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I Despise Myself

Job 42:5-6 (ESV) – “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Most people in the world think they are “good” with God. The reason they have this assessment of themselves is they believe they’re not that big of a sinner. They know people worse than them. This leads to conclusions that we’re not bad folks, even though we may mess up from time to time. Most people hold this view. Not many people see themselves compared to the holiness of God and His standard. 

Our passage today shows what happens once we truly get a true picture of our righteousness compared to God’s holiness. Job is a righteous man, especially compared to others. He’s not at all without sin, but compared to many others around him in the community, he is a good fellow. But when he tries to acquit himself before the presence of God, he has a different experience. Job says, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” 

Job encounters God. When in His presence, he realizes God is far greater than what he had heard about Him. He says that he had heard of God, but now he has seen Him. The reality is different than his loftiest imaginations before. The response produced in Job of seeing the true nature of God? He immediately declares that he despises himself. He sees his true nature. He recognizes his sin. The reality of his corruption is on display in the presence of a holy God. He lets the reality of his sin lead him to repent in dust and ashes. Dust and ashes signify mourning. 

Job’s response to the holiness of God is to repent, grieved by how our sin offends God’s perfections. There is no room for boasting in ourselves. Compared to others, we may not be that bad.


Compared to God, we are evil.
The good news of the gospel
is that God knows our corruption
and sent His Son,
Jesus, to pay the price for our evil.
He atoned for our sins so we might stand
in the presence of God accepted and clean.

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Every man, woman, and child need this redemption. Nobody has inherent righteousness apart from Christ. Give thanks for His mercy today.

Reflection & Journal: 
- Why do most people think they are “good” with God?
- What does this passage reveal about what seeing God accurately does to our self-perception?
- How should this passage help us understand the work of Christ better?

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