Reformed Commentary on Job: Chapter 15


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After Job has spoken of original sin and the resurrection, Eliphaz thinks he is out of his mind.

Chapter 15 (For Previous Chapter Click Here)

Eliphaz, not privy to the wisdom of God given to Job by the Holy Spirit, cannot help but react in disgust. “What is Job talking about,” he thinks to himself. “He is full of hot air and makes accusations against God! Why does he think he will be vindicated and resurrected from the dead, when clearly he is being punished for sin?”

In verse 2, we should interpret Eliphaz’s comments on wind, particularly the “east wind” which would have originated in present day Saudi Arabia, as a simple “you’re full of hot air” sort of comment. The text gives us some clue as to what Eliphaz considers the hot air to be.

For one, it is “irreverent” (Job 15:4). This would include any insinuations or assertions made by Job that God would be incorrect in punishing him.

Another would be that Job is speaking above his head (i.e. “you choose the language of the crafty,” Job 15:5). What is above Eliphaz’s head? Job’s treatment of concepts such as original sin, forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection of the righteous in Christ would have been confusing concepts. After all, only those with the Holy Spirit like Job can understand spiritual concepts, to the natural man like Eliphaz they are foolishness (1 Cor 1:24).

It is because Eliphaz lacks such insight that he asks Job where exactly he gets such ideas from. It’s not from age or generations of learning, for Job is not “the first man born” (Job 15:7) nor from the traditions of men older than Job’s father (Job 15:10). Eliphaz also does not think it is from revelation (Job 15:8) because unlike him who had a vision in the night (which he invokes in Job 15:14), Job makes no claim to hearing a booming voice from heaven telling him of the resurrection of the dead. Job also is not essentially smarter than his friends (Job 15:9).

So, the only conclusion Eliphaz can draw is that Job is being full of himself and speaking falsely. The “consolations of God” as he arrogantly calls his and the friends’ advice must be “too small” and insignificant for big-headed Job (Job 15:11). Elihu  wants to know why Job’s pride “carries him away” from God and cause his eyes to “flash” with indignation (Job 15:12-13)?

After trying to humble Job by accusing him of arrogance, Eliphaz gets to the central thesis of his argument: man is totally depraved. This means, sinful man always deserves punishment and suffering. This conclusion, which Eliphaz believes is inspired by revelation from God, as we covered in chapter four seriously undercuts his own argument. After all, if “man, who drinks iniquity like water” (Job 15:16) “born of a woman” (Job 15:14) cannot be righteous, and the “holy ones” and “the heavens are not pure in His sight” (Job 15:15), then surely there is no hope for even Eliphaz, let alone Job! For, God would have no reason to take pleasure in absolutely anything. Every man is unrighteous and must be crushed. The angels are not good enough and in them he “puts no trust” (Job 15:15). Even heaven itself is repulsive in His sight, according to Elihu.

As we covered in chapter four, Satan’s lies are crafty. Man is unrighteous, apart from Christ. There are indeed angels God places no trust in, such as Satan. Further, even “heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You” (1 Kings 8:27) so the heavens cannot compare with God. However, the notion that all of these things are not only deficient compared to God (they are) but totally unclean and repulsive, would mean that God is compelled to destroy them. But, why would such destruction be arbitrary and inconsistent if it were deserved? Further, it negates the idea that God glories in Job, the worship of his people and the angels in both heaven and Earth.

As for the deficiency of the heavens, we cannot comment as to the exact nature of this charge. One can only say there will be a new heavens and a new Earth, and there both angels and men will be able to look upon God, something that even the angels in Isaiah could not do. For, this is a mystery too great for us and we cannot comment on the notion intelligently.

Eliphaz, after making his self-contradictory point, then puts revelation aside and seeks to teach Job by appealing to an argumentum ad populum: “what I have seen I will also declare what wise men have told and have not concealed from their fathers” (, i.e. the traditions of men, Job 15:17-18). After all, his appeal to revelation was only his “back up plan” in order to explain why anyone, at anytime, can suffer while defending God against accusations of unrighteousness. The traditions of men are not quite so lofty and simply repeat the tried but true “what comes around goes around” way of thinking.

