The Book of Job


This research is an overview of the book of Job. It will seek to discover why the righteous seem to suffer unjustly. It will seek to discover the errors in the theology of Job and Job’s counselors. Finally, it will show how the believer should respond to suffering.

Historical Background

The book of Job is the historical account of a man of the Ancient Near East (ANE). While the author of Job is unknown, dating the book is possibly revealed by identifying the heritage of Job’s so-called friends. The book of Job resides within the wisdom writings of the Hebrew Scriptures. While chapters 1-2 and 42 are prose literature, chapters 3-41 are Hebrew poetry. The book’s structure revolves around three cycles of speeches made by Job, Job’s friends, and God concerning the calamity that befell Job.

The text says that Job lived in Uz, which is one of two possible locations. One is in Edom, north of Arabia, the other is Syria in Mesopotamia. Job’s friend Eliphaz also resided in Uz. Eliphaz, a great-grandson of Abraham through Esau (Gen. 36:10), is likely the eldest due to the order of speakers, ANE custom, and God’s address to Eliphaz in chapter 42. Bildad is also a relative of Abraham through Keturah, who Abraham married after Sarah’s death. Zophar is said to be a “Naamathite,” a city in Canaan. Elihu is a relative of Abraham through Nahor, Abraham’s brother (Gen. 22:21). With the close relationship between Abraham and all but one of Job’s friends, the dating of the events recounted in the book of Job would have occurred in the lifetime of Jacob shortly after going to Egypt.[1]

One issue that came up while researching presents Job as a type of Christ as a suffering servant. C.J. Williams, in an article for the Reformed Presbyterian Journal, says that Job is “a prophetic prefigurement of the sufferings of Christ.”[2] Williams presents what he calls “The Messianic Trajectory,” which he defines as the prophetic experience of being cast down from an established exalted position to the depths of undeserved humiliation, and then to be exalted by the hand of God to a place of an even higher honor than the beginning.”[3] Williams goes on to say that reading the book of Job “any other way is to misread it.”[4] Williams uses the examples of Joseph, King David, and Job to illustrate how the “Messianic Trajectory” functions.

What Williams never does is establish his criteria for typology. Roy Zuck offers six characteristics for discerning types.[5] 1) A type must have “a resemblance, similarity, or correspondence…between the type and antitype.” 2) A type must have “historical reality.” 3) A type must have “a prefiguring or foreshadowing” of the antitype in a prophetic sense. 4) There must be “an increase, a heightening, [or] an escalation” in the type/antitype relationship. 5) The type must be a “Divine Design” of the antitype. 6) A type must be “explicitly designated in the New Testament as a type.” Based on these characteristics, Job fails to meet the characteristics of at least point number six. While Job is not a type of Christ, Job is, then, an illustration of underserved suffering, which is the theme of the book.

The Prologue, Job 1-2

Scripture introduces Job as a wealthy man who is “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil” (1:1). Job was “the greatest of all the men of the East” (1:3). He was the priestly head of his house and offered sacrifices for his children (1:5).

The scene transitions to heaven, where the “sons of God” came to present themselves to the Lord, and Satan was among them (1:6). God inquires if Satan had “considered My servant Job” and testifies to Satan that Job is “a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning from evil (1:8). Satan charges that Job only loves and serves God because of what Job gets from God (1:9). Satan says that God is nothing more than a vending machine dispensing blessings on those who worship God. These are the same elements of the modern era prosperity gospel. Satan’s response that God had “put a hedge” around Job shows that Satan had already attempted to attack Job and failed (1:10). Satan challenges God to strip Job of material blessing, and Job would “curse you to your face” (1:11).

God accepts the challenge and permits Satan to destroy all that Job has. The Sabeans, the Chaldeans, “The fire of God,” exhibit the kind of influence Satan has over people and power over natural elements; and that God limits the extent of Satan’s power (1:12-19). Job worshiped God (1:20-21), proving Satan wrong and God right through this attack because Job did not curse God (1:22).

In Job’s second test, Satan charges that Job only worships God because Job is healthy. Satan challenges God to strike Job’s flesh, and Job would curse God. God, then, permits Satan to attack Job but limits what Satan can do, preserving Job’s life. Satan is possibly motivated to make it appear to Job that God brought calamity upon Job. Though not mentioned again, Satan is still operating in the background. It would appear that Satan influenced Job’s wife and his three friends, though the text does not say so.

