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

Seeing God, Job forgets all he wanted to say. The close of the poem is grandly abrupt. To justify himself in the presence of Him who is Righteousness seems to him what it is—foolishness and worthless labor. If he is righteous, God knows it better than he does himself. All the evils and imperfections of his nature rise up before him in the presence of the one pure, the one who has no selfishness in him. “Behold,” he cries, “I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.” Then again, after God has called to witness for him behemoth and leviathan, he replies, “I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge?” This question was the word with which first God made his presence known to him; and in the mouth of Job now repeating the question, it is the humble confession, “I am that foolish man.”  “Therefore,” he goes on, “have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” He had not knowledge enough to have a right to speak. “Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak:” In the time to come, he will yet cry—to be taught, not to justify himself. “I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.” The more diligently yet will he seek to know the counsel of God. That he cannot understand will no longer distress him; it will only urge him to fresh endeavor after the knowledge of him who in all his doings is perfect.

Commentary

by Dale Darling

Self justification is foolishness. Conjuring stories that put self at the helm, on the mountaintop, is worthless labor. That such energy should be expressed in love for others, in seeking righteousness, godliness...and isn't, brings me to, "I am vile! I am that foolish man!" 

As I continue to cry, "Teach me thy way, O Lord," there is no self-justification, for all sin, every one. He is faithful and just! The more diligently will I seek to know the counsel of God. Lack of understanding will urge me, not to intellectually superior understanding, but to fresh endeavor after knowing Him and the power of His resurrection. The lesson, the truth, God taught Job of Himself: all His doings are perfect. 

Great is thy faithfulness.