The Book of Job - Lesson 25

Job’s Final Discourse (Job 29-30)

The crisis that Job is experiencing is not just the material losses and physical suffering, but also his crisis of faith. He thought he understood what his relationship with God is all about but he feels that God has abandoned him for no apparent reason. Job laments the pain he feels from being disgraced and humiliated.

Duane Garrett
The Book of Job
Lesson 25
Watching Now
Job’s Final Discourse (Job 29-30)

I. Job's Former Glory

A. He longs for his former relationship to God

B. He misses the days that he was a respected man

C. Job refutes Eliphaz

D. Everything he did was for the good of the people around him

II. Job Humiliated

A. Job is mocked by the dregs of society

B. His pain is more than he can endure

  • When you see what you would describe as evil and injustice in the world, how does that affect your view of God? When someone is suffering, do you assume that it’s because they are getting what they deserve? This lecture gives you an overview of book of Job by describing his situation, how he interacts with his friends and God, and what we can learn about how God is managing the world.

  • Because there is nothing specific in the text that tells you when the book of Job was written, the sections in Job that allude to other passages of scripture give you some helpful clues. The structure of the book of Job focuses your attention on the main subject of the book which is God’s wisdom.

  • Other cultures in the ancient near east created literature with themes that are similar to the book of Job. The book of Job is unique because of his character and the answer that the book provides for the situation he is in.

  • Job is one of the wisdom books of the Old Testament. It covers more “advanced” topics than Proverbs and uses a variety of literary genres and allusions to other Biblical passages to explain and illustrate profound truths about God’s nature and his involvement in the world.

  • There is limited information in the book of Job about its geographical and historical background. However, it can be helpful to understand general information about the geography and history of the area to give you a context for reading and studying the book of Job. The author of the book of Job was a Hebrew poet who had an extensive vocabulary. Being uncertain about history and geography is good because the message is timeless.

  • Job contains literary elements that are similar to what you find in other Biblical books that are Apocalyptic. These elements include depictions of events in heaven and on earth, the emphasis on specific numbers and persevering in your faith in God, the references to mythological animals and God’s supernatural control of all events. 

  • Satan appears before God with an accusation against Job. Even though Job is described as, “upright and blameless,” Satan accuses Job of serving God only because Job is prosperous. God allows Satan to take away Job’s possessions, children and health. The remainder of the book is the dialogue of Job and his friends attempting to determine why this is happening.

  • Job curses the day he was born. When you carefully examine what he is saying, you realize that it is more intense than just saying that he wished he had never lived.

  • Eliphaz begins tactfully in his remarks to Job. He did not intend to do harm. However, he thinks God is causing Job to suffer because of a sin Job committed. He speaks accurately of the justice of God, but in Job’s case he misapplies it. He also gives a message he received from the, “night spirit.”

  • Eliphaz considers the message of the, “night spirit” a revelation from God. However, at it’s core, this message is inconsistent with God’s attitude toward Job, and creation in general.

  • Job’s theological worldview has fallen apart because he knows he doesn’t deserve to suffer. Eliphaz calls Job to repent. Job responds questioning why he is suffering, because according to his worldview, he hasn’t done anything to deserve it.   

  • Bildad is direct is his rebuke and admonition of Job. He uses metaphors to get his point across.

  • When Job’s friends describe God as all powerful in an attempt to comfort Job, he becomes terrified because he sees God as causing his suffering and there is nothing that can stop it.

  • Zophar assumes that Job is being punished because he sinned and accuses him of mocking God. Job's three friends move from tactful suggestions to open hostility. As Job is searching for answers, he becomes disappointed in his friends.

  • Job agrees with his friends that God is causing his suffering, but disagrees with them about why it’s happening. Job believes that God will eventually vindicate him.

  • Eliphaz appeals to the night spirit and the tradition of the elders to tell Job that he is a babbling and blaspheming fool.

  • Job begins by criticizing what his friends are saying to him and then professes his faith in God. Bildad responds harshly to Job.

  • Even though Job’s friends have criticized him, he has grown in his faith in God. Job is worn out and begs for compassion. When he gets nothing but contempt and hostility instead, he confesses his faith and hope in God. The messianic theology of Job is different from any other book of the Bible.  

  • Zophar uses metaphors that are found in other passages of scripture as well as Job’s own words to accuse Job of being wicked. However, Zophar made a serious error, which we need to avoid in our lives.