First Round of Speeches, 3-14

All of chapter 3 is Job’s lamentation for the day of his birth. However, Job is not suicidal. In 3:8, Job refers to cursing and Leviathan that Zuck explains very well.[6] In the religious mysticism of the East, there were men said to be “enchanters” who could curse a day “by raising Leviathan.” Job’s reference to Leviathan, a seven-headed mythological creature able to swallow sources of light, is different from God’s connection to Leviathan in chapter 41, where God describes a crocodile. This reference to mythological creatures does not mean that Job was a mystic or polytheistic. Job used the mythical tale as a literary device that they all knew to show Job’s disdain for the day of his birth. Job continues his wish for death to the end of chapter 3.

Chapter 4 begins the first of three rounds of speeches made by Job’s friends. Most commentators accept that Eliphaz is the eldest because he was first to speak to Job and that Eliphaz was the leader because of how God addresses Eliphaz in chapter 42. Eliphaz insinuates that while Job had counseled others who had faced adversity, “Job was unable to take his own medicine.” Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have a false view of God’s justice and retribution, a syllogism built upon a false premise. The first premise is that God does not bring calamity upon the righteous. The second premise is that Job has suffered calamity. The false conclusion is that Job is suffering because of some sin Job allegedly committed. Eliphaz says that the “innocent never perish” and “the wicked perish under God’s anger.” The issue of judging by experience comes up repeatedly in the speeches of Eliphaz. Eliphaz goes so far as to relate the experience of a dream that he had concerning Job. Eliphaz insinuates that Job’s children died because of Job’s sin.

Eliphaz’s speech to Job continues through chapter 5, where Eliphaz charges that Job should be thankful that “God was correcting” Job. Eliphaz stamps his seal of approval and “the authority of his observations…and urged Job to heed them.”

Chapters 6-7 are Job’s response to Eliphaz’s first speech against Job. Job defends his right to complain. Zuck points out that Job recognizes his situation is abnormal and that since it is bizarre, Job’s complaining “should be excused.”[7] As chapter 7 proceeds, Job begins to pray his complaint to God, whom Job thought “was watching and harassing him.”

Chapter 8 is Bildad’s first speech. The basis from which Bildad charges Job is from history or tradition. Bildad’s philosophy is “statistically speaking from the evidence of history, Job, you are suffering because you sinned.” Bildad is more aggressive than Eliphaz, telling Job that his children got what they deserved. Bildad accuses Job of having no integrity and calls Job an evildoer.

Chapters 9-10 are Job’s response to Bildad’s first speech. Job desires to argue his bitter complaint to God. Perhaps a paraphrase of verse four would be, “Are you blind? What have you seen me do?” And “are you running out of time to discover my sin?” Job is denying Bildad’s accusations that Job is a great sinner.

Chapter 11 is Zophar’s first speech directed at Job. Zophar’s addresses are the most pugnacious and vitriolic of Job’s three friends. The basis from which Zophar speaks is legalism or dogmatism, and Zophar relies on his legalistic authority. Zophar charges that Job is not getting what Job deserves but is getting less. Zophar insulted Job’s intelligence and recommended that Job repent. The things that Job’s friends say about God are only generally true. Due to their doctrinal error of God’s sovereignty and the role of suffering, they are doing the work of Satan.

Chapters 12-14 is Job’s response to Zophar, Eliphaz, and Bildad’s first round of castigating Job. Job refutes the claims of his three adversaries about Job’s hidden sins. Job makes his persecutors know that Job is aware of God’s wisdom and power. Job again transitions into his desire to present his case to God. In chapter 14, Job despairs of life and hopes as “he plummeted back into despondency.”[8] This first round of speeches reveals that the book of Job is not a crescendo to climax. The book of Job is a decrescendo into a great valley of despair. Job’s three friends have charged Job with sin, having no evidence but Job’s suffering. Job maintains his integrity, but his faith has weakened.

The Second Cycle of Speeches, 15-21

In chapter 15, the second cycle of speeches against Job by his friends begins. This second round became more heated. Eliphaz calls Job a windbag and accuses Job of being irreverent and crafty. Eliphaz informs Job that God is punishing Job because Job is guilty. Chapters 16-17 is Job’s response to Eliphaz’s second speech. Job calls his “so-called friends” “sorry comforters” and windbags. Job tells them that Job could say the same things they were saying if they were in Job’s place.

Chapter 18 is Bildad’s second speech to Job. Bildad says Job is hunting for words and lacks understanding. Bildad accuses Job of calling Bildad and his friends stupid. Bildad sarcastically says something like, “Do you think that since you are suffering, the world must come to an end?” From 18:5-21, Bildad gives Job a list of things that happen to wicked men. Bildad’s purpose is to get Job to see that Job is wicked. In Bildad’s mind, the things that are happening to Job happen to the wicked; therefore, Job is wicked.

