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B. Job’s Calamities 1:6-2:10
God permitted Satan to test Job twice. [Note: For a summary of what the Book of Job teaches about God, see Zuck, A Theology . . ., pp. 219-26.] The first test touched his possessions, including his children (Job 1:6-22), and the second his person (Job 2:1-10). God permitted Satan to afflict Job to demonstrate and to purify Job’s motives for worshipping God and for living a godly life (cf. James 1:2-4). The writer takes us behind the scenes in this pericope (Job 1:6 to Job 2:10) so we can know why Job’s calamities befell him, the very question that Job and his friends debated hereafter. In each test, we first see Satan accusing Job in heaven, and then attacking him on earth.
The Scriptures consistently affirm that God tempts no one (James 1:13). That is, He is not the source of temptation and, therefore, the author of evil. He does not seduce people, trying to get them to sin. However, it is equally clear that God allows us to experience temptation from other sources for our welfare (James 1:2-18). The primary sources of our temptation are the world (1 John 2:15-16), the flesh (James 1:14), and the devil (Job 1-2).
2. The second test 2:1-10
Satan again claimed that Job served God only because God had made it advantageous for Job to do so. Job still had his own life. Satan insinuated that Job had been willing to part with his own children and his animals (wealth) since he still had his own life (skin, Job 2:4).
"Satan implies that Job, by his doxology had only feigned love for God as the exorbitant but necessary fee for health insurance." [Note: Kline, p. 463.]
Satan could do nothing to Job without God’s permission. Having received that, he went out to strip Job of his health. In view of the symptoms mentioned later in the book, Job’s ailment (Job 2:7-8) seems to have been a disease called pemphigus foliaceous or something similar to it, perhaps elephantiasis (cf. Job 2:7-8; Job 2:12; Job 3:24-25; Job 7:5; Job 9:18; Job 16:16; Job 19:17; Job 19:20; Job 30:17; Job 30:27; Job 30:30; Job 33:21). It appears to have afflicted Job for several months (cf. Job 7:3; Job 29:2).
Job’s illness resulted in an unclean condition that made him a social outcast. He had to take up residence near the city dump where beggars and other social rejects stayed. He had formerly sat at the city gate and enjoyed social prestige as a town judge (Job 29:7). The change in his location, from the best to the worst place, reflects the change in his circumstances, from the best to the worst conditions.
Another effect of his disease was his wife’s reaction (Job 2:9). She evidently concluded that God was not being fair with Job. He had lived a godly life, but God had afflicted rather than awarded him. She had the same retributive view of the divine-human relationship that Job and his friends did, but she was "foolish" (Job 2:10, spiritually ignorant, not discerning). Her frustration in seeing her husband suffer without being able to help him or to understand his situation undoubtedly aggravated her already chafed emotions. She gives evidence in the text of being bitter toward God. Had she been simply anxious that Job’s suffering would end, she probably would not have urged him to abandon his upright manner of life by cursing God.
"The narrative reminds us repeatedly of the temptation in Eden (Genesis 3). Job’s wife plays a role remarkably like that of Eve. Each woman succumbed to the tempter and became his instrument for the undoing of her husband. Satan had spared Job’s wife-as he had spared the four messengers-for his further use in his war on Job’s soul." [Note: Andersen, p. 88.]
"In times of severe testing, our first question must not be, ’How can I get out of this?’ but ’What can I get out of this?" [Note: Wiersbe, p. 13.]
The third result of Job’s suffering was his fresh submission to God (Job 2:10). Even though Job did not understand why he was in agony, he refused to sin with his lips by cursing God. He continued to worship God even though he gained nothing in return (cf. James 5:11). This response proved Satan wrong (Job 2:5) and vindicated God’s words (Job 2:3).
Though many people today conclude, as Job’s wife did, that the reason for suffering is that God is unjust, this is not the reason good people suffer. The basis for the relationship between God and man is not retribution, with good deeds resulting in prosperity and bad deeds yielding punishment in this life. [Note: For a critique of the "prosperity gospel" movement, which teaches that it is never God’s will for any believer to be sick or poor, see Ken K. Sarles, "A Theological Evaluation of the Prosperity Gospel," Bibliotheca Sacra 143:572 (October-December 1986):329-52.]
These two tests reveal much about Satan. He is an accuser of the righteous. He knows what is going on in the world and in the lives of individuals, though there is no evidence in Scripture that he can read people’s minds. He has great power over individuals and nature, but his power is subject to the sovereign authority of God.
C. Job’s Comforters 2:11-13
Actually, four men came to visit Job, though the writer did not mention Elihu’s presence until chapter 32. Eliphaz seems to have been the eldest for several reasons. His name occurs first (Job 2:11; Job 42:9), he spoke before the others, his speeches are longer and more mature, and God spoke to him as the representative of the others (Job 42:7). Eliphaz is an Edomite name (Genesis 36:4). He was probably either from Teman in Edom (cf. Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 1:9) or from Tema in Arabia. Bildad may have been a relative of Shuah, Abraham’s youngest son (Genesis 25:2). Zophar may have come from Naamah, a Judean town (Joshua 15:41), if it existed then.
Evidently the disfigurement that resulted from Job’s disease prevented Job’s acquaintances from recognizing him and led to their extreme grief that they manifested in ways common in their culture. The writer did not explain why they did not speak to him for seven days. This may have been traditional, or they may have spoken to no one out of respect for him. A week was the usual time of mourning for the dead (cf. Genesis 50:10; 1 Samuel 31:13; Sirach 22:12), so they may have been mourning for him as one already dead. Perhaps they discussed his condition among themselves but did not do so with him. Apparently they waited for him to speak first (ch. 3) before they addressed him directly, as was customary and respectful.
"For one of them to speak prior to the sufferer would have been in bad taste." [Note: Elmer B. Smick, "Job," in 1 Kings-Job, vol. 4 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 887.]
In any case their commitment to him, as seen in their patient waiting to address him, shows their genuine friendship. How many friends do you have that would travel a long distance to visit you in an illness and sit with you silently for seven days out of respect for your pain?
"In overwhelming sorrows, true friendship almost invariably demonstrates itself more perfectly by silence than by speech. And even in spite of the fact that Job’s friends caused him sorrow by their words, they are more to be admired because what they thought concerning him they dared to say to him, rather than about him to others." [Note: G. Campbell Morgan, An Exposition of the Whole Bible, p. 202.]
"Don’t try to explain everything; explanations never heal a broken heart. If his friends had listened to him, accepted his feelings, and not argued with him, they would have helped him greatly; but they chose to be prosecuting attorneys instead of witnesses." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 14.]
The prologue (chs. 1-2) sets the stage for what follows by informing us, the readers, that Job’s suffering was not due to his sins. None of the characters in the story knew this fact except God and Satan. We also see the heavenly dimension and the spiritual warfare taking place-that were also unknown to the human characters in this drama.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 2". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany