Job 17: Lessons From Job’s Seven Laments Regarding Seven Actions and Promises That Jesus Offers to All

Introduction: Through the book of Job, Job repeatedly complained about his suffering. To a modern reader with a short attention span, it might be easy to call Job melodramatic or a constant complainer. But few could imagine the pain of losing all their children, their wealth, and their health at the same time. God records Job’s extensive complaints to show that He welcomes your prayers of anguish as well. Here, Job again complained directly to God about his scorn and suffering. Through the revelation of God’s Word, Jesus reveals His answers to Job’s seven complaints. As a result of His: (1) suffering and (2) rejection at the cross, Jesus promises all believers His: (3) faithfulness, (4) justice, (5) honor, (6) restoration, and (7) joyful, eternal life.

First, Job complained about the suffering that he felt that he had unfairly received. His mistreatment foreshadowed the mistreatment that Jesus took. Although He was blameless and not worthy of suffering, Jesus took our suffering at the cross. Second, Job then lamented that he was unfairly rejected. Jesus was also unfairly rejected and despised so that all who believe might live. Third, Job asked God for a promise and a guarantor. Jesus was the answer to this request. He is faithful to keep His promises to you. Fourth, Job longed for justice against his false accusers. For those who are wronged, Jesus also promises His justice. Fifth, Job stated that he had become unfairly despised, and that the upright would one day be appalled at his mistreatment. Even though you may unfairly face rejection on Earth, Jesus promises to lift you up and honor you in heaven. Sixth, Job prophetically proclaimed that the righteous would be strengthened. His statement again foreshadowed Jesus. With faith, Jesus also promises to one day strength and restore you. Finally, although Job was a man of faith, he lacked the assurance of God’s Word. Thus, he saw no hope in his future death. Unlike Job, believers today have the assurance of God’s Word. Through faith, Jesus promises believers the hope of an eternal life.

1. Suffering: Although Blameless, Jesus Took the Suffering that We Deserve. Job 17:1.

  • Job lamented his broken spirit from his intense physical suffering. After Satan’s ongoing attacks on his health, Job confessed that he felt a broken spirit and was ready for death: “1 My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me.” (Job 17:1). God never rebuked Job for his anguish. Job did nothing to deserve his pain. He also suffered physical and emotional pain at Satan’s hands that few could ever understand.

  • The psalmists and Solomon also complained to God. Job was not the only godly man to complain to God. To let you know that you can cry out to God when you feel pain, the psalms are filled with cries of despair and pain: “For my soul has had enough troubles, and my life has approached Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I have become like a man without strength,” (Ps. 88:3-4). “Remember what my lifespan is; for what futility You have created all the sons of mankind!” (Ps. 89:47). “Behold, You have made my days like hand widths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; certainly all mankind standing is a mere breath. Selah.” (Ps. 39:5). Solomon also expressed bitter complaints in Ecclesiastes: “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is futility and striving after wind.” (Ecc. 1:14). “So I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold, all was futility and striving after wind, and there was no benefit under the sun.” (Ecc. 2:11). “This also is a sickening evil: exactly as a person is born, so will he die. What then is the advantage for him who labors for the wind?” (Ecc. 5:16). Jesus knows your thoughts before you think them. Thus, you don’t need to withhold your cries of pain from Him. He wants you to turn to Him so that you can find comfort.

Job cried out to God that he was broken, suffering, and near death1

  • Jesus took your suffering on the cross so that you can escape anguish. Although Job was nothing like Jesus, both suffered intense pain without deserving it. Before being nailed to the cross, Jesus was brutally whipped without being guilty of any crime (Matt. 27:26; Jo. 19:1). As he was marched to his death, was also forced to wear a painful crown of thorns (Jo. 19:5). He was then brutally nailed to the cross (Lk. 23:26-43). On the cross, He was also tortured, mocked, and given sour wine to drink using a soaked sponge (Jo. 19:29). Jesus suffered this intense torture so that everyone who believes might live: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ [Christ] said to them.” (Mark 14:24; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2:24; Is. 53:4-12). “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” (Is. 53:5; 1 Pet. 2:24).

  • Jesus had to die a painful death to make eternal life possible. Job’s suffering served the purpose of showing that suffering can happen without being caused by sin. His suffering also served to show that God always has a greater purpose, even if we don’t understand it at the time (Ro. 8:28). Jesus’ suffering also served a purpose. Without His suffering, no one could be made righteous before God: “[T]here is no one who does good.” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). “Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.” (Ps. 143:2). “There is none righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Rom. 3:10-11). Only the blood of Christ can save you from judgment: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). The shedding of His blood symbolized the exchanging of His life for yours (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22). “God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.” (Rom. 3:25). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, . . .” (Gal. 3:13). If you are grateful, what are you doing to thank Jesus? (Ro. 12:1).

