focused on "reminding" God how brief human life is. "Life is hard, and then you die" is the contemporary expression; more prosaically, Job asks, "Does not man have hard service on earth? Are not his days like those of a hired man?" (Job 7:1). Physically, he will not last much longer.
"Therefore," Job argues, "I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul" (Job 7:11). To God, Job says, in effect, I am not a monster—so why pick on me? My life is without meaning (Job 7:16); I would rather be strangled to death than continue to live as I am now living (Job 7:15).
Why should God make so much of a mere mortal as to pay him the attention God is obviously paying Job (Job 7:17–18)? Though he is unaware of any sin in his life that has attracted such suffering, Job knows he is not sinless. But why should that attract so much suffering? "If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?" (Job 7:20).
Now it should be easier to see how this chapter is tied to the argument at the end of chapter 6. There Job protests to Eliphaz that his (Job's) integrity is at stake. The thrust of Eliphaz's argument was that Job must be suffering for wrongdoing he had never confessed; the way ahead is self-abnegation and confession. But Job replies to the effect that his friends should still be his friends; that they are condemning him because they themselves cannot bear the thought that an innocent person might suffer; that their rebuke calls into question his lifelong integrity. In chapter 7, when Job turns to address God, his stance is entirely in line with what he has just told Eliphaz. Far from confessing sin, he tells God that he is being picked on. Or if he has sinned, he has not done anything to deserve this sort of minute attention and painful judgment. Indeed, Job comes within a whisker of implying that God himself is not quite fair. Thus Job maintains his integrity.
So the drama of this book builds. The way ahead is still to be explored. Meanwhile, meditate on Job 42:7.
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