Have You Considered Job?

By Jerelyn Pearson


In my journey through the Bible I recently read the book of Job. I have to admit that I have found Job to be a bit intimidating. It’s not one of my “go to” places in the Bible.  I don’t remember telling myself, “I think I’ll read some Job today.” Neither have I heard it referenced often in other teachings unless they were specifically about the suffering and endurance of Job. So, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found the book of Job challenging. This time I decided that rather than just reading through it and checking it off my list, I would dive in a little more deeply. With the Lord’s help, Matthew Henry’s commentary, and a little extra online research, I waded in. I like to say, “I considered Job.”

Job is introduced as a good man who has a good life.  He has a large family. His adult children, seven sons and three daughters, all got along well and hang out together, and not just when Job invites them to his house. They feast at each other’s houses. Job is extremely wealthy, the owner of many possessions. He fears God and avoids evil. Job continually sanctifies his children rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings.

Job 1:1-5
1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

The book of Job is placed near the middle of the Bible, right before Psalms. But chronologically it is thought to be one of the oldest books in the Bible. According to the Chronological Reading Plan in my Bible App, the book of Job begins just before Genesis 12, which tells of God’s calling Abram out of Haran into Canaan. So Job lived generations before the establishment of the Levitical priesthood, when priests were given the responsibility of presenting sacrifices to the Lord for the people. Therefore, as the patriarch of his family, Job performed the role of sanctifying his family before God.   

One day when the sons of God were assembled before the Lord, Satan came among them. In this case it is generally considered that the term “sons of God” refers to the heavenly angels. In other references, the term can refer to those who walk closely with God.

Job 1:6-12  
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

We will see that Satan is subject to God’s authority and boundaries. Satan had been allowed by God to roam the earth.

8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

Satan accused Job of fearing God only because God had blessed him so abundantly. So, God allowed Satan to have power over Job’s possessions, but not himself.  God set a limit to Satan’s authority. He does this for us too.

Job is subjected to the worst pain and loss imaginable. He has lost all ten of his children in a single day.  When Job gets the news, this is how he responded.

20a Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground …

Job was obviously devastated by shock and grief, but what did he do when he fell to the ground?)

20b … and worshiped.
21 And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."

Job acknowledges God’s power and authority.

22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

Once again there was a day when Satan came among the sons of God.  

Job 2:2-8
2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

Again God sets a limit to Satan’s authority.

7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. [A potsherd is a piece of a broken pot.]

Even Job’s wife discourages him.

9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Again Job acknowledges God’s power and authority as he maintains his integrity even in personal bodily suffering.

Job’s friends hear of his troubles and come to mourn with him and comfort him.

Job 2:11-13
11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

Sometimes we just need to be there for each other.  At first Job’s friends just sat with him for seven days seeing how great is grief was. Job is so distraught that he prays to die rather than continue suffering in his grief.

At first Job’s friends try to comfort him just by being there with him, but then they begin to speak and blame him for his troubles.  They accuse him of hidden sin and wrongdoing.

One of the things that always puzzled me about the book of Job was knowing that the friends were not giving Job sound advice. However, the advice itself seemed like sound doctrine. It was a struggle to read thinking that the advice wasn’t good. I have now come to understand that the content is sound, but it did not apply to Job. Keeping this in mind is a big help. There is a wealth of information in the “inappropriate” advice that gives us understanding of God’s character. The fact that it doesn’t apply to Job, who was not guilty of the sins they accused him of, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t apply in other circumstances.

Although Job is presented as a righteous man before God, he is not completely without sin. He is innocent and is not being punished for wrongdoing. But as Job attempts to defend himself from his friends’ accusations, he gets so caught up in defending himself that he moves into the area of self-righteousness and begins to question God disrespectfully. Job and his friends continue in a long discourse back and forth.

The three friends each make several attempts to convince Job of his shortcomings to which Job responds as they continue in discourse.  There is a fourth friend who listens and waits and finally decides to speak also.  In Job 32 Elihu speaks more reasonably than the others had. Job receives Elihu’s comments with no argumentative response.

In one of Elihu’s arguments found in Job 37, he extols the wonderful power of God in the changes of the weather. We accept that weather happens. We don’t expect that when it is good, it will last forever. We enjoy it. We don’t expect that when it is bad, it will last forever. We endure it and wait for it to be over.

Our life path is much like the weather. We would be wise to accept God’s will for our ultimate good and seek His wisdom and guidance through the storms and sunny days of our lives.

If in those weather changes we submit to the will of God, take the weather as it is and make the best of it, why should we not do so in other changes of our condition? Just as we cannot solve the phenomena of these works of nature and willingly confess our ignorance in them, shouldn’t we also admit ourselves incompetent to judge in the proceedings of divine Providence?

Reading Matthew Henry’s Commentary about Elihu’s weather analogy really helped me to have a better perspective when I’m tempted to complain about my circumstances. God teaches us things through our trials that we couldn’t learn if we didn’t have them. If I accept that I’m not able to “judge” the weather and effect change, it’s even more certain that I am incompetent to judge “the proceedings of divine Providence”.

Finally, God intervenes by speaking to Job out of a whirlwind.

Job 38:1-4
1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

This questioning goes on for two chapters ending with this one last question.

Job 40:1-2
1 Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,
2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

To which Job replies,

3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

Job 40:6-9
6 Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
7 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
8 Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?
9 Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?

The Lord basically tells Job: We’re not done yet. The Lord’s answer continues for another chapter and a half.

Job’s confession follows. He repeats the original question that God asked him in Job 38:2 and admits that he is guilty of speaking about things that he knows nothing about.

Job 42:1-6
1 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
3 Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
4 Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Sometimes it takes us a while to really see what we hear, to really understand and accept our responsibility to the point of true repentance. 

Then the Lord turns to Job’s friends.

7 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.
8 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.

It is interesting to note here that Elihu, the fourth friend, received no rebuke from God just as he had received no argument from Job. His contribution was accepted as appropriate for the occasion. For our learning, here we have examples of the wrong way to counsel from the first three friends, and the right way to counsel from the fourth friend.  This lesson calls to mind Proverbs 25:11-12.

11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
12 As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.

The Lord restores Job to even greater abundance than before.

10 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
11 Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.

Notice the correlation with Proverbs 25:11-12!

Job 42:12-17
12 So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
13 He had also seven sons and three daughters.
14 And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch.
15 And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.
16 After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations.
17 So Job died, being old and full of days.

The book of Job is not an easy read.  It is difficult to see such good friends at odds with each other, arguing and passing harsh judgements and accusations back and forth.
It is difficult to hear such a holy man as Job arguing disrespectfully with God. It is difficult to bare the accounts of suffering endured by such an innocent man “made the center of all the calamities of human life” according to Matthew Henry’s commentary.

No, the book of Job is not an easy read, but it is well worth pursuing. In the end, we see the repentant Job humbling himself before God. In the end, we see the misguided friends forgiven and joining in sacrifices and prayers accepted before God.  In the end, we see Job blessed more than his beginning and living to see four generations.

I would encourage you to read the book of Job, especially the parts we omitted today. There are many gems of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding throughout.  Job 28 is high on my list of favorites with its topic of Wisdom. Also, Elihu’s reasonable, convincing, and convicting advice in chapters 32-38 is an example of inspired advice given appropriately as it rightly applies, “a word fitly spoken”.

Most importantly, all this was written for our learning that through all of our struggles and triumphs in life we may have HOPE!


Presented 23 July 2017 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana