Bible: What Does Job 1-5 Teach Us About Suffering?
Job: The Suffering Patriarch
The Accuser of the Brethren
God Allows Satan to Test Job's Character
The first three verses in the prologue of Job portray him as both very good (v. 1) and very wealthy (in terms of children and livestock, vv. 2-3).
The author provides a ready example of his godliness on behalf of his children (vv. 4, 5).
The subsequent scene, a heavenly one, depicts God permitting Satan to test Job's character (vv. 6-12).
[Satan functions as “the accuser of the brethren” both at this early date and during the end times (cf. Rev. 12:10). Of course, he constantly heaps blame upon God's people even now.
Apparently, he has access to "heaven" until Michael the Archangel finally casts him down to the Earth].
Losing no time, the adversary wipes out all of the patriarch's livestock and children in one day (vv. 13-19).
What is Job's response but worship and acknowledgment of the LORD's sovereignty (vv. 20-22).
[God can do what He wishes with His own; He can even cause them great pain.
Job exemplifies a godly reaction to tragedy, a response that can only arise from a heart rightly adjusted to the Lord].
Verses 1-3a almost exactly parallels 1:6-8.
When Job passes his first test (v. 3b), Satan seethes with hatred toward him (v. 4), and demands control over Job's physical well-being as well (v. 5).
Again, God permits him to try the good man, this time with boils (vv. 6, 7).
Job handles both the physical and the spousal affliction without verbally sinning (vv. 8-10).
The patriarch's three "comforters" then arrive and act the part well at first, showing genuine sympathy (vv. 11-13).
[The LORD knew that Job valued his relationship with Him far more than anything else he possessed].
[NB: The parallel structure of the first two chapters is an interesting feature.
It falls into five parts:
(1) Job's integrity (1:1, 8; 2:3)
(2) Satan's challenges to God (1: 6-12; 2: 1-6)
(3) Satan's attacks on Job (1: 13-22; 2: 7-10)
(4) Accounts of disaster and pain (1: 13-19; 2: 7-8)
(5) Accounts of Job's reactions (1: 20-22; 2: 9-10)]
Lamentation: Legitimate or Sinful?
Does Job sin when he laments his lot in life?
Job laments the full day of his birth (v. 1), both the daytime (vv. 3a, 4-5) and the nighttime (vv. 3b, 6, 7).
Because of his present affliction (v. 10), he wishes that darkness for him and barrenness for his mother would have characterized that nativity (vv. 7, 9).
Vv. 11-26 contains seven "Why's": in the first five Job discusses “why on earth” he had to be born (vv. 11-12, 16), and the last two examine why he is living with constant, excruciating pain (vv. 20, 23).
If he had died as an infant, he surmises, then he would be at peace, and none of this tragedy would have happened (vv. 11-19).
Job much prefers death to suffering (vv. 21-22, 25, 26).
[Is Job's grieving legitimate for a believer?
Why might we think that it is not?]
The Foundation of Eliphaz's Argument
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The first of Job’s comforters, Eliphaz, responds to the good man’s mourning by telling him, in a word, to practice what he preaches (vv. 1-6).
"You have taught and strengthened other sufferers,” he begins, “but cannot handle the trials yourself.
Maybe you are not as reverent or strong as you claim!"
Relying on traditional wisdom—a standard answer given to explain what usually happens in life—as the basis of his argument, Eliphaz demands repentance from Job (vv. 7-11).
To augment his position, he relates a frightening experience he once had with a "spirit" who instructed him about the moral weakness of man.
With this story, he again implies that Job has sinned (vv. 12-21).
[Eliphaz assumed Job's guilt before investigating deeper. He was too quick to judge his "friend."]
Job contrasts the foolish man—one who has no one to help him (v. 1), whose sons perish (v. 4), whose possessions others enjoy (v. 5), and whose life is nothing but trouble (v. 7)—with himself, the God-seeker (v. 8).
He discourses on God's works upon the earth (v. 10), and His ways with the humble (v. 11), the worldly wise (vv. 12-14), the poor (vv. 15-16), and the chastened (vv. 17-26).
To the man who responds well to God's chastening, the LORD promises protection from famine and war (v. 20), criticism (v. 21) and wild animals (vv. 22b-23), while granting peace and safety (v. 24) as well as children and long life (vv. 25-26).
[Job believes that he will yet see good things, though now in the throes of God’s chastening].
© 2014 glynch1