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Bible: The Old Testament
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If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of humanity? Why have you made me your target? See Important Quotations Explained
Job is a wealthy man living in a land called Uz with his large family and extensive flocks. He is “blameless” and “upright,” always careful to avoid doing evil (1:1). One day, Satan (“the Adversary”) appears before God in heaven. God boasts to Satan about Job’s goodness, but Satan argues that Job is only good because God has blessed him abundantly. Satan challenges God that, if given permission to punish the man, Job will turn and curse God. God allows Satan to torment Job to test this bold claim, but he forbids Satan to take Job’s life in the process.
In the course of one day, Job receives four messages, each bearing separate news that his livestock, servants, and ten children have all died due to marauding invaders or natural catastrophes. Job tears his clothes and shaves his head in mourning, but he still blesses God in his prayers. Satan appears in heaven again, and God grants him another chance to test Job. This time, Job is afflicted with horrible skin sores. His wife encourages him to curse God and to give up and die, but Job refuses, struggling to accept his circumstances.
Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, come to visit him, sitting with Job in silence for seven days out of respect for his mourning. On the seventh day, Job speaks, beginning a conversation in which each of the four men shares his thoughts on Job’s afflictions in long, poetic statements.
Job curses the day he was born, comparing life and death to light and darkness. He wishes that his birth had been shrouded in darkness and longs to have never been born, feeling that light, or life, only intensifies his misery. Eliphaz responds that Job, who has comforted other people, now shows that he never really understood their pain. Eliphaz believes that Job’s agony must be due to some sin Job has committed, and he urges Job to seek God’s favor. Bildad and Zophar agree that Job must have committed evil to offend God’s justice and argue that he should strive to exhibit more blameless behavior. Bildad surmises that Job’s children brought their deaths upon themselves. Even worse, Zophar implies that whatever wrong Job has done probably deserves greater punishment than what he has received.
Job responds to each of these remarks, growing so irritated that he calls his friends “worthless physicians” who “whitewash [their advice] with lies” (13:4). After making pains to assert his blameless character, Job ponders man’s relationship to God. He wonders why God judges people by their actions if God can just as easily alter or forgive their behavior. It is also unclear to Job how a human can appease or court God’s justice. God is unseen, and his ways are inscrutable and beyond human understanding. Moreover, humans cannot possibly persuade God with their words. God cannot be deceived, and Job admits that he does not even understand himself well enough to effectively plead his case to God. Job wishes for someone who can mediate between himself and God, or for God to send him to Sheol, the deep place of the dead.
Job’s friends are offended that he scorns their wisdom. They think his questions are crafty and lack an appropriate fear of God, and they use many analogies and metaphors to stress their ongoing point that nothing good comes of wickedness. Job sustains his confidence in spite of these criticisms, responding that even if he has done evil, it is his own personal problem. Furthermore, he believes that there is a “witness” or a “Redeemer” in heaven who will vouch for his innocence (16:19, 19:25). After a while, the upbraiding proves too much for Job, and he grows sarcastic, impatient, and afraid. He laments the injustice that God lets wicked people prosper while he and countless other innocent people suffer. Job wants to confront God and complain, but he cannot physically find God to do it. He feels that wisdom is hidden from human minds, but he resolves to persist in pursuing wisdom by fearing God and avoiding evil.
Without provocation, another friend, Elihu, suddenly enters the conversation. The young Elihu believes that Job has spent too much energy vindicating himself rather than God. Elihu explains to Job that God communicates with humans by two ways—visions and physical pain. He says that physical suffering provides the sufferer with an opportunity to realize God’s love and forgiveness when he is well again, understanding that God has “ransomed” him from an impending death (33:24). Elihu also assumes that Job must be wicked to be suffering as he is, and he thinks that Job’s excessive talking is an act of rebellion against God.
God finally interrupts, calling from a whirlwind and demanding Job to be brave and respond to his questions. God’s questions are rhetorical, intending to show how little Job knows about creation and how much power God alone has. God describes many detailed aspects of his creation, praising especially his creation of two large beasts, the Behemoth and Leviathan. Overwhelmed by the encounter, Job acknowledges God’s unlimited power and admits the limitations of his human knowledge. This response pleases God, but he is upset with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for spouting poor and theologically unsound advice. Job intercedes on their behalf, and God forgives them. God returns Job’s health, providing him with twice as much property as before, new children, and an extremely long life.