The following trite proverbs according to Eliphaz come with God’s seal of approval. After all, God gave these men which the proverbs come from “the land” and have kept them unpolluted from outsiders that might have corrupted their thinking (Job 15:19). We already know how throughout the Old Testament, intermarriage and other relations with non-Israelites was seen as a corrupting influence. In the same way, these gentiles in the Book of Job were aware of such notions and defended their own time-honored traditions of men.

These traditions taught that evil men live in pain (Job 15:20), with a sense of constant fear and stress (Job 15:21, 24). They think of themselves as untouchable even from death, only to die by the sword (Job 15:22). The wicked ultimately go hungry (Job 15:23) even though they confidently attack God (Job 15:25-26). They are fattened by the world’s wealth and trust in it to sustain them (Job 15:27). Yet, their wealth is temporary (Job 15:28-31) and it won’t last even past their own lifetime (Job 15:32-33). Such evil men’s destruction is assured (Job 15:34), though the flames Eliphaz invokes unbeknownst to him are not figurative. They will greet the wicked in Hell.

All of these traditions teach it is bad to be evil, but they do not explain why Job suffers. They also do not explain why the wicked often escape punishment. Even though Eliphaz claims to observe these things, any of us can confirm the opposite with our own observations. So, while to Eliphaz it is obvious that Job’s suffering is the result of the fact that he “conceive[s] mischief and bring[s] forth iniquity” (Job 15:35), Job by the Spirit of God knows the truth is far different.

Reformed Commentary on Job: Chapter 14


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The doctrine of original sin makes it where man always deserves to be punished, but makes him unable to have had a choice in the matter. Job explores this issue and more in this chapter.

Chapter 14 (For Previous Chapter Click Here, For Subsequent Chapter Click Here)

It is a simple enough idea for the Christian to understand that because all men are sinful that they all deserve punishment. Why? Because even of the infraction is finite, the one sinned against is infinite. So, suffering is deserved. However, Job’s complaints now turn to the idea of why an infinite God would take an interest in man so that He would ordain his suffering. Man’s life is short (Job 14:1-2) and as Job observed in chapter 12, isn’t God ultimately responsible for the existence of suffering (Job 14:3-6)? Is He not the great permitter of evil?

Far be it from God for Him to be evil. However, as Job correctly observed earlier, “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this” (Job 12:9)?

Job speculates, “Why can’t God just decide that man is too insignificant to even care about that He must put him into judgment?” Some people complain that the doctrine of original sin is unfair, because God made man liable to punishment as a default and man had no choice in it. Job appears to be making the same complaint. As Matthew Henry observes concerning Job 14:4, “If man be born of a woman that is a sinner, how can it be otherwise than that he should be a sinner?”

And, if God knowingly did this, why should He act surprised and feel the need to punish man for something He Himself ordained as the default? Job questions God why He can’t let such a man be (Job 14:6), especially in light of man’s finitude compared to other parts of God’s creation such as trees, which get a second chance (Job 14:7-9). Job’s point is clear: man not only doesn’t get a second chance like the plants. Because of original sin he never had a chance at all! Inevitably, man is punished for sin against his will. But, if man is so unimportant, why does God care so much to put man in such a vicious cycle? This is why Job begs God to “turn Your gaze from him [mankind]” (Job 14:6).

Job observes that once man dies he never returns (Job 14:10-12), and this was likely considered orthodoxy at the time.* However, Job is a man of faith and God has given him insight and hope for something more, an eternity with Him:

Oh that You would hide me in Sheol,

That You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You,

That You would set a limit for me and remember me (Job 14:3)!

Job asks to be hidden in death so his pain may cease, but that this state not be eternal and that God would remember and restore (i.e. resurrect) him.

If a man dies, will he live again (Job 14:4a)?


All the days of my struggle I will wait

Until my change comes (Job 14:4b).

Here, Job reflects his faith that though God slay him now, he will be restored because of his faith, even if it is after his death.

You will call, and I will answer You;

You will long for the work of Your hands (Job 14:15).

