Scripture Reflection

October 15 – Read, Reflect, Respond

Job Chapter 10

Job: I Loathe My Life

‘I loathe my life;
I will give free utterance to my complaint;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
I will say to God, Do not condemn me;
let me know why you contend against me.
Does it seem good to you to oppress,
to despise the work of your hands
and favour the schemes of the wicked?
Do you have eyes of flesh?
Do you see as humans see?
Are your days like the days of mortals,
or your years like human years,
that you seek out my iniquity
and search for my sin,
although you know that I am not guilty,
and there is no one to deliver out of your hand?
Your hands fashioned and made me;
and now you turn and destroy me.
Remember that you fashioned me like clay;
and will you turn me to dust again?
Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese?
You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and knit me together with bones and sinews.
You have granted me life and steadfast love,
and your care has preserved my spirit.
Yet these things you hid in your heart;
I know that this was your purpose.
If I sin, you watch me,
and do not acquit me of my iniquity.
If I am wicked, woe to me!
If I am righteous, I cannot lift up my head,
for I am filled with disgrace
and look upon my affliction.
Bold as a lion you hunt me;
you repeat your exploits against me.
You renew your witnesses against me,
and increase your vexation towards me;
you bring fresh troops against me.

‘Why did you bring me forth from the womb?
Would that I had died before any eye had seen me,
and were as though I had not been,
carried from the womb to the grave.
Are not the days of my life few?
Let me alone, that I may find a little comfort
before I go, never to return,
to the land of gloom and deep darkness,
the land of gloom and chaos,
where light is like darkness.’

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined. Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. Job’s intimacy with God is increasing through each chapter-Are you able to be this honest and intimate with God?
  2. Job’s lament is long, arduous and deeply personal. He perceives God as both merciful and punishing. From what part of his being does this perspective generate?
  3. Is it possible that this process of suffering and binary thinking is necessary to generate a more inclusive and higher consciousness view of who/what God is?

 

October 8 – Read, Reflect, Respond

Job Chapter 9

Then Job answered:
‘Indeed I know that this is so;
but how can a mortal be just before God?
If one wished to contend with him,
one could not answer him once in a thousand.
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength
—who has resisted him, and succeeded?—
he who removes mountains, and they do not know it,
when he overturns them in his anger;
who shakes the earth out of its place,
and its pillars tremble;
who commands the sun, and it does not rise;
who seals up the stars;
who alone stretched out the heavens
and trampled the waves of the Sea;*
who made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
who does great things beyond understanding,
and marvellous things without number.
Look, he passes by me, and I do not see him;
he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
He snatches away; who can stop him?
Who will say to him, “What are you doing?”

‘God will not turn back his anger;
the helpers of Rahab bowed beneath him.
How then can I answer him,
choosing my words with him?
Though I am innocent, I cannot answer him;
I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.*
If I summoned him and he answered me,
I do not believe that he would listen to my voice.
For he crushes me with a tempest,
and multiplies my wounds without cause;
he will not let me get my breath,
but fills me with bitterness.
If it is a contest of strength, he is the strong one!
If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?*
Though I am innocent, my own mouth would condemn me;
though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.
I am blameless; I do not know myself;
I loathe my life.
It is all one; therefore I say,
he destroys both the blameless and the wicked.
When disaster brings sudden death,
he mocks at the calamity* of the innocent.
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;
he covers the eyes of its judges—
if it is not he, who then is it?

‘My days are swifter than a runner;
they flee away, they see no good.
They go by like skiffs of reed,
like an eagle swooping on the prey.
If I say, “I will forget my complaint;
I will put off my sad countenance and be of good cheer”,
I become afraid of all my suffering,
for I know you will not hold me innocent.
I shall be condemned;
why then do I labour in vain?
If I wash myself with soap
and cleanse my hands with lye,
yet you will plunge me into filth,
and my own clothes will abhor me.
For he is not a mortal, as I am, that I might answer him,
that we should come to trial together.
There is no umpire* between us,
who might lay his hand on us both.
If he would take his rod away from me,
and not let dread of him terrify me,
then I would speak without fear of him,
for I know I am not what I am thought to be.*

Read the following questions with thought-filledness.

Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.

Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. When have you felt without God and what was the circumstance?
  2. Where in the passage has the scribe shown God as non-dualistic?
  3. In the depth of suffering, is it our personal pain and self-loathing that give voice to our inability to know we are one with God?

 

Job Chapter 8

Bildad Speaks: Job Should Repent
Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:
‘How long will you say these things,
and the words of your mouth be a great wind?
Does God pervert justice?
Or does the Almighty* pervert the right?
If your children sinned against him,
he delivered them into the power of their transgression.
If you will seek God
and make supplication to the Almighty,*
if you are pure and upright,
surely then he will rouse himself for you
and restore to you your rightful place.
Though your beginning was small,
your latter days will be very great.

‘For inquire now of bygone generations,
and consider what their ancestors have found;
for we are but of yesterday, and we know nothing,
for our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not teach you and tell you
and utter words out of their understanding?