In chapter 19, Job responds to Bildad’s second speech. Job accuses Bildad of tormenting and crushing Job with words. Job says that Bildad insulted Job “ten times,” likely meaning that Job was utterly humiliated. Unger says that the phrase means “many times.”[9] Job tells Bildad that even if Job had sinned, Job had not told anyone or there was no witness to it (v4). Job accuses God of wrongdoing (v6); then Job says that God “walled up” Job (v7). God gave Job no way to escape. Job says that God “has uprooted” Job’s “hope like a tree” (v10). Job felt rooted like a tree, but God has pulled Job up from the roots. Job says that God has treated Job as one would treat an enemy (v11). Job says that God has placed an army around Job, right at the door of Job’s tent (v12). All of Job’s family and friends have departed from Job. Job wants an account of God’s dealings with Job written in a book and chiseled into a rock with an iron stylus and filled in with lead (23-24).

Nevertheless, many commentators say that Job knew that God would resurrect Job. Job “from his flesh” would see God in a resurrected body is a “better translation” of v26 according to Merrill Unger.[10] However, Zuck presents an alternative view, which he bases on the common use of the Hebrew word “min” as “without,” that the meaning of Job’s words is “in his conscious existence after death but before resurrection.”[11] Thomas Constable says that “In saying what he did, Job was uttering Messianic prophecy, though he probably did not realize it.”[12]

Job 20 is Zophar’s second speech to Job. Zophar speaks of his “inward agitation” and Job’s “reproof” that insulted Zophar. Zophar bases this speech on a question posed to Job in vv4-5. However, the question is more of a rhetorical statement than a real question. It uses the assumption that the wicked triumph only for a short time and the godless die young. Zophar is accusing Job of being wicked and godless. Zophar thus proceeds from vv6-28, describing what happens to the wicked and godless person.

Chapter 21 is Job’s response to Zophar’s second speech and the conclusion of the second cycle of speeches. Job questions Zophar rhetorically why Job’s complaint to God disturbs Zophar so much. Job wonders why the wicked live on and prosper without fear of God. Job points out to Zophar that the “lamp of the wicked” is not “put out,” nor “does their calamity fall on them.” Job points out the injustice of Job’s antagonist’s claims that “God stores away a man’s iniquity for his sons.” Job’s point is that the wicked man is in the grave and has no concern for what is happening to his children. Job says that the rich and the poor both die and get buried. Job tells his so-called friends that their claims are full of falsehood and that they are not qualified to comfort Job.

Though Job does not know it yet, he has departed sound theology. When Job’s ordeal began, Job was on solid theological ground. However, now Job is confused about his motivation for serving God since the just and the unjust receive the same from God. The problem with Job’s view of restitution and retribution is flawed, similar to Job’s friends. The first premise of Job’s syllogism is “the just receive good things from God.” Job’s second premise is, “I am just.” However, Job could not understand why the conclusion was false, and Job was suffering. Hence, Job’s conclusion is, “Why should I struggle to serve God if the just and the unjust suffer?”

The Third Cycle of Speeches, 22-37

Chapter 22 is Eliphaz’s final speech to Job. In v3, Eliphaz tells Job that God is not benefitting anything from Job’s alleged righteousness. In v4, Eliphaz charges that God has “entered into judgment” against Job due to Job’s lack of reverence. Then, in v5, says that Job’s “wickedness is great,” and Job’s iniquity is “without end.” In 6-7, Eliphaz assumes to know that Job has “taken pledges” from his “brothers without cause;” that Job has stripped men naked, and that Job has “given no water to the thirsty” and has “withheld bread” from those who are hungry. Eliphaz continues his attack on Job’s character in 9-11 by saying that Job has not helped widows; that Job has crushed orphans; traps surrounded Job; that Job is blinded by darkness and drowning. Eliphaz is implying that Job is blind to Job’s sin. In 13-14, Eliphaz fills Job’s mouth with words to the effect that Job believes that God cannot see Job’s sinful deeds. In 15-29, Eliphaz warns Job of walking the path of the wicked. In 21-30, Eliphaz extends his final plea for Job to repent. In v 22, Eliphaz seems to imply that he is speaking for God. All of Eliphaz’s charges against Job are fabricated lies.

