After responding to Bildad’s third statement, Job speaks again to summarize his defense. First, he longs for the days that are gone (vv. 1-6). Second, he describes how he pursued godly authority (vv. 7-20). Third, he remembers how the people responded to his good use of authority (vv. 21-25). First, he begins with a longing for the days when God watched over him (v. 2), when God’s lamp shone upon Job’s head, and Job walked by God’s light through darkness (v. 3). He was in his prime and friendship with God was upon his tent (v. 4). The Almighty (שַׁ֭דַּי / Shaddai) was with him and his kids were all around him (v. 5). When his steps were washed with butter, and the rock poured streams of oil for him! (v. 6) These are metaphors for comfort and abundance. Second, Job didn’t use his prosperity for selfishness but to serve. In this blessed season of Job’s life he was a great leader in the community, he went out to the gate of the city, when he prepared his seat in the square young men saw him and stepped back and the aged rose and stood (vv. 7-8). The princes and nobles were silenced with hands on their mouths and tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths (vv. 9-10). When Job can to seat at the gate of the city as a leader with influence people heard and called him blessed, and their eyes approved (v. 11). Job was a beneficent and merciful leader in the way that he delivered the poor who cried for help. He acted as a father to the fatherless (vv. 12, 16 ). Those about to die blessed Job and he implies that because of his kind influence and leadership the widow’s heart would sin for joy (v. 13). Job put on righteousness and justice, he served as eyes to the blind and feet to the lame (vv. 13-15). He sought justice for those he didn’t even know (v. 16). He fought injustice and unrighteousness and liberated those caught up in the bite of the wicked (v. 17). He sought goodness and justice and thought he would pursue this life all of his days with vigor (vv. 18-20). Third, men listened to Job and waited and and were silent as they sought his counsel (v. 21). His word was the final word, and no one spoke after Job’s “word dropped” upon them (v. 22). He describes how men received his words, as men drinking spring rain as it falls into their open mouths (v. 23). Job smiled on them when they lacked confidence, and they didn’t cast down the light of Job’s face (v. 24). He took delight in them and they delighted in him (v. 24). He was a chief, a leader, a ruler, a teacher, a wise man, one who princes and nobles bowed down to, and one who young men and old men honored: “I chose their way and sat as chief, and I lived like a king among his troops, like one who comforts mourners” (Job 29:25)
The description of how Job used his prosperity to lead and serve others is instructive. I’ve never known a human leader who led like this. Job was a model for what using authority for the glory of God and the good of man looks like. 2 Samuel 23:3b-4 is an echo of the beauty of the godly authority that we read of Job here: “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.” Do you see how Job’s godly use of authority blessed so many people? Do we use authority in our lives like this? Here, at the beginning of Job’s final defense he powerfully outlines the ways he sought to follow God along the lines of Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Verses 18-20 expose where Job started to deviate. He presumed upon the kindness of God: “Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand, my roots spread out to the waters, with the dew all night on my branches, my glory fresh with me, and my bow ever new in my hand.’” His assumption may have been similar to the distorted and toxic view of God’s retribution principle to which Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar held. Namely, the mistake of thinking God is a respecter of persons, or shows partiality to those who do righteous things (Acts 10:34). This is the assumption that if I do good then God will continue to pour comfort, wealth and prosperity into my life. But God is a se, utterly free to do as He pleases (Psalm 115:3; 135:6), and in a world wracked by sin no one can assume that our life will always go well in an earthly sense. This brief biography of Job’s life before his trials is the kind of life God acknowledges as, “blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3, cf. the “man of peace” in Psalm 37:37). Yet, in assuming that his life would always go well in this world “under the sun” (see Ecclesiastes) Job presumed upon the kindness of God. And a hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). Are there any ways that we are presuming upon the kindness of God? Do we assume a kind of “prosperity gospel” that if we do good God is obligated to bless us with earthly prosperity? This is a lie. And mark this well; suffering is not always an indication of God’s displeasure. God’s ways are above our ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Job’s trials are not a sign of God’s lack of love and lack of delight, rather it’s an indication that God loves Job. In the life of Job his suffering is a sign that God has full confidence that He will preserve Job and that Job will persevere even as he’s sifted by Satan. God is using this trial to fix Job more tightly to Himself through His hope in God as his Redeemer (Job 19:24-27). Job is not sinless, yet He is a type of righteous king pointing to the perfectly sinless righteous King, Jesus Christ. Job is a type pointing to Jesus as the truly innocent suffering King who would pursue perfect justice by adopting a people from every tribe and nation to be His very own. Jesus is a King who exercises perfect authority to the blessing of His people. He gives ear to the deaf; eyes to the blind; feet to the lame. In Christ, God becomes the Father to the fatherless. Job not only foreshadows Jesus Christ in the type of an innocent sufferer, but also in the type of a righteous king. And while Job presumed upon the kindness of God and lost everything, Jesus chose to leave his Father’s throne above to suffer for the salvation of His people: “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11). Even in seeing Job’s defense of his righteousness, lift your eyes from Job and set them upon the Redeemer suffering King that Job looked to for hope in the midst of the sorrows of this broken world.