There used to be a radio program on NPR called “Whadya know?” The show always started with the host asking the question and the audience answering back with, “Not much!” I used to listen to that program every Saturday morning. It was filled with humor and stories of interest, as well as a quiz program that was quite interesting. As we come to Job chapter 2, I am reminded that there is not much that we know about what God is doing in this world.
- There are things happening behind the scenes (2:1-6).
In this chapter (and the last) God reveals what is happening in heaven (behind the scenes). Apparently, the sons of God (maybe angels) came before the Lord to present to Him what they had accomplished. If we had not been told in this book, would any of us know that? Probably not. However, we learn here that Satan (a rebel angel) chose to present himself before the Lord along with the others.
The conversation between the Lord and Satan is similar to chapter one. The Lord asks Satan if he had considered the faithfulness of Job. But this time He includes the fact that Job had remained faithful even though Satan had taken his wealth and children from him. Notice that the Lord points out Satan’s unjust desire to harm Job. There was no cause.
Satan (who does not understand the goodness of God or why a human would love and serve the Lord) replied that Job was only holding on to his faith in God because he still had his life. He uses the statement, “Skin for skin!” This “was a proverbial saying, possibly about bartering or trading animal skins. Satan insinuated that Job had willingly traded the skins (lives) of his own children because in return God had given him his own skin (life).”1 Satan seems to imply that Job only served God for the benefits (wealth, children, and health). If God were to remove Job’s health, Satan proposed, he would curse God to His face.
For purposes which are never revealed, the Lord allowed Satan to attempt to prove his theory about Job. He told Satan that he could take away Job’s health but not his life. All of this took place behind the scenes, without Job’s knowledge. God was holding Job up as an example of faithfulness to the wicked one while Satan was conniving to destroy Job’s faith in the Lord. At this point, we need to remember that God is good, that Satan is always evil, and that there are somethings happening behind the scenes that we may never understand. But we still need to trust in the Lord.
- There are troubling things happening to people (2:7-8).
Job, who was steel reeling from the shock of losing his accumulated wealth and all of his children, suddenly contracted a terrible disease which included boils across his entire body. “Some scholars say the disease may have been smallpox; others say it was elephantiasis.”2 “It is singular in the Hebrew, a ‘burning sore.’ Job was covered with one universal inflammation.”3 The same word is used of the plague of boil on the Egyptians and what King Hezekiah experienced. Without being there, it is hard to feel his pain. But it must have been terrible when you consider how his wife and friends responded. As he sat there in pain, all he could do is scratch his sores with a potsherd, “a fragment of a broken vessel.”4
At this point, it would be good to remember that Job knows nothing about what was happening behind the scenes. He didn’t know that the loss of his wealth, children, and now his health, were part of a test forced upon him by Satan with God’s permission. All he knows is that he has lost everything except his wife and that he has contracted a painful disease which he has no power to remove. This is what Job knew. This is what his wife knew. This is what his friends knew. That is all.
When we respond to a tragic situation based only on our own knowledge or experience, we are liable to think, say, or do things that are not wise. What we know is very limited. What we have learned by experience is very limited. This is where we need to remember that God is good, Satan is evil, and we really don’t know why things happen. Bad experiences can taint our trust in the Lord, but if we submit to God’s will and “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart,” we will be better able to have peace when these troubling times come.
- There are reasons to keep trusting the Lord (2:9-10).
We really don’t know much about Job’s wife except what is written in this verse. What we do know is that she bore him ten children and also lost all ten in the same day. We do know that she has experienced the same loss of wealth that her husband did. And now her husband is on what seems to be his death bed. She has nothing at this point and has become bitter. But try to be slow to judge her. These experiences were very difficult for her as well.
Moved by her grief, his wife asked Job why he was still trusting in the Lord. Why wouldn’t he just curse God for what had happened and then die? “It may be that the strength of her usual virtue and piety was overcome by accumulated calamities.”5 Note that she was only looking at what she could see. She didn’t know of Satan’s wicked plan for her family. She didn’t know of God’s plan for her husband. All she knew was the pain she was experiencing. And her words show her great bitterness.
From his sickbed, Job responds with wise and reflective words. He tells his wife that her statement about cursing God sounds like something a foolish person would say. The word for foolish woman is “nabal, ‘spiritually ignorant or non-discerning.”6 Remember Nabal who was an adversary to David while he was hiding from King Saul? Her response was foolish. But he doesn’t just insult her and leave her crying, he speaks truth to her. Shouldn’t we be willing to accept good from God as well as adversity? Job stated this because he believed it. His faith in the Lord was great and he showed his faith by not speaking sinful words as he went through his great suffering.
How was it that Job refused to succumb to his circumstances? Over his life, Job had learned to trust the Lord in good and bad times. We are not told what experiences led him to have such great faith, but we can think about our own knowledge of God. What is it about God that makes us love, trust, and serve Him. I have been thinking about this recently. Why is it that we can think that the Lord is good no matter what happens? You might think that it is based on what He has done for us. As Christians, God has forgiven us of our sins, saved us from the coming judgment, and adopted us into His family. But others could look at these same things and think that God is bad because he doesn’t let people live the way they want, sin without judgment, and enjoy life without Him. Why do we have a different view of God? I think that it has to go beyond what God has done to Who God is. We love Him because we know Him to be good, loving, caring, helping, listening, wise, and much more. We don’t just love Him because of what He has done but for Who He is.
There have been and will be times during which we will experience great grief. Some of us have gone through that in recent times. There have also been times where we have experienced great blessings and happiness. In either case, our experience is limited to what we know and have experienced. We don’t know what God has been doing behind the scenes. We don’t know how often Satan has tried to destroy us and God has held him back. Matthew Henry said, If God did not chain up the roaring lion, how soon would he devour us!” How true that is.
As you go through this week, remind yourself that God is good and that you don’t know all that is happening behind the scenes. What you know is what you have experienced and that is a limited perspective that can’t be counted on to explain everything that happens. Remind yourself of God’s good character, be aware of Satan’s desire to destroy you, and trust in God to take you through the ups and down of life.
1 Zuck 721.
2 Zuck 721.
6 Zuck 721.
Barnes, Albert, Barnes Notes on the Bible, as viewed in PocketBible.
Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, Commentary On the Whole Bible, as viewed in PocketBible.
Zuck, Roy B., “Job” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, pp. 721-22.