We continue our study in the Book of Job in the second chapter. Job, chapter 2. (Our Job 2 Commentary)
Last time in chapter 1 we saw Job’s righteous character. We also saw the multiple blessings that God had bestowed upon him. He was righteous and rich. Wealthy and wise in the Bible sense of the word. He mingled faith with the fear of the Lord.
But then God gathered a group of angels together and Satan was there as well. God pointed out Job to Satan and Satan retorted that Job worships God only for the stuff that God gives him. So, we saw God grant authority to Satan to take everything Job had.
Job lost his sheep, oxen, donkeys, and camels – all in one day. And on that same day – his ten children – who got along together so well and whom Job was so concerned for their spiritual state before the Lord – those children were taken from him in an instant.
And so, Job started to experience the message of this book. Remember the message of the book of Job is that When we can’t understand God’s ways, we must trust his wisdom.
Job started off this book understanding God’s ways. Blessings for obedience. Simple. But now, despite his continued obedience, his blessings have all been taken away. That’s hard to understand.
It is hard to understand. Think about God’s word overall. Think about the book of Proverbs that really does seem to generally promise blessings for obedience. Think about the end of Deuteronomy which certainly promises blessings for obedience – and in the context, to the nation of Israel under the Mosaic Law. So, God’s word seems to promise blessings for obedience.
God’s character also would indicate that he blesses obedience. He hates disobedience and commands obedience to him. So, you’d think that he would never bless disobedience and that he would always reward obedience to himself.
That would make sense. God’s ways would always make sense to us, if this always happened.
And yet – our experience – and the experience of our brother Job – would dictate that God doesn’t always work that way. There are times when his ways are beyond our understanding. We sometimes can’t understand his ways.
And so, what do we do when we can’t understand God’s ways? … We need to trust his wisdom.
When our obedience to him doesn’t immediately turn into blessing for us, we need to consider that God has a host of wise reasons for that being the case. What is he working behind the scenes through our suffering that we have no idea about?
And that’s what was happening with Job in chapter 1. He had no clue that Satan had challenged God. Satan asserted that the only reason that Job worshipped God is because – basically – God bribed him with those blessings.
Satan insinuates a few unseemly things about both God and Job. First, that God is not worthy of disinterested worship. That no one would worship God for the simple fact that he’s God. No – Satan says – God needs to bribe people so that they will worship him.
Second, Satan asserts that Job himself is just worshipping God so that God will give him stuff. Job’s moral integrity is motivated only by what he can get out of the deal.
And none of this did Job know. He had no clue these things were going on behind the scenes. And it’s not to say that every time we suffer, it’s the result of a heavenly wager as to whether you will keep worshipping God for nothing. But the point is – we don’t know. We don’t understand God’s ways in numerous situations. He is higher than we are. And so, we do well to trust his wisdom always – even when his ways don’t make sense to us.
And, so, here in the second chapter of the book of Job, we’ll see transpire a few more events that make it impossible for Job to understand God’s ways – and be driven to trust his wisdom.
And one of the members of our church was absent last week for the first chapter of Job. And I comforted him that he’ll hear a lot of the same things this week that we studied last week. That’s because a number of the elements we saw in chapter 1 reappear in chapter 2.
Angelic Gathering #2
So, just like in chapter 1, now in chapter 2 we have a gathering of the angelic beings.
Setting the Scene
And the author of this book sets the scene in verse 1.
KJV Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD,
and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.
Sons of God
Now, I had mentioned last time that these sons of God were angels. And we actually see this phrase “sons of God” in Genesis chapter 6. That’s where – before the flood – apparently the sons of God were marrying the daughters of men and producing these beings called Nephilim that were apparently giants.
And I know I just opened up a whole can of worms because now we’re all wondering how that could even happen – that humans and angels could produce offspring. And we can’t really do anything at this point to answer that question or a host of others that we might have about that situation in Genesis 6.
But my point in bringing that chapter to our minds is that these “sons of God” in Genesis 6 are apparently non-human. They are sons – not of man – but of God. They’re heavenly – not earthly. Like I said – and like others think – these beings in Genesis 6 and now here in Job 1 and 2 are angels.
There’s also a statement in Job chapter 38 in which a phrase very similar to what we see in Job 1 and 2 and Genesis 6 is used. There in Job 38, God is answering Job and says that at the creation of the world, the “sons of God” “shouted for joy.” God puts those “sons of God” in parallel to the “morning stars” which “sang together” during creation.
So, those are our five references to “sons of God” in Scripture – Genesis 6 (two times), Job 1, Job 2, and Job 38. They’re apparently angelic beings.
And we’re given more reason to believe that these sons of God are angelic because Satan is there with them. Though Satan is a fallen angel, yet he still is an angel.
