Job is one of my favorite books in the bible. Recently I found myself somewhat amused by the words “though he slay me,” a very bad thing indeed, right? Except if you know the Lord very well and trust in His goodness, “though he slay me” becomes more like, “Oh yes, please do!” By all means, consume me, there are always such wonderful treasures to be found there.
For some reason that verse has been stuck in my head as, “Though He slay me and I have NO hope, I will argue my case before Him.” That resonates with me, that speaks my language, that captures the essence of the intended meaning.
So naturally someone pops up and cheerfully quotes “Though He slay me all my hope and trust is in Him,” so it’s all good. “So it’s all good” was simply the cheerful essence of those words. I am chuckling, there are far worse things in the world then Christians trying to cheer one another up and to be encouraging, so this is not a complaint at all.
It is just that sometimes the beauty of words is actually in their despair and hopelessness, their angst, misery and woe. “I have no hope” is somewhat honest and also speaks to God’s authority and to His power. Job is saying, I have no hope of winning this argument, but I’ll argue my case anyway.
My memory can fail me and sometimes the Lord can put things on my heart that align with scripture, but they are tailored for me personally, or the parts I need to hear at the time are really highlighted. So I went and checked the bible and lo and behold my faithful KJV says, “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”
Well that’s simply all wrong!
And indeed, it does appear as if there really is some debate as to how those words should be translated and how best to convey the deeper meaning behind them. Each translation words it differently, some actually siding with me, “I have no hope.” Whew, I am not alone here!
And then with utterly perfect synchronicity up pops this quite timely article, “Job’s Most Beloved Verse May Be Different Than You Think.”
Wow! Well now, there you go. Right on time. Everything you ever wanted to know about those words. The guy is quite right too, I’ve poured over several translations and footnotes.
So, why did this all matter to me? Well, I felt uncomfortable about the way we are missing the power and authority of God there and placing too much responsibility on ourselves and our own “faith” or “trust.” Job is like, losing everything and suffering boils that the dogs are licking on. One does not simply go, “just have more faith, Job.” Or perhaps, “it’s all good Job, just be more accepting about your lot in life. Try practicing some gratitude.” It’s easy to have hope when there is “hope.” The profound message behind Job’s words is that, even completely devoid of all hope, I press on. The message is also, I protest this unfairness. I’ll argue my case before God Himself. Job is complaining vehemently!
Why? Because this isn’t the God he knows and nothing is making any sense! It’s a subtle point here, but Job’s knowledge of who God is and His confidence in his own ability to discern and test the spirits, leads him to reject what his foolish friends have told him, reject the obvious and apparent nature of his circumstances, and to simply lean into the Lord. God can kill me, but He is still good. Though he slay me, though I have no hope..….I will still make my case before Him.
That fits in well with, “the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
If you know the story, Job is right to launch his complaint, to question even God Himself, because this is not God doing these things to Job, it is actually satan. While God may well be sovereign over the whole tale, God is not the one attacking Job. Imagine if Job had just said, Well, I guess I just need to surrender all. Accept that “it just is what it is.” Apparently God hates me. Oh well. Cue the Eeyore music….
So a cheerful disposition of, “it’s all good ” can really be a delicate matter. Recently I wrote about resignation, acceptance, some Christian issues around not complaining, which I was objecting too.
Let me double down on that objection now. Job is actually right to observe that this is not the nature of the God he knows, and to complain and protest about his circumstances. While God may well come out of the whirlwind and set Job straight, He also restores all that was lost or stolen, ten fold over. So all in good fun here, but I think we can assume that Job was doing something right.
He was complaining, not in the mindless way one might complain about worship music and the thermostat, but complaining about what was happening to him and the circumstances he found himself in.