‘Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh?
Can reeds flourish where there is no water?
While yet in flower and not cut down,
they wither before any other plant.
Such are the paths of all who forget God;
the hope of the godless shall perish.
Their confidence is gossamer,
a spider’s house their trust.
If one leans against its house, it will not stand;
if one lays hold of it, it will not endure.
The wicked thrive* before the sun,
and their shoots spread over the garden.
Their roots twine around the stoneheap;
they live among the rocks.*
If they are destroyed from their place,
then it will deny them, saying, “I have never seen you.”
See, these are their happy ways,*
and out of the earth still others will spring.

‘See, God will not reject a blameless person,
nor take the hand of evildoers.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter,
and your lips with shouts of joy.
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
and the tent of the wicked will be no more.’

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. 
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

Three questions…..

  1. The wisdom of Bildad speaks to us about surrender. Can you recall a time when you gave yourself completely and without reserve over to God’s will?
  2. Do you believe that in a place of surrender there is peace with self, the world and all that is holy?
  3. What exists in your life today that you would like to surrender?

Job Chapter 7 – NRSV

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

‘Remember that my life is a breath;
my eye will never again see good.
The eye that beholds me will see me no more;
while your eyes are upon me, I shall be gone.
As the cloud fades and vanishes,
so those who go down to Sheol do not come up;
they return no more to their houses,
nor do their places know them any more.

‘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.
Am I the Sea, or the Dragon,
that you set a guard over me?
When I say, “My bed will comfort me,
my couch will ease my complaint”,
then you scare me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
so that I would choose strangling
and death rather than this body.
I loathe my life; I would not live for ever.
Let me alone, for my days are a breath.
What are human beings, that you make so much of them,
that you set your mind on them,
visit them every morning,
test them every moment?
Will you not look away from me for a while,
let me alone until I swallow my spittle?
If 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?
Why 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.

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. 
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

Three questions…..

  1. There is a distinct and overwhelming aloneness to Job’s experience. He feels deserted by everything. When have you experienced and or felt abandoned in your life?
  2. Do you have a current person or persons in your life that accept and love you exactly as you are and have no expectations of you being any different?
  3. Are there people in your life that you accept completely, without expectation or condition?

Job Chapter 6

Job Replies: My Complaint Is Just
Then Job answered:
‘O that my vexation were weighed,
and all my calamity laid in the balances!
For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;
therefore my words have been rash.
For the arrows of the Almighty are in me;
my spirit drinks their poison;
the terrors of God are arrayed against me.
Does the wild ass bray over its grass,
or the ox low over its fodder?
Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt,
or is there any flavour in the juice of mallows?
My appetite refuses to touch them;
they are like food that is loathsome to me.

‘O that I might have my request,
and that God would grant my desire;
that it would please God to crush me,
that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
This would be my consolation;
I would even exult in unrelenting pain;
for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
What is my strength, that I should wait?
And what is my end, that I should be patient?
Is my strength the strength of stones,
or is my flesh bronze?
In truth I have no help in me,
and any resource is driven from me.

‘Those who withhold kindness from a friend
forsake the fear of the Almighty.
My companions are treacherous like a torrent-bed,
like freshets that pass away,
that run dark with ice,
turbid with melting snow.
In time of heat they disappear;
when it is hot, they vanish from their place.
The caravans turn aside from their course;
they go up into the waste, and perish.
The caravans of Tema look,
the travellers of Sheba hope.
They are disappointed because they were confident;
they come there and are confounded.
Such you have now become to me;
you see my calamity, and are afraid.
Have I said, “Make me a gift”?
Or, “From your wealth offer a bribe for me”?
Or, “Save me from an opponent’s hand”?
Or, “Ransom me from the hand of oppressors”?

‘Teach me, and I will be silent;
make me understand how I have gone wrong.
How forceful are honest words!
But your reproof, what does it reprove?
Do you think that you can reprove words,
as if the speech of the desperate were wind?
You would even cast lots over the orphan,
and bargain over your friend.

‘But now, be pleased to look at me;
for I will not lie to your face.
Turn, I pray, let no wrong be done.
Turn now, my vindication is at stake.
Is there any wrong on my tongue?
Cannot my taste discern calamity?

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. 
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

Three questions…..

  1. Job is beside himself in grief. His lament is poetic and filled with pain. Have you created something that you have expressed your suffering through?
  2. If you were one of Job’s companions, how would you attend to him?
  3. Can you imagine this depth of agony?

Job Chapter 5 

Job Is Corrected by God
‘Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
Surely vexation kills the fool,
and jealousy slays the simple.
I have seen fools taking root,
but suddenly I cursed their dwelling.
Their children are far from safety,
they are crushed in the gate,
and there is no one to deliver them.
The hungry eat their harvest,
and they take it even out of the thorns;
and the thirsty pant after their wealth.
For misery does not come from the earth,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground;
but human beings are born to trouble
just as sparks fly upward.

