Job curses everything. He curses the day he was born, curses the night he was conceived, and even curses the people who announced his conception. Let it all be darkness, shadows, death, clouds, and blackness, and don’t let anyone rejoice. Let it be barren….
What we want to know after this is, has Job still not sinned with his lips? The answer that Yahweh gives at the end of the story is that Job has spoken about him what is right (42:7), yet he is speaking curses. What are we supposed to do with that?
Job closes this first speech with a more formal lament, a song of despair, asking why light is given to one who is in misery, why light is given to a man whose way is hidden, “whom God has hedged in” (3:20–23). The Satan had accused Yahweh of placing a “hedge” around Job which protected him from hardship and secured his blessing. The same word is used here in Job’s lament to describe the calamities which now surround him and “hedge” him in on every side. “For my sighing comes instead of my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water. For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.” (3:24–26). I have no peace, he says. I’m broken. I don’t want to live. I want to die and curse it all. God damn it all.
This brings us back to two significant questions. Is Job’s cursing an acceptable response to the hard providence of God? Can God treat Job like this and still be righteous? If Job has not broken the covenant, has Yahweh? Has the judge of the whole earth done right? Is there fine print in the covenant? As we continue our study of Job we will return to these questions, but for now we point to the examples of Abraham and Hezekiah, men of God who received the word of God and then refused to allow that word to be the last word. Their examples within the context of the rest of scripture suggest that we have to learn to do both. Job did not answer his wife and then turn around and start cursing. He answered his wife and sat there, receiving in submissive silence from the Lord for a week. For seven days and seven nights, he did not speak. He accepted the adversity. He waited on the Lord. If Job stopped there, he would not be fully faithful. As a husband of a family that has been struck, as the king of a nation which will surely feel the repercussions of these calamities, and the servant of the God who has allowed these hardships in the first place, Job had a responsibility to speak, a duty to cry out. At the bare minimum, as a man in pain, he must express that pain to his maker. To refuse to speak, to refuse to cry out to God in pain and agony, would be to compromise his integrity.
This post was adapted from Job Through New Eyes: A Son for Glory by Toby J. Sumpter (Athanasius Press, 2012).