Job 22:24 is the first mention of Job’s gold. In all of Job’s losses, there is no mention of gold. Certainly, a man as wealthy as Job had some gold. Perhaps Eliphaz was fishing for the whereabouts of Job’s gold. Maybe thinking that Job might give up its location if Eliphaz could get Job to repent since some gold was all Job had left. Eliphaz may be saying, “I know you have gold, and the reason you are still suffering is that you are trusting in your hoarded gold pile. Let me hold your gold.” Zuck says that Eliphaz makes a “false insinuation”[13] that Job is trusting in gold and not God because Job “now had no gold in which to trust!”[14] Zuck’s statement is a statement of fact not supported with evidence. No person as wealthy as Job would not have had gold. Gold was not part of the calculation of wealth in the ancient world. It would be better to assume that Job had gold yet did not trust in gold to restore Job’s losses, which would better represent God’s testimony about Job being both wealthy and righteous.

Chapter 23 is Job’s response to Eliphaz’s third and final speech. Job points out that Eliphaz is misinterpreting Job’s complaint as rebellion. Job again relays his desire to meet with God at God’s judgment seat so that Job can plead his case so that Job could learn why God had His hand so severely on Job. Job fully expects God would hear Job’s cause and be delivered from God’s judgment forever. Alas, in Job’s despair, Job does not know where to find God. However, Job understands that God knows where Job is and that if God would come and try Job’s case, Job would “come forth as gold.” Perhaps Job is issuing God a summons to appear in court. In 10-12, Job presents evidence of Job’s innocence. Zuck adds that “Job felt that God was evading him.”[15] Then, in 13-14, Job acknowledges that God is sovereign and that God’s decisions are final. In v 15, Job says he would be “dismayed” at God’s arrival. Requesting the presence of God is unheard of, even to Job, a thought that terrifies Job. Though Job recognizes the extremity of his request, Job feels he cannot keep silent.

Chapter 24 is a continuation of Job’s final response to Eliphaz. Job wonders why God does not have a day set aside where God can hear arguments such as Job presents; and why those “who know Him” never have the opportunity to plead their case. In 2-12, Job complains about wicked men’s evil, but God seems not even to care or notice even when righteous people cry out to God. In 13-19, Job implies that evil men seem to vanish to the grave like melting snow. In 20-24, Job complains that nothing bad enough ever happens to evil people causing them to avoid evil. Evil people seem forgotten by a just God. A paraphrase of Job’s closing statement could be, “Prove me wrong! You know what I am saying is true.” Job has gone further from faith in a just God. To Job, God is being unjust to Job. Job is on the verge of a great sin. Job insinuates that Job is more just than God.

Chapter 25 is a concise chapter that contains Bildad’s final speech to Job. Frustrated that Job has not heeded Bildad’s advice and repent, Bildad takes a few final stabs at Job, then is silent. Bildad seems to honor God’s sovereign plan and His divine purpose then tries to shut Job up with a de facto question as an exclamation point to all previous statements. Bildad says, “How can a man be just with God?” Bildad had no intention for Job to answer. The irony is, Bildad felt he was just before God. Bildad says that even if the moon and stars do not shine, man is still a maggot. Except for Bildad, of course. Zophar does not speak a third time.

Chapter 26 is Job’s response to Bildad’s final speech in chapter 25. In 2-4, Job condemns Bildad’s helpless words with biting sarcasm. Job says Bildad gave counsel without wisdom. In 5-12, Job declares the glory of God’s creation in heaven and on earth. Then, in v5, Job says, “these are the fringes of His ways,” even though it is rare that “a word we hear of Him.” And, when God does speak in “His mighty thunder, who can understand?”

Chapter 27 begins Job’s final speech, which continues through chapter 31. In 2-4, Job maintains his innocence and that God “has taken away my right.” Job felt that God owed Job a good life because of Job’s righteous living. In 5-6, Job says he would never agree with the charges made by his friends. In 7-10, Job shows that the wicked have no hope in God. In 11-12, Job tells his friends that he agrees with their assessment of God’s relationship in dealing with the wicked. Then, in 13-23, Job delineates the calamity that befalls evil men.

In chapter 28:1-10, Job illustrates what men do to find something of value. Then, in 12-13, shows that wisdom has more value than gold, but wicked men do not know how to find understanding. In 14-19, Job implies that men cannot find knowledge because they look for it in all the wrong places. In 20-27, Job says wicked men do not find wisdom because they do not know the source of knowledge. Job says God is the source of all knowledge. Verse 28 seems very similar to Psalm 111:10 and Prov. 9:10. Perhaps both David and Solomon had been reading Job.

