[reaction to OYB’s Aug. 24-26 readings]
The Bible is full of affirmations of God helping people succeed. The histories, which I need to write a general response to, are full of stories of people going against God and failing. One of today’s readings from Proverbs makes it personal, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.” 21:30. After his friends just don’t seem to get it, Job also chooses to highlight some of the bad things that God can do to a person:
13 “To God belong wisdom and power;
counsel and understanding are his.
14 What he tears down cannot be rebuilt;
those he imprisons cannot be released.
15 If he holds back the waters, there is drought;
if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.
16 To him belong strength and insight;
both deceived and deceiver are his.
17 He leads rulers away stripped
and makes fools of judges.
18 He takes off the shackles put on by kings
and ties a loincloth around their waist.
19 He leads priests away stripped
and overthrows officials long established.
20 He silences the lips of trusted advisers
and takes away the discernment of elders.
21 He pours contempt on nobles
and disarms the mighty.
22 He reveals the deep things of darkness
and brings utter darkness into the light.
23 He makes nations great, and destroys them;
he enlarges nations, and disperses them.
24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason;
he makes them wander in a trackless waste.
25 They grope in darkness with no light;
he makes them stagger like drunkards
12:13-25. Many of the psalms do this too, but I really think it is valuable to have a character in the Bible dealing with suffering and being angry at God about it. I couldn’t pass up this little gem, however, provided by one of Job’s friends that details how evil is its own punishment.
12 “Though evil is sweet in his mouth
and he hides it under his tongue,
13 though he cannot bear to let it go
and lets it linger in his mouth,
14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;
it will become the venom of serpents within him.
15 He will spit out the riches he swallowed;
God will make his stomach vomit them up.
16 He will suck the poison of serpents;
the fangs of an adder will kill him.
17 He will not enjoy the streams,
the rivers flowing with honey and cream.