All that are called from God will hear His voice (John 10:27). Because God promises He will lose none whom He has given to the Son (John 6:39), Job knows God will restore him.

For now You number my steps,

You do not observe my sin (Job 14:16).

This is why Job is confident in his restoration: by faith, God has forgiven him for his sins nor his imputed sin from Adam (Rom 5:12).

My transgression is sealed up in a bag,

And You wrap up my iniquity (Job 14:17).

Job understood what the Holy Spirit said in Micah:

He will again have compassion on us;

He will tread our iniquities under foot.

Yes, You will cast all their sins

Into the depths of the sea (Mic 7:19).

After these lofty words of faith, Job returns to despair (Job 14:18-22). Why? It is not because he lost his faith in God and what we saw before was a mere spark in the red hot ashes before they start losing their color. Job has kept his faith all along, lest Satan be vindicated. Rather, because Job does not understand why God slays him, though he hopes in God and is confident in faith that he will be restored after he is dead, he cannot make sense of the present suffering.

The thought pains Job that God can humiliate a man just as He can hew stone with soft water over time (Job 14:18-19). God totally overpowers man until the day he dies and it appears that apart from our hopes in an afterlife, man knows nothing after death, but only pain and suffering during his own life (Job 14:20-22).

*The Book of Job in general reflects an inconcise nature of the afterlife. Some passages speak very clearly about resurrection and even the existence of hell. Other passages, like some in this chapter, appear to exclude the possibility. Being that most of the debate in the book is whether the righteous get awarded and the wicked punished in this life, it appears that the contemporary viewpoint dwelt upon the here and now, while not necessarily excluding an afterlife.

Regardless, Job has not abandoned his faith. However, he still questions God as to why He operates the way he does with finite man while he is still living. If man is insignificant enough to wantonly crush, why not just leave him alone? For now, Job is left to wonder.

Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance and Hate Speech


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Pastors and other protesters gather in Houston to voice their opposition to the Equal Rights Ordinance and the chilling effect on free speech.

The Conservative blogosphere is in an uproar over a city implementing what amounts to nothing more than a local Civil Rights Act. So, what is the big deal?

Liberals, after dealing with years of homosexual-banning, creationism-teaching, Theocratic laws now have the upperhand to impose their secular Theocracy. Apparently, theologically conservative preachers have been subpoenaed so that they must present copies of sermons critical of the law. While, not banning their freedom of speech in of itself, the chilling effect is clear.

However, as I have said before, this is what happens when we as a society believe that it is the government’s job to legislate morality and to teach it in schools. The moment the majority of society no longer derives their morals from the Bible and Church Tradition, what sort of morality do you expect the government to be pushing? Secularism.

Secularism is the religion of worldliness. Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). Satan is the prince of this world (2 Cor 4:4). The world does not believe in tolerance, it believes in compulsion.

Congratulations people of America, you just handed over your laws and schools to the Beast. There is no buying or selling without the mark of the Beast. Those who give a testimony against the Beast are to be beheaded (Rev 20:4).

We are not quite there yet, though there are definitely semblances of it. While America does not have hate speech laws yet, we are almost there. Civil rights legislation, like that in Colorado, has made it where you have to make a wedding cake to celebrate an occasion that you view as pure evil. If you do not comply, you get punished for it. Will the day eventually come where we may have to die for our faith? Certainly.

What should Christians do? First, we need to be peacemakers (Matt 5:9). “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom 12:9). That means not getting all judgmental on people that are gay, mentally ill cross dressers, or whatever else. It is easy to point at people that are “strange,” but I ask you “who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery” (Rom 3:21-22)? Do you commit adultery and murder in your heart? Do you love your wealth more than the Lord and refuse to part with it? Do you hate and therefore, commit murder in your heart (Matt 5:22, 1 John 3:15)?

Second, know whom you place your faith in. It is not your own righteousness, you don’t have any. Don’t pretend you are better than other people, even if they are strange. When the Scripture says, “The intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21) are you somehow excluded? “There is none righteous, not even one…There is none who seeks for God,” (Rom 3:10-11), says the Scripture, does none mean some? “For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all” (Rom 11:32).

That’s right, you, me, the liberals, the homosexuals, all of us left to ourselves seethe with hatred against God because of our disobedience to Him. Forget about not following the Ten Commandments, even if you never heard of them, you don’t even listen to your own conscience all the time (Rom 2:12-16). “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10).

The only hope for any of us is Jesus Christ, because if we confess that He is Lord and that He rose from the dead we are saved (Rom 10:9). Our sins are nailed to the cross (Col 2:14) so we no longer stand condemned and “to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom 4:5).

Third, preach the good news without fearing the consequences. Don’t protest about your “free speech” and your “rights.” Use the opportunity to preach Christ’s name publicly and without shame. Often, this is hard to do. It can be embarrassing. In this world, it is easier to get all self-righteous about how you’re treated rather than go out there and preach Christ.

Honestly, when I see situations like the one in Houston unfolding, I believe we get to see the goats already being separated from the sheep.

Reformed Commentary on Job: Chapter 13


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Job hits the limits of human knowledge when trying to understand the righteousness of God. Can we know the unknowable?

Chapter 13 (For Previous Chapter Click Here, For Subsequent Chapter Click Here)

The first two verses of the chapter wrap up Job’s defense to his friends. After showing he is not being irrational like a donkey, he moves us to his true concern: why is God acting so unjustly?

Job has a profound sense of right and wrong and it can be seen in his response to his friends. He feels as if his friends are lying to protect God from accusations of injustice, because their theology does not correspond with observable reality (Job 13:4, 5, 7, 8). Job correctly anticipates, perhaps hoping deep down (Heb 11:2) that God is righteous, that they will be punished for their lies (Job 13:9-11).

As we have touched on previously, Job believes God is acting outside of some sort of idea of justice that He is compelled to abide by at the risk of being unjust Himself. The concept of justice in the Scripture, we should be reminded, is not like the preceding at all. It is something decreed by God Himself:

[L]et the clouds pour down righteousness;

Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit,

And righteousness spring up with it.

I, the Lord, have created it (Is 45:8).

Though Job begrudgingly accepts that because of brute strength God is always right (Job 9:3-4), he apparently is starting to consider the idea that righteousness is not entirely consistent with His nature.

Obviously, as we have also touched on before, the Scripture unequivocally against such an idea. Concerning God the Scripture says, “And all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord” (Ps 33:4-5). Further, “The sum of Your word is truth and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting” (Ps 119:160). Yet again, “As for God, His way is blameless” (Ps 18:30).

However, because Job does not yet appreciate this and presently interprets the existence of suffering as inconsistent with a god who loves justice, he again reiterates his desire for an arbitrator between him and God. Job obviously feels wronged: “I desire to argue with God” (Job 13:3). Yet, he pleads his case willing to deal with the consequences if he is found in the wrong (Job 13:13).

Job is confident: “Behold now, I have prepared my case; I know that I will be vindicated” (Job 13:18). Why is he so confident that he is right and won’t be punished, like his friends? Our interpretation is that deep down, Job is a man of faith. We can see this in Job 13:15-16, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. This also will be my salvation, for a godless man may not come before His presence.”

His Godliness is proven by the fact that like Jacob, he is wrestling with God in faith (Gen 32:28). God does not wrestle with unbelievers, because they are not allowed into the presence of God anymore than someone is in the presence of the Persian king apart from being summoned (Esther 4:16). Those not imputed Christ’s righteousness cannot even be looked upon by God who, “Purer of eyes than to behold evil, to look on perverseness Thou art not able” (Hab 1:13, YLT).

As David prayed in his Psalm, even when brought low he was confident in God’s faithfulness:

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning…O Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong; You hid Your face, I was dismayed…You have turned for me my mourning into dancing, You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever (Ps 30:5, 7, 11, 12).

So, why shouldn’t Job hope in the one who slays him, for His anger is but for a moment while His favor is assured forever? Again, the doctrine of assurance gives the believer real comfort in times of trial. Without assurance, there is positively no reason to hope that God’s anger will ever cease. Thus, rhe doctrine gives the believer confidence in God’s righteousness, even when suffering is present.