The Book of Job is one of the most celebrated pieces of biblical literature, not only because it explores some of the most profound questions humans ask about their lives, but also because it is extremely well written. The work combines two literary forms, framing forty chapters of verse between two and a half chapters of prose at the beginning and the end. The poetic discourse of Job and his friends is unique in its own right. The lengthy conversation has the unified voice and consistent style of poetry, but it is a dialogue between characters who alter their moods, question their motives, change their minds, and undercut each other with sarcasm and innuendo. Although Job comes closest to doing so, no single character articulates one true or authoritative opinion. Each speaker has his own flaws as well as his own lofty moments of observation or astute theological insight.
The interaction between Job and his friends illustrates the painful irony of his situation. Our knowledge that Job’s punishment is the result of a contest between God and Satan contrasts with Job’s confusion and his friends’ lecturing, as they try to understand why Job is being punished. The premise of the friends’ argument is that misfortune only follows from evil deeds. Bildad instructs Job, “if you are pure and upright, / surely then [God] will rouse himself / for you” and he later goads Job to be a “blameless person” (8:6, 8:20). The language in these passages is ironic, since, unbeknownst to Job or Job’s friends, God and Satan do in fact view Job as “blameless and upright.” This contrast shows the folly of the three friends who ignore Job’s pain while purporting to encourage him. The interaction also shows the folly of trying to understand God’s ways. The three friends and Job have a serious theological conversation about a situation that actually is simply a game between God and Satan. The fault of Job and his friends lies in trying to explain the nature of God with only the limited information available to human knowledge, as God himself notes when he roars from the whirlwind, “Who is this that darkness counsel / by words without / knowledge?” (38:2).
The dominant theme of Job is the difficulty of understanding why an all-powerful God allows good people to suffer. Job wants to find a way to justify God’s actions, but he cannot understand why there are evil people who “harm the childless woman, / and do no good to the widow,” only to be rewarded with long, successful lives (24:21). Job’s friends, including Elihu, say that God distributes outcomes to each person as his or her actions deserve. As a result of this belief, they insist that Job has committed some wrongdoing to merit his punishment. God himself declines to present a rational explanation for the unfair distribution of blessings among men. He boasts to Job, “Have you comprehended the / expanse of the earth? / Declare, if you know all this” (38:18). God suggests that people should not discuss divine justice since God’s power is so great that humans cannot possibly justify his ways.
One of the chief virtues of the poetry in Job is its rhetoric. The book’s rhetorical language seeks to produce an effect in the listener rather than communicate a literal idea. God’s onslaught of rhetorical questions to Job, asking if Job can perform the same things he can do, overwhelms both Job and the reader with the sense of God’s extensive power as well as his pride. Sarcasm is also a frequent rhetorical tool for Job and his friends in their conversation. After Bildad lectures Job about human wisdom, Job sneers, “How you have helped one / who has no power! / How you have assisted the arm / that has no strength!” (26:2). Job is saying that he already knows what Bildad has just explained about wisdom. The self-deprecating tone and sarcastic response are rare elements in ancient verse. Such irony not only heightens the playfulness of the text but suggests the characters are actively responding to each other, thus connecting their seemingly disparate speeches together. The poetry in Job is a true dialogue, for the characters develop ideas and unique personalities throughout the course of their responses.
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The Book of Job
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The Book of Job , book of Hebrew scripture that is often counted among the masterpieces of world literature. It is found in the third section of the biblical canon known as the Ketuvim (“Writings”). The book’s theme is the eternal problem of unmerited suffering, and it is named after its central character, Job, who attempts to understand the sufferings that engulf him.
The Book of Job may be divided into two sections of prose narrative, consisting of a prologue (chapters 1–2) and an epilogue (chapter 42:7–17), and intervening poetic disputation (chapters 3–42:6). The prose narratives date to before the 6th century bce , and the poetry has been dated between the 6th and the 4th century bce . Chapters 28 and 32–37 were probably later additions.
