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Bible Commentaries
Job 42

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-6


This major part of the book begins with a personal lament in which Job expressed his agony (ch. 3). Three cycles of speeches follow in which Job’s friends dialogued with him about his condition (chs. 4-27). Job then voiced his despair in two soliloquies (chs. 28-31). Next Job’s fourth friend, Elihu, offered his solution to Job’s problem (chs. 32-37). The section closes with God speaking to Job twice and Job’s responses (chs. Job 38:1 to Job 42:6).

Verses 1-6

G. The Cycle of Speeches between Job and God 38:1-42:6

Finally, God spoke to Job and gave revelation that Job had been demanding for so long (cf. Job 13:22; Job 31:35). There was now no need for the middleman that Job had requested who could mediate between them (cf. Job 9:33; Job 16:19). Yahweh spoke directly to Job, and Job had the opportunity to respond directly to God.

"God challenged both Satan and Job by confronting them with his wondrous works. And since Job himself is the divine work by which Satan was challenged, it is through the success of this challenge to Job that God perfects the triumph of his challenge to Satan." [Note: Kline, p. 486.]

What God did not say to Job is as surprising as what He did say. He did not mention Job’s suffering, He gave no explanation of the problem of evil, and He did not defend Himself against Job’s charge of injustice. God simply revealed Himself to Job and his companions to a greater degree than they had known, and that greater revelation silenced them. He proved Himself to be the truly wise Person.

"The reader is told why Job was suffering in the Prologue, but that is to show that Job was innocent. Job was never told this; had he been told, the book would immediately lose its message to all other sufferers. So the book is teaching us through the divine theophany that there is something more fundamental than an intellectual solution to the mystery of innocent suffering. Though the message reaches Job through his intellect, it is for his spirit." [Note: Smick, "Job," p. 1029.]

"To Elihu the suffering may bring enrichment; to the author of the book of Job it is the presence of God that is enriching, and that presence is given to men of integrity and piety in prosperity and in adversity alike." [Note: Rowley, pp. 20-21.]

". . . whereas the advice of Elihu is to learn his lessons that his prosperity may be restored, the effect of the Divine speeches is to make Job realize that he may have the Divine fellowship in his sufferings, and not merely when he has been delivered from them." [Note: Ibid., p. 229.]

God’s role in His speeches was not that of a defendant on trial, whom Job the prosecutor charged with injustice. Rather, He was the Prosecutor asking the questions of Job, the defendant. He asked him more than 70 unanswerable questions and proved him both ignorant and impotent. Wiersbe found 77 questions that God asked Job in chapters 38-41. [Note: Wiersbe, pp. 23 and 76.] Since Job could not understand or determine God’s ways with nature, he obviously could not comprehend or control God’s dealings with people. Who is the truly wise person? It is not Job, or his three older friends, or his younger friend, Elihu, but God. He alone is truly wise.

"In the end the point is that Job cannot have the knowledge to make the assessments he made. It is wiser to bow in submission and adoration of God than to try to judge him." [Note: The NET Bible note on 38:1.]

Verses 1-6

4. Job’s second reply to God 42:1-6

Job’s words reveal the changes that God’s revelations had produced in him. He was aware as never before that God had all power and all wisdom. This resulted in an attitude of awe and submission (Job 42:2). He saw that it was foolish for him to question God’s actions. God knew what He was doing even though Job did not.

By quoting God’s first question back to Him (Job 42:3 a; Job 38:2), Job meant: "You were exactly right in asking, ’Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ That is just what I have been doing." He admitted having spoken presumptuously (Job 42:3 b-c).

Job also repeated what God had said when He began each of His speeches (Job 42:4; Job 38:3; Job 40:7). God had asked for Job’s reply. Now Job gave it. However, it was not the courtroom accusation he had said he wanted to deliver to God. It was instead a confession of his own folly.

