Please read these summaries to get the feel, then read the chapter in a modern version, and see if you can find helpful bits to apply. Probably best to read one section each day, rather than blitz the lot.
Eliphaz (Chapter 22)
He portrays God as remote, not impressed with our good deeds, just waiting for the opportunity to judge and punish us. Remember the early chapters when we see the concept that it is Satan who uses disasters to destroy our devotion. His advice about avoiding evil and living a good life is OK as far as it goes but doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head as far as Job is concerned. We know a God who loves us enough to die for us.
Job (Chapter 23:4)
It can be a problem trying to hear back from God. How does God speak to us? How do we know what He wants for our lives? Job doesn’t know – nor do I at times. But meanwhile he retains his faith in God’s concern for him and continues to live a righteous life. (vs10 – 12). Chapter 24 could have been written by Dickens as he describes the sad lot of the poor person, suffering at the hands of the powerful. This is the Old Testament world of Ruth and Boaz, where disasters need a lot of love to compensate. (18-25 may be Zophar) he says that God punishes the wicked . . . . eventually.
Bildad (Chapter 25)
Psalm 8 expresses similar sentiments about man’s insignificance in the light of God’s awesome power.
Job (Chapter 26-27: 1-12)
(The contributions of Job’s friends get a bit mixed up by the transmission of the text. Verses 5-14 may be Bildad). In Hebrew poetry, there is no rhythm, no metre, just a parallel pattern in which the first statement is reinforced. (26 7) “God stretched out the northern sky / And hung the earth in empty space”. We get used to explanations for our wonderful world systems (high pressure, gulf stream, tidal reach etc) but here we see the interesting ancient view that God fixes it all. At least that reminds us of the Christian’s responsibility to preserve our natural environment. (27 1-12) Though Job knows he is not perfect, he doesn’t roll over and loose his self-belief in the face of the attacks he faces. While we needn’t be aggressive, perhaps we sometimes could well heed his example.
This is a summary of his frequently stated position that Job’s suffering is because of his guilt. People in those days were extremely vulnerable to reverses of fortunes. I frequently thank God for our stable democracy, health provision, life expectancy, predictable pensions & homes, so often not the lot of many in the 3rd world.
In Praise of wisdom. (Chapter 28)
Unknown author. Anything you want or need can be found in the appropriate places, but where wisdom? V.28 reveals the source “To be wise you must worship the Lord . and turn from evil”. Solomon thought a lot about the subject (in similar poetic form to Job) and even personified wisdom, calling it “She”. Proverbs 910 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. I love David Attenborough nature programmes, he describes a lovely world, but without recognising the hand of God in it all. It was the same in Paul’s time (I Cor 1.21) when people were too wise to know God. We really have nothing to keep quiet about!
Job (Chapters 29-31)
He describes his life of valued contributions to his society, advising and supporting poor and young people.
(30) But now he has lost everything and is despised by people who should know better. Even God seems to have deserted him. (31) He is quite willing to accept God’s judgement for things he has done wrong, but he has been careful all his life to be fair to everyone, not only privately, but in the open for all to see. He really was a model for us all to learn from.