The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Job 29

Job 29:1

Job 29-31: Job's second monologue: A review of earlier days (Job 29) contrasted with Job's present situation (Job 30); a silent repudiation of evil and an appeal to God (Job 31).

Job 29; 30: "This is Job's final review and appeal to his friends concerning his sad state (Job 29:1-31:40). He recalls his previous state, and explains his view of the matter. Then in Job 30 he contrasts his present state and declares that he suffers for no purpose. Thus the chapters reveal: [1] His prosperity in the past was a blessing from God: Job 29:1-6. [2] The honor previously afforded him: vv 7-13. [3] The extent to which Job tried to help others: vv 14-17. [4] He confidently had anticipated that his prosperity and honor would continue: vv 18-25... [5] But he is now treated disrespectfully by the lowest of society: Job 30:1-11. [6] He is despised even by the youth: vv 12-14. [7] His mental depression: vv 15,16. [8] His physical suffering: vv 17,18. [9] His lack of communion with God: vv. 19-24. [9] His personal frustration: vv 25-31.

"As a leper, Job was treated with disrespect by the absolute dregs of humanity, unemployable wretches who obtained their sustenance by scavenging (Job 30:1-8). The experience of Job was shared by the Christ (cp v 9 with Isa 53:3-5; Psa 35:15; 69:12; then cp v 10 with Isa 50:6; Mat 26:67; 26:30). But whereas Job did not understand the purpose of his sufferings, the Lord Yahshua did. We now benefit from the record of Job and the example of the Master" (GEM).

"Job 29 is a significant [chapter], because it is here that Job makes his crucial error. In his desperation to prove that he is a righteous man, he neglects the role of God in his life -- he fails to acknowledge that it is God who has set him up as a pillar in his ecclesia. He resents the loss of his prosperity and reputation. He claims that God has brought him so low that he can do nothing more in his community. But this is untrue.

"He speaks of the time 'when the Almighty was with me', but his mistake is in assuming that God has ever left! He laments that men no longer respect him, but he forgets that in God's eyes, he has not changed! 'You are still the same person,' says God, 'And there is no reason why you cannot still lead a productive life.'

"This is the hardest step for Job to take -- to accept that God speaks the truth. And surely we know how he feels. Similar disappointments and trials have arisen in our own lives. We have lost things that we worked hard for; we have not received things that we needed; we have been misunderstood, misrepresented, humiliated. But we cannot afford to dwell on the past.

"For if our own expectations have gone unfulfilled; if we do not achieve some of the goals that we had hoped for, we must learn to let them go, instead of striving vainly for them as if they are ours by right.

"We proclaim the righteousness of God when we resign ourselves to our current circumstances and submit to the life that He has decided we must have. And if, at some stage, we find ourselves in a position of responsibility and authority, guiding the congregation and assisting our brethren and sisters, let us praise God for this privileged role. For if we do not, we will repeat the sin of Job and Moses, in claiming that it is by our own power that we have brought water from the rock" (David Burke).

Whereas Job was plainly a righteous, indeed a "perfect" man (Job 1:1) -- under extreme testing, physical and mental and spiritual, he came up short. But this should be no reflection on him; almost certainly, none of us would have fared nearly so well as did he.

And that seems, to me, to be one of the key features of the Book of Job. Even though Job is a type of Christ -- and that is very plain to see -- he can, of necessity, be nothing more than an imperfect type! The very best of men, tested in something like the way that Jesus would be tested, while comporting himself very well in the beginning, and enduring fairly well the continued trials (brought on by his "friends"!)... still came up short: drifting down into self-pity and anger and bitterness.

But, of course, it would ill become us to make any disparaging remarks about Job's reactions to his extreme trials. What might our reactions have been, in similar circumstances? I almost hesitate to ask the question, for fear of... whatever!

The Book of Job is there in the Bible, I think, to remind us: here's what the VERY BEST or men could do with something approaching the VERY WORST of trials. Job is both a comparison and a contrast, to Christ. And in his great trial, and his (relative) coming short, Job simply emphasizes to us the incredible nature of the character and trials and sufferings of our Lord. How humbling is that!

I am a sports fan, and baseball is my game, especially. It's interesting, from a historical perspective, to note that in the history of baseball -- with literally thousands of players participating on the highest level for well over 100 years -- there have been maybe a dozen pitchers who could consistently throw a baseball over 100 miles per hour. Hundreds and hundreds of pitchers can hit, maybe, 95 miles per hour; and thousands could generate, say, 90 miles per hour. But only the very, very greatest could have occasionally thrown a baseball at 100 or 102 miles per hour -- and they are legendary: Walter Johnson, Satchel Paige, Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson. (For perspective's sake, very good amateur pitchers might hit 80 mph -- and ordinary people, on the best days of their young lives, might have thrown a baseball 60 mph.)

Anyway, with that in perspective, suppose there came along a pitcher would could consistently throw a baseball... let us, say, 150 miles per hour. Well, first of all, it would revolutionize the game of baseball -- such a baseball would be, for all practical purposes -- unhittable. The very rules of the game would have to be changed. (120 miles per hour would be unhittable, for that matter.)

In the realm of such pitching (which, admittedly, has limited value otherwise -- but just for the sake of discussion), a Walter Johnson or a Bob Feller would be... Job. The extraordinarily talented or gifted man -- one among thousands -- whose feats are so far beyond other mortals as to make their comparison with him ludicrous.

But alongside such a "superman", how would we characterize the man who could throw 150% as fast as he?

Job 29:6

Symbols of prosperity and plenty: Job 20:17; Deu 32:14.

STREAMS OF OLIVE OIL: Cp Deu 32:13: olive oil out of stone presses, ie bountiful harvests. Oil sym. abundant light. Goodness came to him from the most unexpected sources.

Job 29:7

PUBLIC SQUARE: "Broad place" (RV mg), where justice was administered (2Ch 32:6; Neh 8:1).

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