There are a lot of things I would love to ask you about, Job. I don't expect much more clarification from you because, as the text actually says, "The words of Job are ended (31:40)." That means you have finished talking, right? But, then again, you speak a few words in ch.40 when God is leaning on you pretty hard to answer a few questions. And, you also speak again in ch.42 when you are seemingly undone by God's words. I really want to get to those words in ch. 42 soon, because they are so captivating. But for now I am interested in something else. Since you kept on talking (though only a few words) even after the text says that "the words of Job are ended," maybe you will talk to me here.
The thing I really want to understand is your sense of rejection and how you felt about life during your "complaint process." And, I confess, I want to know how your sense of being rejected relates to the lawsuit you filed. You may know, Job, that I was a litigation lawyer for a while, and I am fascinated by the way you use law to try to get a leg up against God throughout your book (more about this later). It reminds me of clients who looked to law as the means to restore not only some of their lost money but their own self-respect. I always wondered if law could do the latter for people
The major question I have centers on your use of the Hebrew word "maas," which we English speakers usually translate as "despise" or "reject." Actually, despise and reject aren't that far apart in their linguistic field, I suppose, but you use that term a few times, beginning in 7:16, to describe your life. I will ask you the question flat out, 'What do you mean by saying, "I despise" in 7:16?' Oh, it will take me a minute to specify closely what I mean, so here goes.
I know you suffered badly, really badly. I have had comparatively few losses in life, and I sometimes feel put upon by God and the world, but you really have reason to grouse. No argument there. You talk about the pain you feel as the "arrows of God" that have gone into you (6:4). But then you say, "my spirit drinks their poison," and that is a nice twist, so to speak, because you are intensifying the image in the second part. Arrows are bad enough, but when we realize they are poisoned arrows, well, I just can't imagine anything worse. So, you describe your pain in "tearing" terms here. Pain isn't being caught in a net or feeling flooded by waters. It is being ripped by poisonous arrows. And, they are arrows of God. That is quite a thought, as if God is using you as target practice, or as part of a belomantic ritual (Ok, I confess, I love words too, Job. That is why I am so taken with yours).
So, here you are with your innards ripped apart, so to speak, by the divine arrows. And you are not speaking TO God at this point, because you say "the arrows of God," rather than "Your arrows, O God." Well, God certainly gets the point but you are not yet addressing God directly. Why not? I will get to rejection (but that will have to wait until our next talk, I guess), but I want to ask you why you didn't just go after God in 2nd person familiar terms in ch.6? Oh, I know this was only your second speech in poetic form, with ch.3 being more of a cry of desolation than an address to anyone, but if you suspected that God was ruining your life, why not go right to God right away? You are not a shy guy, Job. You are not seemingly afraid of anything on earth or in the heavens, so why wait? Your language is so full and compact, and you seem to favor economy of action, so why wait to address God in the 2nd person until ch.7?
Well, I have made my point, even if you don't want to answer me on that one. Imitating God in your silence, eh Job? Well, that was unfair of me. Sorry. Let's continue. So, you finally decide to address God in the second person in 7:11. You know, in our culture, we have "7-11" stores. They are called "convenience" stores, and you can go in any time of the day or night to buy things that you usually never want any other time. I guess they called them "7-11" because long ago they were opened from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. when that truly was a remarkably long time for a store to be open in America. You see, Job, we used to have things called blue laws and other things that prohibited stores from being open on Sundays. No one expected them to be open very late on weekdays either. But then, 7-11 came along and wow, you could go get a bad hotdog at 9:00 p.m. It was such a liberating thing for Americans. Now 7-11s are open 24 hours a day, but they are still called 7-11s. They still sell those hotdogs at 3 a.m., but now most people buy lottery tickets there. People want to win the big one in America, Job. They never do, but they keep trying.
Oops, sorry for the digression. Here we are in the middle of your distress and anguish with all kinds of serious issues to probe, and I go off on 7-11 convenience stores. Let's get back to you. I sometimes have trouble with focus or concentration. I really appreciate your willingness to bear with me Job. Ok, let's get back to Job 7:11, your story. But we are out of time for this part of the story. The next one will ask you more.