I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you. [Job 16:4, NIV]
The Voice translation gives the verse a little more clarity:
If we were to trade places,
I could rattle on as you do.
I could compose eloquent speeches as you do
and shake my head smugly at you and your problems. [Job 16:4, The Voice]
And there it is: shake my head smugly at you. Job is calling out his friends for what they are really doing, which is judging him. And quite honestly, so is every SMH. It’s a subtle put-down but a put-down all the same.
I have never liked the book of Job much with its speech after speech after speech, pretty much saying the same thing over and over again. It reminds me of a one of my colleagues long ago with whom I completely disagreed, and yet despite my authority to say “no” and my opinion (shared by others), she would continue to state her case, first in one way and then in another, as though, the wording alone would finally break through my dense skull. I kept saying, “I understand what you are saying but I disagree with you all the same.” She could not fathom how I could possibly disagree, surely I wasn’t understanding the “truth” she was imparting. And she would begin again.
But perhaps this story sticks in my mind because I am guilty of it myself. Perhaps I am SMH, if not physically, then emotionally or privately. Whether overt or secret, I am still holding court in my mind.
I am not Job in this story, I am one of the friends. And I’m not liking it much, this realization.
Solution? None. At least, not at this point, except for awareness and I suppose that’s worth something. And certainly, the next time I am tempted to SMH, I will think twice and look back into the root of it.