Job 13-16
(Down Thou Climbing Sorrow!)
May 28th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verses

“O Earth, don’t cover up the wrong done to me!
    Don’t muffle my cry!
There must be Someone in heaven who knows the truth about me,
    in highest heaven, some Attorney who can clear my name—
My Champion, my Friend."

- Job 16:18-20(MSG)

Summary of Chapters

Grab a snack and pull up a chair. The heated dialogue between Job and his friends continues as Job falls deeper into despair over his circumstances. He sinks further into depression and frustration in response to his friends’ inability to show true compassion.

In chapter 13, Job continues his response that had begun in chapter 12. He says he wants to “argue his case with God (Job 13:4 - NIV)” and dismisses his friends as “worthless physicians (Job 13:4 - NIV).” He then compares the life of man to the regenerative life of a tree and says he waits for his renewal:

    "For a tree there is always hope.
        Chop it down and it still has a chance—
        its roots can put out fresh sprouts.
    Even if its roots are old and gnarled,
        its stump long dormant,
    At the first whiff of water it comes to life,
        buds and grows like a sapling.
    But men and women? They die and stay dead.
        They breathe their last, and that's it.

    If we humans die, will we live again? That's my question.
        All through these difficult days I keep hoping,
        waiting for the final change—for resurrection!"

    - Job 13:7-9,14 (MSG)

The second round of comments from Job's friends begins in chapter 15. After waiting for the equivalent of many chapters, the lead-off commentator, Eliphaz, comes back to the plate and takes his second shot at Job. He doesn't waste any time with niceties, but instead begins with derogatory comments:

    "If you were truly wise, would you sound so much like a windbag, belching hot air? Would you talk nonsense in the middle of a serious argument, babbling baloney?

    - Job 15:2-3 (MSG)

The friends seem to be piling one insult on top of another, provoking Job to reply in chapter 16 by labeling his buddies as “miserable comforters” and tells them that if the roles were reversed, he would encourage them, not rebuke them.

Job then restates his innocence and describes the state of his misery. Finally, he appeals to God and proclaims that “my witness is in heaven, my advocate on high, my intercessor is my friend (Job 16:19-20 - NIV).”

Reflection and Application

The dialogue between these friends sounds very Shakespearean with its flowing language and the patient waiting of turns to deliver passionate speeches. Yet, this book was written thousands of years before the Bard. It seems plausible to consider that Shakespeare was influenced in a number of ways by this book. Many literary critics have concluded that Shakespeare's King Lear is a re-telling of Job’s story. The king experiences a different type of disaster, but ends up alone with a few friends as he laments the vicious turns that his life has taken. For example, in the following excerpt, in which he is responding to a character referred to as Fool:

    O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!

    Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow.

    - Excerpt from "King Lear," Act 2, Scene 4, William Shakespeare (April 23 1564 - April 23, 1616)

It’s easy for us to dismiss the shortcomings of the three naïve stooges from ancient times who came to counsel Job, but lacked the proper modern training in counseling. Therefore they drew their own amateur conclusions and proceeded to criticize him. Unfortunately, despite all of our modern advances, we have not cleansed our character of these self-righteous traits.

For example, there was a letter to the advice columnist in the Readers Digest magazine in June 2010 from a reader whose husband had been laid off, and had been forced to sell their home and move to a mobile home. Her friends were no better than Job’s, saying things like, “You must have had an adjustable rate mortgage, so you brought this mess on yourself (1).”

The problem with these types of friends is that they probably have not yet experienced this type of situation and had no empathy. Job gives guidance on what we should do when our friends suffer, “my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief (16:5 - NIV).”

Job also shows us how to have unwavering faith in God. The redeemed evangelist, Chuck Colson (October 16, 1931 – April 21, 2012) referenced a passage from chapter 13 as an example of how obedience is the key to real faith:

    Job confirmed his obedience with those classic words of faith: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face (Job 13:15 - NIV)."

    This is real faith: believing and acting obediently regardless of circumstances or contrary evidence. After all, if faith depended on visible evidence, it wouldn't be faith.

Colson continues by noting the following:

    It is absurd for Christians to constantly seek new demonstrations of God's power, to expect a miraculous answer to every need, from curing ingrown toenails to finding a parking spaces; this only leads to faith in miracles rather than the Maker.

    True faith depends not upon mysterious signs, celestial fireworks, or grandiose dispensations from a God who is seen as a rich benevolent uncle; true faith, as Job understood, rests on the assurance that God is who he is. Indeed, on that we must be willing to stake our very lives (2).

Job’s speeches in chapters 13 and 16 remind us that if we believe in Jesus Christ then we know we have a redeemer who is a friend and an advocate. Job had fallen deep into sorrow in a time that was thousands of years before Jesus reassured us by declaring that “I call you friends (John 15:15 NIV)." Nevertheless, he never stopped believing in the existence of God or the ability or willingness of God to rescue him.

For further inspiration regarding the presence of our Redeemer, please click on the following YouTube version of 'There is a Redeemer,' performed by Keith Gordon Green (October 21, 1953 – July 28, 1982), who hailed from Brooklyn, New York.

"There is a Redeemer," Keith Green

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. Who is the most compassionate person you know?
    2. How can we train ourselves to become more compassionate?
    3. How do we maintain faith in God when our world crumbles around us?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know you are the Maker and Redeemer. Help us to have faith even when things don't go our way.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Current and former world leaders


    (1) 'Ask Laskas' Readers Digest June/July 2010, p. 62
    (2) Colson, Chuck, excerpt from Loving God, referenced in the Men's Devotional Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI; 1993, p.517

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Job 17-20 (How Long Will You Torment Me?)

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