God does not forsake His people, because it is His promise He will lose none of them (John 6:39). “For the Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones. They are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off” (Ps 37:28).

Further, “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him. But when he cried to Him for help, He heard” (Ps 22:4).

Job might have been aware the God tests his faithful ones, but God will not forsake them if they are faithful in their ways: “You have tried my heart, You have visited me by night, You have tested me and You find nothing. I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress” (Ps 17:3).

Hence, confident in God’s promises, he issues a challenge to his friends to prove him wrong (Job 13:19) and then begs for God to relent. Job says that he will “no longer hide from Your face” (Job 13:20) on the condition that God will both end the suffering and the unhealthy fear of Him that it causes (Job 13:21).

We always hear of the importance of “fearing the Lord.” In fact, Job himself makes it explicit that he finds it important too. However, we are not to fear God because He is more powerful than us and at a whim may seek to destroy us. We are not to live in fear of an all-powerful sadist, because this would be fear of a lie. Instead, man should fear God because of a knowledge of his own sin and knowing that apart from God’s unmerited grace, he could do nothing to make himself right with a completely righteous God that cannot bear to cast His eyes upon wickedness.

Job appears to understand this idea, because when asking God to remove His hand he asks in his confusion, “How many are my iniquities and sins” (Job 13:23)? Job knows that God has been gracious to him and he had not done anything to hide His face (Job 13:24). He knows that the true God does not hold “the iniquities of my youth” (Job 13:26) against him.

The god he is experiencing now is a terrifying phantom. It is totally inconsistent with God’s self-revealed nature, the God he knew his whole life, for the Almighty turn His face apart from any other reason other than sinning against Him. As Isaiah makes clear, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Is 59:2).

Yet, God is silent to Job and does not reveal Himself to him. He appears to have withdrawn all of His grace, though from chapter two we know that even in all of this suffering God still protects Job’s very life, knowingly sustaining his faith.

As for Job, he feels trapped. His feet are “in the stocks” so he cannot escape God’s terrifying watch (Job 13:27). It is as if the phantom is waiting just for the right moment to crush him. In the meantime, Job is wasting away in fear (Job 13:28).

Before we conclude our commentary on this chapter, let’s take some time to consider Job 13:12 which states, “Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay.”

It is easy to read this line and simply interpret it to mean that Job’s friends have made some good sounding arguments, but they are shallow and incorrect. This may be true, but it is worth reflecting on the nature of wisdom.

The Scripture admonishes us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (Prov 3:5).

Why? Isn’t man made in the image of God? If God has wisdom, why can’t the image of God independently, through scientific and philosophical endeavors, discern truth on his own?

Man is a finite being unlike God and finitude means that we cannot grasp the infinite. However, this has not stopped men from trying to do so. For example, all men have the ability to contemplate their own existence (i.e. Descartes’ “I think therefore I am.”) It is our conjecture that this gives many of us the illusion that we truly understand the entirety of our own existence, which includes issues such as right and wrong. So, Job’s friends would think that they have a firm grasp of how God deals with issues of justice, but as he observes their proverbs are meaningless.

How about Job himself? He questions God, because he thinks what is occurring to him is wrong of God to do. Therefore, his assumption is that he has a firm grasp of what is right and what is wrong, and clearly God is not abiding by it. Does this make Job a lot like his friends in the sense that he believes he correctly understands the nature of righteousness in its infinite reality?

It is in this where Job and his friends are being foolish. But, this is common to men, especially children. In reality, none of us are no different than a five-year-old who thinks he knows it all and that his mommy and daddy are unfair.  The five-year-old does not know better, because he is simply too stupid to understand his parents’ purposes. Likewise, man when he questions the Almighty is too finite to understand the purposes of God, because he is not God.  Man, if we are to believe in evolution, is in many respects just a very sophisticated animal.  So, we believe that even the most sophisticated animal existing on a material plain is simply not made to understand the full material and non-material natures of reality.

