"So, I am contending, Job, that it was what Elihu said to you during his meandering speeches in 32-37 that planted the seed for you to learn to "hear" life differently. Maybe even more than "planting the seed." He suggested that God opens ears through affliction, and that through affliction you may be led to freedom. I am sure that you mulled over that one, Job, for quite a while. It makes me wonder that when God was barraging you with his tour of the natural world in 38 and 39, and then made you answer him early in ch.40, maybe you responded in a stunned and noncommittal way in 40:3 because you were less awed by God than struck by Elihu's words. The text never says which it is, though it tends to give the impression that it was God's words that did it. But, I know you too well by now, Job, and I know the way your wily editor put the book together (editors, by the way, are not wily today. They are most pretty pedestrian people whom writers ritually praise in the introductions to their books, whether or not writers truly appreciate them), and so it makes me wonder whether you were mulling over Elihu's words when God was speaking. It wouldn't be the first time that you had GDD (God-deficit-disorder). Later I'll have to comment further what you meant when you apparently ate humble pie in Job 42.
Now I am finally ready to return to 42:7 and finish the sentence that God is speaking. He says, lest you forgot because of my long digression, "My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." I want to go right to the end of that verse, Job, because I want to understand what those words mean. I think that they are absolutely revolutionary, and I will tell you why I think so. Then, I will ask you what you think of my interpretation.
God expresses anger at your friends, Job, because they didn't speak right of God, but you did. Pause. I have thought for a long time that the words after the "buts" in sentences are often the most important words to understand its meaning. 'I love you....(but).' 'Everything you did was fine...(except).' 'There is good news....(although).' See my point, Job? So, I tend to look at this sentence in the same way. The real point of the sentence then is not the fact that the friends were wrong but that you were right. That is where the "gravamen" of meaning is, to use a legal term that most lawyers don't know.
You were right. Hold on a second now. When were you right? That is, what is the scope of time that God envisages when God says "as my servant Job was (right)"? The easy answer, which is almost certainly wrong, is that you, Job, were right to confess and submit to God in the verse immediately preceding. That seems to be its natural reference. It is good to submit to God. Nice biblical principle. Almost certainly wrong, don't you think, Job? Why? Because the meaning of the friends' "wrongness" in the first part of 42:7 has to take us back to the early part of the Book of Job. They stopped speaking 17 chapters previously. If they were wrong, it must be in what they said, from chs. 4-25. Thus, if what they said was wrong, then what you said was right in the same sections. It would mean that there was symmetrical construction in the sentence, always a nice thing. The burden would be on those who would maintain that your "rightness," Job, only relates to the immediately spoken words. They would have to do some pretty fancy textual explanation to support that notion, don't you think, Job?
So, when God said those two words (in Hebrew)..."kaabdi Iyob," God meant your words going back to the beginning. Isn't that how you "heard" God, Job? Well, what could that possibly mean if God was saying that you spoke rightly of God from the beginning, Job? Oh my, just think of what that means. That means, ultimately, that God is saying that YOU, JOB, ARE RIGHT. In what are you right? Well, let's run through some of the things you said.
That means you were right when you said that the arrows of God had gone into you. They were indeed the arrows of God. You were right that it was God who was tormenting you with nightmares. You were right to be afraid of God, to think that God would irrationally either attack you or not listen to you if you joined in a legal suit against God. You were right when you said, "he has torn me in his wrath and hated me (16:9)," that God had broken you in two, that he had picked you up like a piece of garbage and threw you away. You were right when you rested on your integrity and put God in the wrong. You were right when you said that anger is the dominant emotion controlling God and has been so since before the beginning of the world. You were right when you said that God blindfolds the judges because God doesn't care one whit about justice. You were right when you said you needed a witness in heaven or a redeemer of your life because God simply would not be the one to save you. And, then, also, you were right to confess in Job 42.
The overwhelming message I get Job, and I really do mean overwhelming in its implications, is that 42:7 is God's apology to you. God is admitting that you were right, Job. Wow. That makes God rise in my estimation of Him! Now why would I say such a thing as that? Many people would see what I have just said as a heretical or snide or absolutely crazy thing to say. But I am utterly committed to it. I'll say it again. In Job 42:7, God is not only saying that you are right, Job, but is offering an apology. I think I need another talk to explain what I mean.