Last Sunday, I launched a series of posts related to the Book of Job. The initial post is here. As a bit of review, this historical character lived in the “land of Uz,” a stretch of land that lies east of Egypt, south of current day Israel and Jordan, and is roughly bisected by the Jordan River as that river flows south into the Gulf of Aqaba. The book named for Job makes this statement in chapter 1, verse 3: “… that man was the greatest of all men of the east.” Indeed, Job’s wealth alone was impressive, but he had character to boot. He was “… blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from Evil.“
But in the blink of an eye, Job’s circumstances changed! His livestock, his servants, dead and gone, his children dead, and it seemed as though every time the door opened, he received another round of bad news. (I’m reminded of that line from the Hee Haw song Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me that says “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” That’s the kind of week Job was having.)
So here’s Job having the equivalent of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day … but what he’s not aware of is the dialogue occurring in God’s dwelling place and how that dialogue will result in Job’s slide even farther down the tunnel of misery.
The second chapter begins by noting the sons of God (angels) were presenting themselves before the Lord and Satan joined them there. Thus begins another dialogue between Almighty God and the Deceiver in which God reiterates his assessment: “… there is no one like [Job] on the earth, a blameless and upright man … turning away from evil … holding fast his integrity.”
In their discussion, Satan levels another charge against Job. Why wouldn’t Job remain upright? His animals, servants and children have suffered, not him! Satan claims all that’s required for Job to curse God is to bring suffering to his body! In response, God grants Satan permission to put Job through the wringer once more, this time inflicting physical pain, but God issues a single caveat … don’t kill Job.
My sonnet below presents this dialogue in poetic form.
As the chapter tells us, Satan immediately smote Job’s body with boils … “from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” I can’t even imagine the agony Job experienced. But I think the passage has an even more memorable application for me personally. Just read the words of Job’s wife (who remains nameless): “Curse God and die!”
In the margin of my Bible, I made this notation many years ago with a red pencil: Be Alert To This Attitude! I’ve considered that Job suffered less from his physical wounds than from the stake-to-the-heart stab delivered by his wife. Every time I read through this part of Job, I’m reminded how damaging a wife’s comments can be. When Job most needed his wife to be his primary cheerleader (which wouldn’t have made his pain disappear but perhaps be easier to bear), all she could do was react hatefully.
The chapter ends with a snapshot of Job’s three friends who’ve heard about his disaster and they gather to offer him sympathy and comfort. As I read the book, my sense is these three men have been with Job through the good times and now that things have turned bad, they’re a bit nervous that the same thing could happen to them! But I will let their words speak for them as we explore another chapter of the Book of Job next week, beginning with Job’s expression of extreme sorrow. I hope you’ll stay tuned.