"He has not only realized his folly in passing judgment on things that were beyond his understanding. He has found the answer to his problem. For at bottom this was not a problem of theodicy, but a problem of fellowship. He has not learned the cause of his sufferings or the explanation of the apparent injustices in the world, but he has found God again. For hitherto he, no less than his friends, had believed that his sufferings meant that God had cast him off and that he was isolated from him who had been his friend in days gone by. But now God had come to him and spoken to him, and he knew that he could have fellowship with God even in his sufferings. Therefore Job declares that he has found a new understanding of God, compared with which his former knowledge was but as the knowledge of rumour [sic] compared with sight. This is the climax of the book, as we should expect to find at the end of the poetic portion, for which the Prologue and Epilogue are but the setting." [Note: Rowley, p. 265.]

"To Job the supremely important thing is that God has come to him in his suffering, showing him that he is not isolated from God by his suffering. He has cried for God again and again, and God has come to him, not to enter into debate with him on the issues he has thrashed out with his friends, but to show him that now, when he most needs God, God is with him. . . . It is of the essence of its [the book’s] message that Job found God in his suffering, and so found relief not from his misfortunes, but in them." [Note: Ibid., p. 20.]

Job had heard of God from others previously. This limited secondhand knowledge had led him to some false conclusions. Now, after more revelation, he saw God more clearly. He had greater spiritual insight (Job 42:5). This greater understanding of God enabled Job to understand himself better. He saw both God and himself more realistically. [Note: See William Lillie, "The Religious Significance of the Theophany in the Book of Job," Expository Times 68:11 (August 1957):355-58.] "Retract" (Job 42:6) means to "despise" or "reject." Job evidently not only withdrew his charges against God but also despised and rejected his attitude of pride. Job had previously expressed remorse over his losses, but now he grieved over his sins. Job’s repentance seems to have been more than turning from his sorrowful condition. He changed his mind and abandoned his rebellious pride and arrogance toward God. [Note: Patrick, p. 369-71.]

"He does not repent of sins that have allegedly brought on the suffering; he repents of his arrogance in impugning God’s justice, he repents of the attitude whereby he simply demands an answer; as if such were owed him. He repents of not having known God better . . ." [Note: D. A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil, p. 174.]

"From now on he will locate his self-worth in his relationship with Yahweh, not in his own moral behavior or innocence." [Note: Hartley, p. 537.]

Job admitted sinning because he suffered, but he did not admit that he was suffering because he had sinned. [Note: Zuck, Job, p. 185.] Job forgot his cry for vindication since he had received something much better: a revelation of the person of God and renewed fellowship with God. He had lost all, but he had found God and was now content. He had stopped asking, "Why?" since he had come to know God. We do not need to know why if we know God. This is one of the great lessons of this book.

"Suffering is sometimes a mystery. We must affirm both the mystery and God. . . . The God speeches remind us that a Person, not a principle, is Lord." [Note: Bullock, pp. 108-9.]

Temptation to become distressed overtakes us all when bad things happen to us. We want to know why things happen as they do. If we know that God is in control and that in His loving wisdom He has permitted our suffering and controls it, we do not need to know why we are in pain. That is not to say we should stop trying to discover reasons. Our suffering may be due to our sin, as Job’s three friends said, or because God wants to teach us something, as Elihu affirmed. However, suffering may not be our lot for these reasons. When we cannot determine why we are suffering, we can still rest in God and continue to trust and obey Him, because we know He is sovereign and loving. This is a very important perspective to help other people who are suffering to see. By sharing it, we can be genuine comforters, not miserable comforters like Job’s friends.

"Sometimes the best answers to life’s most baffling and troubling questions lie not in what God says but in who He is. When believers recognize that truth, they begin to see that God does not just know the answers but, in fact, is the answer. To know Him is to know all one needs to know. The rest may come later but is unnecessary for now (1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 John 2 [sic 3]:2-3)." [Note: Merrill, p. 400.]

Verses 7-9

A. Job’s Friends 42:7-9

God addressed Eliphaz but also had Bildad and Zophar in view. He evidently excluded Elihu because he had not misrepresented God as the other three friends had. Their error was limiting God’s sovereignty. By asserting that God always punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous in this life, they were limiting God and committing a sin that required a sacrifice for atonement (covering). Modern prosperity theology advocates should take note!

