Job 29-30: Taking Delight in Another’s Downfall
Cool Hand Luke: ‘He Beat You with Nothin!’ Atheist search for the Origin of Life. Part 7

Job 27: Until I Die I Will Not Renounce My Integrity

Job did confront God. It might read shocking to some who imagine him composing songs of praise to God on his bed of nails. In the end, though, all was forgiven and he was cut considerable slack due to the agonizing stress he was under. His three interrogators, on the other hand, were cut less slack, since they used their good health to pound their fellow into the ground with their ‘holiness’ and assumed ‘theology’ which held that if you suffer, it serves you right. You must have done something wrong.

The scripture from Job that makes our day as Jehovah’s Witnesses—you can almost hear the cymbals crash at Kingdom Hall when it is cited—is “Until I die, I will not renounce my integrity.” Right it is that it should be highlighted, for it demonstrates that man can, under the worst of circumstances, maintain integrity to God.

But it is part of a package: The full verse reads: “It is unthinkable for me to declare you men righteous! Until I die, I will not renounce my integrity!

Part of keeping his integrity lies in not letting these three bullies gaslight him, not ‘declaring them righteous.’ He knows who he is. He knows he is not what they say, a hypocrite who fully deserves his own downfall. “I will maintain my righteousness and never let it go; My heart will not condemn me as long as I live.” (vs 6) Defending himself before these three louts is part of ‘not renouncing his integrity.’

Apparently, not renouncing his integrity even involves challenging God. Job begins his speech with a preamble just 3 verses earlier: “As surely as God lives, who has deprived me of justice, As the Almighty lives, who has made me bitter.

Of course he  confronts his Creator!’ Unless there really is a hellfire, he couldn’t possibly suffer more than he is doing at present! What’s he got to lose? What’s God going to do—kill him? That’s exactly what he wants. Although we go on and on about Job’s faith in the resurrection, even writing a song about it (and it’s a good song, too), the context of his remark appears to show he doesn’t have any faith in a resurrection at all:

He says: “For there is hope even for a tree. If it is cut down, it will sprout again, And its twigs will continue to grow. . . . At the scent of water it will sprout; And it will produce branches like a new plant. But a man dies and lies powerless; When a human expires, where is he? Waters disappear from the sea, And a river drains away and dries up. Man also lies down and does not get up. Until heaven is no more, they will not wake up, Nor will they be aroused from their sleep.” (Job 14: 7-12)

so that the verses we like, the verses that follow, read as though something he would like to see, but fat chance that they will! Wishful thinking they appear to be, no more: 

O that in the Grave you would conceal me, That you would hide me until your anger passes by, That you would set a time limit for me and remember me! If a man dies, can he live again? I will wait all the days of my compulsory service Until my relief comes. You will call, and I will answer you. You will long for the work of your hands.”

It’s a little hard to tell for sure, but those first verses hardly seem a preamble to lauding God for the resurrection hope.

Nonetheless, God makes it all good at the end. Job makes no accusation to God beyond what can easily be explained by the suffering he undergoes. His companions, under no stress at all, go well beyond anything Job says. ‘What does God care if you do what’s right? It’s impossible to please him. Even the angels can’t do it!’ — they revisit the point several times. ‘The very heavens are not clean in his eyes,’ say they.

While one might come online and chew out an Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar, one does not do it with a Job, condemnatory though some of his reasonings were. That role must be reserved for God. Even Elihu, who has words of correction for Job, makes clear his motive: “If you have something to say, reply to me. Speak, for I want to prove you right,”  he says to Job. (33: 32) In the meantime, he’s not going to take advantage of his health to bully a sick man, as the other three fellows do: “Look! I am just like you before the true God; From the clay I too was shaped. So no fear of me should terrify you, And no pressure from me should overwhelm you.” (33: 6-7)

No one wants to be a Zophar, who to put it in modern terms, visits a patient on a respirator with COVID-19, who has lost his entire family to that plague, has lost everything else as well, who says something rash in his agony, so Zophar responds: “I have heard a reproof that insults me—my understanding impels me to reply.” (!) You almost expect him to challenge Job to a duel! It’s his mission to defend God from any ill talk, regardless of circumstances, but there are times to give it a rest.

You can’t tell a person that their experience is not theirs. No one should try. Everyone will have their say until God debuts with 70 questions to make you say, as did Job, ‘maybe I was a little rash.


******  The bookstore



Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'



What about this ? :

Job 19:25 For I well know that my redeemer is alive;

He will come later and rise up over the earth.

26 After my skin has thus been destroyed,

While yet in my flesh, I will see God,

27 Whom I will see for myself,

Whom my own eyes will see, not someone else’s.

I had no idea this was in "the Old Testament", let alone, in Job {?}

I'm probably "missing something", but doesn't this kind of sound like a "resurrection" belief ?

Tom Harley

No, I think you are on to something. Good catch. I appreciate you drawing my attention to it.

Job’s remarks are not always consistent, as might be expected of someone in his position. Sometimes he is hopeful toward God. Sometimes he rails at him.

A certain commentator (G K Chesterton) writes: [Job] demands an accounting from God, but “in the spirit in which a wife might demand an explanation from her husband whom she really respected. He remonstrates with his Maker because he is proud of his Maker. He even speaks of the Almighty as his enemy, but he never doubt, at the back of his mind, that his enemy has some kind of a case which he does not understand, In a fine and famous blasphemy he says, ‘Oh that mine adversary had written a book!’ [Job19:23] It never really occurs to him that it could possibly be a bad book. He is anxious to be convinced, that is, he thinks that God could convince him.”

(I also see you left a comment on my 4/20/22 Tweeting the Meeting which I did not publish. I don’t know why. Maybe I thought it was too ‘hot.’ Maybe I thought it didn’t have to do with the post. Maybe I didn’t notice it. At any rate, I apologize (a year and a half too late!) and am publishing it now.)

Thanks again for your focus on 19:25

The comments to this entry are closed.