The Cruel God: Job's Search for the Meaning of Suffering

By Margaret Brackenbury Crook | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
"I Know That My Redeemer Lives" . . . Job 19-20

Job holds to his contention that God is mistreating him without cause, stripping him of all a man holds dear. He wishes he might record his innocence in some imperishable form. Then, suddenly, he seizes upon a third great idea: Can a man in the clutches of death--but not yet dead--be aware, before he dies, of his vindication? He answers this unspoken question affirmatively, declaring that his Redeemer will arise to rescue him from the snares of death long enough to hear his innocence proclaimed and those who mock him silenced. Zophar, unable to contain his wrath, asks whether Job is reproaching him? God's judgment is never at fault; He annihilates godless men.

Now follows a pivotal chapter in the Book of Job. A man, pressed and harried on every side, refuses to disavow his own integrity even in the face of the awful enmity of God. The wisemen urge him to humble himself and confess his transgression, but they argue beside the point. Job cannot put himself right with the Almighty in this way. He holds, instead, that a man is able to judge his own transgression and to measure it, if it exists, against the punishment he is receiving. He knows when his case is out of balance. No wonder that the wisemen are perturbed: Job is undermining the basis of their teaching and questioning the code of action they attribute to God.

The Poet, in this closely woven second cycle of his Argument, is letting Job search continuously for an avenue by which he may present his case to God and be vindicated. Job has twice attempted to discover some way to appeal to God and secure His response. But he has worked without success: he cannot communicate with God, either in life or in an awareness after death. It is unlikely that the Poet's circle will let him con-

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