The Problem of Pain

Today, Job 6-20, in which Job and his friends continue to discuss why Job might be suffering.

The depth of Job’s bitterness surprises me.  He is wishes to die (6:8) and says there is no hope because he can’t help himself (6:13).  He accuses his friends of being very bad friends indeed (6:14-23), but then invites them to prove his error nonetheless (6:24-26) and to reconsider the matter of Job’s righteousness (6:29).  He begs God to leave him alone; “will You ever look away from me, or leave me alone long enough to swallow?” (7:19)

Bildad responds with basically the prosperity non-gospel: do good and God will prosper you (ch 8).

Job says, “but how can a person be justified before God?” (ch 9) in what really is a beautiful defense of the inadequacy of man and pure mercy of God.  But then he moves on to accusing God of treating everyone equally regardless of their righteousness, not blaming, but declaring, and reiterating his wish to die and to be left alone by God.  His description of the afterlife is also a bit odd, 10:21-22 (hcsb):

before I go to a land of darkness and gloom,
never to return.
It is a land of blackness like the deepest darkness,
gloomy and chaotic,
where even the light is like the darkness.

Job’s friends continue to make fun of him and accuse him of some secret sin, and he continues to rebuke their assumptions, and says he’d rather just talk to God: “Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him. I will still defend my ways before Him” (13:15)

One thing that really strikes me is all the theological concepts Job interacts with very clearly: justification, the depravity of man, the problem of punishment for sin, life after death, resurrection, etc.  And he constantly expresses faith in God’s justice and mercy but doesn’t seem to be quite sure how that is expressed in the temporal plane: what is after death? what worth is life? how does God decide whom to visit punishment upon, and whom to leave alone? why does God torment him?

Eliphaz continues to argue that this is the result of Job’s sin, and Job continues to tell him basically to shut up and bemoan that he’s being laughed at by fools.  Bildad again calls him a babbler.  Zophar continues to mock.

And that’s where the story ends for today.

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