Monday, November 30, 2009

The Righteousness of Job

When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out. (Job 29: 11-16)

Job's friends accused him of "great" wickedness, of "infinite" iniquity, charging him with neglect of the poor, the widows and the fatherless. Job's testimony on his own behalf was somewhat different.

Job was beloved and blessed by the poor. He was a "father" to them. The widow's heart "sang for joy" at the thought of him. He was "eyes to the blind" and "feet to the lame." These poetic turns of phrase leave it to us to imagine what kinds of provisions Job made for the disabled in a society that generally left the blind and the lame little recourse other than to beg in the streets. But the general image is of a wealthy and powerful man who channeled his considerable resources into caring for others who were far less fortunate. Job saw himself as a steward of the society he lived in, his wealth not his for personal pleasure, but a charge given to him by God for the purpose of providing for others.

I was particularly intrigued by the phrase, "and the cause which I knew not I searched out." It reminds me of Christ's parable of the good shepherd, who left the ninety and nine to go seek out the one. Job did not satisfy himself to wait for a problem to come to his attention. He actively sought out those who were in distress so that he might make their cause his own.

This is why God called Job a "a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil" (Job 1: 8).

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