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Continuing on from Job 35 to the end of Job…
Elihu has just entered the picture. Again, where did he come from? He is not mentioned anywhere in the set-up of this story, but suddenly appears in chapter 32. His name means, “He is my God”. When introducing him it says that, “He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God.” However, it also says that he, “He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong.” (Job 32:2b-3)
Elihu had waited patiently, because he was younger than these men, but when he saw that Job’s friends had no answer for Job’s challenge to them, he decided it was now his time to speak. He first rebukes Job for challenging God. He defends God’s justice and reminds us that all things hold together through God saying, “If he should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” (Job 34:14-15 ESV)
Through chapters 35, 36 and 37 Elihu condemns Job and exalts God. Finally in Job 38… God speaks!!
Job has longed to hear from God and now he will. Will he be proud of himself as a result?
Have you ever wanted to demand an answer from God?
If we were granted our desire to hear from Him directly, would it go well for us?
Let’s see how it goes for Job…
God begins with…
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:2-7)
God continues to set Job straight. Through two chapters God continues to remind Job that HE is God and that Job is but a man. Listen to the wisdom and humility of Job’s answer…
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.” (Job 40:4)
With Job’s silence, God continues to make His case through chapter 41. Finally Job gives an answer to God, concluding with, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore, I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6) This is the type of subjection we see in anyone in the Bible who encounters God. Isaiah trembled before Him in Isaiah 6 when we read of his encounter with the living God, and Job is no different.
God then turns His rebuke to Job’s friends while also commending Job in the process. Listen to his rebuke of Eliphaz the Temanite (probably the oldest of the 3), “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, AS MY SERVANT JOB HAS.” (Job 42:7)
So, God praises Job. He has not spoken ill of God, but God’s rebuke of Him has to do with the fact that he would even question God in the first place. In all that Job has spoken he has not spoken ill of God, but only what is right! Job maintained his integrity.
But God knew that Job would speak what is right; that he would maintain his integrity. Remember God’s description of Job in chapter 1? He said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Job is blameless, not perfect! Job practices the sacrifices of a righteous man. He also sacrificed for his children in case they had spoken ill of God. Job recognized that he was a man who would fail from time to time, sin from time to time, and that repentance and humility were required. He did not fail to confess, repent, and sacrifice to the Lord, counting on Him to restore and confirm their relationship.
The conclusion of this story shows us that God not only restores all of Job’s fortunes, but He doubles them from what they were before. He gives him more children and a long life and legacy. It says that after this Job lived for 140 years and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. This length of age seems to suggest that Job lived during the times of the patriarchs, during the days prior to Moses. In fact, some believe that the book of Job may actually be the earliest book written in the Old Testament.
This week’s reading also takes us up through Psalm 25, but before jumping right into different selections from the book of Psalms we should talk about the structure and purpose of the book itself. Psalms, while being the longest book in the Bible, is actually broken up into 5 separate books.
BOOK 1: Psalms 1-41
BOOK 2: Psalms 42-72
BOOK 3: Psalms 73-89
BOOK 4: Psalms 90-106
BOOK 5: Psalms 107-150
The word ‘psalm’ is a Greek word, which means ‘song’. The book of Psalms was the Hymnal for the ancient Hebrews. Some believe the whole book of Psalms to have taken over 800 years to compose! This is partially based upon the superscripts and postscripts contained in many of the psalms indicating authorship to David (73 psalms), Asaph (12), the Korahites (11), Solomon (2), Moses (1), Ethan (1) and Heman (1). Not all the Psalms have superscripts, but as you can see many do.
If these superscripts are accurate in indicating authorship then at least one was written very early, Psalm 90, which is attributed to Moses. However there is debate about these superscripts and postscript as to when they were added to each psalm or if they were in fact original to the text itself. Even when I was in seminary there was polite disagreement with regards to the superscripts within the Old Testament department.
The separate books are also a little confusing. I’ve listed several superscripts, above, but there was only one postscript. It is at the end of Psalm 72, a psalm attributed to Solomon in the superscript. The postscript reads, “The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.” (Psalm 72:20) This is the last psalm in BOOK 2 of the book of Psalms. Some believe this shows an early development of the psalms where these were the concluding volumes at that time. Others point to the fact that David is attributed credit in the superscript of later psalms that this can’t be the case. You see why there is some debate about these superscripts?