2. Rejection: Out of Love for Us, Jesus Accepted Rejection and Being Despised. Job 17:2.

  • Job lamented the lost respect of his friends. Even though he was not guilty of any major sin, Job cried out to God that his friends no longer respected him and had turned against him: “Mockers are certainly with me, and my eye gazes on their provocation.” (Job 17:2). Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar originally came to offer comfort (Job 2:11). They initially did this by sitting silently with Job for seven days (Job 2:13). But they then attacked him. God also cares and welcomes your cries when you feel socially isolated and attacked.

Job cried out that he had become despised and rejected by everyone around him2

  • Job unfairly lost the respect of everyone around him. The only limitation that God placed on Satan was that he could not take Job’s life (Job 2:6). Satan had already turned Job’s wife against him (Job 2:9). She further found him to be repulsive: “My breath is offensive to my wife, . . .” (Job 19:17a). Satan had now also turned all of Job’s friends against him. “I am a joke to my friends, . . .” (Job 12:4a). “My friends are my scoffers; . . .” (Job 16:20a). “All my associates loathe me, and those I love have turned against me. . . My relatives have failed, and my close friends have forgotten me. . . “He has removed my brothers far from me, and my acquaintances have completely turned away from me. All my associates loathe me, and those I love have turned against me.” (Job 19:9,13-14, 19). They loathe me and stand aloof from me, and they do not refrain from spitting in my face.” (Job 30:10). Even children feared him with his open sores across his body: “Even young children despise me; I stand up and they speak against me.” (Job 19:18). Job did not realize that God would never abandoned him: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or in dread of them, for the LORD your God is the One who is going with you. He will not desert you or abandon you.” (Dt. 31:6). When you feel that others have turned against you, Jesus also wants you to cry out to Him.

  • The psalmist was also unfairly attacked. The psalmist also felt a similar feeling of isolation: “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Ps. 41:9). “You have removed my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an object of loathing to them; I am shut up and cannot go out.” (Ps. 88:8).

  • Jesus was also humiliated so that you could be empowered. Although He was without sin, Jesus bore our shame. Jesus was mocked when he stated that a girl believed to be dead was only asleep before He healed her (Matt. 9:24; Mk. 5:40). The soldiers also mocked Jesus when they beat Him (Matt. 27:29), and the chief priests mocked Him as well (Matt. 27:41). “Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him,” (Matt. 26:67). “They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.” (Matt. 27:30). Jesus suffered without deserving it so that you might be saved. He also wants you to know that He understands your pain.

3. Faithfulness: Jesus is Faithful to Keep His Promises to You. Job 17:3.

  • Job pleaded for God to assure him and provide a protector. Feeling attacked from every direction, Job pleaded for God to give him assurance and to provide a divine guarantor: “Make a pledge for me with Yourself; who is there that will be my guarantor?” (Job 17:3). Jesus again fulfilled his request. He is your promise and your guarantor: “by the same extent Jesus also has become the guarantee of a better covenant.” (Heb. 7:22).

  • Jesus is faithful. Jesus is the divine Word who became flesh (Jo. 1:1, 14). Thus, you can trust the Word as Jesus’ promise and guarantee: “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thess. 3:3). “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His faithfulness to a thousand generations for those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9). He further gave us the Holy Spirit as His “pledge”: “who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” (2 Cor. 1:22).

  • Be faithful because God is faithful to you. In response to His faithfulness, Jesus wants you to be faithful to Him: “for we walk by faith, not by sight—” (2 Cor. 5:7). “A faithful man will abound with blessings, . . .” (Prov. 28:20(a)). “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1:5). “but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” (1 Tim. 3:9). Without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6). You can show your faith by trusting Jesus, even when your life feels out of control or when you are under attack.

4. Justice: For Those Who Are Wronged, Jesus Promises His Justice. Job 17:4-5.

  • Job pleads for justice against those who falsely accused him. Although Job assumed that God had blinded his accusers’ hearts, he also pleaded for justice against his tormentors: “For You have kept their hearts away from understanding; therefore You will not exalt them. He who informs against friends for a share of the spoils, the eyes of his children also will perish.” (Job 17:4-5). Job was wrong to blame God for his friends’ spiritual blindness. But his complaints served an important purpose. In addition to crying out when you are in pain, you can cry out to God when you experience injustice.