Job continues his speech in chapter 29, in which Job is reminiscent of the good old days. In 2-5, Job wants to turn back the clock to when God was a friend to Job. In 7-11, Job speaks of how leaders of the community revered Job. In 14-18, Job speaks of being clothed with righteousness and lists his good deeds to the blind, the lame, the needy, and how Job fought against injustice. In 19-20, Job likens himself to a deeply rooted tree that catches the dew from God. In 21-22, Job describes people waiting under his branches for the dew of Job’s good words to fall on them. In 23-25, Job says people waited for his words like one would wait for rain after a dry season.

In chapter 30, Job begins with, “But now,” showing a stark contrast to Job’s great glory in chapter 29. In 1-11, Job says that people Job did not want to hire have now begun to taunt Job. Job blames God for the way these worthless people are now treating Job. In 12-15, Job reiterates how ruthlessly the people Job had helped have turned their backs on Job in his time of need. In 19-24, Job repeatedly condemns God for casting Job into the mire; Job accuses God of ignoring Job; accuses God of being cruel for persecuting Job; that God has thrown Job to the wind in a storm; and Job says God intends to kill Job. In 24-25, Job, in his wretched condition, still looks for some help. Because, in v26, Job expected an excellent reward for all his good deeds. In 27-31, Job relates his seething anger directed at God for pulling a bait-and-switch trick on Job.

Job’s final speech continues in chapter 31. In 1-3, Job declares that he does not lust after virgins. Elmer Smick, in The Expositors Bible Commentary, says that Job is denying a “form of idolatry… [to]… the goddess of fertility,”[16] either Ashtoreth of Ishtar. In 4-6, Job questions if God has seen Job’s righteous life. Job exhibits some religious pride in that since God has worked the calamity of the wicked against Job, Job has the appearance of being wicked to the people in Job’s world. Another way to say this is that Job was more concerned with what people thought about Job than what God thought about Job. In 6-7, Job maintains an innocent posture, yet agrees that if Job were guilty, then Job’s calamity is just. In 9-12, Job proclaims faithfulness in marriage and if Job had ever been unfaithful to his wife, let another man have her. In 12, Job says that he treats his slaves fairly and as equal human beings. Verse 15 could be an allusion to the image of God in man. In 17-23, Job maintains his integrity in how Job treated the poor, the widow, the hungry, and the orphan. Job provided clothing for the naked and needy.

Job says that if he has ever used his advantage to oppress, then let Job lose the use of his arm. In 24-28, Job states he has not trusted in gold or been full of pride due to wealth. Nor has Job secretly worshipped the sun or moon. In 29-30, Job refutes the notion that Job had “rejoiced” when evil befall an enemy. In 31-32, Job states that those in Job’s house are well fed, nor has Job left the traveler or alien to sleep outside. In 33-34, Job denies hiding from God as Adam had done. Nor did Job hide out at home. In 35-37, Job pleads for someone to hear Job’s case, calling God Job’s accuser. Job signs an indictment and demands that “the Almighty” answer. In 38-40, Job decries that Job has not sinned against the land.

Job has put himself above God. Job’s final speech shows that Job believes that God is unjust for letting righteous Job suffer. Job has become “like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Job has fallen for the deception of the Devil. It is interesting that a person, even if righteous like Job, can come to an incorrect view of God when they don’t have or read God’s Word. Even then, there is no guarantee that a person will interpret the Scriptures correctly.

Chapter 32 is the beginning of Elihu’s speeches, which continue through chapter 37. In 2-3, Elihu expresses anger that Job had “justified himself before God,” and because Job’s three friends “had found no answer, and yet condemned Job” as a grave sinner. Verses 4-5 reveal that Elihu is the youngest of those present, and Elihu was angry that the older men could not resolve Job’s issue. In 6-9, Elihu expresses that the young should remain quiet so that the aged could speak from their wisdom. However, Elihu retorts that the aged may not be wise after all. In 10-12, Elihu declares that he “paid close attention” to what Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had to say, but none “refuted Job” or “answered his words.” In 13-14, Elihu says that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar claimed wisdom in that God would condemn Job; Elihu says that he will not argue against Job the same way Job’s protagonists had. In 15-16, Elihu is confused about whose turn it is to speak. In 17-22, Elihu decides it is his turn since he is about to burst open with words. Yet, Elihu promises to neither flatter or be partial to one side or the other.

In chapter 33, Elihu begins by addressing Job directly. Elihu assures Job that Elihu and Job have “ the breath of the Almighty.” Likely a reference to the image of God. In 8-11, Elihu repeats what Job had said in previous conversations. That Job was “without transgression;” that Job is not guilty; that God has treated Job like an enemy; that God has Job’s feet in stocks; and that God is watching every step Job takes. In 12-13, Elihu points out two things to Job. First, Job’s view of God is too low. Second, that Job’s view of himself is too high.