So why the division into 5 books?
The ‘why’ might be difficult to explain, but the ‘way’ to recognize the division is quite easy to see (and not just because we write the subtitle “BOOK …” above each division). There are 4 concluding doxologies in the whole book of Psalms that stand out to theologians.
Doxologies, by the way, are specific praise compositions. The most famous perhaps being, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow… Praise Him all creatures here below… Praise Him above ye Heavenly hosts… Praise Father, Son & Holy Ghost!” Not all doxologies are songs. Paul concluded many of his letters or portions of his letters with doxologies as well. They are simply focused praise compositions.
These somewhat similarly structured and worded doxologies appear at the conclusion of Psalms 41, 72, 89, and 106 and have long been thought to mark the divisions of each of these five BOOKS in the whole book of Psalms. (The book of Psalms is sometimes referred to as The Psalter in case you ever run into that term.)
You may have noticed that there is no indicated closing doxology at the end of BOOK 5. The solution to this seeming omission is the generally accepted observation that the final five books (Psalms 146-150) stand at the conclusion of the whole Psalter collection and admirably fulfill the role of concluding praise to Yahweh.
[I am indebted to Gerald H. Wilson for much of the material in this post, taken from his Commentary on the Psalms, Volume 1 (Introduction) in the NIV Application Commentary series by Zondervan. © 2002]
So here we are…
Three full pages into this blog entry and we haven’t really spoken about any of the psalms themselves. Moving forward we’re going to find it difficult to walk through each of the psalms, unless we want this blog to become a 1,000 page commentary! So I’m going to point out a few verses that have stood out to me and try to focus on at least one specific psalm in each section. Let us know in the comment section below what observations you made that were not mentioned in this blog!
In this section of the Psalms (1-25) there are two psalms in particular that significantly point to Jesus; Psalm 2 and Psalm 22. We’ll focus on Psalm 22 in this blog entry today, but I wanted to point out a few verses from others before we get there…
Ps 4:4 Be angry, and do not sin; …
Anger is not a sin, however, it is easier to sin while angry, so guard your heart especially when agitated or angry.
Ps 5:3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Some take this (and other passages) as an indication that beginning our day with the Lord is a good a time-honored practice. What’s your daily habit?
Ps 10:4 In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek Him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
Ps 14:1,3 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good…They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
While we may run to these kinds of passages when we encounter atheists today, we are reminded by Paul in Romans that none is righteous, no, not one. He’s quoting from here and reminding us that this was our condition before entering a relationship with Jesus as well.
All right, too much to quote, too much to quote… on to Psalm 22!
I remember when I first read Psalm 22 how shocked I was by its contents. Many of the verses of this psalm are a literal play-by-play of Jesus’ crucifixion, beginning with the very first verse!
Ps 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Jesus cries out from the cross this very verse when His Father turned His back on the Son in order to pour out His wrath on Him for all that I have ever done wrong! This is the only time in history, eternity past or eternity future, that Jesus’ relationship with His Father was broken. Notice He doesn’t call Him, “Father,” but instead says, “My God, my God!”
Ps 22:8 He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!
The Pharisees and leaders of Israel quoted this to Jesus from the foot of the cross while they were mocking Him! Didn’t they realize Who He was?!?
Ps 22:14 …all my bones are out of joint.
Ps 22:16 …a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet.
Ps 22:18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
These are descriptions not only of Jesus at the crucifixion, but of the guards who divided His garments among them! See Matthew 27:35 and Mark 15:24. Almost literally a play-by-play of what actually happened!
By the way, when Psalm 22 as written, crucifixion had not even been invented yet! Crucifixion was an invention of torture and death concocted by the Roman Empire, which didn’t begin until the 1st Century BC. It was so heinous they wouldn’t even subject their own citizens to it, only foreigners. Yet here we have in verse 16 a perfect description of crucifixion, “they have pierced my hands and feet.”
Wow! We’ve gone long… again, but there is so much to point out. I’ll have to stop here this week, but let us know what you have seen in your reading from Job 35 through Psalm 25.