16 "And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me. 17 The night racks my bones, and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest. 18 With violence he seizes my garment; he grasps me by the collar of my tunic. 19 He has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes. 20 I cry to you and you do not answer me; I stand, and you merely look at me. 21 You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me. 22 You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm. 23 I know that you will bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living."
A. Note, for the third time in the chapter, the use of "and now." As I mentioned in a previous study, this word also appears in 42:5 to express the strongest contrast that Job could imagine (between hearing and seeing God). What does its threefold use connote in this chapter?
B. When the Psalmist talks about pouring out his soul to God (42:4), it is in the context of temporary sadness but ultimate fulness (see Ps.43). How does that phrase function for Job here?
C. Job returns to the terrors of the night in v.17. Reread 7:3f. Look also at 30:30. What does he associate with the night? What thoughts or feelings do you associate with the night? The image in the first half of v.17 is especially horrific--it is as if God is boring into his bones with some kind of power, almost like what we would imagine a drill would do. Like the image?
D. One dramatic aspect of these verses is the return to the second person address to God (v.20). Why do you think Job does that here? Since God has not shown himself inclined to answer Job, why should he address him directly again?
E. God is the one who rides on the wind (Ps.18:11). What does it mean that God makes Job ride on it? Is Job a sort of divine companion for a while? Or does it just stress the reality that Job does not control his life? To supplement the picture of Job being tossed about in the wind and storm, read Ps.102:10.
24 "Surely one does not turn against the needy, when in disaster they cry for help. 25 Did I not weep for those whose day was hard? Was not my soul grieved for the poor? 26 But when I looked for good, evil came; and when I waited for light, darkness came. 27 My inward parts are in turmoil, and are never still; days of affliction come to meet me. 28 I go about in sunless gloom; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. 29 I am a brother of jackals, and a companion of ostriches. 30 My skin turns black and falls from me, and my bones burn with heat. 31 My lyre is turned to mourning, and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.
A. Job reaches his emotional nadir here. Although there are several thoughts expressed in these verses, there seems to be one major theme running through them. What is it?
B. Job helped those in need. He wept for those who wept, to use a NT phrase. Did God do the same for him? Can you feel Job's deep sense that he has been unjustly treated? How could you imagine resolving his dilemma at this point?
C. V.26 sums up Job's philosophy in a nutshell. Memorize the verse. Do you think of any people you know when you recite the verse?
D. Vv.27-30 speak of various levels of Job's pain and isolation. Enumerate them one by one. Take your time. The image created by the first words of v.27 has been "sanitized" by the translation. It suggests that there is rumbling in the stomach, uncontrollable flatulence, and other evidences of inner instability (vomiting? constant burping?) Would you prefer the NRSV translation to my images?
E. V.28 talks about his isolation in the assembly, where he formerly had his prominence. What does that feel like?
F. V.29 is among the most hopeless verses of all. His companions are now the most ugly and neglected of the animals. He is as bad or worse than the "owl of the wilderness" (cf. Ps.102:6). What is that kind of isolation like?
G. His body falls apart in v.30. Describe the enervating grip of sickness and poor health.
H. What is life like with no music or only mournful music (v.31)? Ask a young person who is a thinking young person to answer that question.