Job and His Friends Contend with God
Job’s life has crumbled. His wife turned on him. And his friends don’t help. After listening to their back-and-forth dialogue that accomplishes nothing, God interjects. At last he speaks.
At one point God says, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?” (Job 40:2). In this rhetorical question, two thoughts stand out. The first is the idea of contending with God, and the second is correcting him.
Contend with God
Though we could view God’s question as implying that he doesn’t want us to contend with him, I don’t think this is what he means.
One understanding of the word contend is to debate. Another is struggle. When it comes to God, these are strong words. It seems foolish for us to debate God, to struggle with him. God is sovereign. And we are far less than sovereign. Who are we to question him?
Yet I can’t think of any place in the Bible where God punishes his people for contending with him when they do so with respect. I can’t find a single verse that commands us not to question God or debate his ways.
In fact, I think God enjoys it when we ask questions—serious, soul-wrenching questions, just like Job.
For in asking questions, we seek him. And that’s what he wants.
However, there’s a right way to contend with God and a wrong way. The wrong way is when we think we know better than him, when we try to correct him and tell him he made a mistake.
When we do this, we forget God is sovereign, and we try to elevate ourselves over him. This is foolish. And it separates us from God. This isn’t what he wants from us.
The Bible says, be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26). In parallel fashion, we can also say, contend with God and don’t correct him. That gives us the balance we need. God enjoys our sincere questions, but we must never forget he is our sovereign Creator and we are the created.
Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.