“Oh, that I were as in the months of old,
as in the days when God watched over me,
3 when his lamp shone upon my head,
and by his light I walked through darkness,
4 as I was in my prime,[a]
when the friendship of God was upon my tent, (Job 29:2-4)
There is an old preacher’s joke about a senior adult couple riding down the road together in their late model sedan, with a bench seat so wide the driver and the passenger are in different zip codes. The wife looks at her husband behind the wheel and says, “Honey, do you remember when we first got this car, how close we used to sit on this bench seat? I would cuddle up next to you, and you would put your arm around me, and we would just go down the road together that way. What happened? How come we don’t sit so close anymore?”
Her husband said, “I don’t know. I never moved.”
In chapter 29, Job is expressing some of the same feelings. He misses the days when he felt the light of God’s love shining on him. When he felt “the friendship of God upon his tent.” He is wondering why they aren’t so close anymore.
Ironically, Job seems to be judging the distance he feels from God by the way people are treating him. For the rest of the chapter, Job describes at length how people treated him with deference and respect. Even princes and nobles quit their small talk when Job showed up, because they wanted to hear what Job had to say (see verses 7-10).
“But now,” says Job in 30:1, “they laugh at me, men who are younger than I.”
So Job’s conclusion is that because he no longer commands the respect of those around him, that God must have withdrawn fellowship and blessing from him.
There are a lot of things going on behind the curtain that we, the readers of Job, are privy to that Job himself is not. We know about the wager God made with the adversary. We know that God has not pulled Himself away from Job. We know, as sure as we know that the old man behind the wheel of his Buick was not the one who moved; that God hasn’t moved either.
So we should also know that the praise of men should not be the gauge by which we measure the approval of God; any more than the absence of their praise indicates His disapproval. But so often, we make the same mistake.
God has not moved. He has not withdrawn His favor from us. He has not turned away from us. And whether we have the respect of our coworkers, our neighbors, or even our own family members or not, we can know for certain that God is still watching over us. His lamp still shines on our heads. We can still walk through the darkness by His light. His friendship is still upon our tent.
And He is still behind the wheel.