Monday, October 28, 2013

biblical satire

Good afternoon sisters and brothers,
Today's reading shows us Job voicing his complaint to God. Job is a great book both for the raw emotion and for the poetry and even satire it uses to express that emotion. In this passage we see Job turning several Biblical images upside down.

For instance, Job says, "What are human beings that you make so much of them," which echoes Psalm 8: "What are human beings that you are mindful of them..." In the Psalm, the writer is amazed and grateful that God bothers with people even though we are insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe. Job turns that around to ask why God bothers to torment someone so insignificant. Job also calls God a "watcher," meaning in this case that God looks out for ways to accuse him. We see that same idea of God watching over us in places like Psalm 121, where it is a powerful image of hope and comfort. Biblical images are rich and the more we read them and let them sink into us, the greater our ability to feel and express God's love and the breadth of human emotion.

God bless,

Job 7:1-21
“Do not human beings have a hard service on earth, and are not their days like the days of a laborer? 2Like a slave who longs for the shadow, and like laborers who look for their wages, 3so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me. 4When I lie down I say, ‘When shall I rise?’ But the night is long, and I am full of tossing until dawn. 5My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt; my skin hardens, then breaks out again. 6My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and come to their end without hope.

7“Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good. 8The eye that beholds me will see me no more; while your eyes are upon me, I shall be gone. 9As the cloud fades and vanishes, so those who go down to Sheol do not come up; 10they return no more to their houses, nor do their places know them any more. 11“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. 12Am I the Sea, or the Dragon, that you set a guard over me?

13When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’ 14then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions, 15so that I would choose strangling and death rather than this body. 16I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone, for my days are a breath.

17What are human beings, that you make so much of them, that you set your mind on them, 18visit them every morning, test them every moment? 19Will you not look away from me for a while, let me alone until I swallow my spittle? 20If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of humanity? Why have you made me your target? Why have I become a burden to you? 21Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be.”

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