Job 23 is a cry of lament, which Job gives in response to the accusations of his counsellors. He maintains his innocence, but where is God to defend his cause?
Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
that I might come even to his seat! (Job 23:3)
In the midst of accusing voices, Job is looking for God and cannot find him:
But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. (Job 23:8-9)
Job looks everywhere for some glimpse of God, but finds no sign of his presence. He looks for God in his circumstances and can’t see him. His circumstances are silent, but God speaks to him through his Word:
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth
more than my daily bread. (Job 23:10-12)
Job looks for assurance of God’s presence in his circumstances and finds none. Going east and west, he doesn’t find him. Looking north and south, he doesn’t see him. Job knows the Lord is with him, however, because he treasures God’s Word more than daily bread and he has not departed from His commands. His feet have closely followed His steps. Abiding in God’s Word and keeping God’s Word gives us the assurance of God’s presence. Yes, we may consider our circumstances and search in vain to find evidence of God’s presence and work, but Job reminds us that when we treasure God’s Word and follow him closely in obedience, we will know the His presence and saving work. We will confess with Job:
He knows the way that I take;
when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.