Sticks and stones may break my bones…


“…but words will never hurt me?” Really? Dr Riddlebarger says that the accusations made by Job’s friends may have hurt more than the sores on his skin. He comments on Job 29, our Bible reading for today:

Chapter 29 of Job is very poignant, given what Job once enjoyed in light of his current suffering. Job’s opening comments about the days in which he enjoyed God’s favor reiterate what was said of Job in the book’s prologue.

“Job continued his discourse: `How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness! Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.”

We can imagine a nostalgic tone in Job’s voice and tears filling Job’s eyes as he looks back upon his life. He’s lost so much. His suffering is so great.

Given the fact that he now resides on the town dunghill and is an object of the scorn of all his neighbors, what follows beginning in verse 7 is especially moving.

“When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet; the chief men refrained from speaking and covered their mouths with their hands; the voices of the nobles were hushed, and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him. The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing.”

The ultimate humiliation is that children now laugh at Job and people are grossed out by the sight of him.

Job’s faith in the God of the promise was clearly manifest in his conduct. In verse 14, Job declares,

“I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth. . . . `Men listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel. After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears. They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain. When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them. I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners.”

Job had done none of the things his friends had implied or accused him of doing. He was a blameless and upright man, who feared the Lord and shunned evil. Everyone knew it. The accusations made by his friends, who were trying to stir his conscience so that Job would repent of these supposed “sins,” were nothing but cruel lies, and, no doubt, inflicted more pain than the open sores on his skin.