And so, just as the rest of the angels would apparently report for duty to the Lord, so too would Satan.
And remember that the word “Satan” means something in Hebrew. It means “adversary.” And that word is used elsewhere in Scripture to mean that very thing.
The angel of the Lord was a “satan” to Balaam the false prophet as he went to attempt to curse Israel at Balak’s request in Numbers 22.
When David defected to the Philistines, the commanders of that army were concerned that David would become to them a “satan” in the battle in 1Sa 29.
In 1Ki 11 we hear of three separate “satans” that God raised up to challenge Solomon because of his idolatry toward the end of his life.
But 16 of the 28 times that satan appears in the Old Testament it’s referring to “THE” Satan. In fact, in Hebrew, the article is affixed to the front of the word. Like he’s THE adversary – the ultimate opponent of God and his people.
In the book of Zechariah alone THE Satan is mentioned 4 times.
So, the term satan in the Old Testament can refer to an enemy or adversary in general – especially when it doesn’t have the article in Hebrew. But 16 times it’s referring to the Devil – the Serpent of Old.
And then actually 33 times that word is transliterated from Hebrew into Greek in the New Testament as satanas and it always refers to this personal devil who opposes God’s work and his people.
God’s Question to Satan #1
And the Lord has a question for this adversary of his in verse 2.
2:2 And the LORD said unto Satan,
[From whence comest thou/Where have you come from]?
And once more, we can remind ourselves that God knows the answer to this question. He’s not asking to gain information.
Someone has said that God’s questions are often didactic. They’re teaching opportunities. They’re leading questions.
Think of God asking Adam where he was after he had eaten the forbidden fruit and was hiding from God. Did God know where Adam was? Yes. Why did he ask Adam where he was then? To get a response from Adam.
Or think of God asking Cain where his brother Abel was. God knew the answer – but he wanted Cain to be faced with the awful fact of what he did.
Or think of God asking Jonah the prophet if he had a right to be angry about the plant that God killed that was formerly giving the reluctant prophet shade.
And the questions go on and on. God often asks questions – not because he doesn’t know the answer – but because he wants the person he’s asking to consider the answer and the ramifications of that answer.
So, too, with Satan – God wants Satan to consider how he’s going to answer the question of where he’s been.
Satan’s Response to God #1
And Satan has an answer. And it’s the exact same answer as he gave God in chapter 1.
And Satan answered the LORD, and said,
From [going to and fro/roaming about] in the earth, and from walking [up and down/around] in it.
Satan’s answer doesn’t suggest aimlessness. As if he’s just wandering around on the earth.
No, it suggests purposeful scouting-out of the place. He’s been all over the earth.
And his purposes are not neutral or innocent at all. He walks around like a roaring lion. And this lion is looking for prey. He’s seeking to devour people – as it were.
He seeks to tempt people to disobey the Lord. To do their own thing and totally disregard the Lord – just like he does.
God’s Question to Satan #2
And so, God uses his directed question to lead Satan to realize this – that in all the earth – that Satan so loves to roam around in and try to make people fall – there is one man that he’s surely taken notice of as being different from the rest.
2:3 And the LORD said unto Satan,
Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a [perfect/blameless/pure] and an upright man, one that feareth God, and [escheweth/turning away from] evil?
And we heard all of this said of Job by the Lord back in chapter 1. Surely Satan noticed this one as he was going about the earth. There’s none like Job in all of that earth that unfortunately Satan has access to roam about in.
Satan himself turned from the Lord so long ago and he seeks to bring others with him and have them follow his rebellious ways. And yet, Satan could not get a foothold in Job’s life.
And this was the case despite what happened last time in chapter 1. Satan insinuated that Job would stop worshipping God and become just like Satan basically if God withheld and took material blessing from Job.
So, God and Satan – in some mysterious combination – through natural disasters and human agents – took from Job his sheep, oxen, donkeys, camels, and children. All in one day.
And we saw how Job reacted to those calamities in his life. But here’s God verifying what we’ve already seen in chapter 1. Satan was wrong. Job still worships God – and he does it for nothing. And he does it even when God’s ways don’t make sense to Job.
and still he holdeth fast his integrity, [although/so that] thou [movedst/incited] me against him, to [destroy/ruin] him without cause.
And note here the divine responsibility behind suffering of godly people. Satan plays a large role in Job’s suffering. And yet, God speaks of being moved against Job. God speaks of himself ruining Job.
There are several levels of responsibility here. For example, in chapter 1, the Sabeans and Chaldeans really did take Job’s livestock. They were responsible for those actions. But who were they moved by to do this? Satan. But who authorized Satan to do this? The buck stops with God. God could have said “no.” He didn’t. He authorized the attack.
