bible blog 1415

Job 29 CEV – Job ContinuesI Long for the Past – Job – Bible Gateway

This blog offers a meditation on  the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:

HAWKING SAYS MESSSING WITH HIGGS BOSON COULD DESTROY UNIVERSE 

29 Job said:universe

I long for the past,
    when God took care of me,
and the light from his lamp
showed me the way
    through the dark.
I was in the prime of life,
God All-Powerful
    was my closest friend,
and all of my children
    were nearby.
My herds gave enough milk
    to bathe my feet,
and from my olive harvest
    flowed rivers of oil.
When I sat down at the meeting
    of the city council,
the young leaders stepped aside,
while the older ones stood
10     and remained silent.

Everyone Was Pleased  

11 Everyone was pleased
    with what I said and did.
12 When poor people or orphans
cried out for help,
    I came to their rescue.
13 And I was highly praised
for my generosity to widows
    and others in poverty.
14 Kindness and justice
    were my coat and hat;
15 I was good to the blind
    and to the lame.
16 I was a father to the needy,
and I defended them in court,
    even if they were strangers.
17 When criminals attacked,
I broke their teeth
    and set their victims free.

18 I felt certain that I would livegates
a long and happy life,
    then die in my own bed.
19 In those days I was strong
    like a tree with deep roots
and with plenty of water,
20     or like an archer’s new bow.
21 Everyone listened in silence
    to my welcome advice,
22 and when I finished speaking,
    nothing needed to be said.
23 My words were eagerly accepted
    like the showers of spring,
24 and the smile on my face
    renewed everyone’s hopes.
25 My advice was followed
as though I were a king
    leading my troops,
or someone comforting
    those in sorrow.

I’m not sure why yesterday’s Lectionary was chapter 34 and today’s 29, but it’s nice in the midst of so many refections on pain and suffering to look at this beautifully poised portrait of a decent successful man. After Job has described his profitable farm and the prestige it brings him, he notes without self-praise his commitment to justice and kindness. In the light of the Jewish Torah, this commitment was the source of his success, because it won him the blessing of God. Torah requires attention to the least  regarded in society-the widow, the orphan, the falsely accused, the stranger – and opposition to the unjust. Job notes that he has done all this. Such behaviour has gained him the respect of his fellow citizens as well as the blessing of God.’ 

There’s no sense of self-indulgence in Job’s account of his life, which shows both balance and beauty. And yet….it shows a man unaquainted with grief. From the perpsective of many people he is a singularly fortunate man. How will he cope with loss or disease or destitution, we feel inclined to ask. And that question, we may recollect, is exactly the one put to God by the Adversary at the beginning of the drama. Anyone with a more mixed experience of human life will see Job’s life as slightly unreal. To be always in the position of giving help rather than needing it is to be very lucky. There’s just a hint, no more than a hint but it’s there, that Job thinks he’s earned his fortune. God the all-powerful is his pal. 

pal?

pal?

This is a great achievement of the author. Without ever denigrating his hero or questioning his goodness, he/she leads to reader to be just a little suspicious of this kind of perfection.Perhaps Job needs to learn more about his own nature as well as the nature of God. I’ve known a few people, men and women, who match the portrait Job gives of himself, decent, successful people, who are now, in the face of surgng support for an independent Scotland, suddenly bitter that the least advantaged in society are asserting their right to a decent life. They feel they might lose their well-earned status. It’s an understandable reaction but childish nevertheless.

Just a hint of this childishness is evident in Job’s bitterness towards God. It is more justifiable than the childish piety of his friends, but it reveals how much he has still to learn.

 

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