Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; (Job 16:19-20)
Relate: Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God.
This has been one of my favorite scriptures for about as long as I can remember. I don’t know exactly when I first started taking a liking to it but I do know that it predates my father’s death when I was 19. At that time I clung to this already preciously familiar verse like a lifeline through many dark moments. I know also that it the text for one of the first truly good sermons I remember preaching in my life. (Preceeded by many sermons that definitely were not) Even here on The River Walk I have written from this text and then reused it for three straight years. (He Knows, He Acts, He Cares) I love this passage.
Some of you might have noticed that when I quoted it, I used the NIV instead of my usual NLT for these posts. The reason for that is because my preferred, “My intercessor is my friend” turns into “my friends scorn me” in the NLT. The reason for this is because there are two possible meanings for the word לוּץ (LWTS) The more common meaning, which the KJV first used and most translations have followed is “scorn”. Indeed, most of the time this is the way it is translated in other places. But the ambassadors from Babylon who congratulated Hezekiah for his recovery from illness… they were “lewts”. When Joseph was 2nd in charge of Egypt and his brothers came to buy bread, they didn’t know he knew Hebrew because he spoke to them through a “lewts”. In Isaiah 43, the word is translated as “teacher”.
I know some of you might be thinking, “So what how it is translated in other places, in context a word means what it means and you can’t possibly have two such widely different meanings for one word.” Oh, the joys of language. Just as a little illustration, I took the verse for today and translated it a few times. With the help of Mr Google, I translated it from English into Turkish, then into Kurmanji (Kurdish), then into Arabic, and then back into English. This is what I ended with:
Now I know in the heavens, my high protections, my eyes, my eyes, and my eyes are called to God.
Now lets take the exact same scripture, and the same languages, but go in the opposite direction. English>Arabic>Kurmanji>Turkish>English:
When heaven is high, my friend Shafiqi, when my eyes are passed on to God’s eyes.
Oh the joys of language.
React: I remember that I first looked into this way back when I was taking Hebrew in Bible College. At the time I decided that “my intercessor is my friend” was the better translation. I am absulutely sure that there was no bias whatsoever in my verdict. While my Hebrew is not nearly as good as it was twenty years ago, my understanding of languages and the written word is definitely a lot deeper. Now I am not so sure. I don’t think it has to be one or the other. In fact, I am pretty sure this was an intended explicitly to be a pun. You see, both meanings are true and they both fit within the context. Jobs friends started out being excellent friends by sitting shiva for seven days. Then Job opened a discussion which quickly turned into debate (a time honored Jewish tradition). That debate devolved into near petty argument by the end as both sides became more rigidly dogmatic in their opinions. So yes, Job’s friends heaped scorn on him and also yes, he realized that the only friend that would not let him down was his “lewts”. His ambassador/intercessor who could represent his case to God.
I have had well meaning friends let me down. I have been a well meaning friend who has failed on many occasions to do or be what was needed in someone else’s hour of need. But there is for me and for you a friend, an intercessor, an ambassador, a representative, a mediator a “lewts” who will never let us down. He knows, He acts, He cares. I am a friend of God.
Forgive me for those times when I have provided rebuke where a friend needed consolation. Forgive me also for those times when I have provided only consolation where my friend needed rebuke. Thank you for always being exactly what I needed. Thank You for always being my friend. Help me to learn from You that I might better be an ambassador of You before my world and intercessor for my world before You. Help me to be a better friend.