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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Job 30

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Job Reflects on His Current Misery

A. Job's loss of respect in the community.

1. (Job 30:1-8) The low character of the men who now mock Job.

"But now they mock at me, men younger than I,
Whose fathers I disdained to put with the dogs of my flock.
Indeed, what profit is the strength of their hands to me?
Their vigor has perished.
They are gaunt from want and famine,
Fleeing late to the wilderness, desolate and waste,
Who pluck mallow by the bushes,
And broom tree roots for their food.
They were driven out from among men,
They shouted at them as at a thief.
They had to live in the clefts of the valleys,
In caves of the earth and the rocks.
Among the bushes they brayed,
Under the nettles they nestled.
They were sons of fools,
Yes, sons of vile men;
They were scourged from the land."

a. Now they mock at me, men younger than I, whose fathers I disdained to put with the dogs of my flock: Job was tortured by the irony of it all. The sons of men whom Job would not even put with the dogs of his flock were now his mockers and critics.

i. "Not confidential enough to be made shepherds, ass-keepers, or camel-drivers; nor even to have the care of the dogs by which the flocks were guarded. This saying is what we call an expression of sovereign contempt." (Clarke)

ii. "Dogs are every where mentioned with contempt, as filthy, unprofitable, and accursed creatures; as 2 Samuel 16:9; 2 Kings 8:13; Philippians 3:2; Revelation 22:15." (Poole)

b. They are gaunt from want and famine … They had to live in the clefts of the valleys … They were the sons of fools: Job thought of what worthless men were now his loud critics, and how unjust it all was.

i. "This lengthy description of these good-for-nothing fathers is a special brand of rhetoric. . . . To define every facet of their debauchery, to state it in six different ways, is not meant to glory in it by to heighten the pathetic nature of his dishonor." (Smick)

2. (Job 30:9-15)  The mocking Job must endure.

"And now I am their taunting song;
Yes, I am their byword.
They abhor me, they keep far from me;
They do not hesitate to spit in my face.
Because He has loosed my bowstring and afflicted me,
They have cast off restraint before me.
At my right hand the rabble arises;
They push away my feet,
And they raise against me their ways of destruction.
They break up my path,
They promote my calamity;
They have no helper.
They come as broad breakers;
Under the ruinous storm they roll along.
Terrors are turned upon me;
They pursue my honor as the wind,
And my prosperity has passed like a cloud."

a. I am their taunting song; yes I am their byword: Job was now low in the eyes of these worthless men.

i. "He did not slink out of town; he was run out on a rail. Why else would he be sitting on an ash heap and scraping his pustules with a shard of pottery? Obviously his neighbors had forcibly removed him to quarantine in the town dump, where he would have been exposed to more disease, to the elements, to rats and lice - and worst of all, perhaps, to further public humiliation." (Mason)

b. Terrors are turned upon me; they pursue my honor as the wind, and my prosperity has passed like a cloud: Job mourned the agony of his present state of being despised among men, when before he was respected and honored. His honor and prosperity had vanished.

i. They come as broad breakers; under the ruinous storm they roll along: "Verse 14 is very vivid. Job thought of himself as a city with a wide, gapping breach in its wall. The stones come crashing down, and amid the rubble the instruments of siege warfare roll through. The tranquility and dignity he had so enjoyed have vanished like a cloud." (Smick)

B. Job's present misery.

1. (Job 30:16-23) The misery of his present pain, both spiritual and physical.

"And now my soul is poured out because of my plight;
The days of affliction take hold of me.
My bones are pierced in me at night,
And my gnawing pains take no rest.
By great force my garment is disfigured;
It binds me about as the collar of my coat.
He has cast me into the mire,
And I have become like dust and ashes."
 
