1 Then Job answered and said:
2 “I have heard many such things;
miserable comforters are you all.
3 Shall windy words have an end?
Or what provokes you that you answer?
4 I also could speak as you do,
if you were in my place;
I could join words together against you
and shake my head at you.
5 I could strengthen you with my mouth,
and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.
6 “If I speak, my pain is not assuaged,
and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me?
7 Surely now God has worn me out;
he has made desolate all my company.
8 And he has shriveled me up,
which is a witness against me,
and my leanness has risen up against me;
it testifies to my face.
9 He has torn me in his wrath and hated me;
he has gnashed his teeth at me;
my adversary sharpens his eyes against me.
10 Men have gaped at me with their mouth;
they have struck me insolently on the cheek;
they mass themselves together against me.
11 God gives me up to the ungodly
and casts me into the hands of the wicked.
12 I was at ease, and he broke me apart;
he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces;
he set me up as his target;
13 his archers surround me.
He slashes open my kidneys and does not spare;
he pours out my gall on the ground.
14 He breaks me with breach upon breach;
he runs upon me like a warrior.
15 I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin
and have laid my strength in the dust.
16 My face is red with weeping,
and on my eyelids is deep darkness,
17 although there is no violence in my hands,
and my prayer is pure.
18 “O earth, cover not my blood,
and let my cry find no resting place.
19 Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven,
and he who testifies for me is on high.
20 My friends scorn me;
my eye pours out tears to God,
21 that he would argue the case of a man with God,
as a son of man does with his neighbor.
22 For when a few years have come
I shall go the way from which I shall not return.” – Job 16:1-22 ESV
There was a lot that Job didn’t know in the middle of all that was going on in his life. He didn’t know why he was suffering. He didn’t know why his friends were attacking him and accusing him of sins he had not committed. He didn’t know why all of his children had to die. He didn’t know what was going to happen to him. But he DID know one thing for sure: The answers to all of his questions and the solution to all of his problems were in heaven. He knew that he needed to direct his cries to God and not men. While men can and should provide comfort and support, they can’t solve life’s problems. Only God can do that.
This realization led Job to castigate his friends for their wordy and worthless diatribes.
“What miserable comforters you are!
Won’t you ever stop blowing hot air?
What makes you keep on talking?” – Job 16:2-3 NLT
He was fed up with having to listen to their pompous pontifications and pious-sounding platitudes. Their words were unhelpful and uninspiring. In fact, Job states that if their roles were reversed, he could just as easily play the role of adversary rather than advocate.
“I could say the same things if you were in my place.
I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you.” – Job 16:4 NLT
But he wouldn’t.
“…if it were me, I would encourage you.
I would try to take away your grief.” – Job 16:5 NLT
Job has no desire for revenge. He simply asks that his friends back off and stop their incessant efforts to tear him down. He needs comfort, not criticism. He longs for encouragement, not more incrimination. But their verbal assault continues, no matter what he does. If he defends himself against their accusations, it only adds fuel to the fire. They view his cries of innocence as proof of guilt. And if he chooses to say nothing, they still come to the same conclusion. His silence condemns him.
So, Job calls on God to be his witness. He may not understand why he is suffering, but he knows he is innocent and, in the end, only God can testify to that fact. Job can’t prove he is blameless but God can, and Job is counting on it. In fact, he pleads that God would act as his mediator as well as his judge. He asks God to perform both roles because there is no one else he can count on.
“Even now my witness is in heaven.
My advocate is there on high.
My friends scorn me,
but I pour out my tears to God.” – Job 16:19-20 NLT
His friends think he is guilty. They would be lousy witnesses, let alone good mediators. So Job is left with God as his sole source of comfort and support. Which is right where Job needed to be.
His anger with God is visible and visceral. His world has been rocked and his belief in God’s sovereignty left him with no other logical conclusion than that God was behind it all.
“O God, you have ground me down
and devastated my family.
As if to prove I have sinned, you’ve reduced me to skin and bones.
My gaunt flesh testifies against me.” – Job 16:7-8 NLT
“I was living quietly until he shattered me.
He took me by the neck and broke me in pieces.” – Job 16:12 NLT
“Again and again he smashes against me,
charging at me like a warrior.” – Job 16:14 NLT
Job graphically describes his abject physical state. His health has diminished, leaving him emaciated and gaunt. His emotional well-being has suffered greatly, leaving him in a constant state of mourning.
“My eyes are red with weeping;
dark shadows circle my eyes.” – Job 16:16 NLT
But despite all his pain and suffering, and his belief that God was behind it all, he still sees God as his only source of help and hope.
“Even now my witness is in heaven.
My advocate is there on high.” – Job 16:19 NLT
Job was blaming God for all his difficulties, but he was also counting on God for deliverance. And the second half of that equation is essential. God wants us to lean on Him and nothing else. He wants us to rely on Him and no one else. He can handle our criticism and our casting of blame. But, when all is said and done, He wants us to turn to Him for help.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take. – Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
Amid all his problems, Job was still reaching out to God. He hadn’t given up or made the fateful decision to run away from God. And that is exactly what God would desire His children to do. As the old hymn so eloquently states:
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!
Job was calling out to God. It’s interesting to note that, in spite of Job’s uncertainty, he describes a relationship with God that each of us as believers enjoy. Because of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, He is able to stand before God the Father as the One who perfectly fulfilled all the requirements of the Law. Jesus lived a sinless life, so He was able to act as the sinless sacrifice in our place and pay the penalty that sin required. He died in our place, and the result is that we have eternal life. Now Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father acting as our advocate and mediator.
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. – 1 Timothy 2:5 NLT
We have exactly what Job was asking and longing for – an advocate and representative who stands before God, speaks on our behalf, and defends our righteousness. Because of what Jesus has done, when God looks at us He no longer sees our sins; He sees us covered with the blood of His Son. Therefore, we are righteous in His eyes. And even when we do sin, Jesus acts as our advocate, reminding God the Father that the price for that sin has already been paid. This is the great news that the apostle John shared with the believers in his day.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. – 1 John 2:1 NASB
Job inherently knew that God was the one to turn to in a time of need. He knew that God could be trusted to judge impartially and fairly. He understood that God was the only one who would be a reliable witness on his behalf. Yes, Job was struggling with doubt and despair. He was questioning everything. But he knew that, in the end, he could count on God.
How much more so should we? We have Jesus Christ as our advocate. He is our faithful representative, standing before God the Father and acting on our behalf, pleading our case before the throne of God. That is where we need to turn. That is who we need to trust.
For Christ has entered into heaven itself to appear now before God as our Advocate. – Hebrews 9:24 NLT
We can come right into God’s throne room with confidence because we are well represented by Jesus our advocate. He has earned the right to represent us before God because He served as our sin substitute. And because of what Jesus has done, we are able to stand before God as sinless and holy.
When things take a turn for the worse in my life, I do not have to stand before God in fear, wondering if He is punishing me for some sin I have committed. My sins have all been paid for. The punishment for all my transgressions – past, present, and future – has already been meted out and His judgment has already been satisfied. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we can turn to God and trust Him to act favorably or propitiously on our behalf. He loves us because we are His children.
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.