1 ¶ But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock. 2 Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished? 3 For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste. 4 Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat. 5 They were driven forth from among men, (they cried after them as after a thief;) 6 To dwell in the clifts of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks. 7 Among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were gathered together. 8 They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth. 9 And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword. 10 They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face. 11 Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me. 12 Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction. 13 They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they have no helper. 14 They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters: in the desolation they rolled themselves upon me.
Here is Job’s counter to Eliphaz’s remark;
Job 15:10 With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.
Comparing these two verses we get the implication that there were other witnesses to what was happening to Job than just the ones involved in speaking. This would make sense based on Job’s importance to his community. Perhaps what Eliphaz was referring to were the elders over whom Job ruled and who were in awe of his wisdom but were in agreement with Job’s friends, as a community, that in order for this to have happened to Job he must have been guilty of something terrible.
Have you noticed how people tend to turn on a celebrity figure based on multiple accusations without court evidence or the chance of the accused’s attorney to question them. We may read or hear of many similar accusations and assume that they are true because they are many but consider this, that people who may, “come out of the woodwork,” may be part of a conspiracy to bring a powerful person down. Even minor, seemingly petty, accusations, when added to some heinous sins, make the whole situation seem worse. Of course, the person may be very guilty, but consider Job’s friends and the crowd of, “grayheaded and very aged men,” who are accusing Job of what they do not even know.
Job insults his friends, who are younger than him, by saying that his father would not have put them with the dogs that watched over his sheep. Shepherding is said to have been a lowly occupation and not held in very high esteem which is one reason why the angels appearing to the shepherds at Christ’s birth is a remarkable statement in Luke 2. That was a pretty blatant insult Job laid out, wouldn’t you say?
He continues the derogatory comments berating his friends as being the scum of the earth and yet they have the nerve to insult him, to spit in his face in a manner of speaking. They take advantage of his affliction and assault him in a despicable manner. Job is isolated emotionally now, feeling himself treated as an enemy of God, and alienated from his friends and peers. He looks around him and sees no one on his side. He is truly alone, in his own mind at least.
15 ¶ Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind: and my welfare passeth away as a cloud. 16 And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me. 17 My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest. 18 By the great force of my disease is my garment changed: it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat. 19 He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes. 20 I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me not. 21 Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me. 22 Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon it, and dissolvest my substance. 23 For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living. 24 Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction. 25 Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor? 26 When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness. 27 My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me. 28 I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation. 29 I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. 30 My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat. 31 My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep.
Job states that Terrors are after him, pursuing his soul, and his welfare is blown away like a cloud.
Leviticus 26:16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
Welfare as well-being rather than suffering is shown in the following verse.
Jeremiah 38:4 Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.
His health is destroyed, God has thrown him in the mud and slime, and Job says that he has become like, another simile, “dust and ashes.” Job cries to God and God doesn’t hear him and, in fact, is ignoring him.
Job insists that he has shown compassion for the person in trouble and for the poor, with one implication being that Job considers himself, at this point, with more of a heart for the suffering than his Creator. Mankind often looks at the course of history and, condemning God, thinks of himself as more humane, kind, and compassionate than his Creator. Humankind says, “I would not have let 20 million die of the Spanish flu during World War One,” or, “I would not let countless children in the third world starve to death.” It’s not only atheists and liberals who think this way. Every time you say, “God, how could you let this happen to me?” you are accusing God of sleeping on the job or not doing the duty you have assigned to Him.
Again, the issue is the sovereignty of God and His rights over all creation. Does the God of the Bible have the absolute right to dispose of your life, or your child’s life, or your spouse’s life, or your parent’s life as He sees fit and is all that is good based on His standard? Or, must the god you have created in your own mind, whom your preachers, ministers, and philosophers have invented bend to your will and do you set the standard for Him?
This is the essence of the struggle between the humanism of liberal Christianity that does not regard the written word of God as of primary or any importance or of the fundamentalist who regards God as a card-carrying Republican whose values are that of a 1950’s television sit-com or a Victorian era etiquette manual, versus a Bible-believer who wishes to submit to God’s will and accepts the standards and commands for his life set down in the Bible as his final authority in all matters of faith, practice, AND doctrine.
The answer is, and get this straight fundamentalists and liberals, there is a God and you aren’t Him, and neither is your government, your clergy, or your doctor, or your political party.
In verse 26 Job said he expected good and disaster came. Is not God also the author of disaster? Did not Job admit that early on?
Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Job used a similar comparison for verse 29 back in 17:14.
Job 17:14 I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.
There are comparisons in prophetic interpretation between fowls of the air and Satan and the devils and there are many connections to be made but that is a different study. See Psalm 102:6; Isaiah 13:21, 22, and compare with the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4. However, I’m not writing this to tickle your fancy for clever twists of prophecy or speaking this to tickle your ears. I’m trying to help you understand why God had the Book of Job placed in the Bible.
When Job talks about his skin turning black he is referring to the change that occurs in a famine caused by a siege, where the helpless citizen of a city starves to death.
Lamentations 5:10 Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
Job’s metaphor of musical instruments has them compared to what his life has become, turning from playing a joyful noise to a funeral dirge.
Psalm 98:6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
This is also interesting because of the early Baptist (the 1600’s or 17th century and throughout the next) conflict over singing and the use of musical instruments in worship. Baptists were initially opposed to them but eventually pastors convinced their congregations and other pastors that there was a Biblical warrant for men singing, then musical instrument accompaniment.(33) Influential Baptist pastors like Dan Taylor wrote books defending the use of music in praising God and, since women often sang beautifully and were part of the congregation, the participation of women in the worship service was a collateral consequence. I refer you to Dan Taylor’s A Dissertation on Singing in the Worship of God published in 1786 and the sequel which followed the next year.
(33) Macbeth, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness, Kindle edition, ch. 2.