The Book of Job’s artful construction accounts for much of its impact. The poetic disputations are set within the prose framework of an ancient legend that originated outside Israel. This legend concerns Job, a prosperous man of outstanding piety. Satan acts as an agent provocateur to test whether or not Job’s piety is rooted merely in his prosperity. But faced with the appalling loss of his possessions, his children, and finally his own health, Job still refuses to curse God. Three of his friends then arrive to comfort him, and at this point the poetic dialogue begins. The poetic discourses—which probe the meaning of Job’s sufferings and the manner in which he should respond—consist of three cycles of speeches that contain Job’s disputes with his three friends and his conversations with God. Job proclaims his innocence and the injustice of his suffering , while his “comforters” argue that Job is being punished for his sins. Job, convinced of his faithfulness and uprighteousness, is not satisfied with this explanation. The conversation between Job and God resolves the dramatic tension—but without solving the problem of undeserved suffering. The speeches evoke Job’s trust in the purposeful activity of God in the affairs of the world, even though God’s ways with man remain mysterious and inscrutable.
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Book of Job Summary
The book of Job is one of the wisdom books of the Bible….and for good reason. Here is my summary of the book of Job .
Human beings are unable to understand why the righteous suffer (Job 28:20-21), but instead are to trust the wisdom of God in how He manages the complexities of the universe (Job 38-41).
Explanation of Main Idea
Job was a righteous man who had “complete integrity, who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). He was wealthy, a man of prayer, and identified as “the greatest man among all the people of the east” (Job 1:3). Yet he endured devastating loss and unimaginable suffering, losing his family and his health virtually overnight (Job 1:13-19; Job 2:7). He felt like his life was a waste; he wished he had never been born (Job 3:3-7). His friends attempted to explain to him that there must be a reason, and this reason must have to do with Job’s guilt (Job 4:7; 8:6; 11:6). Job maintains his innocence (Job 7:20) but really begins to struggle emotionally with what has happened to him (Job 10). Convinced of his innocence, eventually, Job begins to blame God and wants an opportunity to defend himself before the Almighty (Job 23:2-5).
After Job’s three friends are done “teaching” him, the author of the book strategically inserts a poem about wisdom (Job 28:1-28) amidst Job’s discourse. This poem seems to ignore the arguments preceding it as it enlightens the reader to the fact that humans can do amazing things, but they cannot come close to possessing or even understanding the wisdom God uses to run the universe (Job 28:12, 20-21, 23). Their best course of action is not to understand how and why God does things, but to fear the Lord and “turn from evil” (Job 28:28).
Job gets his wish as the Lord answers him “from the whirlwind” (Job 38:1). Yahweh’s answer is a staggering series of questions about creation and the way the world runs (Job 38-39) that leaves Job stunned (Job 40:4-5). A change takes place in Job as he realizes that he was in over his head (Job 42:1-6). God rebukes his friends as Job prays for them; and blesses Job by doubling his possessions and giving him a new family (Job 42:7-17)
Job was written to address the problem of human suffering, especially for the son or daughter of God. It does not answer the question of why suffering exists, but rather, leads the reader to a place of recognizing that God is supremely wise and can be trusted regardless of even the most horrible circumstances. Job teaches us that God is in control and the reason for human suffering, especially of a righteous person, is “too wondrous…to know” (Job 42:3). God manages many things in the universe which are beyond human comprehension, such as laying the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4-6), managing snow and hail (Job 38:22), diffusing light and wind over the earth (Job 38:25) and so much more. Since He does a good job with this, He will take care of humankind and suffering.
- The Perplexity of Suffering Job suffered like no other. At the beginning of the book, he is portrayed as a blessed man, full of life, wealthy, godly and happy. Thirteen verses in, and his life begins to fall apart. He eventually loses everything, including his health. The bulk of the book, some 33 chapters (Job 4-37), is devoted to humans trying to process the reasons why this occurring. No satisfactory answers are found. Job had done nothing to deserve this. The dialogue between Job and his friends, both it’s length and content, demonstrate the emotional turmoil and inability to find an adequate explanation for the dilemma of suffering.
- God is wise and in control. God speaks in Job 38-41 and questions Job regarding the ordering and management of the universe. This section of the book contains very deep and moving passages aimed at emphasizing God’s wisdom and sovereignty over all. The implication here is that even though suffering may not be able to be satisfactorily understood by humans, God is wise, in control, and can be trusted. There are many, many things that humans fail to understand, suffering being only one of them.
- Human reasoning often falls short, therefore it’s best to focus on other ways of bringing comfort. Job’s friends do not speak what is right about the Lord and Job’s problems (Job 42:7). They have brought their best explanations forward; their combined wisdom was of no help. They claimed that Job was guilty (Job 5:17; Job 8:6), when, as we know, God declared otherwise (Job 1:8). After many, many words and explanations, they were no closer to truth than when they sat in silence for seven days (Job 2:13).His friends original agenda was to “mourn with him, and to comfort him” (Job 2:11). They each came from their place (Job 2:11), and, when they saw him they “lifted their voices and wept…and sat down with him on the ground.” (Job 2:12-13). Being present with one who is suffering is a good thing; trying to explain why they are suffering is not.