Much of Job’s complaining is that Job felt God owed Job an explanation for Job’s suffering since Job was so righteous. To say what Job is saying means that Job is more righteous than God because if God were right, God would not let Job suffer due to how righteous Job was.[17] In 14-18, Elihu shows how God revealed Himself to men at that time. In dreams and visions, God “opens the ears of men” to direct their path.[18] In 19-22, Elihu tells Job that God chastises with pain in the bones, hunger, and death. God, at times, says Elihu in v 23, uses angels to mediate between God and man. In 24-30, Elihu tells Job that whatever method God uses, Job should be thankful. In 31-33, Elihu closes his first speech to Job, who had nothing to say in response, which is a stark contrast with Job’s response to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, where Job had much to say in response to their speeches.

Chapter 34 of Job is a continuation of Elihu’s speech to Job and Job’s three friends. In 1-4, Elihu addresses this speech to “you wise men.” Elihu’s purpose for the speech is to analyze what Job and his friends say to see if what was said is “right” or “good.” In 5-6, Elihu restates Job’s complaint that God has taken away Job’s perfect life for no apparent reason. In 7-9, Elihu calls Job delusional for believing that Job’s life was great due to Job’s awesomeness. In 10-12, Elihu points out that “the Almighty will not pervert justice.” Elihu tries to settle the difference Job and Job’s accusers have concerning God’s sovereignty and His purpose for suffering.

In 13-15, Elihu spoke of God’s sovereignty. Then, in 16-19, Elihu points out that God cannot be unjust because God is not partial to the elite, nor does God favor “the rich above the poor.” In 20-22, Elihu says the mortality rate for humans is 100 percent and that the wicked cannot hide from God. In 23-24, Elihu reminds Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that God does not need an excuse to bring down a “mighty man” and raise “others in their place.” In 25-28, Elihu says that God brings destructive calamity on those who have “turned aside from following Him” and who causes the poor to cry out to God. In 29-30, Elihu shows that God operates this way “so that godless men would not rule or be snares of the people.” In 31-33, Elihu shows that man does not choose his punishment. In 34-37, Elihu begins to restate the charges by Job’s prosecutors.

Chapter 35 is a continuation of Elihu’s speech to Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. In 1-3, Elihu deals with Job’s self-righteous attitude. In 4-6, Elihu points out that God is higher than Job, and even if Job had sinned, Job has caused no injury to God. In verse 7, Elihu asks Job what God gets from Job’s righteousness. In 13-16, Elihu tells Job that patience is a virtue.

Chapter 36 is the fourth part of Elihu’s speech. In 1-4, Elihu assures those listening that what Elihu is saying is true. In 5-7, Elihu tells them that God is sovereign over the wicked and the righteous. Furthermore, it is God that exalts a king to the throne. In 10-12, It is God that instructs kings to turn from evil.

Moreover, if the kings turn from evil and serve God, the kings will “end their days in prosperity” and “pleasure.”However, if those kings “do not hear” God, those kings will “perish by the sword” and “die without knowledge.” In 13-14, Elihu reports the fate of the godless, that they “die in youth.” In 15-16, Elihu says that God “delivers the afflicted.” Certainly, Elihu means those who cry out to God for deliverance. In 17-18, Elihu cautions the practice of judging people as wicked based on experience or appearances. In 19-22, Elihu teaches his audience that God may be using affliction as a means to turn the heart of the afflicted back to God. In other words, do not condemn the afflicted as wicked because God may be at work on the person’s heart. In 24-26, Elihu reminds them to give God glory in all things. In 27-33, Elihu gives examples of rain, clouds, thunder, lightning, and the seas to show various ways God reveals His presence.

Chapter 37 is the last segment of Elihu’s speech. In 1-5, Elihu continues to compare thunder and lightning to God’s voice. In 6-12, Elihu says that God tells the snow where it should fall; God tells the rain when to “be strong;” that God is sovereign over the doings of man and beast; that it is God who brings the storm, cold weather, and ice; that God loads the clouds with moisture and disperses them “on the face of the inhabited earth.” In v13, Elihu says that God does all of this for “correction or for His world, or for lovingkindness.” In 14-20, Elihu questions Job directly if Job knows how God works through nature. Moreover, since Job seems to know, Job should be teaching others. In 23-24, Elihu closes his speech giving glory to God.

