Job 38-42 Too Much Talk
by Joseph Franks
Wise men tell us God has given us two ears and one mouth that we might learn to listen more and speak less. One has said, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and let others think you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Sacred scripture teaches that with many words come much sin. (Proverbs 10:19) James presents the tongue as a restless evil; it is quite easily led astray by the powers of hell. (James 3:6) Therefore, the wise man continually prays, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
The story of Job illustrates quite well the danger of loose lips. For thirty-seven chapters, the pages of Job are filled with sinful dialogue. Satan sins by slandering God and Job. Job’s wife sins by encouraging him to curse God and die. Job’s friends sin by concluding and proclaiming that Job’s suffering is the result of his sinful rebellion and incorrigibility. And somewhere in this saga, amidst the suffering, mourning, grief, groaning, anger, praying, making complaints and justifying himself, Job sins as well. Job is a righteous, blameless, upright, man who fears God, and runs from evil. Throughout this entire ordeal, Job is not faithless, but neither is he sinless. From the depths of his heart Job speaks, and ultimately Job sins.
Finally, after thirty-seven chapters of religious pontification, God speaks. The voices of Job and his friends fade as God bombards Job with one unanswerable question after another. God asks questions, not because he needs answers, nor because he desires to see what Job knows, but in order to humble his overstepping servant. When all is said and done, God wishes for Job to find his proper place under the sovereign hand of God. Regardless of whether or not he understands the hidden purposes of his Maker, Creator, Redeemer and Friend, Job is to be a humble servant ready to listen and persevere.
Job gets God’s point. He repents and shuts his mouth:
Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further. (Job 40:3-5)
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:2-6)
Friends, aren’t you tired of all the non-stop talk? Whether you watch TMZ, Fox News, or ESPN, the vain commentary goes on and on. When you get in your car, talk radio repeats the same points hour after hour, show after show, day after day. At the present time, you are reading a devotional blog — one of thousands available to you. Everyone has an opinion; everyone is an expert; everyone feels (including this author) you need to pay them special attention.
Perhaps we should turn off the TV and radio, put down our books, turn off our devices, and spend time personally meditating on the Word of God. Perhaps we should give as much time listening directly to the voice of God found in Holy Scripture, as we do listening to the voices of others talk about God. Yes, friends and teachers are gifts from God. Those who read books and are teachable are wise. However, the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired revelation. As regenerated, Spirit-filled priests, we have the ability to personally and privately commune with God.
So, enough of the chatter. Log off the internet, put down this blog, close your lips, open your Bible and listen. He who meditates on the Word of God is most wise and fruitful. (Psalm 1) He who humbles himself and listens directly to the voice of God finds himself like the Psalmist:
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 131)
Job is learning that a few minutes with God, and a few words from God are far better than the multitude of words flowing from men.