- God is interested in and loving towards His creation. Job begins with a heavenly scene; God is almost bragging about Job (Job 1:8; Job 2:3). God already knows what is in Job’s heart; He loves Job. While it is difficult to understand why God would allow Job to endure such crushing pain and loss, the story ends with God pouring out blessing upon his life. God is good toward him (Job 42:12-17).
- It’s ok not to know. The reason for the suffering of Job is never directly given. The answer to his suffering seems to be found in his wrestling and turmoil. Ultimately, the answer is a Person not a reason. It is God Himself.
How Does This Relate To Us?
Human suffering is a universal problem; it is a common denominator for every human being. No one is exempt. The book of Job, unique in the Bible, gives us the best treatise for dealing with this difficulty: why do we suffer and how should we respond? The answer is found in trusting our wise God through our struggle and turmoil, understanding that He has everything under His control.
Job teaches us humility. We cannot know everything. Answers don’t always come easy. God is bigger than our problems, and yet He is loving and concerned about the details of our lives.
The book of Job helps us, as well, in loving people who are suffering. It guides us in these relationships. We should begin in like manner as Job’s friends: sitting quietly, mourning, weeping, just being there (Job 2:11-13); but we should not follow their example in subsequent chapters: giving reasons, answering deep theological questions, or playing the blame game (Job 4-37).
Job does help us to understand what happens in a suffering heart: the turmoil (Job 27:2), the questioning (Job 27:9-10) and anguish (Job 3). This process seems to be what can lead a righteous individual to a deeper closeness to God because of their suffering.
- Based on Job 1:1-5, Job was a righteous man. If this story was set in modern times, how might Job be described?
- What did Job’s friends do when they heard of his suffering? See Job 2:11-13. How do you think they felt about Job?
- The book of Job is a fascinating piece of literature and yet it is all about suffering. Why do you think the author would devote such effort to write it? Why do you think this is in the Bible?
- Read Job 28. The entire chapter is about wisdom. What is the relationship between wisdom and suffering?
- Read Job 38-39. What strikes you as you read these chapters? What impresses you about God and the universe or the animal kingdom?
Life Application Questions
- Job 3:1 states that Job “cursed the day of his birth”. Have you ever felt like you wish you had never been born? If so, why?
- Read Job 10:1-7. Job speaks out of the “bitterness of (his) soul” because, to him, his suffering make absolutely no sense. Have you ever felt similar to this? Why?
- In Job 16:1-5, the friends of chapter two have become “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2). What does Job claim he would do if the roles were reversed? How could you be a true comforter to Job?
- When God is done speaking, Job claims to have spoken about “things too wonderful” that he did not understand (Job 42:3). In what ways do you think suffering can be “wonderful”? Give an example of good you have seen in your own life or someone you know that came about because of suffering.
The massage of Job Book is incredible – We need to be humble before God when times become unanswered. Thank you.
Nice sacred material. Using it in my teachings. God continually add you more ofHis knowledge.
This explanation is to the point & is easy to understand. I wish I would have had it explained like this 45 years ago when I became a believer!
Nicely explained. Pastor -Jesus bless you. Tamil maran new life prayer house Valavanur chennai.
Well taken and really boosted my desire to come closer to God
Been blessed and looking forward to getting such soul strengthening teaching with relevance to real life situations.
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Book of Job Summary
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Job is the bee's knees. Really. He's blameless and upright, and he has kids, a wife, land, and a bunch of sheep. Doesn't get much better than that. Up in the heavens, God brags to the divine assembly about Job. Lo and behold, Satan comes out and challenges God on Job's goodness. This can't end well.
Note to Shmoopers: this is not the Satan of Paradise Lost or even the Satan of the New Testament. So which Satan is he? For the full scoop, head on over to our " Figures " section.
Back to the story. Satan tells God that, sure, Job loves God now, but take away his earthly possessions and his children, and he will dump God in a New York minute. God agrees to the challenge, and Satan unleashes a force that kills all of Job's family except his wife, kills his servants, and reduces his homes to dust. Ouch.
