Listen To Article

A friend of mine died by suicide a few weeks ago. The image she used when she talked about God was that of a Weaver, forever at the loom. As I searched scripture in preparation for her funeral, I found two verses – Job 7:6 and Psalm 139:15 – that resonated deeply with this image for God. I referred to both of these verses in the funeral message, but did not have time to do what I did for this post… to line up Job 7:6-21 (a text that my friend could have written the day of her death and it would have made sense) and Psalm 139 (words of hope in the midst of our grief). [See this fascinating piece for an analysis of the relationship between Psalm 139 and the themes of Job, as a whole.] The juxtaposition of these verses is strong and sharp.

Job 7:6-21, verses in order 

Psalm 139, verses not in order

My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
and they come to an end without hope.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
my eyes will never see happiness again.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

The eye that now sees me will see me no longer; 
You will look for me but I will be no more.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
so is one who goes down to the grave and does not return.

You created my inmost being
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

He will never come to his house again,
His place will know him no more.

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.

Therefore, I will not keep silent.

Before a word is on my tongue,
You, Lord, know it completely.

I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?

I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep
that you put me under guard?

You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

When I think my bed will comfort me,
and my couch will ease my complaint,
even then you frighten me with dreams
and terrify me with visions.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.

So that I prefer strangling and death
rather than this body of mine.
I despise my life; I would not live forever.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Let me alone; my days have no meaning.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

What is mankind that you make so much of them,
that you give them so much attention,
that you examine them every morning
and test them every moment?
Will you never look away from me,
or let me alone even for an instant?

You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
you who see everything we do?

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Why have you made me your target?
Have I become a burden to you?
Why do you not pardon my offenses
and forgive my sins?

See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

For I will soon lie down in the dust;
you will search for me, but I will be no more.

How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

In memory of Sandra Michele Stubbert
1962-2018
Until we wake.

Cover Image: “Driftwood on a Sandy Beach”, weaving done in honour of Sandy,
by Jennifer Feenstra-Shaw

 

Heidi S. De Jonge

Heidi S. De Jonge is the pastor of Westside Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Kingston, Ontario. She and her husband, Tim, a CRC chaplain, parent three grade school daughters. Heidi enjoys cake decorating, cycling, and digital scrapbooking.

7 Comments

  • Jim Payton says:

    Thank you for this, Heidi — a moving, insightful juxtaposition of these passages. They offer, together, such comfort and pastoral wisdom in dealing with such tragic events.

  • Kathy Davelaar says:

    Thank you, Heidi—this tribute is lovely and your deep and loving use of scripture is an immense blessing.

  • This is beautiful (and heart-breaking)! Thank you for sharing with us!

  • Carol Westphal says:

    Beautiful.

  • Mike Weber says:

    Dear Heidi,
    Let me offer my condolences on the suicide of your friend and thank you for your heartfelt attempt to put two scriptures together.

    My response is not one to troll you or to start an argument but comes from an honest attempt to give my reactions to your post. As I read your juxtaposition of Job 7 and Psalm 139 I found myself experiencing a great deal of cognitive dissonance. Job 7 is a deeply felt lament while Psalm 139 is a deeply felt psalm of consolation. While I can see where this juxtaposition is comforting for the survivors of a death, I’m not sure that it would be consoling for someone who is deeply depressed. Psalm 139 set against Job 7 seems to negate the experience of the one lamenting. Rather than bringing greater comfort, I believe that it would increase the despair in the one suffering. It is precisely because God knows everything that Job is going through that Job is so angry and depressed.

    The article you mentioned says that David basically affirms the arguments of Elihu. And yet at the end of Job, God condemns the arguments of Elihu and his friends.

    Both Psalm 139 and Job 7 are true. However, they do not mix well in dealing with depression.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    • heididejonge says:

      Dear Mike,

      Thank you so much for your thoughts. This is a helpful piece of the conversation. There is a time and place for Job 7, all by itself and for Psalm 139, all by itself. I find funerals and grieving a place for these kinds of juxtapositions. This is not meant as a pastoral care piece for those who are struggling with depression. Indeed, the last time I spent with Sandy, we were in silence for much of our time together.

      Thank you for your thoughts.

  • Mark Bennink says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Heidi. The juxtaposition of these Scriptures is a powerful comfort for those who are grieving. I appreciate also your acknowledgement that this would be inappropriate to pastorally minister to someone who is struggling with depression. After being in ministry for 20 years, I continue to be amazed by how Scripture speaks to Scripture.

Leave a Reply