The Book of Job: Speak Rightly Of God

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At the end of the Book Of Job, God tells the acquaintances of Job, who have denigrated, accused, and chastised Job, to prepare sacrifices; but He also tells them not to pray in offering the sacrifices, because He will not listen to their prayers. However, He tells these men He will listen to the prayers of Job for them:

“And after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My anger blazes against you and your two friends! You have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job. So now take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves, and let my servant Job pray for you. To him I will show favor, and not punish your folly, for you have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job.’’ (Job 42:7,8)

God will listen to Job because Job has “spoken rightly” about God.

Job-A Wisdom Book

The Book Of Job is one of the so-called “wisdom” books of the Bible. Along with several other books (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song Of Songs, Wisdom, and Sirach), the Book of Job is meant to be an instructional book which addresses the being of God and human suffering. Human suffering is seen by some to be a blessing or gift from God. The ultimate example of this is the suffering and death of God’s own Son; but others see suffering as evil and, accepting that God made all things, they see this as a problem for the very existence of a good God, the “problem of evil.”

Job addresses this problem. This book, in the original, is a poem with several main characters, including the good man, Job, upon whom God permits the devil to visit all sorts of afflictions, pains, and suffering. Through it all, Job speaks “rightly” of God and his friends do not. How does Job speak “rightly” and what did Job’s friends speak wrongly, saying what made God’s anger “blaze” against them?

Job Speaks Rightly About God

Studying the many things Job said about God can reveal how he spoke “rightly” of God. At the book’s beginning, after the devil has begun to attack him, Job, in speaking about God, utters some of the most famous lines from the Old Testament.

“Naked came I forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back again,
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord”. (Job 1:21)

In speaking of God in these words, Job speaks truthfully, insightfully, humbly, with simplicity, and in praise of God. Job’s humility includes his recognition that he, Job, is a creature, he is not God, and that God, who created him, is God, a God whose actions regarding Job are the actions of a God who cares for him. The author of the book sums up how Job speaks “rightly” of God:

”In all this, Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.” (Id.)

Other translations say that Job did not accuse God or charge God with any “wrongdoing.”

Job’s wife advises Job to speak about God in a different way. She tells him to “Curse God and die.” (Job 1:9) Job responds:

“We accept good things from God: and should we not accept evil?” (Id.)
The author goes on to say: “Through all this Job said nothing sinful.” (Id.)

Job Speaks Truth

Through all his sufferings, Job says that he will not lie or speak falsely about God:

“So long as I still have life in me and the breath of God is in my nostrils, my lips shall not speak falsehood, nor my tongue utter deceit! “ (27:3,4)

Job says many truthful things about God; for example:

“In His hand is the soul of every living thing, and the life breath of all mankind.” (12:10)

“But He has decided, and who can say Him nay? What He desires, that He does.” (23:13)

Job Speaks With Hope

“But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives,
and that in the end He will stand on the earth.
Whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold Him,
And from my flesh I will see God; my inmost being is consumed with longing.”(19:25,26)

Instead of “vindicator,” some translations use “savior.”
Job understands that God is beyond human understanding, yet he still believes and still proclaims the truth about God:

“He does great things past finding out, marvelous things beyond reckoning.” (9:10)

End Of Book Of Job

Near the end of the book, God speaks to Job:

“Will we have faultfinding with the Almighty by the critic? Let him who would correct God answer!” (40:2)

Job responds, but he does not correct God:

“Then Job replied to the Lord:
‘I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be hindered.
Surely I spoke of great things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know.
I had heard of you by word of mouth,
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I disown what I have said
and repent in dust and ashes. ‘ ” (Job 42)

How We Can Speak Rightly Of God

Job speaks “rightly” by speaking: respectfully; truthfully; humbly; with praise; without accusation; without sin; without cursing; and with hope. In the end, Job humbly speaks the truth because, as he says, “now my eyes have seen you.”

We can, of course, “speak rightly” of God when we praise him, as in, for example, the words of the Gloria, the Creeds, and in numerous prayers and hymns. We, however, cannot say, as did Job, that “now my eyes have seen You.” Nor do we see Jesus in the flesh as the Apostles did. So how, not having experienced Him with our senses, how can we speak of Him? How can we speak rightly of Him not having seen Him?

St. Paul tells us in the book of Romans that we can see God, in His creation:

“For what can be known about God is plain to men, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. “(Rom 1:19, 20)

Seeing God in His creation, we can then speak rightly of God by speaking rightly of what He has made – speaking rightly of the physical universe and of the persons we encounter every day.

Physical Creation

To speak rightly about created things is to speak of them as created by God, as gifts to us that show His goodness and generosity to us. Another way we speak rightly about created things is when we thank God for them.
If we curse any part of God’s physical creation, we speak wrongly about God. To curse anything is to deny the good of what has been created. Only God would be entitled to say “Damn it!” However, we know He will not do this regarding His physical creation because He has told us that all He made is good (Gen 1:31).

Other Persons

Regarding other persons, whenever we would curse, damn, or condemn another person, we would be damning the highest and best of God’s earthly creatures, a human being with an eternal soul made in His image. In saying to someone something like “Damn you to hell,” we are speaking wrongly about him or her.
In saying something rightly about another person we would be speaking rightly about God; for example, “May God bless you and keep you,” “Jesus loves you,” “You are made in God’s image,” or “You are precious to God.”

Small Gift From God

“Lagniappe” is a French word that means “a little something extra.” It is often some small unexpected gift, such as when you buy a dozen doughnuts and the baker throws in an extra one for free. As we know from Job, God’s lagniappe for us, when we speak rightly of Him, is that He will hear our prayers.

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3 thoughts on “The Book of Job: Speak Rightly Of God”

  1. Pingback: SUNDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit

  2. Pingback: SUNDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit

  3. Hey, great piece! I admire your bravery and insights – I’d be afraid to tackle Job. In some sense, the theology is simple; and yet, it seems to sail over my head. Still, Job seems to be one of the more relatable characters for me – at least in the sense that I know I need to surrender my suffering to the One who holds the universe in the palm of His hand. Thank you so much for your writing!

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