But guess what? Job remains loyal. He refuses to denounce God. Take that, Satan. God gets to back to bragging and Satan sets up another challenge. This time, God lets Satan give Job a nasty rash, boils, and blisters all over his body.
Now Job becomes a much less happy camper. After all, he was loyal to God, and look what happened. He doesn't renounce God, but he does insist that he deserves some kind of explanation—wouldn't you want one? His buddies Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have an answer: it's his fault. Hmmm.
Job isn't quite satisfied with that explanation. Just in the nick of time, Elihu pops in to tell Job that he may not have sinned, but he still has no right to question his fate. After all, God's universe is still endowed with immortal power. Bottom line: suck it up.
After much fretting and many speeches, God finally shows up. Why? For a scolding. Where was Job on the day the universe was created? Where was Job when God was designing the architecture of the seas and the continents? Where was Job when God invented Arrested Development ?
Needless to say, Job feels a little humbled and acknowledges that, as a mere mortal, he can't possibly understand everything in an immortally ruled universe. Taking Elihu's advice, Job goes back to his day job, and eventually God gives him double what he had at the outset. Job lives to a ripe old age, and both God and Satan fade into the shadows.
- Chapter 12-14
- Chapter 16-17
- Chapter 23-24
- Chapter 29-31
- Chapter 32-37
- Chapter 38-39
- Loyalty to God
- Pain and Suffering
- Questioning and Doubting God
- Man's Status Before God
- Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar
- What's Up With the Title?
- What's Up With the Ending?
- Israelite Funerary Practices
- Heavenly Beings and Angels
- The Sea Dragon, Rahab, and the Leviathan
- Garden and Nature
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Bible Story of Job
Story of Job in the Bible
In this Bible story from the book of Job, there is a wealthy man named Job residing in an area called Uz with his extended family and vast flocks. He is “blameless” and “upright,” constantly mindful to live in a righteous manner ( Job 1:1 ). God mentions Job to Satan saying, "There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” However, Satan contends that Job is only righteous because God has favored him generously. Satan dares God that, if given the approval to inflict suffering, Job will change and curse God. God permits Satan to abuse Job to experiment with this brazen claim, but he forbids Satan to take Job’s life in the manner.
The Tribulations of Job
Over the time of one day, Job is given four reports, each informing him that his sheep, servants, and ten children have all died due to thieving intruders or natural disasters. Job rips his clothes and shaves his head in sorrow, yet he still praises God in his prayers. Satan arrives in heaven again, and God allows him another opportunity to test Job. This time, Job is distressed with terrible skin sores. His wife urges him to denounce God and to give up and die, but Job protests, trying to endure his inflictions.
Three of Job’s companions, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, arrive to comfort him, sitting with Job in silence for seven days out of reverence for his grieving. On the seventh day, Job talks, starting a discussion in which each of the four men shares his reflections on Job’s troubles in poetic descriptions.
Job damns the day he was born, relating life and death to light and darkness. He hopes that his birth had been obscured in darkness and desires to have never been born, believing that life only increases his suffering. Eliphaz replies that Job, who has comforted other people, now reveals that he never actually knew their pain. Eliphaz concludes that Job’s pain must be due to some sin Job has acted, and he recommends Job to seek God’s favor. Bildad and Zophar agree that Job must have performed evil to provoke God’s justice and argue that he should attempt to manifest more innocent behavior. Bildad supposes that Job’s children brought their deaths upon themselves. Even worse, Zophar suggests that whatever wrongdoing Job has done he likely deserves more suffering than what he has experienced.
Job Contemplates the Mystery of God
Job reacts to each of these remarks, becoming so angry that he calls his sympathizers “worthless physicians” who “whitewash [their help] with lies” ( Job 13:4 ). He questions why God judges people by their deeds if God can just as easily change or forgive their behavior. It is confusing to Job how a human can truly satisfy God’s justice as his ways are mysterious and exceed human comprehension. Furthermore, humans cannot possibly convince God with their words. God cannot be fooled, and Job confesses that he does not even know himself well enough to adequately defend his case to God. Job desires for someone who can mediate between himself and God, or be sent to Sheol, the dark space of the dead.
Job believes that there is a “witness” or a “Redeemer” in heaven who will testify for his integrity ( Job 16:19 , Job 19:25 ). The suffering shows too much for Job, and he turns bitter, anxious, and scared. He deplores the injustice that God lets evil people thrive while he and many other honest people suffer. Job wants to face God and protest, but cannot physically find God. He assumes that wisdom is concealed from humans, but he decides to persevere in seeking wisdom by fearing God and evading evil.