  • Job repeatedly complained that he was unfairly attacked. Job had previously ascribed to God the power to make wrongdoers spiritually blind: “He deprives the trusted ones of speech, and takes away the discernment of the elders.” (Job 12:20). He also continued to cry out to God about his accusers. “I have become a brother to jackals, and a companion of ostriches.” (Job 30:29). The psalmist made a similar plea: “Be a guarantor for Your servant for good; do not let the arrogant oppress me.” (Ps. 119:122). King Hezekiah also made a similar plea: “Like a swallow, like a crane, so I twitter; I moan like a dove; My eyes look wistfully to the heights; Lord, I am oppressed, be my security.” (Is. 38:14).

  • God would judge Job’s friends for their slander. Zophar previously implied that Job had no escape from God’s judgment as an allegedly wicked man (Job 11:20). The other friends made similar allegations. God’s law on their hearts, however, prohibited slander (Lev. 19:16; Ex. 23:7). For the unsaved, slander will one day be judged: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” (Ro. 1:18). “See that no one deceives you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 5:6). Thus, Job prophetically stated that Zophar and his friends were in fact the ones who faced God’s ultimate judgment (Job 17:5).

  • God also delivered the Jews and brought them justice when they were unfairly attacked. God’s justice is sometimes felt immediately when you pray for it. For example, God brought justice when the Egyptians oppressed the Jews: ‘“I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage.”’ (Ex. 6:6(c)). And He promises to do so when you cry out as well: ‘“I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.”’ (Ex. 6:6(d)).

  • Jesus will return to judge those who reject His mercy and grace. For those who reject Jesus’ mercy and grace, Jesus will judge them according to their deeds: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” (Matt. 16:27). “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” (Rev. 22:12). “I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” (Rev. 2:23b). Thus, nonbelievers should not treat the promise of Jesus’ justice with indifference.

  • Be God’s salt and light to convict sinners. Job was right to leave judgment to God. It is for God alone to judge others: “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Ro. 12:19). But you are called upon to be God’s salt and light in the face of sin: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;” (Matt. 5:14). Salt is an irritant in the wound of sin. God wants you to love the sinner but hate the sin. When you hate sin, your salt and your light can convict a sinner. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matt. 5:13). Yet, if you are polluted by sin, God cannot use you to convict others. You would appear as a hypocrite to others. Are you speaking with love to stop injustice in the world?

5. Honor: Jesus Promises to Lift You Up and Honor You in Heaven. Job 17:6-8.

  • Job pleads for his unfair mistreatment to be exposed. Job lamented that he had become unfairly despised and prophetically proclaimed that his false accusers would be exposed: “But He has made me a proverb among the people, and I am one at whom people spit. My eye has also become inexpressive because of grief, and all my body parts are like a shadow. The upright will be appalled at this, and the innocent will stir himself up against the godless.” (Job 17:6-8). Job struggled because he was the subject of intense shame for his alleged sins: “I am full of shame, and conscious of my misery.” (Job 10:15b). “And now I have become their taunt, and I have become a byword to them.” (Job 30:9). But Job knew that God would not allow for this because He is just.

  • The psalmist also cried out to God when he was unfairly disgraced. Job was not the only godly man to be falsely dishonored because of alleged sins: “But I am a worm and not a person, a disgrace of mankind and despised by the people.” (Ps. 22:6). “Because of all my adversaries, I have become a disgrace, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.” (Ps. 31:11). “Those who sit in the gate talk about me, and songs of mockery by those habitually drunk are about me.” (Ps. 69:12). “You have removed my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an object of loathing to them; I am shut up and cannot go out.” (Ps. 88:8). “I have become a laughingstock to all my people, their song of ridicule all the day.” (Lam. 3:14). When you are unfairly disgraced, cry out for God to uplift you.

  • Jesus can lift your head when others falsely attack you. Because he believed that he was being punished, Job previously stated that he “dare not lift up [his] head.” (Job 10:15). He did not yet fully understand that it was God who allowed him to lift his head with confidence. He only needed to put his trust in God to be protected from his false accusers: “But You, LORD, are a shield around me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Ps. 3:3). “A Psalm; a song at the dedication of the House. A Psalm of David. I will exalt You, LORD, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.” (Ps. 30:1). “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Lk. 21:28). When you are falsely attacked, turn to Jesus and let him restore your honor.