The “fire from God” and the wind from the dessert also played their part in Job’s ruin. I am supposing that Satan had authority over those things as well. And yet, ultimately, God authorized Satan to use those elements to ruin Job.
But who bears the ultimate responsibility for the suffering of the godly Job – as he admits here in verse 3? It’s the Lord.
Satan’s Response to God #2
Well, Satan’s not satisfied that Job is really worshipping God for nothing. Surely, Job must still have some ulterior motive. Yes – Satan is quite sure that he can explain Job’s lack of cursing God for his calamities!
2:4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said,
Skin for skin,
[yea/yes], all that a man hath will he give for his life.
2:5 But put forth thine hand now,
and [touch/strike] his bone and his flesh,
and he will [i.e., no doubt…] curse thee to thy face.
And so, Satan’s first explanation for Job’s worshiping God back in chapter 1 was that God gave him all of these possessions – and so who wouldn’t worship the Lord for giving so many good things to a person? But if you take the stuff away, then the person will turn on the Lord.
(For more information on Satan’s statement “skin for skin” see our Skin for Skin Job article.)
So, the Lord allowed Satan to take all of Job’s earthly things. And Job still worshiped.
Now, Satan points to what the Lord did not allow him to touch last time – Job’s own body.
You may have heard the idea from someone else – or even thought it yourself – that if you have your health you have everything.
Well, that’s Satan’s idea. It’s one thing to have stuff taken away from you. But health? Now, that’s something that people will gladly give everything to maintain. And when our health is taken from us, we can get extremely bitter against the Lord.
It’s as if Satan could take out an imaginary balance and weigh health on the one scale and “all that a man hath” – sheep, oxen, camels, donkey, children – and the health will tip the scales decidedly.
And so, Satan actually has two assertions. First, a person will give anything to keep his life. And second, if God takes your health you will stop worshipping him.
You can agree with Satan’s first assertion. I think it generally is true that most people will give just about anything to maintain their health and to save their life. That’s one reason why the United States’ health care industry is booming. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that fact – it’s just an indication that what Satan says about people trying to maintain their life and health is generally true.
And I think unfortunately that generally Satan’s second assertion is true. When God allows people to undergo trials with their health – their dedication to him is often strained – and many times can just give way.
God’s Response to Satan #3
But, the Lord actually isn’t worried about that happening with Job. So, verse 6.
KJV Job 2:6 And the LORD said unto Satan,
Behold, he is in [thine hand/your power]; [but/only] [save/spare/preserve] his life.
So, God gives Job over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. And he is allowed to destroy Job’s flesh only to the point where Job is still living.
Satan’s Activities #2
And so, with God’s authorization, Satan goes and afflicts Job’s body.
KJV Job 2:7 ¶ So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD,
and [smote/afflicted] Job with [sore boils/a malignant ulcer] from the sole of his foot unto [his crown/the top of his head].
So, Job develops these boils – some sort of painful skin condition. And it’s all over his body.
Job’s Response #2
And here’s Job response to that new affliction in his life.
2:8 And he took him a [potsherd/shard of broken pottery] to scrape himself withal;
and he sat down among the ashes.
The statement about the potsherd is innocent-sounding enough. But when you think about it, it’s quite awful.
Why did Job not just scratch himself with his fingernails? Well – as unpleasant as it sounds – what I understand is that these boils – this skin condition of Job – would ooze pus. The pus was probably infectious and so Job was trying to both relieve his skin pain and keep that infectious pus from spreading to other parts of his skin.
The picture is a pitiful one. And it gets worse – because Job is sitting among the ashes.
This would have been our equivalent of the city dump. It’s where trash was brought and burned. Thus the ashes – from the burnt out garbage.
So, Job’s physical situation is as bad as it can get. Add to that our remembrance of all that he lost in chapter 1.
Well, what else can go wrong in this man’s life? This. We know that Job had ten children. And of course, for a man to have children, he needs a … wife. We haven’t heard anything about Job’s wife yet. And it was probably best that way, but she decides to speak in verse 9.
2:9 ¶ Then said his wife unto him,
Dost thou still [retain/hold fast/hold firmly to] thine integrity?
curse God, and die.
By the way, one thing we can learn from Job’s wife here is that oftentimes the suffering of a married person can be just as hard – sometimes even harder – on his spouse as it is on the sufferer himself.
God made marriage to be a union between one man and one woman. The husband who loves his own wife loves himself. The two shall become one flesh.
My point is that a married couple is really so united that when one suffers the other suffers. God made it that way.
And yet – with all of that said – this statement of Job’s wife is shocking. This woman – who no doubt had been a godly wife and mother for years or decades is just coming unhinged.
And she’s tempting Job with the very thing that Satan is hoping for – that he would curse God as a result of God’s taking Job’s things and now Job’s health from him. She’s urging him to do the very thing that Job had hoped with all of his heart that his children wouldn’t do.