"I cry out to You, but You do not answer me;
I stand up, and You regard me.
But You have become cruel to me;
With the strength of Your hand You oppose me.
You lift me up to the wind and cause me to ride on it;
You spoil my success.
For I know that You will bring me to death,
And to the house appointed for all living."

a. And now my soul is poured out because of my plight: Job again described his present crisis. He described the persistent, gnawing pains that were ever with him; but for him it was first a crisis of the soul.

b. My bones are pierced … my gnawing pains take no rest … my garment is disfigured: With poetic power and eloquence, Job described the physical agony of his suffering.

i. The New Living Translation has a helpful rendering of Job 30:18-19: In his great power God clutches at my clothing; he grabs me by the collar of my coat. He throws me into the mud.

ii. "In a final burst of grief, Job wrestles with the sheer pain of his disease as if it were objectively a terrifying monster, chewing at his flesh day and night." (Andersen)

iii. Mason commented on the long and intense struggle Job had with God, and on the ultimate outcome for Job: "Classically there are two ways of soliciting the favor of God. One way is by trying very hard to be very very good and hoping that God will take notice. The other way is to beg God for His blessing and to refuse to let Him off the hook until He comes through. . . . It is those who refuse to give up on God who end up with His blessing."

c. I cry out to You, but You do not answer me: This was the worst aspect of Job's suffering, the sense that God had forsaken him. He undeniably felt that God was against him (with the strength of Your hand You oppose me … You spoil my success). Indeed, Job felt that God wanted to and would destroy him (I know that You will bring me to death).

i. "God's constant attack, his ruthless might (Job 30:21), was so completely the opposite of Job's 'intimate friendship' with God in those bygone days when he had still perceived that God was on his side (Job 29:4-5)." (Smick)

ii. I know that You will bring me to death: "Under depression of spirit he felt sure that he must very soon die; he feared that God would not relax the blows of his hand until his body became a ruin, and then he would have rest. But he did not die at that time. He was fully recovered, and God gave him twice as much as he had before. A life of usefulness, and happiness, and honor lay before him; and yet he had set up his own tombstone, and reckoned himself a dead man." (Spurgeon)

2. (Job 30:24-31) The misery of the injustice done to Job.

"Surely He would not stretch out His hand against a heap of ruins,
If they cry out when He destroys it.
Have I not wept for him who was in trouble?
Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
But when I looked for good, evil came to me;
And when I waited for light, then came darkness.
My heart is in turmoil and cannot rest;
Days of affliction confront me.
I go about mourning, but not in the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry out for help.
I am a brother of jackals,
And a companion of ostriches.
My skin grows black and falls from me;
My bones burn with fever.
My harp is turned to mourning,
And my flute to the voice of those who weep."

a. Surely He would not stretch out His hand against a heap of ruins: Job felt, "God, you are more merciful than this. You would not afflict a pitiful heap of ruins if only it would cry out to You." Job wondered why God did not respond to his cries.

i. "The supreme sorrow was that when he cried to God, there was no answer. He claimed that in such suffering as he endured, there was ample justification for all his complaining." (Morgan)

ii. "As is our natural tendency, Job misinterprets God's silence as lack of concern and indifference. Job assumes that God's silence means God's displeasure." (Lawson)

b. Have I not wept for him who was in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor? Job wondered why God did not treat him with the same kindness Job had often shown to others.

i. "It is impossible to read this section without feeling that protest was approaching revolt in the soul of this man. He did definitely charge God with cruelty (see verse 21), and his questions, 'Did I not weep for him that was in trouble? Was not my soul grieved for the needy?' (verse 25), he was contrasting God's attitude toward him with his own attitude toward suffering men in the days of his prosperity and strength." (Morgan)

ii. The sensitive soul of Job was another demonstration of his godliness and appropriate for any servant of God. "I know that a man in the ministry who cannot feel had much better resign his office. We have heard some hold forth the doctrines of grace, as if they were a nauseous medicine, and men were to be forced to drink thereof by hard words and violent abuse. We have always thought that such men did more hurt than good, for while seeking to vindicate the letter, they evidently missed the spirit of the faith once delivered unto the saints. Cold and impassive are some of our divines; they utter truth as though it were no concern of theirs whether men received it or no. To such men heaven and hell, death and eternity, are mere themes for oratory, but not subjects for emotion." (Spurgeon)

c. My heart is in turmoil and cannot rest: Perhaps Job tried to just take it easy and not get so troubled over his problems, but for him it was impossible. His physical and spiritual agony was more than it seemed he could bear or his friends could relate to.

i. "By my mournful and continual cry I resemble the jackals or hyenas. . . . To the daughters of howling: generally understood to be the ostrich; for both the jackal and the female ostrich are remarkable for their mournful cry, and for their attachment to desolate places.-Dodd." (Clarke)

© 2007 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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