Then Job answered the Lord and said: “Behold I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; yes, twice but I will proceed no further. (Job 40:3-5, NKJV)
After the Lord God spoke to Job and gave His divine lesson on life (Job 38:1 – 40:2) Job responds in the only way possible: as one who is poor in spirit. Job describes his station in life as vile, which is in the Hebrew loathsome, disgusting, unpleasant, and objectionable. Vile also denotes being slight and trivial. This word is used in many different ways, but most uses trace back to the basic idea of this word, which is lightness. Job sees himself as he really is: nothing in comparison to God, a lightweight when it comes to spiritual matters. Job cannot even answer God due to the overwhelming realization that he stands in the presence of a perfect and holy God while he recognizes his insignificance in the shadow of the glory of the Lord. Job tried to plead his case with words and when he recognizes his true position before he is reduced to silence; there are no longer words, but rather the attitude of being poor in spirit. We may try to make a defense before God, but it is done in pride. Our only remedy is not to defend ourselves or plead our case when suffering. Rather we need to come in silence before the Father and bow in humble submission to His perfect will as people poor in spirit.
Then the Lord gives His view of the pride of man who should question His will:
Disperse the rage of your wrath; look on everyone who is proud, and humble him. Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low; tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; bind their faces in hidden darkness. Then I will also confess to you that your own right hand can save you. (Job 40:11-14, NKJV)
The Lord will humble and bring low the proud. The will of God for His people is for them to live within the reality of God’s kingdom. This reality is a kingdom where God does the work and His people serve Him in humble submission to His perfect will. The King will save, protect, and provide; and the humble servants will recognize His greatness and recognize their own lack of anything in themselves worthy of praise. This is being poor in spirit.
Job leaves us with one more statement that shows that he was poor in spirit when this event in his life was finally over:
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5-6, NKJV)
After truly seeing what God was doing in Job’s suffering, thus seeing the will of God from the perspective of the Lord, Job recognizes that he is loathsome in the sight of God as Job abhors himself. When we see God as He is we then see ourselves as we truly are. Then, and only then, can we become truly poor in spirit.
Perspective is everything. Approach pain and suffering as an opportunity to build godly character. Of course it hurts. Yes it is unpleasant. Yes the comfort of others is needed (and Job lacked such and God rebuked his comforters). But while going through adversity pray that you rely upon God and submit to what He desires to build in you: the godly character of being poor in spirit.