16 ¶ If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; 17 Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; 18 (For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother’s womb;) 19 If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; 20 If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; 21 If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: 22 Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. 23 For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.
Job goes on to insist that he has been merciful and kind to the poor, the fatherless, and the widow who have not gone without food or clothing in his presence. He has shared his wealth and provided for those who had not. He has not judged against the fatherless in his place of judgment in the gate.
If he had done that he admits he would deserve to suffer physically and mentally from the judgment of a God, a judgment he could not stand against.
The Bible is replete with warnings about committing injustice against the poor. While it does attack sloth, impulsive behavior, and immoral behavior, which we all know can lead to poverty it also attacks the greed and selfishness that can accompany riches along with the pursuant corruption of government.
Micah 2:1 ¶ Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. 2 And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.
Exodus 23:6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.
Examples of modern wickedness that would correspond to this include the manipulation of people’s weaknesses and sin nature that keeps them poor. I would include the enticing of people with cheap and easy credit in the form of credit cards and loans from banks and merchants that keep them in bondage and oft-times ruins their credit standing. There are many other ways to manipulate the poor and to play on human weakness and our sin nature.
I would include government seizing property without a trial against an individual when there are no criminal charges filed but based on the assumption a crime has been committed. I would include government and large businesses uniting to create regulations that inhibit competition and prevent the common person from starting his or her own business. I would include oppressive, contradictory, and redundant regulations that prevent a small businessman from hiring more people as he is forced to hire a number of specialized employees just to keep track of all of the regulations. I would include the many laws that interfere with private decisions and create labels for those convicted that make them a sub-class always unable to access the rights and opportunities of the ever-shrinking majority.
There are many other ways to manipulate and exploit the poor, the common man or woman, and then to blame them for being lazy or unmotivated to do right. Job has taken the high ground in that he has neither denied the poor their necessary food and clothing nor exercised corrupt judgment against them in his role of governing. Job represents two sides of the good coin. As a private man of wealth he is very generous to the poor, even from his own property (see verse 20), and, in his role of governing (see verse 21) he has not oppressed or denied the cause of the poor.
In today’s political scene we have the Ayn Rand devotee representing some on the right who believes that assisting the poor is wrong and what’s mine is mine. On the left we have a supposedly benign government keeping the poor in their position as a voting bloc, perpetuating helplessness in the inner city and in Appalachia, and what has been called, “the welfare plantation.” All the while the right wing trumpets its Godliness and the left wing its commitment to raise the poor out of their misery. Both are lying through their teeth and are as wicked as they can be.
Isaiah 10:2 To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!
James 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
Job says he deserves the judgment and wrath and punishment of God if he has oppressed or denied the poor.
24 ¶ If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; 25 If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much; 26 If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; 27 And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand: 28 This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above. 29 If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him: 30 Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul. 31 If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied. 32 The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveller.
Job has not put his hope in his wealth. It is God whom he has depended on. God warned the Hebrews;
Deuteronomy 8:11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: 12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; 13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; 14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage…
Solomon gave this warning to the young man;
Proverbs 11:28 ¶ He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
And Paul warned us;
1Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows…17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy…
Job did not make the error of denying God by worshipping as the heathen, the sun and the moon. Kissing one’s hand must have been a sign of such worship.
Verse 28 reminds us that until the rise of the Baptist and other Nonconformist and Separatist churches of the late Reformation period that civil government was often tasked with enforcing religious doctrine and punishing so-called heretics. This great evil of historical Christianity created a counterfeit strain of Christianity that became the dominant one, that of the state being God’s enforcement arm, or at least someone’s idea of God. It is still an ever-present danger in modern society as secular, atheistic religions like communism and macroevolution are added to the mix of faith traditions.
When a Christian is unable or unwilling to rightly divide the word (2Timothy 2:15) he will mistake the church’s mission on earth with that of ancient Israel in the past or Christ’s millennial kingdom in the future and start calling his country a Christian commonwealth and demanding that government be God’s agent on earth. This will inevitably result in unimaginable tyranny. Human organizations are composed of those who have a dominant personality and those who are submissive to them and such government set-ups are about who has the will to command and who has the will to follow and have nothing to do with God at all other than as a mere excuse. So it is in many churches.
33 ¶ If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom: 34 Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door? 35 Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book. 36 Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a crown to me. 37 I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him. 38 If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain; 39 If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life: 40 Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended.
Job neither tried to cover his sins with a symbolic fig leaf nor blamed his wife for them as cowardly Adam did.
Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons…12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
Adam represents the weak man who blames his own wicked lust on women. If he sins against against a child or a woman in sexual matters it is because they enticed him, he says. Women are responsible for his sin because of the way they dress, he says. Such notions are wicked and evil. You own your sin. Anyone who tells you that you aren’t responsible for what you’ve done because someone else has caused you to do it, unless they had a gun to your head, is a liar and a charlatan and you would do well to avoid them.
Job wasn’t a typical politician, blown about by the perceived winds of the opinions of the masses. He didn’t base his standards on what was a popular belief or opinion, even that of his powerful peers. He judged righteous judgments.
In verse 35 Job wishes that God had written a book. Well, He did. We have it in our hands, given by inspiration of God, who imparted writers, copyists, and translators with wisdom and understanding to write and to preserve what God wanted us to have. (for example see Job 32:8; 2Timothy 3:16; 2Peter 3:15; Jeremiah 36:32; Acts 22:2; Genesis 42:23 and context.)
Do you bear God’s word figuratively on your shoulder as a tool or do you wear it figuratively as a crown? Job says that if he had a Bible he would do that. Do you think you are in less need of God’s word than Job? How do you even know why you believe what you believe? Because some “man o’ God” told you what to believe? Or because you have searched it out in the Scriptures and God has confirmed it in your spiritual heart? What’s it going to be Christian? Do I hear the bleating of sheep or do I hear the chorus of men, women, and children praising God whose Holy Spirit speaks to them through His words in His Bible?
Job finishes with a protestation of his righteousness and a declaration that if he has done wrong or misused his power let catastrophe strike him. But his insistence is that he is a just and righteous man who has done no wrong and does not deserve the fate that God has assigned to him and that God has done him wrong. His friends have insisted that he must be guilty of terrible sins by virtue of what he has suffered. They are all going to find out just how wrong they are. We are about to learn, in this oldest of books written that is in the canon of the Bible, about the sovereignty of God and about His rights over our lives, our families, and our substance, and what is, indeed, just.