  • Job continues to wrestle with the presence of evil in the world and the apparent injustice of God. 

  • Eliphaz attacks Job as being wicked by twisting the meaning of what Job has said previously. The irony is that Job will be reconciled to God and will pray for Eliphaz.

  • Job wants to lay out his case before God by claiming his innocence. Job says that God is hidden and does as he chooses, but that God neither judges the guilty nor helps the righteous. Bildad responds by contrasting God’s holiness and human lowliness.

  • Job sarcastically thanks the friends for their wise words, which he doesn’t think were wise at all.

  • This is a poem about wisdom that divides the content of the book and points to a deep truth. It is inserted by the author of the book and is not attributed to Job or the friends.

  • The crisis that Job is experiencing is not just the material losses and physical suffering, but also his crisis of faith. He thought he understood what his relationship with God is all about but he feels that God has abandoned him for no apparent reason. Job laments the pain he feels from being disgraced and humiliated.

  • This is the last major statement that Job makes, other than his responses to God that come later. Job is taking a series of oaths that he has not committed any of the sins he mentions. The Bible is distinctive in declaring that all people are created equally, in the image of God. In ancient cultures, some people intrinsically have more value than others because of heritage, wealth, gender, race, etc. God looks on everyone impartially.  

  • Elihu is not mentioned either before or after his speech. He claims to be perfect in knowledge. Elihu thinks that the other three did not convince Job because they did not give a satisfactory answer, but Elihu ends up repeating what they have already said. He thinks that the doctrine of retribution is the answer to Job’s situation. Elihu is a warning to us that we don’t have all the answers.

  • The questions of the book of Job are, “How does God address the problem of evil and why do we serve God? God created a world that is stable and not chaotic. Where there was chaos, God brought in light, shape and beauty. Chaotic forces are necessary for life and God controls them.

  • People in ancient Mesopotamia lived in constant fear of the chaos, danger, ferocity of nature and they valued subduing, controlling and pushing back nature. Wilderness was something to be tamed and pushed back by civilization. In the Gilgamesh epic poem, Enkidu is transformed into a civilized man who protects the domestic animals from the wild animals. In Egypt, there were gods of the Black Land and gods of the Red Land. God sees everything in the world as entirely under his control.

  • God’s care for the animals and how this relates to the problem of Job. All of the things that we see as chaos, and out of control depend on God and thrive because he provides for them and things that he manages and glories in. God describes nature as good, unlike the night spirit that describes it with contempt and loathing. God knows how to manage the chaotic elements of creation.

  • The societies of the Ancient Near East had a high concept of justice. It was the duty of the rulers to uphold justice and protect the powerless. If you are a man who leads, you need to make sure that evil is held in check. Listen to people who come to you with a grievance. God is asking Job if he comprehends what it means to bring justice to the world. It involves both power and wisdom.

  • Behemoth is the plural form of a Hebrew word that refers to animals in general also specifically to wild animals. In Job, it’s also used as a metaphor representing the composite forces of the powers of the earth that are against God.

  • Behemoth is a dangerous power that God must reckon with. Some people think this is an allusion to animals that God created in Genesis 1:24. “Lady Wisdom” is the wisdom that God built into creation. Behemoth is dangerous and a force to be reckoned with, not the embodiment of good behavior. One aspect of principalities and powers is forces outside of the world we can see. In Revelation, God protects people from the fury and wrath of the beast, which is an oppressive power that seeks to take the place of God.  

  • Job 41 describes Leviathan. Leviathan is not a natural animal like a crocodile. Sometimes Leviathan refers to a large sea creature, and sometimes death, chaos and the embodiment of evil. Satan is present at the first of the book but he is never mentioned again. In order for God to deal with evil in the world, he must defeat Leviathan.

  • Leviathan is a ferocious creature that no human can subdue. God is saying that he is willing to oppose Leviathan and  is not frightened of Leviathan or intimidated by his boasting. God is the one who will defeat this enemy who seems unbeatable to humans. God tells Job that he will deal with Leviathan but God doesn’t tell him how he will do it. Job embraced God’s answer even though Job didn’t know how God would deal with evil.

  • Job announces that he has changed his outlook on evil, God’s governance of the world and his own suffering. Job knew that God is all-powerful. Now Job knows something more about how God uses his power. Should God be merciful to people who will still be evil? Eschatological is an event that can only happen by a work of God. Emergence of divine power within the historical context. Job admits that he didn’t understand the complexity that is involved in God conquering evil. God forgives Job’s three friends because Job interceded for them. God is showing his approval with job by publicly restoring him.