‘As for me, I would seek God,
and to God I would commit my cause.
He does great things and unsearchable,
marvellous things without number.
He gives rain on the earth
and sends waters on the fields;
he sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
He takes the wise in their own craftiness;
and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.
They meet with darkness in the daytime,
and grope at noonday as in the night.
But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth,
from the hand of the mighty.
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.

‘How happy is the one whom God reproves;
therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up;
he strikes, but his hands heal.
He will deliver you from six troubles;
in seven no harm shall touch you.
In famine he will redeem you from death,
and in war from the power of the sword.
You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
and shall not fear destruction when it comes.
At destruction and famine you shall laugh,
and shall not fear the wild animals of the earth.
For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals shall be at peace with you.
You shall know that your tent is safe,
you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.
You shall know that your descendants will be many,
and your offspring like the grass of the earth.
You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,
as a shock of grain comes up to the threshing-floor in its season.
See, we have searched this out; it is true.
Hear, and know it for yourself.’

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. 
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

Three questions…..

  1. The Hebrew testament God can be very black and white and relatively clear in circumstantial intention-is your perception of God black and white?
  2. Given the circumstances Job is experiencing, is God offering support, chastisement or simply being directive?
  3. If you were Job, would you feel God with you through this dialogue?

 

Job Chapter 4

 Eliphaz Speaks: Job Has Sinned
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
‘If one ventures a word with you, will you be offended?
But who can keep from speaking?
See, you have instructed many;
you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have supported those who were stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?

‘Think now, who that was innocent ever perished?
Or where were the upright cut off?
As I have seen, those who plough iniquity
and sow trouble reap the same.
By the breath of God they perish,
and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion,
and the teeth of the young lions are broken.
The strong lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the whelps of the lioness are scattered.

‘Now a word came stealing to me,
my ear received the whisper of it.
Amid thoughts from visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on mortals,
dread came upon me, and trembling,
which made all my bones shake.
A spirit glided past my face;
the hair of my flesh bristled.
It stood still,
but I could not discern its appearance.
A form was before my eyes;
there was silence, then I heard a voice:
“Can mortals be righteous before God?
Can human beings be pure before their Maker?
Even in his servants he puts no trust,
and his angels he charges with error;
how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed like a moth.
Between morning and evening they are destroyed;
they perish for ever without any regarding it.
Their tent-cord is plucked up within them,
and they die devoid of wisdom.”

Read the following questions with thought-filledness.
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. Eliphaz accuses Job of not living into his faith-of sinning; how do you understand or perceive Job at this point in his journey?
  2. Do we need to prove ourselves to God?
  3. How do you understand sin?

Job – Chapter 3

Job Curses the Day He Was Born

After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. Job said:
‘Let the day perish on which I was born,
and the night that said,
“A man-child is conceived.”
Let that day be darkness!
May God above not seek it,
or light shine on it.
Let gloom and deep darkness claim it.
Let clouds settle upon it;
let the blackness of the day terrify it.
That night—let thick darkness seize it!
let it not rejoice among the days of the year;
let it not come into the number of the months.
Yes, let that night be barren;
let no joyful cry be heard in it.
Let those curse it who curse the Sea,
those who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan.
Let the stars of its dawn be dark;
let it hope for light, but have none;
may it not see the eyelids of the morning—
because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb,
and hide trouble from my eyes.

‘Why did I not die at birth,
come forth from the womb and expire?
Why were there knees to receive me,
or breasts for me to suck?
Now I would be lying down and quiet;
I would be asleep; then I would be at rest
with kings and counsellors of the earth
who rebuild ruins for themselves,
or with princes who have gold,
who fill their houses with silver.
Or why was I not buried like a stillborn child,
like an infant that never sees the light?
There the wicked cease from troubling,
and there the weary are at rest.
There the prisoners are at ease together;
they do not hear the voice of the taskmaster.
The small and the great are there,
and the slaves are free from their masters.

‘Why is light given to one in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
who long for death, but it does not come,
and dig for it more than for hidden treasures;
who rejoice exceedingly,
and are glad when they find the grave?
Why is light given to one who cannot see the way,
whom God has fenced in?
For my sighing comes like my bread,
and my groanings are poured out like water.
Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me,
and what I dread befalls me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
I have no rest; but trouble comes.’

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. Try reading out loud.

Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.

Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. What feelings and/or images come to you while reading Job’s lament?
  2. Can you imagine feeling this broken?
  3. Have you ever wished you were not born or have you ever wanted to die?

August 20, 2020

Job-The Jewish bible. Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter 1 – Job and His Family

There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and very many servants; so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold feasts in one another’s houses in turn; and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the feast days had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt-offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ This is what Job always did.

Attack on Job’s Character

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job Loses Property and Children

One day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were ploughing and the donkeys were feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three columns, made a raid on the camels and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came across the desert, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; I alone have escaped to tell you.’

Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshipped. He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.

Chapter 2

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.’

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.

Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

Read the following questions with thought-filledness.

Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.

Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. Are there ways that you can relate to Job?
  2. Who is Satan/Adversary? (Adversary is the original translation from the Jewish Bible).
  3. Does God test us?