Job evidently forgave his friends as God had forgiven him (cf. Matthew 6:12), and prayed for them as a priest (cf. Job 1:5; Matthew 5:44). Job stood as a mediator between his friends and God. He had previously felt the need of a mediator himself.

"They had attempted to restore Job to God by philosophy. He is now to be the means of restoring them by prayer." [Note: Morgan, pp. 219-20.]

Rather than judging Job, God accepted him because he was indeed His "servant," not the rebel that his friends accused him of being. The writer used the word "servant" four times in these verses. Job had served God, among other ways, by being the vehicle through whom God brought the revelation of this book to its readers.

Verses 7-17


The book closes as it opened, with a prose explanation by the inspired human writer. He gave us important information about Job’s friends (Job 42:7-9) and then Job’s fortunes (Job 42:10-17).

". . . Satan and Job’s wife (who are prominent in the prologue as agents of evil who try to get Job to curse God) are intentionally omitted in the epilogue. This deliberate omission emphasizes a major teaching of the book, namely, that man’s relationship to God is not a ’give-and-get’ bargain nor a business contract of mutual benefit." [Note: Parsons, p. 142.]

Verses 10-17

B. Job’s Fortune 42:10-17

Notice that God began to prosper Job again after he interceded for his friends (Job 42:10), not just after he repented. His willingness to pray for his enemies showed the genuineness of the transformation that had taken place in his heart. He no longer felt antagonistic toward God but accepting of his enemies (cf. Matthew 6:15).

The Lord increased all that Job possessed twofold (Job 42:10).

Yoke of Oxen5005001,000
Female Donkeys5005001,000
Age in Years70140210

Female donkeys were more valuable than male donkeys because the females produced milk and foals. The names of Job’s daughters (Job 42:14) corroborate the statement that they were exceptionally beautiful (Job 42:15). "Jemimah" means "dove," "Keziah" means "perfume," and "Keren-happuch" means "horn of eye-paint." The reference to Job giving them an inheritance with their brothers, an unusual practice in the ancient Near East, reflects the extent of Job’s wealth and compassion. The 70 and 210 year figures are traditional. [Note: See Zuck, Job, p. 188.]

Does the fact that God eventually blessed Job materially in life for his godliness prove Job’s three friends were right after all? Is the basis of man’s relationship with God really retribution? No, God did not reward Job in life primarily because he was good but because God is gracious. [Note: Parsons, p. 145; Andersen, p. 294.] The basis of people’s relationship with God is grace. The Book of Job does not deny the fact that God blesses the righteous. However, it shows that this principle has exceptions if we look at life only this side of the grave. Because God is sovereign He can deal with anyone as He chooses for reasons only He knows. Nevertheless He always deals justly (cf. Romans 9:14).

"The restoration of Job’s prosperity was not the reward of his piety, but the indication that the trial was over. Any judge who left a defendant to languish in prison after he had been declared innocent would be condemned as iniquitous, and if Job’s trials had continued after he was acquitted it would have been similarly iniquitous." [Note: Rowley, p. 266.]

Job apparently lived 140 years after his affliction (Job 42:16), suggesting that God blessed him with twice the normal lifespan of "threescore years and ten" (Psalms 90:10 AV) after his trials ended. This assumes that Job was 70 when his trails began (the perfect age?) and that he lived twice as long after his trails ended. The Septuagint preserves a Jewish tradition that Job died at the age of 240, though a variant reading has 248. [Note: See Hartley, p. 543.]

"This chapter assures us that, no matter what happens to us, God always writes the last chapter. Therefore, we don’t have to be afraid. We can trust God to do what is right, no matter how painful our situation might be. . . .

"His [Job’s] greatest blessing was knowing God better and understanding His working in a deeper way." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 82.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 42". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/job-42.html. 2012.
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