There is a real danger in taking our narrow human experience, limited by our history of ideas and an inherently finite ability to comprehend our reality, and seeing it as the be-all end-all. Reality is bigger than man and man on his own can only see the shadows of the forms of truth and not grasp truth on his own. Apart from the Holy Spirit, man cannot know God. Only by faith in Christ we can, to the “measure” God has allotted us (Rom 12:3), know Him. For:

Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:11-16).

How can we question God’s righteousness if He is so far above us and His ways are not our ways? For the Scripture states: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways” (Is 55:8). Again, “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right” (Ezek 18:25)? As Paul put it:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (Rom 11:33-36).

Eliphaz is partially correct. Indeed men “die, yet without wisdom” (Job 4:21). But, this is only when man is left to his own devices. A man, with his own inherent natural ability, cannot know things that are spiritually discerned. The human mind and intellect is not built for the task. As Muslim philosopher Ibn Khaldun observed in his superb work, The Muqaddimah:

Now, it might be assumed that there exists another kind of perception different from ours, since our sense perceptions are created and brought into existence [i.e. they are finite for man’s lifespan is finite]. God’s creation extends beyond the creation of man. Complete knowledge does not exist (in man). The world of existence is too vast for him.

“God has comprehension beyond theirs” (Qu’ran, Surah 85:20). Therefore, everyone should be suspicious of the comprehensiveness of his perceptions and the results of his perception, and should follow what the Lawgiver [God in His revelation] commanded him to believe and to do. He [God] is more desirous of his happiness (than man himself) and He knows better what is good for him. His level (of perception) is higher than that of human perception.

The territory He covers (in his mind) is wider than that of human intelligence. This does not speak against the intellect and intellectual perceptions [of man]. The intellect, indeed, is a correct scale. Its indications are completely certain and in no way wrong.

However, the intellect should not be used to weigh such matters as the oneness of God, the other world [heaven], the truth of prophecy, the real character of the divine attributes, or anything else that lies beyond the level of the intellect [of man]. That would mean to desire the impossible.

One might compare it [human intellect] with a man who sees a scale in which gold is being weighed, and wants to weigh mountains in it. The (fact that this is impossible) does not prove that the indications of the scale are not true (when it is used for its proper purpose). However, there is a limit at which the intellect must stop. It cannot go beyond its own level (Chapter 6 “Methods of Instruction,” Section 14; parenthesis are translator’s interpretations, brackets are our own).

Ibn Khaldun asserts that humanity’s intellect is not totally meaningless. It works at doing what it is suited for, just as the gold scale works for weighing things smaller than mountains. So, the intellect alone can be used to verify our own existence. However, it cannot peer into every nature of an infinite reality, because man himself is not infinite. In these matters, we defer to God’s revelation, which is the Scripture and direct revelation from the Holy Spirit, which will not contradict the Scripture because God does not contradict Himself (2 Tim 2:13).

We must not be like Job’s friends or Job before his repentance in the later chapters. We cannot presume on our own that we know what is right and wrong, so that if God makes us suffer not as a consequence of punishment He can be charged with wrongdoing. Instead we must stand in awe of God and cling to faith in Him, know that His revelation is true, that He is just, and that we can trust Him in all things and in all situations, even our suffering.

Depression in the Bible and a Christian Response


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The Scripture directly addresses a lot of common problems, but we have to dig to find information on depression.

Judas is perhaps the only Biblical example of a cut-and-dry depression induced suicide.

This is very interesting in some ways. Were people less depressed back then and this is a new thing in human nature? Is God more concerned with our actions than our feelings? I feel as if I cannot give a sufficient answer to this question. However, let’s look at what God’s revelation does say.

The spirit of a man can endure his sickness,
But as for a broken spirit who can bear it (Prov 18:14)?

The Scripture views depression so serious, that it acknowledges it to be in many ways worse than physical illness. However, I cannot help but think of the Scripture:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).

This seems like trite advice, but like many things in the Christian life it requires faith and the willingness to suffer. More about this in a bit.