She’s wrong. She shouldn’t be saying this to Job. A man or woman who is suffering doesn’t need any more reason to abandon the Lord. And Job is going to tell her as much in verse 10.
2:10 But he said unto her,
Thou speakest as one of the [foolish/godless] women speaketh.
What? shall we receive good at the hand of God,
and shall we not receive [evil/adversity]?
Now, Job is not saying that his wife is foolish. Neither is that foolishness speaking of silliness. It’s speaking of ungodliness – of even idolatry. And Job is saying that Job’s wife is speaking AS one of the foolish women. She’s speaking like them. She has historically not been one. But she is now adopting their attitude and values as a result of his suffering.
And Job speaks the truth. He recognizes God’s right to give both good things and things from our perspective that are not good. They’re “evil” in that sense.
And I don’t know about you, but I think that Job’s response is really commendable.
He has nothing. His health is ruined. His wife is now tempting him and not standing strong with him. He lives in the city dump with an awful and infectious skin condition. His children are all dead. His livestock is all gone.
And yet, he’s teaching his wife how to think right in the midst of suffering. He continues to worship the Lord. He’s worshipping the Lord for nothing. Trusting God’s wisdom – even when he can’t understand God’s ways.
Evaluation of Job’s Response
And we know that’s the right way to think about Job’s response thus far because of the last statement in verse 10.
In all this did not Job sin [with his lips/by what he said].
Job’s Three Friends
And just when it seems like Job is all alone in this world, he has three visitors come to see him in verse 11.
2:11 ¶ Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this [evil/adversity] that was come upon him, they came every one from his own [place/country];
Eliphaz the Temanite, and
Bildad the Shuhite, and
Zophar the Naamathite:
for they had made an appointment together to come
to [mourn/sympathize] with him and
to [comfort/console] him.
Several things to note here.
First, we don’t really know two of the three places mentioned here. Teman was somewhere near ancient Edom – which was southeast of Israel. But the other two places are sort of unknown. Thankfully, knowing those locations is not at all important to the study of this book.
Second, I think that when Job’s friends come to mind, we assume that their motive was to come and afflict Job. But, that’s not the case at all. Look back at why they came to Job. They heard of his affliction and they came with the express purpose of mourning with and comforting Job.
Now, they will end up being a great source of agitation for Job, but these men did come with a kind and loving purpose.
If we read this book with new eyes – as if we had never read this before – we’re encouraged at the arrival of these dear folks. These wonderful friends are coming to help Job. Job’s wife wasn’t much help to poor Job. But these friends really ought to have some effective ministry with this godly righteous man.
But it’s one thing to plan to visit and counsel someone who’s suffering. It’s something very different to actually effectively comfort and mourn with someone who is suffering – especially when his suffering is so severe and so unlike what you’ve experienced.
And that’s what these three friends are faced with in verse 12.
2:12 And when they [lifted up their eyes/gazed intently] [afar off/at a distance], and [knew/recognized] him not,
they [lifted up/raised] their voice, and wept;
and they [rent/tore] every one his [mantle/robe],
and [sprinkled/threw] dust [upon/over] their heads toward heaven.
Part of the outward signs of grief that these friends show was no doubt planned. But the text also indicates that the extent of Job’s suffering was shocking to them – something beyond what they had expected. They didn’t recognize him. That’s how bad his physical affliction had been.
So, the friends begin to mourn with Job in verse 13.
2:13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights,
[and/yet] none spake a word unto him:
for they saw that his [grief/pain] was very great.
And it’s hard to tell if they did the right thing or not here. Should they have spoken? Was it right for them to remain silent?
I tend to think that what they’re doing here is OK. I visited my friend whose oldest and youngest children died in a car accident about a month ago – which was about 1 month after the accident. And he kept verbally working through the events of the accident in detail. And I was aware of my total lack of ability to say anything that would help this man. Maybe someone else could have had some words to comfort him – but these situations are not easy.
And so, I tend to think that the friends were fine to remain silent with Job. I think that was part of their mourning with him.
And really, I think that we can see later on in the next chapter and beyond that all of these people might have been better off if they had all remained silent for the whole book. But then – of course the book of Job would be about 5 chapters rather than 42 and God doesn’t waste words and so we can be thankful for the abundance of words that God breathed out in this inspired book of Scripture. We can be sure that through those words we’ll receive doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.
And where these four – Job and his friends – will all go wrong – wherever they do go wrong in the book – is when they fail to trust God’s wisdom when they don’t understand his ways.
So, we end chapter 2 of this book with Job still trusting God’s wisdom. The friends probably aren’t doing so even from the outset. But one thing is clear. None of these men understand God’s ways.
And we’ll see Job expressing that fact starting in chapter 3 next time.