The Voice of Job

O that thou wouldst hide me in the grave, that thou wouldst keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

— Job 14: 13-15

Job cherishes as his one hope the idea that, if he might but lay his case clear before him, God would not fail to see how the thing was, and would explain the matter to him; the man in the ashes would know that God has not closed his eyes, or—horror of all horrors—ceased to be just! Surely the Just would set the mind of his justice-loving creature at rest! His friends, good men, but of the pharisaic type—that is, men who would pay their court to God, instead of coming into his presence as children; men anxious to appease God rather than trust in him; men who would rather receive salvation from God, than God their salvation—these would persuade Job to the confession that he was a hypocrite, insisting that such things could not have come upon him but because of wickedness, for some secret vileness. They grow angry when he refuses to be persuaded. They insist on his hypocrisy, he on his righteousness. And indeed, God has said thus to the accuser of men: “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man?” God gives Job into Satan’s hand with confidence in the result; and at the end of the trial approves of what Job has said concerning himself. But the very appearance of God is enough to make Job turn against himself: his part was to have trusted God altogether, in spite of every appearance, in spite of very reality! He sees that though God has not been punishing him for his sins, yet is he far from what he ought to be, and must become. “Behold,” he says, “I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.”