God Consoles Job
God eventually intervenes, commanding Job to be brave, and explains various detailed features of his creation. Overcome by the appearance of God, Job recognizes God’s infinite power and accepts the constraints of his human understanding. This response pleases God, but he is upset with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for emitting lousy advice. Job reconciles on their behalf, and God forgives them. God then restores Job’s health, granting him twice as much property as before, new children, and a remarkably long life. In the end, Job never completely gave up hope or faith in God as an inspiration to everyone enduring suffering of their own.
Read scripture text about the Bible story of Job and find related articles, podcasts, and sermons below!
Job 1 Commentaries
The tony evans bible commentary, wiersbe bible commentary: old testament, applied ot commentary, commentary critical and explanatory on the whole bible, matthew henry commentary on the whole bible (complete), csb study bible, john gill's exposition of the bible, geneva study bible, wesley's explanatory notes, articles about bible story of job.
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“Introduction to the Book of Job,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Job,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Introduction to the Book of Job
Why study this book.
One of the most basic questions any person of faith must wrestle with is why bad things happen to good people. The book of Job gives an account of a righteous man who faithfully responded to difficult trials. Job’s experience invites us to ponder difficult questions about the causes of suffering, the frailty of human existence, and the reasons to trust in God, even when life seems unfair. Throughout all of his trials, Job retained his integrity and his trust in God even when another suggested that he “curse God, and die” ( Job 2:9 ). Because all of us may feel like Job at one time or another, this book offers a poignant analysis of some of life’s most difficult questions.
Who wrote this book?
We do not know who wrote the book of Job.
When and where was it written?
We do not know when or where the book of Job was written.
What are some distinctive features of this book?
The book of Job is written almost entirely in poetic language, with a prologue and an epilogue in prose, and is often classified as wisdom literature. One of the book’s most unique qualities is that it asks two difficult questions—“Why do righteous people choose righteousness?” and “Why do the righteous suffer?”—but offers no simple answers. Instead, the book of Job invites faithful readers to exercise faith in God, as when Job said of the Lord, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” ( Job 13:15 ). The book also urges the faithful to look beyond the trials of this life to the glorious Resurrection, made possible by the Savior, for Job boldly testified, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and … in my flesh shall I see God” ( Job 19:25–26 ).
The book of Job is also distinctive for a passage confirming the reality of the premortal life, in which “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” at the Creation of the earth ( Job 38:7 ).
Modern revelation confirms the existence of the man Job. As recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, Jesus Christ comforted the Prophet Joseph Smith by comparing his afflictions to those of Job: “Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job” ( D&C 121:10 ).
Job 1–2 In a prologue that begins the poetic narrative, the Lord and Satan are imagined to discuss Job’s faithfulness and prosperity. Satan suggests that Job is righteous only because he is blessed. The Lord gives Satan permission to afflict Job but not kill him. Job perseveres and remains faithful through the loss of his personal wealth, his children, and finally his own health.
Job 3–37 Job laments his afflictions and wonders if it would have been better to never have been born. Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, come to offer comfort to Job but begin to question his claims that he does not deserve his suffering. The four then discuss the nature of suffering in this life. Job’s friends say that God’s justice does not punish the righteous; therefore, Job’s suffering must be linked to some sin he has committed. Job avows his innocence and maintains his trust in God, even though he does not know why these trials have come upon him. A younger man named Elihu then offers his insights on the reasons for Job’s suffering.
Job 38:1–42:6 The Lord appears and asks Job many questions, leading Job to consider the ultimate power and superiority of God. The Lord explains to Job that it is difficult for a mortal to see things from His perspective. Job humbly submits to the Lord and His judgments.
Job 42:7–16 In a brief epilogue, the Lord blesses Job for his faithfulness by granting him double the possessions he lost, allowing him to have the same number of children once more, and restoring him to his former status. Job lives a long and full life.
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Listen to Chuck Swindoll’s overview of Job in his audio message from the Classic series God’s Masterwork .
Who wrote the book?
The author of the book of Job is unknown. Several suggestions have been put forth as plausible authors: Job himself, who could have best recalled his own words; Elihu, the fourth friend who spoke toward the end of the story; various biblical writers and leaders; or many editors who compiled the material over the years. While there is no definitive answer, it was most likely an eyewitness who recorded the detailed and lengthy conversations found in the book. In Old Testament times, authors sometimes referred to themselves in the third person, so Job’s authorship is a strong possibility.
