Job 16

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 15, 2003


As we’ve been journeying on Wednesday nights through the book of Job, we’ve been working through a series of studies about trials.  Yet we haven’t actually spent too much time in the book Job itself.  My intent this morning is to give Job himself a chance to speak to you this morning.  As Job was trying to deal with the loss of his children, his wealth, and his health, all his friends could do was suggest that perhaps Job must have some secret sin that caused all these problems.  And so the arguments continue.

:1-5 Miserable comforters

:2 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.

Job has taken a lot of grief from these friends who supposedly came to comfort him.  Instead, they’ve done nothing but verbally beat him up.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?



A newspaper in San Diego printed the story of a woman who had a little canary whom she affectionately named Chirpy. The little bird brought all kinds of song and beauty into their home.

One day while vacuuming, she thought, “My, the bottom of Chirpy’s cage is dirty. I’ll just vacuum the bottom of his cage:’ While she was vacuuming, the phone rang. So when she reached over for the phone, she lifted up the vacuum cleaner and it sucked in Chirpy, all the way down the tube, down to the little bag. Of course, she opened the vacuum cleaner and cut the bag open and there was Chirpy inside trying to survive. She breathed a sigh of relief. But she thought, “Oh, he’s so dirty.” So she put him under a faucet and ran water all over him. And then when she finished with him under the faucet, where he was about to drown, she dried him with a blow dryer. A newspaper reporter asked, “Well, what’s he like now?” She replied, “Well, he doesn’t sing very much anymore:”

-Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm

I think Job wasn’t feeling like doing much singing.

:5 But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.

strengthenamats – to be strong, alert, courageous, brave, bold, solid, hard

asswagechasak – to withhold, hold back, keep in check; comforting words can dull the edge of grief, keeping it under control[1]


Actually helping others

Job tells his friends what he would do if he were in their shoes.
Exhortation – our words should bring hope to others. They should stir up courage and strength in those we speak to.
Comfort – our words should act as a dam for the flood of grief the other person is feeling.
Sometimes the way we treat others is based on a misconception.
Job’s friends treated him harshly because they had this idea that he must be hiding some sort of secret sin that has caused all of his troubles.
Sharing Cookies
A woman was in between flights at an airport. She had about an hour and a half wait and decided that she would spend the time looking over the newspaper. She had a little twinge of hunger, so she dropped by the lounge and picked up a small package of cookies and sat down at a table to look over her paper.
While she was reading, she began to detect a small rustling sound, almost like cellophane being crinkled and torn. She looked over the top of the newsprint and, to her amazement, a well-dressed man, sitting at the same table, a total stranger to her, was opening her cookies and helping himself.
Flabbergasted, she didn’t want to make a scene, and so she just kept the paper up in front of her face and reached around and deliberately took the package of cookies and slid them toward her and took out one and began to eat it.
About a minute passed and, to her amazement, she heard more crinkling of the cellophane. She looked around the paper and the man, not looking at her, was simply eating another of her cookies.
Before she could reach over (by now they were at the bottom of the stack), he looked at the last cookie and broke it in two and with a frown slid it across to her side. He finished his half cookie, picked up his briefcase, and made his way down the terminal.
She was fuming as she munched on her last half of cookie. Then she heard the call for her flight and began to make her way to the gate where she would get on the plane. She needed her ticket, and so she opened her purse and, to her shock, she saw her package of unopened cookies still in her purse.
Somewhere in that same airport was a man still shaking his head, wonder­ing how this strange lady had the nerve to eat part of his cookies!

- James Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited

How do you want people to treat you?  Jesus said,
(Mat 7:12 KJV) Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
We ought to think about treating others the way we would want to be treated.

:6-17 Surrounded by wicked people

Job complains that it seems like God is attacking him and surrounding Job with wicked, hurtful people – these friends.

(Job 16:6-17 KJV)  Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased? {7} But now he (God) hath made me weary: thou (God) hast made desolate all my company. {8} And thou (God) hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face. (I’m skin and bones, and that makes everyone think God is against me) {9} He (God) teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me. {10} They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me. {11} God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. {12} I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark. (a target on my back) {13} His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground. {14} He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant. {15} I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust. {16} My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; {17} Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure.

How would you feel if you were Job’s friends, listening to Job talk this way about God?  Would you get angry at Job?  Would you want to defend God?  Job’s friends got into trouble with Job and with God because they got angry.

One verse in particular stands out in this section:

(Job 16:10 KJV)  They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me.

There are some other Old Testament prophetic passages that use very similar language to look forward to Jesus Christ:

(Psa 22:13 KJV)  They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

(Isa 50:6 KJV)  I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.


Jesus really understands

Job has no sense of this, living around 2000 BC.
Yet Jesus would experience the very same thing as He hung on a cross.
Job really was not being “beaten up” by God.  He was being beaten up by Satan.
Yet Jesus would experience God turning His back on Jesus.

(Mat 27:46 KJV)  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

I believe that Jesus was crying this out because the Father had to turn His back on the Son as our sins were being heaped upon Jesus.
But I also believe Jesus was sending a message.  He words came from the first line of Psalm 22, that prophetic Psalm of David that described the agony of the cross 1000 years before it happened.

(Psa 22:1 KJV)  My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

I believe Jesus was telling us to check out the Scriptures and find that everything that was happening was foretold.

When you struggle through your dark times and you wonder if anyone could ever really understand what you’re going through, I have to tell you that Jesus understands.
(Heb 2:16-18 NLT)  We all know that Jesus came to help the descendants of Abraham, not to help the angels. {17} Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. {18} Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is able to help us when we are being tempted.

:18-22 Struggling to trust God

:18 O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.

(Job 16:18 NLT)  "O earth, do not conceal my blood. Let it cry out on my behalf.

Job is comparing himself to a person who has been wrongfully executed.  The Bible hints that the blood of a person who has been wrongfully killed will cry out to God for vengeance (Gen. 4:10)

:19 my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.

Even though Job has complained that God has been attacking him, Job knows that God knows that Job is innocent.

:20 My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.


Only God is left

Job is learning a valuable but difficult lesson.
There are going to be times when all the people that you have learned to count on won’t be there for you.
Paul experienced this towards the end of his life, as he faced his final trial and eventual execution:
(2 Tim 4:16-17 KJV) At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. {17} Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
Joseph experienced this as well.
He was sold as a slave into Egypt by his brothers.
(Gen 39:1-4 KJV) And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. {2} And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. {3} And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. {4} And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
When Potiphar’s wife began to make passes at Joseph, he refused her, and as a result she came up with false accusations against Joseph and Joseph found himself in prison.
(Gen 39:20-23 KJV) And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. {21} But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. {22} And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. {23} The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.
While in prison, two of Pharaoh’s servants are thrown into prison with Joseph and Joseph interprets their dreams for them. Joseph hoped that this would have led to his release …
(Gen 40:23 KJV) Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.
Several years go by and Joseph is forgotten in prison. But the day comes when Pharaoh has some disturbing dreams, and the butler remembers Joseph, and his day finally comes when he interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and ends up becoming the second most powerful man in all of Egypt.
The day comes when a famine strikes the whole world, and Joseph’s whole family comes to Egypt. There were some tense moments as the brothers came to find out that Joseph was still alive. And yet after everyone was settled in Egypt, we find Joseph having an interesting view of his life:
(Gen 50:19-21 KJV) And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? {20} But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. {21} Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

Joseph wasn’t bitter at his brothers who had caused such trouble to him. He had a perspective on things, a notion that God had actually used all the circumstances of his life and worked them out to the good.

I wonder if part of the process of arrive at this conclusion was having gone through those times of loneliness, when it seemed that everyone had forsaken him or forgotten about him.

All he was left with was God. And God never left him.


Howard Rutledge, a United States Air Force pilot, was shot down over North Vietnam during the early stages of the war. He spent several miserable years in the hands of his captors before being released at the war's conclusion. In his book In the Presence of Mine Enemies, he reflects upon the resources from which he drew in those arduous days when life seemed so intolerable:

During those longer periods of enforced reflection it became so much easier to separate the important from the trivial, the worthwhile from the waste. For example, in the past, I usually worked or played hard on Sundays and had no time for church. For years Phyllis (his wife) had encouraged me to join the family at church. She never nagged or scolded -- she just kept hoping. But I was too busy, too preoccupied, to spend one or two short hours a week thinking about the really important things.

