If you take the time to analyze those words, you’ll see that Job has three responses. The first is a response of humility. The second is a response of relief. And the third is a response of surrender. That’s all God wanted to hear. And what an important change for Job! Without realizing it, he had become this independent, determined, self-assured apologist defending himself. Without saying so, he’d begun to appear as if he had his arms around the providence of God.
His first response is verse 4, “I am insignificant.” Many of those who have been schooled in the fine points of psychology will reject this response. They will say we should be encouraged to realize how important we are, how valuable we are to God, what a significant place we fill in this world. They would counsel, “Don’t think or say, ‘I am insignificant.’ ” Before we’re tempted to go there, take note that God doesn’t reprove Job for saying he is insignificant or unworthy.
We’d put it this way: “I’m a lightweight.” Frankly, it’s true. It is an appropriate term for Job to use after being asked so many things he couldn’t answer and shown so much he didn’t understand. In unguarded humility the man admits, “I’m insignificant.”
His second statement is, “What can I reply to You?” I see that as an expression of relief. God didn’t want answers, He knew the answers. He knows all of them! He wanted Job to acknowledge, “I don’t know any of the answers. And if I don’t know about those things, as objective as they are, how could I ever fully understand the profound mysteries surrounding my world?” By acknowledging that, quiet relief replaced troubling resistance.
My point here—and this is terribly important: When we are broken and brought to the end of ourselves, it is not for the purpose of gaining more answers to spout off to others. It’s to help us acknowledge that the Lord is God, and His plans and reasons are deeper and higher and broader than we can comprehend. Therefore, we are relieved from having to give answers or defend them.
Job’s third response is a statement of surrender: “I lay my hand on my mouth,” verse 4 concludes. “I dare not say more. I’ve said enough—actually too much—already.”
Can you make these three admissions to God? If not, work on it!
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.