  • Job’s suffering brought him to a new understanding of who God is and what God is doing in the world. Job’s hope, and our hope, is in a heavenly redeemer that rose from the dead. Legalism comes about often when people hold to essential teachings but they don’t know God. They substitute the rules for relationship.

  • Job mentions composite animals similar to those described in other apocalyptic passages. Job had faith that God would do a work of salvation but didn’t understand everything that Jesus would do. There is a hidden plan of God to redeem people and conquer evil that is a major theme in apocryphal books and also in Job.

  • Job tells us about the heavenly mediator. Prior to his afflictions, Job’s life was almost god-like because he was relatively free of suffering. Job through his affliction, faces the problem of evil and the enormity of suffering in the human race. Even though some people commit evil and violent acts, Job describes them in pitiful terms.

  • Should virtue, or piety, be disinterested? If it’s not done for it’s own sake, is it real? Job’s love for God is not disinterested, but it is real.

If God is good and powerful, why do you see suffering in the world? Why do you serve God even when you experience suffering? How do you respond to others when they ask these questions? How have you answered them for yourself? These are such important questions that the entire book of Job is devoted discussing only these issues in the context of the perspective of the experiences of one person. 

The theme of the book of Job is timeless and singular. There are clues about its geographical and historical setting but nothing in the book itself that identifies the place or time of its writing. However, the setting is irrelevant because the questions that are addressed in the Book of Job are ones that people have asked in all cultures, throughout time. It would be distracting and even limiting to frame the dialogue in a specific time or culture. There are enough clues in the text to give you a general idea of the culture and time it was written in to help you understand the logic and metaphors used by the main characters in their dialogue. 

The complete book of Job is composed of the dialogue of Job, his friends and God regarding the issues of God's goodness, his power, and evil in the world. No historical events. No other personal, corporate or theological issues. Since these questions are central to your understanding of God's character and how he works in the world around us throughout history, the book of Job compels you to consider this question deeply and exhaustively. The point is that by the end of the book, you can understand and articulate who God is and how he works in your life and in the world. 

The value of this class is that Dr. Garrett helps you understand what the text means, the historical and theological implications, and how you apply it to your life. Dr. Garrett's knowledge of the Bible, understanding of the Hebrew language and background in Ancient Near Eastern history and culture inform his insights into the message of the book and what it means to you. He is skilled at explaining technical linguistic and theological issues in a way that helps you comprehend them and see how they apply to your life. Whether you are just beginning in your study of the Bible or you have had training at an advanced academic level, studying the Book of Job with Dr. Garrett has the potential change the way you understand God and also how you live each day. 

Recommended Books

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide

This Student's Guide is for the class on The Book of Job in BiblicalTraining.org. It contains the outlines to the lectures, a summary of each point, and reflection...

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide


We have seen how the book of Job is divided into two halves: The discourses with the three friends and then the three discourses by Job, Elihu and God. At the middle of it all stands the wisdom poem of chapter 28.

We are now going to begin the three major discourses: First, the discourse of Job, then the discourse of Elihu and finally the answer of God. The discourse of Job goes from chapter 29 through chapter 31. In this lecture we are only going to look at chapters 29 and 30, although chapter 31 is part of Job’s discourse. We will look at 31 in the next lecture.

The structure of Job’s discourse is first, Job’s former glory, chapter 29:1-25. Secondly, Job humiliated, Job 30:1-15. Third, Job and God, Job 30:16-31. Finally,
Job’s negative confession, Job 31:1-40.

I. Job’s Former Glory

A. He longs for his former relationship to God

We begin looking at his account of his former glory in 29:2-25. The passage begins: “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone on my head and by his light I walked through the 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.”

Let’s just pause right there. Job is obviously reminiscing about his former glory, his former happiness, all the things he has lost. But I want you to notice where his focus is. He does not say, “Oh, I wish I had all of my cattle and all of my sheep again. I wish I had all the wealth that I had. I wish I was as rich as I once was.” He begins with his relationship to God. He longs for the day when he felt intimate with God, when he could feel God’s care over him; when he knew that God was beside him.

