Category Archives: Job

What did you do to deserve this? – Job 8-10

In the classic movie, The Sound of Music, Maria sings a song to the captain about her unexpected fortune in finding his love. The lyrics of the song give the impression that their relationship must have been the result of something good she did.

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

We tend to think the same way about bad things that happen. Why is it that someone’s relative is in the hospital? Apart from whatever physical event happened, was there a reason God allowed this to happen? Was the person living in sin? Were they running from God? While these questions seem overly judgmental, we have seen some people suffer the consequences of their sins. So, is it really a stretch to wonder that about other people? The problem with this kind of thinking is that we are analyzing current events without knowledge of what God is doing behind the scenes. If we are honest, we really don’t know why things happen.

In Job 8-10, we will see that this way of thinking is not something new. It was practiced thousands of years ago when Job’s friends addressed what they thought was a flaw in Job’s character. What had he done to deserve God’s judgment?

  1. Bildad thought that Job’s tragedy was his own fault (Job 8).

    After listening to the argument given by Eliphaz and Job’s response, Bildad gave a simple devotional to Job explaining why God had judged Job. To him there was no other explanation. It was perfectly clear that Job and his family were under the judgment of God.

    Maybe God judged your children for their sins (8:4). Bildad seems to have been offended by what Job was saying. He seemed to think that Job was accusing God of being unjust. God is just. He always does what is right. So how could Job question what had happened to him and his children. Maybe God grew tired of being merciful to Job’s children. Maybe they finally crossed the line and were judged by God as were the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. If so, their deaths were the result of their own sins.

    Maybe God isn’t listening because you are impure (8:6). Bildad had a high view of God’s goodness to his loyal followers. In his mind, God always helped those who sought Him and always rewarded those who were pure. This is why he called Job to examine his own life. Perhaps these bad circumstances were a result of Job’s sinful behavior. While Job was not known as a sinful man, perhaps there were somethings in his life that nobody but God knew. This leads to the next thought.

    Maybe God has afflicted you because you forgot Him (8:12-13). Bildad suddenly thought of an illustration that explained how Job at first had success and then hit rock bottom. He was like a papyrus reed in a marsh. Just as a reed grows for a while and then withers, so had Job. He had wealth and success for a while and then all this happened. In Bildad’s mind this was the end of all who forgot God. Job must have been enjoying his wealth too much and then forgot God.

    Bildad actually said some good things. There are consequences for sin. There are consequences for not listening to God. There are consequences for forgetting God. But despite the truths in his words, they did not apply to Job. He wrongly assumed that he had all the fact and knew for certain what God was doing. This was a mistake.

  2. Job responded with several important question (Job 9-10).

    In response to Bildad’s statements, Job agreed with some of his ideas. He agreed that sin has its consequences and that God often rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. However, his situation wasn’t easily explained by these statements because he had been living a righteous life. So he followed up with several questions.

    How can anyone be righteous before God? (9:2) This is a good question. We know from other parts of the Bible, that apart from the imputed righteousness of Jesus, none of us is actually righteous in God’s eyes (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:10-13). Job rightly asked how one could get God’s attention and claim to be righteous. God knows all of our failings and knows that we are not good inside.

    Who can question what God is doing? (9:12) Job describes God’s omnipotence in several ways. God can move mountains (9:5), hold back the sun (9:7), and made all the stars (9:9). Being that God is so powerful in being able to do such impossible things, who are any of us to question what He is doing?

    Who else could be causing these problems? (9:24) In verses 21-24, Job asserts his blameless character but begins to question what he saw happening around him. From Job’s perspective, God destroys both the blameless and the wicked. He even blamed God for laughing when the innocent suffer and holding back judges from doing right. But his question in verse 24 comes very close to discovering who was behind the bad things happening to him. If it were not God, who else could it be? We know that it was Satan behind his suffering, but Job didn’t know that.

    Why was God doing this to him? (10:7) Job pours out his thoughts in verses 1-7. He turns to God with real questions. He asked to show him what he had done wrong. Did God think this was a good way to work with his children? Was it fair for God to punish him for not being wicked? Sadly, Job didn’t know how he could find deliverance from what he assumed was God’s judgment.

    Did you notice something about Job’s questions? He began by asking these questions to Bildad, then to himself, and finally to God. He answered his friend’s comments first by talking about his humble standing before God. Next he asked himself if someone else could be causing the problems. Finally, he asked God why he was being afflicted. If nothing else, Job’s questions finally turned him to ask the One who had the answers. Despite his misunderstanding of his circumstances, this was the right thing to do.


What do we learn from Bildad and Job today? From Bildad, we learn that it is not wise to apply general principles to every situation. General principles are good to have but we have to admit that we don’t always have all of the facts when trying to figure things out. Before we decide to judge another person’s situation, we need to step back and admit that we are not God. He alone has the complete understanding of the situation.