The most serious extreme is suicide. Ironically, the Scripture is also relatively silent on this issue as well. Almost every suicide in the Bible is found between Judges to 1 Kings. However, most do not fit the prototypical suicide we see today. For example, Samson gave his life to avenge those who blasphemed the Lord.

Saul and his armor bearer killed themselves, Saul because of his wounds (and inability to prevent capture) and his armor bearer for the same reason. Because being captured back then often was coupled with the ripping out of eyes and cutting off of thumbs (Judges 1:7) on some level this is understandable. They were likely trying to prevent their own humiliation before being executed anyway. Ahithopel (the counselor to Absalom) and Zimri (an Israelite king who was being ousted in a coup) killed themselves for similar reasons.

Judas might be the only example of suicide (by hanging) that is similar to what those who are depressed may deal with. He felt overwhelming guilt (he threw back the money to the Sanhedrin) but also forsaken by God. Unable to overcome these depressing feelings and seeing no hope, he killed himself. One thing we can know for sure is if we are depressed, the last way we want to respond is like the most wicked man who has ever lived, the man who betrayed God to His face.

Perhaps the best man to emulate when profoundly depressed is Job. He lost all his wealth, health, and family. He even wished he was never born, yet he never considered suicide as an option. This is especially impressive of Job because he did not have much of a view of an afterlife. He didn’t fear hell, because the wicked would join him in death too according to him (Job 3:17). Nor, at that point of his speech, did he dwell too much on the reality of heaven. Instead, he asserted if he was never born but died as a miscarriage, “I would have slept then, I would have been at rest” (Job 3:13).

It is in some sense strange that Job wouldn’t just commit suicide if he in his own mind faced no punishment for doing so. However, as we learn in that book, Job does not have a carrot and stick mentality. He did not offer praise and worship to God simply because God gave him material and emotional blessings. He was obedient to God out of a true devotion for Him.

This reminds us of Asaph who says:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…as for me, the nearness of God is my good (Ps 73:26, 28).

So, unlike some of us, a desire for heaven or fear of hell perhaps did not factor into Job’s thinking. Instead, he desired obedience to God no matter how much or little he was blessed. By not committing suicide, it appears that he considered suicide a sin and even still was blameless and obedient before God.

Why should we have this mindset? Because Christ gave His life for us, we are no longer to live for our own desires. We are willing to lay down our lives for Him and that means we will be obedient, even when experiencing hardship.

However, that does not mean we want to experience hardship. When Paul was extremely depressed over horrible men that we calling him a liar, thief, and false apostle he prayed to God:

[T]here was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:7-10).

This is the hardest thing to learn. We have to learn to be content with any circumstance, including the bad ones, as God “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11) and “works all things for good” (Rom 8:28). However, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name,” (Ezek 36:22). So, if God is glorified in our depression, then let us be content with it, for He is glorified when we prevail and God’s promise in Phil 4:13 is proved true.


[E]ven if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed…[S]anctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you…For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong (1 Peter 3:14, 15, 17).

God uses our troubles in our marriages, work, families, and more as a means in which His name be glorified and to be a road sign to others point them to Him! Truly, He works all things for good.

So, place you faith in the Lord, prevail against Satan and his temptations to sin and by doing so give glory to God.

Lastly, meditate on Paul’s admonishments in Phil 4. Suffering in prison, he “learned to be content in all circumstances” (Phil 4:11). How? First, go to God in prayer and be patient. He promises to answer our prayers concerning this and He will not prove to be a liar:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).

Lastly, in the meantime focus on God-glorifying thoughts keeping every though captive in Christ Jesus:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Phil 4:8).

Don’t wallow in self pity. Reflect on the things that you have to be grateful for, hope in the Lord for deliverance, and remember that those who mourn will be comforted (Matt 5:4). God might put you through mourning now so you can be a comfort to someone else in the future. He might be doing this purely to glorify His name in some unknown way.

Truly, “the secret things belong to God” (Deut 29:29). However, whatever His secret is, we know that “the Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds” (Ps 145:17). That is even true when He ordains your depression. Take that to heart and give glory to God.


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