Scripture to meditate on:
Then Job replied:
“How long will you torment me
and crush me with words?
Ten times now you have reproached me;
shamelessly you attack me.
If it is true that I have gone astray,
my error remains my concern alone.
If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me
and use my humiliation against me,
then know that God has wronged me
and drawn his net around me.
“Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response;
though I call for help, there is no justice.
He has blocked my way so I cannot pass;
he has shrouded my paths in darkness.
He has stripped me of my honor
and removed the crown from my head.
He tears me down on every side till I am gone;
he uproots my hope like a tree.
His anger burns against me;
he counts me among his enemies.
His troops advance in force;
they build a siege ramp against me
and encamp around my tent.
“He has alienated my family from me;
my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.
My relatives have gone away;
my closest friends have forgotten me.
My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner;
they look on me as on a stranger.
I summon my servant, but he does not answer,
though I beg him with my own mouth.
My breath is offensive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own family.
Even the little boys scorn me;
when I appear, they ridicule me.
All my intimate friends detest me;
those I love have turned against me.
I am nothing but skin and bones;
I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.
“Have pity on me, my friends, have pity,
for the hand of God has struck me.
Why do you pursue me as God does?
Will you never get enough of my flesh?
“Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
“If you say, ‘How we will hound him,
since the root of the trouble lies in him,’
you should fear the sword yourselves;
for wrath will bring punishment by the sword,
and then you will know that there is judgment.” – Job 19
The concluding words of today’s passage are likely the most often quoted from the entire book of Job. “I know my redeemer lives….” The irony is that these words of abiding confidence seem jarringly out of place in the midst of Job’s continuing laments.
It is helpful to place this particular phrase alongside the others in which Job seems to be looking forward to the Messiah. As we consider the role of our Redeemer, Jesus, we can appreciate a deeper understanding of Christ by learning how the original readers of this text might have understood Job’s reference to his “redeemer.” The Hebrew text uses the phrase go ‘el. Ancient readers would have recognized this to be a close relative who comes to the aid of a distressed family member. Traditionally, this could mean redemption of family property but also extend to circumstances where individuals had sold themselves into slavery.
Knowing that, we begin to see a richer, more complex understanding of Job’s anticipated salvation. Although he believed himself to be near death, Job is expressing a sublime confidence in his go ‘el, that redeemer, who would buy back all that has been lost and free him from the slavery he feels in his suffering.
Once again we see that for those of us on –this side- of the New Testament, our reading of the book of Job cannot help but cause us to reflect on the work of Christ, our go ‘el whose work on the cross has redeemed us from our own slavery and infused our suffering with meaning.
“I know that my redeemer lives, and he at last will rise up on the dust.” – Job 19:25
Questions to ponder:
- How does the concept of go ‘el, enrich your understanding of Christ’s work on the cross?
- Can you think of a way that Christ has redeemed your suffering? Or given it enhanced meaning?