What do we see in this? We see that in the man, Job, the most important thing is his relationship with God. It is his love for God that he cherishes more than anything else. And what is wrong now? We have said time and again that the crisis of Job is not just all the stuff he lost and all the pain he is experiencing; it is his crisis of faith. He thought he understood how it all works. He thought he understood what relationship with God was all about. But something has gone really wrong and for some reason God has afflicted him with all these terrible catastrophes. Job is going through, besides his physical torment and his losses, what we would call “a dark night of the soul.” He feels that God has abandoned him. He is in a situation where if he tries to pray, he feels like he is praying up to a bronze ceiling, that all of his prayers bounce down upon him. He feels alienated from God. He feels God is not with him, God is not there for him.

This is, of course, a common experience of believers in times of great trial, that they often wonder, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is what Job is going through, this crisis of faith, the sense that God has abandoned him; and this is what he misses more than anything else.

The second thing he says he misses, in verse 5, is his children were all around him. So the first thing he loved is God, the second thing is his children. Finally, he speaks of his wealth. He says his path was drenched with cream, which to us sounds weird, but all it means is he was really wealthy. Wherever he walked things went well for him. He prospered and the cream and the oil represents great prosperity.

The first thing Job misses is his relationship with God. The second thing is his children. Only thirdly, the prosperity he once enjoyed.

B. He misses the days that he was a respected man

Then he goes on and describes in more detail what his life was like. “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 roofs of their mouths. Whoever heard me spoke well of me and those who saw 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 one who was dying blessed me, I made the widow’s heart sing. 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.”

Notice, he basically says two things here. First of all, he misses the days when he was a respected man, when people would honor him, when they would rise when he would come in, when they would listen when he spoke, etc. This is of course a very normal human emotion. It is very painful to feel that people no longer respect you. And even though Job has done nothing wrong, he has been treated as an object of shame. He has been treated as someone whom people reproach. And it hurts to not be respected. It hurts to feel disgrace in the eyes of the community. When someone gets arrested often and they are going into the police station, the first thing they do is they hide their face because they are ashamed. Job has not done anything wrong, but he has lost the respect of everyone around him; and as a normal human being, it hurts.

C. Job Refutes Eliphaz

Then he goes on and he describes how he treated people. Notice, everything he says is a direct contradiction to what Eliphaz says. Eliphaz says that “When
someone gave you a cloak in pledge, you took it away, so that that person had to sleep naked in the cold.” Job says he was the exact opposite. He rescued the poor. He was a father to the fatherless. He gave them his clothing. He gave eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. He does not mean he could heal them; he means that he assisted them in their distress and in their weakness. And he says he broke the fangs of the wicked. In other words, when these people would get in trouble and somebody would, for example, launch a lawsuit against them to take away their property, Job would step in and defend them, he would protect them.

Again, this is the essence of the Old Testament ideal of righteousness, to care about people, to protect them, to give to the needy, etc. Job did all of this. Again, we need to remind ourselves, everything he is saying is true because God says he was a righteous man.

We then come to the rest of the first part of the discourse. Verse 18: “I thought, ‘I will die in my own house, my days as numerous as the grains of the sand. My roots will reach to the water, and the dew will lie all night on my branches. My glory will not fade, the bow will ever be new in my hand.’”

Let’s pause right there. Of course he thinks he is going to have a long, good life and then he will die a peaceful death, and all of that has come crashing down. But I want you to see in verse 19, one more time he goes back to the metaphor of the tree. We have seen this time and again, the idea of the tree, of the righteous man.

It has roots deep in the water and it ever flourishes, it always bears fruit, it’s leaves do not wither; and Job thought that is how his life would be. But it didn’t
turn out that way.

Verse 21:”People 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.”

D. Everything he did was for the good of the people around him

Of course you could read this in the wrong way. You could think that Job just loved power and he loved lording it over people and he loved having them bow before him and he loved hearing them praise him, and all that kind of thing. But notice, everything he says is for the good of the people around him. He speaks kindly to them. He smiles upon them and he lifts their spirits. He gives them joy. He doesn’t say, “When I snapped my fingers, they all jumped to their feet.” As we say, “I told them to jump and they all asked, ‘how high?’” That is not how Job lived. Job lived as a man who used his power and his prestige to lift people up, to give them joy.

Actually, there is a kind of little lesson here we should take into account, the lesson of how to be a good leader. You know you are not a good leader if when you walk down the hall, people want to run and hide, if they want to get out of your way and hope that you don’t see them. You are a good leader if they wait expectantly just to hear a word from you. If a simple word of encouragement lifts them up, then you are a really good leader. Job was in a position of leadership in his community, he was respected and he gave joy to the people around him. That is his former glory.

