“Skin for skin,” said that heartless snake
“Though land and kin his God may take,
But Job replies ‘Blessed be God’
Face down upon the tear soaked sod
‘He gave and He may take away’
Touch flesh! Will he respond that way?
No. I have seen this all before
Strike bone with rod and flesh with sore
Then soon this man will curse his Lord.”
So Job blistered from sole to crown
Took broken pot and sad, sat down
Scraping flesh with its’ jagged piece
In ashes, aching for relief-
Pitiful sight to which his wife
Suggests “Integrity subside.
This is your lot; Curse God and die.”
Job shook. “We must not speak as fools
Both rod and staff may be God’s tools”
And as he itched and burned and ached
Grasped for resolve, said “Shall we take
God’s good and yet refuse this plight?”
So well began the coming fight-
Not a war of strength and might
Not loud, but silent day and night
For seven days by silent friends
Whose sympathy would soon find end.
He wore his suffering as a cloak
In such a way that no one spoke
Poor Job was barely recognized
Offering none else than tear filled cries
Choked back, what was he thinking then?
Would God deliver? How and when?
On God his weary soul did wait
‘Till seemed that God had marked his fate,
Filled him with dread,
Left him for dead
No vindication drawing nigh,
No answers to the question ‘Why?’
Thought Job “How did that ancient foe
Know striking flesh would be the woe
To test my faith with last hard blow?”
What shock fell when silence broke
When finally righteous Job had spoke
Answerless with bitter complaint
No longer could he hold restraint,
But cursed his very day of birth
Asked why he could not join in earth
Those buried, hidden from the sun
Whose troubling days had ne’er begun.
‘Twas this same man of whom God said
When His lamp shone upon Job’s head
“There’s none like him in all the land
Who fears God, walks straight, takes a stand
Against sin.” Yes, he was God’s friend.
‘Twas Job who by the long day’s end
Guided the blind, met orphans cries
Men covered their mouths and called him wise
He made the widows heart to sing
Opened his mouth with words like spring
Rain, with a smile for the fainting
But when with cries his soul confides
In friends, he’s met with harsh replies
As if surprised a righteous man
Could ever question God’s good plan.
“Hear how he speaks? ‘Tis no wonder
God has set his life asunder,
Roared at him with peals of thunder-
Job is a plant lacking water
Like all who have forgotten God.
Job’s righteousness has been a fraud
Within was sin, hidden disdain
‘Tis wicked men who writhe in pain.”
“I would seek God if in Job’s place
Repent in dust, bury my face
For God does not pervert the right
Abundant evil caused this plight.”
So went the torrent ’till Job cried
“Miserable comfort you’ve supplied!
Do you not know I could speak as you do
If you had everything taken from you?”
“I was at ease;
Then He broke me,
Glad, then He took.
Him, there I shook.
I waited for
A brighter morn
It has not come
I am undone.”
“If I’ve withheld the poor’s desires
Watched the naked, cold, expire
Struck the fatherless, held back pay
If my step turned haste from the way,
My heart gone after neighbor’s wife
Rejoiced at my enemies strife
By sun and moon my heart enticed
Trusted in gold and self for life-
Then yes, I would deserve this day
Before God guilty, none to say
But as it is, I’ve made my case
Will God not hear me and erase
My shame? Integrity restore?
I cannot bear to endure more.”
It seemed the grave would come before
An answer, but Elihu came
And found Job’s friends with answers lame,
“Not one of you could refute Job
Into his complaints I will probe.”
“Job complains God is not speaking
For a voice he strains in listening
Could it be that Job is missing
The word spoken through his suffering?
Job has said, ‘I am in the right’
‘God has taken away my right!’
‘To joy in God there is no gain’
‘Though right, God treats me with disdain.’
Job, would you charge God with wrong?
Condemn the righteous and the strong
King, by whose own Spirit you breathe?
And yet you asked this King to leave.
Does Job not know that he is flesh?
Does God gain from man’s righteousness?
Should clay cry ‘Make me not this way?’
But sadly there are none who say
“Lord teach me what I do not see
Unveil my dark iniquity.”
Do not long that you would vanish
Humble men God will not punish
Prefer affliction to your sin
Perhaps He will restore again.”
See what a picture Job has made?
Blameless man, all frailty displayed
Laid waste, bare and empty handed
Asking, “Has God too abandoned?”
Suffering not for sins committed
Friends turned foes have not acquitted
Him of guilt deserving torture
His eyes seek for an arbiter.
Suffering not for sin but instead
Sinning as Elihu had said.
Yes, when pressed, godly men at best
Are still men, fickle, needing rest,
Balking when faced with abasement,
For deliverance impatient.
Both searing pain and senseless loss
Bring faith through fire, clearing dross
Revealing pride and doubt and fear;
Righteous men fall- but God draws near.
See Him answer from the whirlwind?
See Job’s hand on his mouth chastened?
God put His power on display
‘Till Job had little left to say.
“God owes no word to any man
Nor answers, and none thwart His plans.
Of you my ears had only heard
I thought this portion ill-deserved
But now I see you and repent
My hand once more takes what you’ve sent.”
See God’s hand exalt the lowly
Call Job right, a servant holy
Rebuke Job’s friends for their error
Restore twice more than was before.
Was Job a champion of faith?
Only, entirely, of grace.
What was the purpose of the Lord?
‘Tis care and mercy shown toward
Faltering, feeble, struggling saints
Rescued- in spite of our complaints.
Take heart, the hero of this story-
God- who works all things for glory.
Charlene M. Nelson