Who was Job? This wealthy landowner and father is one of the best-known biblical heroes. But we know little more than that he was stripped of everything, without warning, and that his faith was severely tested.
Where are we?
Though the text does not directly identify its setting, internal clues indicate that Job lived during the time of the patriarchs, approximately 2100 to 1900 BC. According to Job 42:16, Job lived an additional 140 years after his tragedies occurred, perhaps to around 210 years total. His long lifespan generally corresponds to that of Terah (Abraham’s father), Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Also, Job’s wealth was measured in livestock (Job 1:3; 42:12), as was Abraham’s (Genesis 12:16). Like the patriarchs, Job used God’s unique title “El Shaddai” (God Almighty). The book of Job does not mention the Mosaic Law; indeed, Job’s daughters were equal heirs with his sons, and Job himself, though not a priest, offered sacrifices—things not possible under the Law (Leviticus 4:10; Numbers 27:8). Though we cannot be certain, Job may have lived during the time of Jacob or shortly thereafter.
Job lived in the land of Uz (Job 1:1), but no one really knows where Uz was located. Scholars believe it was outside of Canaan, near the desert because “the customs, vocabulary, and references to geography and natural history relate to northern Arabia.” 1
Why is Job so important?
The Israelites categorized Job within their wisdom literature. The book includes language from ancient legal proceedings, laments, and unique terms not found elsewhere in the Bible. In addition, the majority of Job is written in parallel lines which are indicative of poetry.
The book delves into issues near to the heart of every human who experiences suffering. The prologue provides a fascinating peek into the back story—why God allowed Satan to afflict Job with such pain and turmoil. Then, through a series of dialogues and monologues arranged in a pattern of threes, human wisdom attempts to explain the unexplainable, until finally God Himself speaks.
The final chapters of Job record God’s masterful defense of His majesty and unique “otherness”—of God’s eternal transcendence above creation—in contrast with Job’s humble and ignorant mortality. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? / Tell Me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4).
What's the big idea?
Job’s plight of undeserved suffering compels us to ask the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The answer given to Job may or may not satisfy the reader. God allows pain for good reason, but He may never reveal those reasons.
Job did not reject God, but Job did challenge and accuse Him. The Almighty quieted Job decisively when He finally thundered His own perspective on the situation. God did not answer Job’s question of “Why?”—He instead overwhelmed Job and his friends with the truth of His majesty and sovereignty. Job came away with a deeper sense of God’s power and splendor, trusting Him more:
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5–6)
How do I apply this?
Pain inevitably afflicts each one of us. Suffering is unavoidable in this life. Will your relationship with God be enough when trials come? Will you trust Him through your suffering? Read Job 38–42. Spend time with the Almighty. Pray for a stronger faith in the powerful Creator described in those chapters. Pray for a right perspective of Him so that you might see your situation through His eyes.
Instead of asking where God is in the midst of your pain, the book of Job affirms God’s control and asks us, “Where are we in our pain? Are we trusting our Creator, even though we cannot understand our circumstances?”
- Roy B. Zuck, "Job," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament , ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1985), 718.
Copyright ©️ 2009 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Bible Study Chart
Job overview chart.
View Chuck Swindoll's chart of Job , which divides the book into major sections and highlights themes and key verses.
View a list of Bible maps , excerpted from The Swindoll Study Bible.
The book of Job opens on a curious courtroom scene, where the satan, or the accuser, challenges God’s policy of rewarding righteous people like Job. He says that Job is only righteous because God has rewarded him. Let him suffer, he says, then we will see his true character.
The rest of the story is presented through dense Hebrew poetry, where Job, his wife, and his friends speculate on why Job is suffering. Isn’t he a righteous man? Why would God allow this? Job accuses God of being unjust and not operating the world according to principles of justice, and he calls on God to explain himself.
God's Good and Wild World
In response to Job’s plea, God takes him on a tour of the universe, reminding him that the world has order and beauty but it is also wild and dangerous. The problem of human suffering isn’t as simple as reward vs consequence. God’s world is much more complex than that, and he is holding aspects of the universe that we can’t even begin to comprehend. So while we do not always know why we suffer, we can bring our pain and grief to God and trust that he is wise and knows what he's doing.
The book of Job invites us to trust God’s wisdom and character no matter our circumstances.
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