1 “Behold, my eye has seen all this,
my ear has heard and understood it.
2 What you know, I also know;
I am not inferior to you.
3 But I would speak to the Almighty,
and I desire to argue my case with God.
4 As for you, you whitewash with lies;
worthless physicians are you all.
5 Oh that you would keep silent,
and it would be your wisdom!
6 Hear now my argument
and listen to the pleadings of my lips.
7 Will you speak falsely for God
and speak deceitfully for him?
8 Will you show partiality toward him?
Will you plead the case for God?
9 Will it be well with you when he searches you out?
Or can you deceive him, as one deceives a man?
10 He will surely rebuke you
if in secret you show partiality.
11 Will not his majesty terrify you,
and the dread of him fall upon you?
12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
your defenses are defenses of clay.
13 “Let me have silence, and I will speak,
and let come on me what may.
14 Why should I take my flesh in my teeth
and put my life in my hand?
15 Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
yet I will argue my ways to his face.
16 This will be my salvation,
that the godless shall not come before him.
17 Keep listening to my words,
and let my declaration be in your ears.
18 Behold, I have prepared my case;
I know that I shall be in the right.
19 Who is there who will contend with me?
For then I would be silent and die.
20 Only grant me two things,
then I will not hide myself from your face:
21 withdraw your hand far from me,
and let not dread of you terrify me.
22 Then call, and I will answer;
or let me speak, and you reply to me.
23 How many are my iniquities and my sins?
Make me know my transgression and my sin.
24 Why do you hide your face
and count me as your enemy?
25 Will you frighten a driven leaf
and pursue dry chaff?
26 For you write bitter things against me
and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth.
27 You put my feet in the stocks
and watch all my paths;
you set a limit for the soles of my feet.
28 Man wastes away like a rotten thing,
like a garment that is moth-eaten.” – Job 13:1-28 ESV
Job is just getting started. Warming to his topic, Job lets Zophar know that his impassioned speech provided no new information. His friend had produced no new details or insights into his circumstances that would persuade Job to change his mind. And he was more insistent than ever about demanding answers from God.
He tells his friends, “I’m taking my case straight to God Almighty; I’ve had it with you – I’m going directly to God” (Job 13:3 MSG). He is done listening to them and he tells them so.
“You graffiti my life with lies. You’re a bunch of pompous quacks! I wish you’d shut your mouths – silence is your only claim to wisdom.” – Job 13:4-5 MSG
Job wants to go directly to the source of his only hope and help – God Himself. His friends, with their poor bedside manners, have been more hurtful than helpful. Job knows they can’t answer his questions or solve his problem. So he turns to God and asks, “O God, grant me these two things, and then I will be able to face you. Remove your heavy hand from me, and don’t terrify me with your awesome presence.” (Job 13:20-21 NLT).
I love Job’s brutal honesty. He doesn’t hide his request with fancy “thees” and “thous.” He doesn’t mask his frustration with flowery prose or pious-sounding prayer speech. He just tells God exactly what’s on his heart. He asks for relief and answers.
What a reminder that we have a God who is big enough to handle our toughest questions. He can handle the honest and heartfelt expression of our frustration. In fact, I believe God would rather have us be honest with Him than watch us cover up our fears and frustrations with religious-sounding platitudes that we don’t believe or understand.
In the middle of a trial in which things are going severely wrong and your frustration is mounting, I don’t think God wants to hear you say, “Oh, Mighty God, maker of all things and ruler over all mankind, thank you for putting me through all this pain and suffering. Thank you for all the hurt and the heartache! You are a good God!”
God knows our hearts. He knows what we are thinking, and He wants us to share with Him what is on our hearts. He can handle our honesty, but He can’t stand our poor attempts at false faithfulness. If we can give God a heartfelt, “I trust You!,” so be it. But we often express words to God that we don’t feel or believe. Job was telling God exactly what he was feeling. And tough times tend to make us more honest. During trials, it is harder to keep up the fake veneer of faithfulness. Job’s faith was being tested and he was looking for answers, for proof. So, he turned to God.
Psalm 119 could have been written by Job. It is full of honest expressions of fear, frustration, doubt, and disenchantment. But the writer of Psalms 119 knew he could turn to God and openly express his feelings.
I have chosen to be faithful;
I have determined to live by your regulations.
I cling to your laws.
Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
I will pursue your commands,
for you expand my understanding.
Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
I will keep them to the end. – Psalms 119:30-33 NLT
Job’s world had been rocked. His entire belief system was in shambles because everything he thought he knew about God had been turned upside down. And his friends were proving to be unreliable sources of comfort or wise counsel. They were painting blurry and indecipherable images of God that only intensified Job’s confusion and pain. He had become so disenchanted with their input that he pleaded with them to cease and desist.
“Be silent now and leave me alone.
Let me speak, and I will face the consequences.
Why should I put myself in mortal danger
and take my life in my own hands?
God might kill me, but I have no other hope.
I am going to argue my case with him.” – Job 14:13-15 NLT
To put it bluntly, Job wanted his friends to shut up and God to show up. He was more than willing to take his chances with God, and he would even risk having God expose whatever sin he had committed.
“Tell me, what have I done wrong?
Show me my rebellion and my sin.” – Job 13:23 NLT
In essence, Job is demanding a court date with God. He wanted the opportunity to defend himself before the only one who had the power to convict or acquit him. From Job’s point of view, God had no grounds for punishing him. He believed himself to be innocent and unworthy of all the judgments he had received. Something was wrong. A mistake had been made. And he couldn’t help but ask, “Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me as your enemy?” (Job 13:24 NLT).
As far as Job could tell, the only indictments God could level against him were from the past. He even seems to accuse God of cherry-picking from his past and dredging up old transgressions that had long ago been forgiven and forgotten.
“You write bitter accusations against me
and bring up all the sins of my youth.” – Job 13:26 NLT
In a way, Job was complaining that he had been declared guilty by God and was being forced to prove his own innocence. But he was frustrated about the lack of access to the courtroom of God. There had been plenty of witnesses called by the prosecution, but Job was still waiting for his opportunity to stand before the Judge of the universe and defend himself.
Job was calling on God, but his words were rife with bold accusations and unsubstantiated assumptions. He had come to the right source, but he was doing so in a less-than-righteous manner. But as time will reveal, God was more than willing to let Job vent his frustration and level his charges. The Almighty was not intimidated by Job’s harsh words or easily offended by his brutal honesty. God understood that Job’s caustic comments were flowing from the deep well of his grief and confusion. And, for the time being, God was willing to allow Job the freedom to speak bluntly and rather disrespectfully. Job’s words didn’t shock God and the accusatory manner of this down-and-out servant didn’t bring down the wrath of God. God knew Job needed to vent and He was willing to wait Job had said all he had to say.
In time, Job would learn the invaluable lesson found in the following psalm of David.
The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. – Psalm 103:8-11 NLT
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.