Now the sights and sounds and smells of death were all around me. My hunger for spiritual food soon out-did my hunger for a steak. Now I wanted to know about that part of me that will never die. Now I wanted to talk about God and Christ and the church. But in Heartbreak (the name POWs gave their prison camp) solitary confinement, there was no pastor, no Sunday School teacher, no Bible, no hymnbook, no community of believers to guide and sustain me. I had completely neglected the spiritual dimension of my life. It took prison to show me how empty life is without God.

-- Howard Rutledge and Phyllis Rutledge with Mel White and Lyla White, In the Presence of Mine Enemies

In a way, if our trials strip away everything from us and only Jesus is left, maybe that’s really the best place to be in.

(Phil 3:7-9 KJV) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. {8} Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, {9} And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

“You’ll never know the Lord is all you need, until the Lord is all you have.”
- Corrie Ten Boom

:22 …I shall go the way whence I shall not return.

Job is expecting to die soon.  He has no hope.

:21  O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!

Job wishes that there was someone who could put in a good word for him with God.

pleadyakach – (Hiphil) to decide, judge; to show to be right, prove; to convict.  Job is using legal language here, the language of the courtroom.

neighbourben – son, grandson, child, member of a group; many translations have “friend” here.

Job is asking that someone would plead for him.


Jesus will plead for you.

He is the one who can plead with God (vs. 21).
Job wishes that he had a good “defense attorney” to plead his case before God.
We don’t do to well when we try and defend ourselves.  They say that the man who chooses to defend himself has a fool for an attorney.
In Oklahoma City, Dennis Newton was on trial for the armed robbery of a convenience store in a district court this week when he fired his lawyer. Assistant district attorney Larry Jones said Newton, 47, was doing a Fair job of defending himself until the store manager testified that Newton as the robber. Newton jumped up, accused the woman of lying and then said, “I should have blown your [expletive] head off.” he defendant paused, then quickly added, “-if I’d been the one that was there.” The jury took 20 minutes to convict Newton and recommended a 30 year sentence.
We don’t have to defend ourselves.  Jesus is our advocate, our “defense attorney”.
(1 John 2:1-2 KJV) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: {2} And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Jonathan and David
When David found that King Saul suddenly developed a hatred for David and was trying to kill him, Saul’s son and David’s friend, Jonathan, acted as a friend and tried to represent David before the king (1Sam. 19-20).  The first time, Jonathan was able to persuade Saul of David’s innocence, but the second time, Saul turned on Jonathan.
Some of you may have been following the Laci Peterson case. The husband, Scott, was arrested on April 19 and charged with the murder of his wife and unborn son. It’s a horrible, tragic case.
Initially, we’ve all concluded that Scott Peterson was guilty of killing his wife and unborn son.  I found an editorial on MSNBC dated April 21 which talked about Scott already being convicted in the court of public opinion, and stating all the reasons why he was guilty.
On May 2, a new defense attorney, Mark Geragos, was hired by Scott Peterson.  And since that point, things haven’t been such a sure thing anymore.  Mr. Geragos is apparently a very sharp attorney and has worked hard to turn things around.  I found an article dated May 27 stating that Scott Peterson’s family is actually beginning to think that after the preliminary hearing in July, that Scott will be released temporarily from jail.
Whether or not you think that Scott is guilty, he is now a man with an advocate. He has someone working hard to defend him.
Some people don’t have too high of an opinion for defense attorneys.  But if you’re in trouble, guilty or not guilty, you are going to want a good one. 
Do you need an advocate in heaven?
As an advocate, Jesus, doesn’t bend any rules or do anything inappropriate. But He will plead for you before the Father.  And the Father will listen to Him.
If you ask Him to help you, He will.
He won’t tell the Father you’re not guilty if you are guilty.  But if you are His client, and you’re guilty, He will tell the Father that the price has already been paid in your case. Jesus Himself has paid the price for us.

[1]Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999, c1980). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (Page 329). Chicago: Moody Press.