Elihu gave a great speech and came nearer to solving Job’s issue than Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Larry J. Waters, in an article for Bibliotheca Sacra, wrote that “God does inflict suffering directly and indirectly for many different reasons: judgment, discipline, and more, but Satan is behind much of human misery.”[19] Waters says that “Job’s three counselors perpetuated the same satanic false doctrine of retribution/recompense.”[20] Waters concludes that “suffering is often specifically designed to glorify God in the unseen war with Satan.” [21] D. A. Carson says that “Job is suffering because God is demonstrating his servant’s spiritual integrity to Satan, not because Job is being punished.[22]

God Speaks, 38-41

In chapter 38, God shows up “out of the whirlwind” and begins addressing Job directly. In 2-3, God accepts Job’s challenge to appear; then, God issues a challenge to Job to stand up and be a man and give God instruction. In 4-18, God asks Job where Job was during creation. Furthermore, God asked Job how the “wicked be shaken” out of the earth. Possibly a reference to the flood. In v21, God rebukes Job to answer because Job must have been an eyewitness to God’s work in creation. In 22-23, God asks Job where hail is stored up “for the day of war and battle.” This entire chapter details the wonders of nature, the knowledge of which escapes man’s understanding.

Chapter 39 is a continuation of God’s polemic against Job’s view of God. In 1-4, God points out that Job does not understand mountain goats or deer’s gestation period. In 5-8, God asks if Job knows from where the free-range donkeys come. In 9-12, God questions Job if the wild ox will serve Job’s purpose without being tamed by man. The idea is that God made the wild ox tameable. Zuck believes that the “ox” in question is the “auroch,” which “resisted domestication”[23] and is now extinct. In 13-18, God asks Job if he understands why the ostrich seems so cruel to its young. In 19-25, God asks Job if Job gave strength and fearlessness to the horse. In 26-30, God asks Job if Job understands how birds fly or why it is birds nest where they do. Thomas Constable says that “For reasons unknown to Job, God allowed each animal to experience what was His will for that species.”[24]

Furthermore, how it is they find food for themselves and feed their young. God is showing Job a view from God’s perspective. God is attempting to teach Job that God has reserved some knowledge for His purpose, and God has not told man everything.

Chapter 40 continues God’s polemic against Job and changes the focus from knowledge to power. In 1-2, God challenges Job, “the faultfinder,” to “contend with the Almighty,” which is a challenge to Job’s authority. In 3-5, Job finally realizes his transgression and refuses to speak. In 6-7, God repeats the challenge for Job to stand “up like a man” and discuss power. In 8-10, God questions Job in matters of judgment and condemnation. God is pointing out that Job is setting himself up in God’s place. In 11-14, God rebukes Job that since Job has become like God, Job should reveal his power to God. Only “then,” God says, will He confess that Job is right. In 15-24, God uses an illustration of what most commentators believe is the hippo. The example is that man is powerless to capture and tame a mighty hippo that God created.

Chapter 41 is God’s description of a magnificent creature called Leviathan. While some uncertainty surrounds the beast’s identity, most commentators believe it is the alligator. Nevertheless, it appears that Leviathan cannot be captured and tamed by man. In verse 8, God dares Job to lay his hand on the beast and remember the ensuing battle. The idea is that “if” you live through the struggle, you will never do it again because the beast Leviathan is powerful and fearless. In verse 10, God says that man will not stand in battle against Leviathan; what makes you think you can stand up to Me, oh Job? In 11, God asks Job what it is that God owes Job since everything belongs to God. The point is that God is more powerful than Leviathan, a beast created by God’s power.

The Prologue, 42

Chapter 42 is the climax of the book of Job. In 1-6, Job concludes that God had a reason for Job’s suffering that God never revealed. Moreover, since God is both sovereign and just, even Job cannot thwart God’s purpose through a lack of trust in God. In the end, Job does repent of his attitude about Job’s suffering and the thought that God was unjust or owed Job an explanation. In 7-9, God calls Eliphaz out by name and tells Eliphaz and his friends to bring a sacrifice because “God’s wrath is kindled against them” because they did not speak rightly about God. Carson says that their “retributive/recompensive theology distorts God’s ways and confines Him to human standards of interpretation.”[25] In 10-17, God restores double Job’s wealth, and Job lives happily ever after for 140 years.


From Job, it is clear that the righteous do suffer. While there are many ways to suffer, there are generally three reasons. First, the righteous suffer because of sin. Second, the righteous suffer to bring God glory by bringing the one who suffers to a higher place. Third, the righteous suffer as the result of the war between a sovereign God and Satan the enemy.

