Job’s Final Defense
“Oh, that I had one to hear me! (Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!) Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!” (v. 35).- Job 31
Read the Bible cover to cover and you will find many truths repeated again and again. We see, for example, the sovereignty of God by which He orders all the affairs of His creation (Gen. 50:20; Prov. 21:1; Rom. 9; Rev. 11:15). The revelation of the holiness of the Lord is also a prominent theme found throughout the canon of Scripture (Lev. 11:44; Isa. 6:3; 1 Peter 1:15-16; Rev. 4:8). Still another key emphasis found in both the Old and New Testaments is the reality of the love of God (Deut. 4:37; Ps. 36:7; John 3:16; Rom. 8:31-39).
In regard to today’s study, let us note one more of the many teachings repeated in Scripture—the fact that God prizes truth. The Lord, Psalm 51:6 tells us, delights in truth in the “inward being.” John 4:24 reveals that God seeks people who will worship Him “in spirit and truth.” We could cite many more references to the importance of truth to our Creator, but the point is that God hates falsehood and desires for the truth to be vindicated.
Among the many applications that flow from the Lord’s desire for truth is that He never wants us to confess a sin for which we are not guilty. Such would not be honoring to Him as the Lord of truth. If we are guilty, we should—we must—confess our sin, as repentance is the path to forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9). However, we should not confess sins for which we are not guilty simply because others think there must be some sin to confess. This is an important lesson from today’s passage, which records Job’s final confession of innocence to his friends. Having vacillated between hope and despair, coming to an assured hope in the Lord’s justice (Job 19:25-27), Job offers the most forceful statement yet that he is guilty of nothing that would merit the great suffering that his friends say he must deserve.
Job is so confident of his innocence that he pronounces a series of conditional imprecations, or curses, upon himself. If he has been guilty of deceit, he calls for others to reap the fruit of his labor (31:5-8). If he has been unfaithful to his wife, he asks for his wife to be taken to another family (vv. 9-12). If he has mistreated the poor, he looks for his arm and shoulder blade to be broken (vv. 16-23). If he has trusted in money or rejoiced in the destruction of his enemies, he calls upon thorns and not fruit to be the results of his labor (vv. 24-40).
Of course, Job’s confession is a confession of truth. After all, God finally confirms that Job’s suffering is not due to specific personal sin (42:8). Job is right, therefore, not to admit wrongdoing on his part.
From the example of Job and other key biblical figures such as Paul, we learn that it is right and proper to make a defense of ourselves and to not repent for sin that we have not committed. Sometimes, as Jesus shows us, it is wise to remain silent before accusation. That does not mean, however, that we must be quiet in every circumstance. The cause of righteousness often demands that we defend ourselves and others against unjust charges.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 9
2 Corinthians 10