Tuesday, September 15, 2009

God's Presence & Purpose in Job 23 and Psalm 139

Job's sense of God's presence and purpose in Job 23 is in sharp contrast with David's sense of God's presence and purpose in Psalm 139. While Job never doubted God's sovereign power over his life, Job sought God out to understand the purpose for his sufferings.

1. God is everywhere--forward and backward.

Psalm 139:5: You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Job 23:8: Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him.

God orders all of David's steps, and David knows it. All of the things that David has done (behind) and things that David will do (before) are structured by God. In contrast, Job doesn't perceive God's work in his life. What is the underlying purpose between what will happen (forward) and what has happened (backward)?

2. God's hands are upon us.

Psalm 139:9-10: If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me.
Job 23:9: on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.

David knows that whatever we do and wherever we go, God is sovereign over all. All things come about through his hands. Job, on the other hand, doesn't understand what God is doing. Job does not see God at work in his life. We see Job asking the question--What is your purpose behind all this suffering?

3. Darkness and Light

Psalm 139:11-12: If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
Job 23:17: God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face.

Job doesn't understand why God has brought him through these sufferings -- he is "in the dark" with regard to God's plans. Psalm 139 points out that, unlike Job, God is himself not in the dark. God cannot be fooled; there is no plan or scheme that is outside of his knowledge and his powerful hand.

About Job 23, Matthew Henry writes, "Job knew that the Lord was every where present; but his mind was in such confusion, that he could get no fixed view of God's merciful presence, so as to find comfort by spreading his case before him. His views were all gloomy. God seemed to stand at a distance, and frown upon him."

We, like Job, are "in the dark" with regard to God's plans for our son Micah and for us.
But Job's struggles are a blessing to us because while we struggle with God's purposes for allowing Micah to die, we know that our questioning of the Lord is not a provocation to God. We, like Job, can trust in His sovereignty even while not sensing his presence or understanding his purposes.

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