In this thread within a thread I have been talking about the book of Job and its two authors and their two different views of suffering.  In the narrative that begins and ends the book (chs. 1-2, 42), by one of the authors, suffering is a test from God to see whether Job will remain faithful even if he suffers dearly.  Does he really worship God because God deserves it, or because of what he can get from it?

In the poetic section (chs. 3-41) Job’s friends insist that Job suffers not as a test or for any reason but one: Job has sinned and God is punishing him.  This we saw in my last post.  Here, in this one, I will lay out Job’s response.  Again, this discussion is taken from my book God’s Problem.


For Job, the charges his friends level against him (that he is unrighteous) is itself unjust.  He has done nothing to deserve his fate and to maintain his personal integrity, he has to insist on his own innocence.  To do otherwise would be to lie to himself, the world, and to God.  He cannot repent of sins he has never committed and pretend that his suffering is deserved, when in fact he has done nothing wrong.  As he repeatedly tells his friends, he knows full well what sin looks like — or rather, tastes like — and he would know if he had done anything to stray from the paths of godliness:

Teach me and I will be silent;

make me understand how I have gone wrong.

How forceful are honest words!

But your reproof, what does it reprove?

But now be pleased to look at me;

for I will not lie to your face.

Is there any wrong on my tongue?

Cannot my taste discern calamity? (6:24-25, 28, 30)

In graphic and powerful images Job…

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