Job 16:18-17:16 – Job Looks for Vindication

That'd be OK if he didn't seem so confident he'd get it.

Job 16:18-17:16 (NIV)

“Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest! Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.

“Only a few years will pass before I take the path of no return. My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me. Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility.

“Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me? You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph. If anyone denounces their friends for reward, the eyes of their children will fail.

“God has made me a byword to everyone, a man in whose face people spit. My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow. The upright are appalled at this; the innocent are aroused against the ungodly. Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways, and those with clean hands will grow stronger.

“But come on, all of you, try again! I will not find a wise man among you. My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near.  If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness, if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ where then is my hope—who can see any hope for me? Will it go down to the gates of death? Will we descend together into the dust?”

Job’s manner of speaking here is confusing because he switches back and forth between talking directly to God and speaking of God in the third person. He’s obviously talking to God when he says, “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand.” But when he says, “God has made me a byword to everyone,” Job must be addressing others.

But get past this confusion and you’ll see a sea change in Job’s tone. In the third paragraph, Job is asking God to help him out, not by relieving his pain, but by vindicating him. He’s even telling God that he knows He will do it. You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph.

This is the beginning of the hubris that will eventually get Job called on the carpet. If the message of the book of Job can be condensed down to one simple sentence, it might be, “Everything God does is above our pay grade.”

Job seemed to understand this earlier, but now he’s wandered away from that concept. He thinks his own vindication is important.

It’s almost impossible for a human to outgrow that kind of self-centered perspective – but that’s the goal of every Christian.

Remember, we’re supposed to be prepared for martyrdom for His glory, not ours.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.