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Job 31

July 9, 2011

Have you ever given Job 31 a close read? It’s not a chapter of the Bible that gets a great deal of attention in my experience. Job, of course, is a painful and difficult book to read; but it contains some of the most stirringly beautiful language in the Scriptures. Anyway, in Job 31, Job is speaking up to defend his righteousness. His point is (as often inthe book) to defend his innocence before God and men. But the way he does it here is fascinating. He gives us a list of what should be expected of a righteous person. Clearly, in the narrative, Job is being set forth as exactly this kind of person. So what we have in these verses, despite Job’s unjust suffering, is a description of the good things God is looking for from his people.

The following list is taken from Job’s speech, but do read chapter 31 in full for the wonderful poetic effect:

  • Make a covenant with your eyes not to look lustfully at a virgin.
  • Don’t walk with falsehood or hurry after deceit
  • Don’t let your heart be enticed by a woman/man, or lurk at your neighbor’s door
  • Don’t deny justice to anyone who works for you, when they have a grievance against you (did not he who made you in the womb make them? Did not the same one form you both within your mothers?)
  • Don’t deny the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary
  • Dont’ keep your bread to yourself, but share it with the fatherless. Rear them as a father would, and guide the widow
  • If you see anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or the needy without garments, warm them from your own resources
  • Don’t raise your hand against the fatherless, knowing that your have influence
  • Don’t put your trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security’
  • Don’t rejoice in your great wealth, the fortune your hands had gained
  • Don’t rejoice at your enemies’ misfortune, or invoke a curse against their life
  • Let it be said by your household ‘Who has not been filled with their meat?’. Keep your door always open to the traveller so that no stranger has to spend the night in the street
  • Don’t hide your sin, don’t fear the crowd, don’t stay silent in dread of the world outside
  • Don’t devour the yeild of the land you’re responsible for without payment or break the spirit of its tenants

Job, remember, at the end of the book is in many ways proved right in what he has said. Many centuries after this work was composed, Jesus came to empower a new people to fulfil God’s commands. So I wonder how we’re doing?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2011 2:03 pm

    It struck me once that Job 31 is a bit like a male version of Proverbs 31, with its famous godly woman…

  2. Mark permalink*
    July 29, 2011 11:16 pm

    Now there’s a great seminar in that…

  3. Tonksthecat permalink
    August 8, 2011 7:13 pm

    you might find it slightly ironic that 2 of the ads below this piece (and I’m off to have a proper look at Job 31 in a minute, thanks for that!) are for cosmetic/diet products. :o)

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