Study Guide

Book of Job Questioning and Doubting God

Questioning and Doubting God

'But now, be pleased to look at me;
for I will not lie to your face.
Turn, I pray, let no wrong be done.
Turn now, my vindication is at stake.
Is there any wrong on my tongue?
Cannot my taste discern calamity?' (NRSV 6:28-30)

Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident unto you if I lie.
Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness is in it.
Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things? (KJV 6:28-30)

This entire book pretty much turns into Job's attempt to prove his innocence. Do his friends believe him? How do Job and his friends see things differently?

'If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of humanity?
Why have you made me your target?
Why have I become a burden to you?' (NRSV 7:20)

I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself? (KJV 7:20)

Here Job goes, questioning God. Literally. This relationship looks a lot like one between a parent and a child, don't you think? Sure, it's the kid's fault when he misbehaves, but it reflects pretty badly on the parents, too.

'When disaster brings sudden death,
he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.' (NRSV 9:23)

If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent. (KJV 9:23)

God doesn't seem like such a nice guy here. In fact, he seems kind of mean. Is this what Job is objecting to?

P.S. Gotta love the KJV. "Scourge" and "slay" for the win.

'But you are doing away with the fear of God,
and hindering meditation before God.
For your iniquity teaches your mouth,
and you choose the tongue of the crafty.' (NRSV 15:4-5)

Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.
For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty. (KJV 15:4-5)

Hey, KJV? Why art thou tryingeth to confusest us?

Eliphaz is not picking up what Job is putting down. Why not? Because Job's doubt undermines Eliphaz's entire worldview. It's not that he disagrees with Job—it's that his whole religious faith doesn't allow for it.

know then that God has put me in the wrong,
and closed his net around me. (NRSV 19:6)

Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net. (KJV 19:6)

Job is getting aggressive here, straight up blaming God for his own doubt. Can we blame him, though? Job feels like he was set up. God says, "be good, and I'll reward you"; so Job is good, and then…he gets destroyed. Who's breaking the rules here? Job certainly gives God an earful.