Job questions what his existence might mean. His refusal to say there must be no God, and his rejection of his friend’s conclusion that he somehow deserved his suffering means he’s motivated to explain his situation. He struggles.
He compares it to his ‘work’. There are lots of hard jobs: slave, labourer. They have temporal cycles of effort and reward. Slaves get to rest. Labourers get paid.
Unfortunately he does not get rest in the evenings. They are uncomfortable because of the scabs and sores. Maybe he is just on a long cycle – months not days?
And there is always death, the spans of life are no more than a breath compared to eternity. He draws comfort from the idea that even if, as he expects, his season of suffering lasts until his death, it will at least end there.
This elevates his voice to the purpose of his existence. He will speak out about his situation. He gets no rest, because he gets bad visions and dreams in the night. He understands that he has been singled out for suffering.
He ends addressing God, not his friends. He asks a bunch of questions that are like a parody of psalm 8.
Psalm 8 asks God why he chose to think of mankind in all the vast stars and universe. Job asks the same question, but tells God to stop. Stop picking on him and leave him alone.
So having been emotional back in chapter 2, Job is calmer here.
He’s rejected his friend’s argument that he deserved to suffer in the last chapter.
Here he more coolly says: yes, I appear to have been given the most miserable life possible to live. I just want to die, and my only purpose for living seems to be as a voice asking God “why?”.
Which is circular, his purpose is to wonder if he has a purpose.
His prayer is that God will ignore him and focus on someone else. And allow him a good night’s sleep.
It is what it seems, God has chosen him to suffer. It’s unsatisfying, and it has bad implications for all of us.
It seems disrespectful of the honesty of this page to try and tie it up into a positive little life lesson to take into the day, so I’ll just sit with that, and see how the next call and response plays out.