II. Job Humiliated

Then we come to chapter 30. Chapter 30 tells of how he once was high, but now he is brought down. Verse 1: “But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs. Of what use was the strength of their hands to me, since their vigor was gone from them? Haggard from want and hunger, they roamed in the parched land in desolate wastelands at night. In the brush they gathered salt herbs, and their food was in the root of the broom bush. They were banished from human society, shouted at as if they were thieves. They were forced to live in dry stream beds, among the rocks and in holes of the ground. They brayed among the bushes and huddled in the undergrowth. A base and nameless brood , they were driven out of the land.”

First of all, in this passage, verses 1-8, he gives an extended description of what we would call “the low lifes,” the lowest of the low. These are people who are not just wretched in the sense that they don’t have anything; but these are people who truly do not know how to live. These are people who do not know how to behave responsibly. These are people who cannot be relied upon and who in their behavior become homeless and become unemployed, become the people who kind of gather around on the very outskirts of society.

It seems a little odd to us that Job gives such an extended description of them, but this is characteristic of much of ancient poetry. If you are familiar with the poems of Homer, for example, Homer will often start with a simple metaphor, but then he will give a very extended description of that metaphor. He will talk about his metaphor at great length. Job kind of does the same thing here. All he wants to say is, “These people were low-lifes. These people were shiftless. These people were unreliable. These people were kind of dangerous. They were dirty.” So he gives this extended description of what these people were like. Why does he do it?

We find out in verses 9 and following: “And now those young men mock me in song; I have become a byword among them. They detest me and keep their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in my face. Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me, they throw off restraint in my presence. On my right hand the tribe attacks; they lay snares for my feet, they build their siege ramps around me. They break up my road; they succeed in destroying me. ‘No one can help them’ they say. They advance as through a gaping breach; amid the ruins they come rolling in. Terror overwhelms me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.”

The reason he gave such a big description of the low-lives is because these people now despise him. They treat him as somebody that you can spit at and who you can kick at and who you can refuse to have anything to do with because he is not good enough for their society. Notice he speaks of them in military metaphors, verse 12: “They build siege ramps against me and break up my road.” In other words, they trap him the way an army traps a city during a siege. Verse 14: “They advance as through a gaping breach.” That is, of course, when the army breaks through the wall of a city and invades and destroys it. The point is, they are all around him; they are making his life miserable; and they are about to crush him.

He moves on, verse 16: “Now my life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me. Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest. In his great power God becomes like clothing to me; he binds me like the neck of my garment. He throws me into the mud, and I am reduced to dust and ashes.”

Here he speaks very briefly of how his life has become miserable. We need to think about this little metaphor in verse 18, “God has become like clothing to
me.” We would think of clothing as a good thing, but what he means is, God has hemmed him in. God has trapped him so that he can never escape this grip God has on him in all the punishments and all the suffering God has afflicted him with. So he says very bluntly in verse 19 that God has thrown him into the mud.

He continues, verse 20: “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm. I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.”

Notice he began his final discourse speaking of how he longed for the days when he was close to God, when he knew God was his companion, when he walked with God, when he knew God was there when he called on him. Now God is his enemy, now God terrifies him and throws him about.

Verse 24: “Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress. Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor? Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me. I go about blackened, but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. I have become a brother of jackals, and companion of owls. My skin grows black and peels; my body burns with fever. My lyre is turned to mourning, and my pipe to the sound of wailing.”

Here he gives a simple statement of his distress. First of all, no one shows him any compassion. If people see someone who is broken, who is hurt, who is injured from a fall or something, they don’t come and attack him; but that is what is happening to Job. He doesn’t find good anywhere. His skin is burnt and hurting. And he says in verse 29 he has become like the jackals and the owls. In other words, these are creatures that are outside of society, creatures that nobody wants hanging around. He has become alienated to the whole human race. Finally, in verse 31 he says his lyre is turned to mourning. Of course, a lyre is a musical instrument, a stringed instrument, typically for singing songs of joy; so also a pipe, a musical instrument. But instead of making music, all Job can do is wail. The only sound that comes from him is weeping.

Job has gone from a position of high joy and high prestige, to a position of complete ruin. When we come back in the next chapter, he will give his negative
confession in which he declares his righteousness and all the sins that he did not commit.