“Summaries, Job 27-31”

Categories: Bulletin Articles


Job 27 begins with Job insisting that he is telling the truth and that he has no problems telling the truth because his conscience is clear.  He acknowledges that as a rule, God sends punishment against the wicked.  Even though he appears to prosper and heap up riches for a little while, his life doesn’t have stable foundations and he eventually will lose everything.

Job 28 gets a lot more flowery as Job turns his attention to, of all things, mining.  He spends the first 11 verses describing man’s ability in searching out the things that are hidden in the earth.  No other creatures can see it, but mankind will dig out mines and dam up subterranean streams to extract ore and gemstones. 

By contrast, wisdom is impossible to discover.  You can’t find it, nor can you buy it.  Neither the living nor the dead possess it.  Only God, who knows and understands everything, possesses wisdom, and His wisdom is to tell us to fear Him and turn away from evil.

Job 29 revisits Job’s formerly blessed condition.  Before, he says, God watched over him, protected his children, and gave him prosperity.  In the city, young and old alike listened to him and respected him.  Everyone honored him because he consistently protected the vulnerable and weak and treated them righteously.  He believed that because of his goodness, he would live a long time, be satisfied with life, and die an honorable death.  Others sought out his advice and he had a high status in society.

Job 30 contrasts those former blessings with his current misery.  Now everyone laughs at and mocks him.  This includes not only the respectable but the worthless, men of so little value that they have been driven out of the community to scratch out a living in the wilderness.  Even people like that now mock him and spit on him, so that his honor has gone along with his prosperity.

However, Job’s biggest problems come not from men but from God.  It is God who truly has been cruel to him, and he anticipates that he will die because of God’s disfavor.  Nonetheless, he still cries out for help, anticipating that he will receive the same aid he has given to others.  In the meantime, though, his suffering continues.

Job 31 contains Job’s great defense of his conduct.  It has been called “ the definition of the virtuous man” in the same way that Proverbs 31 is the definition of the virtuous woman.  In it, Job insists poetically that he has shunned lust (31:1-4), deceitful business dealings (31:5-8), adultery (31:9-12), unjust treatment of his servants (31:13-15), miserliness toward the poor (31:16-20), injustice toward orphans (31:21-22), covetousness and idolatry (31:23-28), vengefulness (31:29-30), mistreatment of strangers (31:31-32), secret sin (31:33-34), and misuse of land (31:38-40).  If he has done any of these things, he calls curses down on himself according to the sin that he has done.  Only a man with a clear conscience would dare say such things!