Job has several issues. One is that Job thought that since he was righteous, he shouldn’t be suffering. Another is that Job thought that God owed Job an explanation. A third is that Job had established himself as more just than God. Job fell for Satan’s lie that man can be like God.

Elihu, Bildad, and Zophar had a heretical view of retribution and restitution due to a false premise, that Job had sinned against God. The basis from which they spoke was different from each other. Eliphaz based his charges against Job from a historical perspective. Bildad charged Job from a perspective of tradition. Zophar accused Job from a perspective of dogmatism or legalism. While some say Elihu answered Job from a prideful perspective, God did not condemn Elihu so charging Elihu with wrongdoing may be going too far.

Through the counsel of Job’s accusers, Job was brought from a high place to a low place. While Job did set himself up in the place of God, God arrived at the right time and prevented Job from cursing God, thus proving Satan’s accusation incorrect. The believer’s first response to suffering is to evaluate one’s life confessing sin and turning from it. The believer’s second response is to trust that God is sovereign. That God brought the believer to the suffering and God will bring the believer through the suffering. In the end, God will be glorified and the believer will come through on a higher plane of faith. The believer’s third response should be thankfulness. Thankful that God has faith in the believer to prove Satan wrong.


Archer, Gleason L. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.

Baxter, James Sidlow. Explore the Book: A Survey and Study of Each Book from Genesis to Revelation. Grand Rapids, Mi.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1966.

Carson, D. A. “Job: Mystery and Faith.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 4, no. 2 (2000). Accessed September 13, 2020

Constable, Thomas. Thomas Constable’s Notes on the Bible. Vol. 3. Tyndale Seminary Press, n.d.

Gaebelein, Frank E., ed. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: With the New Internat. Version of the Holy Bible; in 12 Vol. 4: 1 Kings – Job. 4. print. Vol. 4. Grand Rapids, Mich: Regency Reference Libr, 1990.

McCabe, Robert V. “Elihu’s Contribution To The Thought Of The Book Of Job.” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 2, no. 1 (1997). Accessed September 13, 2020

Stiles, Wayne. Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing, 2015.

Unger, Merrill Frederick. Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002.

Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary, eds. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, Ill: Victor Books, 1983.

Waters, Larry J. “Reflections on Suffering from the Book of Job.” Bibliotheca Sacra 154, no. 616 (1997)., Accessed September 21, 2020.

Williams, C. J. “What About My Suffering?: The Pattern Of Providence.” Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal 3, no. 1 (2016)., Accessed September 13, 2020.

Zuck, Roy B. Basic Bible Interpretation. Colorado Springs, Co.: ChariotVictor Pub., 1991.

  1. If that is true, there is a possible parallel with God dealing with gentiles when Israel is outside the land.
  2. C. J. Williams, “What About My Suffering?: The Pattern Of Providence,” Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal 3, no. 1 (2016)., accessed 09/14/2020.
  3. ibid
  4. ibid
  5. Roy B Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation (Colorado Springs, Co.: ChariotVictor Pub., 1991).pgs. 172-176
  6. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, Ill: Victor Books, 1983). Comments on Job pg. 723
  7. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, Ill: Victor Books, 1983). pg. 727
  8. Walvoord, Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary 1983. pg. 736
  9. Merrill Frederick Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002). pg. 704
  10. ibid pg. 706
  11. Walvoord, Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary 1983 pg. 743.
  12. Thomas Constable, Thomas Constabl’e Notes on the Bible, vol. 3 (Tyndale Seminary Press, 2012).pg. 71
  13. Walvoord, Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary. pg. 746
  14. ibid
  15. ibid. pg. 747
  16. Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: With the New Internat. Version of the Holy Bible; in 12 Vol. 4: 1 Kings – Job, 4. print., vol. 4 (Grand Rapids, Mich: Regency Reference Libr, 1990). pg. 992
  17. This writer identifies 33:13 as a key verse for understanding the book of Job.
  18. Believers today have the full revelation of God in His written word, the Holy Spirit, and the resurrected Christ. Many people still believe they are in the days of Job. They wait for visions and dreams from God to guide them.
  19. Larry J. Waters, “Reflections on Suffering from the Book of Job,” Bibliotheca Sacra 154, no. 616 (1997).
  20. ibid
  21. ibid
  22. D. A. Carson, “Job: Mystery and Faith,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 4, no. 2 (2000).
  23. Walvoord, Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary 1983. pg 769
  24. Constable, 2012. pg. 46
  25. Carson 2000

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