Note: This is the last in a series of posts from The Lost Gazette Chronicles, focusing on those that fall into the “Faith” category. I wrote this one in July of 2008, back when I was still semi-coherent.
I’m early in the book of Job in my 2008 “Read Through the Bible” curriculum, and I noticed a phrase yesterday morning that has hitherto escaped my consciousness. In the fifth chapter, Job’s friend Eliphaz is continuing his monologue intended to provide some comfort — or at least some explanation — for the sorry state in which Job finds himself, having lost everything but his life (and his wife).
Eliphaz isn’t really a very good counselor; he and his two compatriots would have been better off doing what they did for the first seven days of their visit with Job: just sitting with him in silence. Sometimes we try too hard to fill the void, when all we really need to do is be there.
Anyway, Eliphaz is talking about the privileges that accrue to those whom God favors with His discipline (a oft-repeated Biblical doctrine, by the way, but not one that necessarily provides immediate comfort to those in pain). Here’s how the New American Standard Version phrases verses 17-23:
Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves,
So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For He inflicts pain, and gives relief;
He wounds, and His hands also heal.
From six troubles He will deliver you,
Even in seven evil will not touch you.
In famine He will redeem you from death,
And in war from the power of the sword.
You will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
And you will not be afraid of violence when it comes.
You will laugh at violence and famine,
And you will not be afraid of wild beasts.
For you will be in league with the stones of the field,
And the beasts of the field will be at peace with you.
I love that turn of phrase, in league with the stones of the field. It speaks to a reconciliation with the most fundamental aspects of God’s creation, and not just a passive one, either. I don’t mean to get New Agey or Zen-sounding, but communing with rocks conjures up precisely that kind of image. On the other hand, I’m probably giving rocks too little credit. After all, Jesus spoke of stones crying out, and while He was probably being metaphorical, far be it from me to suggest that the Creator and Sovereign Ruler of the Universe couldn’t imbue limestone with lyrics or agate with articulation.
What Eliphaz was probably getting at, though, is that when you’re right with God, everything else pretty much falls into place as well. Here’s how the Contemporary English translation puts verse 23: …and your rocky fields will become friendly. What’s interesting is that he doesn’t suggest that God removes those rocks — those bumps in the road that at best are uncomfortable and at worst throw us completely off track — but that we learn how to deal with them. We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can determine our attitude toward them.
In league with the stones. That sounds like a great place to be, doesn’t it?