The Word Made Fresh
1Then Job answered the LORD:
2“I know you can do anything you wish, and nothing you have planned can be resisted. 3You asked, ‘Who is this trying to obscure my wisdom with ignorant verbiage?’ I admit that I didn’t know what I was saying. I was trying to express things beyond my understanding. 4‘Listen to me,’ you said, ‘I will put some questions to you, and you give me your answers.’ 5My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes can see you more clearly.6I am ashamed of myself. I will cover myself with dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
7After having spoken to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends. You have not portrayed me correctly as my servant Job has done. 8So, bring seven bulls and seven rams to my servant Job and offer them as a burnt offering, and Job will pray for you. I will accept his prayers not to punish you for your foolishness, because you have not spoken of me correctly as has Job. 9Then Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD said, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer on their behalf.
10After Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored Job’s fortunes, and gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11All his brothers and sisters and former acquaintances came and dined with him and sympathized with him and comforted him for all the pain the LORD had allowed him to suffer. Each of them gave Job a gold ring and some silver. 12The LORD blessed the last half of Job’s life even more than the first, so that he eventually had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand pairs of oxen and a thousand female donkeys. 13Job also had seven sons and three daughters. 14He named his daughters Jemimah, Keziah, and Kerenhappuch. 15They were the most beautiful women in the country, and Job divided his estate equally among them and their brothers.
16Job lived another one hundred forty years, long enough to see four generations of his descendants. 17Then he died an old man, having lived a very long life.
1-6: Job is moved to shame. He has dared to question Almighty God, and now understands the folly of his defense. He quotes his own challenges (verses 3, 4) wryly, realizing now how mistaken he has been. By any human standard his suffering is undeserved, but no human standard can account for the mystery, the power, or the sheer complexity of God’s will. One can only accept one’s lot and trust that God is indeed in charge of it all.
7-9: God now addresses Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They have not spoken the truth, says God. They have upheld the naïve supposition that the wicked always suffer for their wickedness while the righteous never have to suffer. They must now offer sacrifices and ask Job to pray for them.
10-17: Job, for his part, is fully restored and doubly blessed, at least in terms of material wealth. He now has 14,000 sheep, 6000 camels, 1000 yoke of oxen and 1000 donkeys whereas before he only had 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys (see 1:3). Once again, he is given 7 sons and 3 daughters (as if that somehow makes up for the loss of the other 10 children – see 1:2). In a curious twist, though, here the names of his daughters are given, and they are awarded an inheritance along with their brothers, a very surprising arrangement in those days. Indeed, it almost seems as if a major point of the story is to show how Job came to honor his daughters as highly as his sons – even more highly, since the sons’ names are not given.
Here are some of the key lessons from the story of Job:
1) God is in charge. Always.
2) Suffering and punishment are not the same things. Because we live in a world made imperfect by human sinfulness, all of us will face and endure some form of suffering.
3) For those who trust in God, suffering becomes a doorway into greater blessings to come.
You have now completed eighteen of the Bible’s sixty-six books and four hundred seventy eight of its eleven hundred eighty-nine chapters. Treat yourself to your favorite dessert!