JOB STUDIES 2
For years, Job had been a good and godly man, abundantly blessed by God. Then, one day, though Job was the same godly person he had been, a series of calamities strike his life. The reader of the book learns that this has been caused by Satan, but Job knows nothing of the mysterious council in heaven, and of Satan’s malicious challenge. Yet, even in pain and uncertainty, Job’s faith remains strong.
First, Job’s children and his great wealth are taken from him. Then, as Chapter 2 begins, we learn about the second phase of Satan’s attack on this great man of God. His troubles become more personal, they affect him physically. You sometimes hear people say, “You can face a lot, if only you have your health. But even that is stripped from him.
Please read Job 2:1-8
INSIGHT: The text describes a second occasion in heaven when the angels (called “sons of God” in Job) appear before God’s throne. There are mysteries here. We are only given a glimpse of this meeting because it is important to our understanding of what happens to Job. However, we are left with many unanswered questions. (We have one other mention in Scripture of this heavenly court, and of God using an evil spirit to accomplish His sovereign will. It is found in First Kings, 22:19-22.)
As before, the Lord calls upon Satan to report on his doings (1:7; 2:2). And as before, the Lord calls specific attention to His servant Job, and repeats that he is the most outstanding man of God on the earth (1:8; 2:3).
1) What new facts do we learn from God in the latter part of vs. 3?
INSIGHT: “You incited Me against him” means “You prodded Me to act against Job.” God cannot be the author of sin (Ps. 92:15; Jas. 1:13). And He is sovereign over all; Satan can only act as the Lord permits him to. These are difficult truths to hold in balance, but it is plain that God can allow evil to express itself for some ultimately good purpose, without being tainted with evil Himself.
INSIGHT: The phrase “without cause” translates the Hebrew word chinnam. It is the same word Satan uses in 1:9 where it is translated “for nothing.” What God declares about Job in 2:3 is critically important. And it is a statement over which many Bible commentators stumble. They simply cannot believe what God says, that there is nothing Job has done that makes him deserving of what he is going through. For example, the usually reliable Henrietta Mears says, “Job was a good man, but self-righteous.” Her conclusion is that God was chastening Job to get rid of a proud, self-righteous streak. Others use words like “sinner,” and “rebellion” to describe Job. They have missed the point entirely. “Without cause” means just that. There was nothing in Job that necessitated God’s “chastening.” And if Job later “rebelled” against God in response to his trials, then Satan could have claimed victory! (But, praise the Lord, he did not!)
2) What is Satan’s new claim, and his new challenge (vs. 4-5)?
3) What is God’s response, and what limit does He put on what Satan can do (vs. 6)?
INSIGHT: “Life” translates the Hebrew word nephesh. It has a wide variety of meanings, including: appetite, desire, soul, heart, physical life. It is not likely that the latter is meant in this case. Satan knew he could not claim a victory if he simply killed Job. Rather, God seems to be protecting Job’s soul or mind, in other words his sanity. It would not prove anything for Satan to “brain wash” Job, reducing him to a demented, mindless state. If Job could not make a rational decision to trust or reject God, then the test was pointless. But the unfolding story reveals that Satan pushed perilously close to this limit in his obsessive belief that he would soon get Job to “crack.”
4) What does Satan do to Job now (vs. 7-8)?
INSIGHT: The “boils” were festering sores that covered his body from head to foot. (The same Hebrew word is used to describe the plague of boils in Egypt, Exod. 9:9.) We do not have a precise diagnosis of Job’s condition. It may have been a combination of things. But we certainly know a lot about his symptoms, and they are devastating indeed.
5) Using the following passages, describe some of the terrible symptoms of Job’s suffering:
¤ 2:13. Job’s “grief [a word representing both mental and physical pain] was very great [exceedingly powerful].”
¤ 7: 5 (compare 30:30)
¤ 7:13-14 (compare 30:17)
¤ 16:8 (compare 33:21)
INSIGHT: “In the midst of the ashes” (vs. 8) is likely a reference to the ash heap or the garbage dump outside the city where Job lived. It would be the place where those ostracized because of leprosy went to hunt for scraps of food among the refuse.
6) What added misery does this suggest in contrast with Job’s earlier life?
INSIGHT: Job may have scraped himself with a piece of broken pot to break his boils and relieve some of the pressure on the sores. Or, it is possible the condition of his skin caused not only pain but a constant and terrible itching. Picture this man with his body full of running, worm-infested sores, the godliest saint on earth, God’s choicest servant, sitting alone in the garbage dump.
7) Why did people no longer want him around? (There are likely a couple of reasons.)
8) Can you think of some words strong enough to describe the character of Satan as it is revealed here?
Please read Job 2:9-13
9) Who first came to see Job (vs. 9)? And what advice did she give him?
INSIGHT: This confrontation actually begins the third phase of Satan’s attack. First, Job lost his children and his wealth. Then his health was utterly broken to the point where he was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Now, those closest to him turn against him and become, in effect, the mouthpieces of the devil.
10) Explain how Job’s wife might actually be giving Job a version of Satan’s own theory?
11) Satan could not win by killing Job. But if Job acted in such a way that he caused his own death would that prove the devil’s theory about Job? (Why? Or why not?)
INSIGHT: To be as fair as we can to Job’s wife, it is possible she said what she did out of misguided sympathy for Job. (Sometimes well-meaning people can be the spokesmen of the evil one!) She may have wanted to stop his suffering. But sometimes a short-cut to end suffering is not God’s will but a deceptive temptation from Satan.
12) How was this illustrated in the life of Jesus (Matt. 4:1-4)?
13) What is Job’s response to his wife (vs. 10)?
INSIGHT: The “foolish women” Job speaks of are not simply naive and silly. In the Bible’s Wisdom Literature (of which books like Job and Proverbs are a part) being a “fool” is a moral and spiritual condition. It speaks of a person who has rejected God, and one who is immoral. In fact, Job is likely speaking of the prostitutes in their community, who preyed on others (cf. Prov. 9:13-18). Job served in his city as a magistrate (29:7, 12, 16). As a judge, he must have had many occasions to deal with these hardened, immoral women.
14) These immoral women were a grief to godly Job. Why?
INSIGHT: Job’s dealings with this element of society may also give us greater understanding of his fears for his own children (1:5).
15) How was his wife acting much like these women at this time?
¤ See Psalm 92:5-6
¤ See Proverbs 29:11
16) Who next visits Job on the ash heap (vs. 11)?
INSIGHT: These three men come from some distance away. They could well have been business associates of Job who had formed a friendship with him in trading livestock and other goods back and forth. They first learn of his troubles, and then contact each other, arranging to go and see him. All of this would take some time, suggesting that Job’s sufferings lasted at least for a period of weeks. It seems they had long admired Job, and were acquainted with his high standing and his great wealth. As they approach the city where Job lives, they see a strange man sitting alone in the garbage dump. Until they got closer, it does not even cross their minds that this pathetic figure could be their friend, Job.
17) In vs. 11-13, the three men do several things that are commendable. What are they?
18) If you had been a close friend of Job’s what would you have said and done for him at this time?
INSIGHT: There are many options open to us in caring for those who are suffering. Practical help, as well as spiritual support. But these men restrict their assistance significantly. We soon will see why!