  • Jesus exalts the humble. If you humble yourself, Jesus will also honor you: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Pet. 5:6). As one commentator observes: “Our own humiliation is inevitable. The frailty of humanity and the fallen nature of this world combine together to make the humiliation of man certain, yet it may come in many forms. Our humiliation may come to us through our own sin, through our own weaknesses, through circumstances beyond our control, or by what others put upon us. Thankfully, the humiliation of humanity has its model and sympathy in the life of Jesus. He climbed the ladder down from heaven’s glory to the lowest of human experience (Phil. 2:5-8) to give both meaning and dignity to the humiliation of man. We are also thankful that humiliation serves as a gateway to grace. The principle stands true: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Prov. 3:34Jam. 4:61 Pet. 5:5).” (David Guzik on Job 17) (italics in original).3

6. Restoration: Out of Love, Jesus Can Strength and Restore You. Job 17:9.

  • Job pleads for God’s strength and restoration. Out of faith, Job also prophetically proclaimed that God would one day strengthen and restore the pure and righteous: “Nevertheless the righteous will hold to his way, and the one who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger.” (Job 17:9). The Psalmist also cried out to God that his enemies had weakened him: “My eye has wasted away with grief; it has grown old because of all my enemies.” (Ps. 6:7). “Be gracious to me, LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body too.” (Ps. 31:9).

  • Jesus restores those who turn to Him. The prophet Isaiah revealed that God can restore and strengthen those who are weary: “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” (Is. 40:31). Among other things, Jesus can strengthen you by transferring some of His authority to you through the Holy Spirit: “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” (Jo. 16:23). God the Father transferred His authority to Jesus. Jesus in turn transferred authority to believers so that they could be co-builders in His Church: “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matt. 18:19-20). Are you using your authority to spread the Gospel? (Matt. 28:16-20).

  • With faith, Jesus can also restore you, including your lost health. Satan could only touch Job’s health with God’s permission (Job 2:6). Depending upon His greater plans for good (Ro. 8:28), God can either place a hedge of protection around your health, remove it, or restore it. Unless an exception applies, God promises to pour out His blessings on those who live in faith-led obedience (Dt. 28:1-2). This can include His promise to protect you from diseases and poor health: “And He said, ‘If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.’” (Ex. 15:26; Dt. 7:15). ‘“See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.”’ (Dt. 32:39). “ . . . the LORD binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.” (Is. 30:26). “For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal.” (Job 5:8). “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:3). “He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Ps. 107:20). There was a special reason for Job’s afflictions. Your afflictions might also serve a higher purpose. But God still wants your prayers for the restoration of your health when your health is failing or when you feel weak.

7. Eternal Life: Through Faith, Jesus Promises the Hope of an Eternal Life. Job 17:10-16.

  • Job lamented his perceived lack of hope after his death. Despite being a man of faith, Job lacked the assurance of God’s Word. Thus, he had no hope, even in his future death: “10 But come again all of you now, for I do not find a wise man among you. 11 My days are past, my plans are torn apart, the wishes of my heart. 12 They make night into day, saying, ‘The light is near,’ in the presence of darkness. 13 If I hope for Sheol as my home, I make my bed in the darkness; 14 if I call to the grave, ‘You are my father’; to the maggot, ‘my mother and my sister’; 15 Where then is my hope? And who looks at my hope? 16 Will it go down with me to Sheol? Shall we together go down into the dust?” (Job 17:10-16). Job had no hope because he thought that God viewed him as an enemy: “11 My days are past, my plans are torn apart, the wishes of my heart. . . 15 Where then is my hope? And who looks at my hope? ” (Job 17:11, 15). “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. . . “When a cloud vanishes, it is gone; in the same way one who goes down to Sheol does not come up.” (Job 7:6. 9). “Now my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good.” (Job 9:25).

Job lamented his belief that he had no hope4

  • Jesus offers you the hope of eternal life. While Job saw himself as headed to a place of darkness, Jesus offers the hope of eternal life in heaven: “but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” (2 Tim. 1:10). “to those who by perseverance in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life;” (Ro. 2:7). “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” (Ro. 12:12). “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” (Heb. 10:36). Thus, you have many reasons to praise Jesus.

  • Jesus offers you joy through the Spirit on Earth and in heaven. Paul described the joy of heaven as something beyond what humans have seen or experienced (1 Cor. 2:9). “And the redeemed of the LORD will return and come to Zion with joyful shouting, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Is. 35:10; Is. 60:2). Yet, you also don’t need to wait until you get to heaven to be filled with joy. Jesus offers you an abundant life now: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jo. 10:10). The abundant life that He offers includes the peace and joy that only the Holy Spirit can provide: “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Ro. 14:17). “[I]n Your presence is fullness of joy;” (Ps. 16:11; 21:6). Joy is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; Ro. 14:17; 15:13; Phil. 2:17(b)). When you suffer pain, do you seek out the joy of the Spirit?