From Job, we can learn the same lesson. He was right to state that none of us is righteous and that we have no right to question God’s motives. But then he did just that. He would have done better to admit that his knowledge of the situation was limited and that God can do as He sees fit. Before we begin to question God’s motives or assign blame to Him for our situation, remember that God is still the loving Father who always does what is best. If you know God, you know that He is good. And you also know that He is wise. Instead of questioning His motives every time something bad happens, maybe it would be better to assume that God is still in control and it will all work out in the end.

What have you assumed? – Job 3-7

Last week, we considered the fact that we don’t know everything that is going on. When a tragedy strikes, we often look for the reason why, but that isn’t always guaranteed. In Job’s case, he did not know that Satan was inflicting harm against him to prove a point. And he didn’t know that God had permitted this or that he was holding Satan back from killing Job. If he had known these things, he might have had a different perspective about his suffering. However, he did very well at the beginning and showed great loyalty to God. But even the best may falter at some point.

The next section of the book (Job 3-37) is dedicated to the back-and-forth between Job and his friends. Job’s pain drives him to say things that he would not normally say. His friends, who were at first there for his comfort, decide that Job’s situation is his own fault. The argument goes back-and-forth until God finally steps in the set things straight (Job 38-41). Before we get to the conclusion, let’s look at some of the things that Job and his friends said.

  1. Job’s painful thoughts (Job 3; 6-7)

    Have you ever been in pain and then blurted out a response that wasn’t called for? When the hammer hits your hand instead of the nail, when you didn’t sleep well last night, and when you are not feeling well—these are times when we may not be as guarded with our words. Job had just lost his wealth, children, and health. His current suffering was weighing heavily on him. It should come as no surprise that the words he says are not quite right.

    • He wished he had never been born (Job 3:11).
    • He admitted that his grief was affecting his speech (Job 6:2-3).
    • He would not concede that he had sinned (Job 6:22-24).
    • He could not understand why God was hurting him (Job 6:20).

    You can tell that Job was in great pain. His pain caused him to say things he shouldn’t have. But still the pain was there. Can you commiserate with Job? If you have been in pain, you know that your responses will be tainted. The longer the pain lingers, the more time you will have to begin questioning God’s love for you and the reasons for your suffering. Please be careful. God is actively caring for you even when you can’t see His hand in your life. We just need to trust Him because we don’t know all that is going on.

  2. Eliphaz’s painful assumptions (Job 4; 5)

    When I was younger, it was easy for me to judge situations. I “knew” what the problem was and was confident in the solution. Now that I am older and more experienced, I see that things are seldom as easy as I once thought they were. Problems are often complicated and not as easy to pinpoint. Eliphaz had come to comfort his friend. But after hearing Job’s pain-filled thoughts, he made some hasty assumptions.

    • He assumed Job was a hypocrite (Job 4:4-5).
    • He assumed that Job had sinned (Job 4:7-8).
    • He assumed that Job needed to repent (Job 5:17-18).
    • He assumed that God always protects the righteous (Job 5:19-21).

    “Eliphaz is like so many of us who give advice. We can tell someone else how he ought to do things, in a nice way, phrased in very attractive language, but what we say may not be accurate. … He said a lot of nice things, good things, true things, but he didn’t help Job.”1

    Were Eliphaz’s assumptions true? This is a tricky question. We know hypocritical people who are eager to help people but are unwilling to accept help when they need it. We know people who have sinned and faced the consequences. We also know that God wants people to repent, find forgiveness, and be restored to a right relationship with God. And, if we are honest, we do assume that God will protect those who are faithfully serving Him. These are pretty good assumptions. The only problem was that they didn’t apply to Job’s situation. Eliphaz didn’t know what God was doing behind the scenes.


We have looked at the responses of two people to suffering. From what I can see, neither of them was quite right. Job’s pain loosened his tongue but didn’t open his eyes to what God was doing behind the scenes. He questioned God’s handling of his situation and couldn’t understand why he was going through it. Job’s friend wasn’t very helpful although his motives were good. His many assumptions were generally true but they didn’t apply to Job. Eliphaz assumed that all trouble was judgment from God. But this was not the case. I think that we could learn something from the mistakes both men made.

From Job, we can learn several lessons:

• We should ask God for grace to endure suffering when it comes.
• We should ask God to guard our speech when influenced by pain.
• We should trust that the Lord is doing what is best despite what we can see.

From Eliphaz, we can learn several lessons:

• We don’t know why bad things happen.
• We don’t know if suffering is judgment from God.
• We don’t know everything that God is doing behind the scenes.

It is easy to look at Job and Eliphaz and see their mistakes. But it is much more difficult to handle it when it happens to us. Instead of speaking hastily or judging hastily, let’s assume that God is in control and that there are some things that he hasn’t revealed to us. We don’t know why things happen. But we do know that God is good and is always doing what is best in every situation.


1 McGee 595, 599.


McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. II, Joshua through Psalms, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, p. 592-601.

Zuck, Roy, Job, Chicago: Moody Press, 1978, pp. 22-42.

What do you know? — Job 2

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.
3 Jamieson
4 Barnes
5 Barnes
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.