Wisdom from the Book of Job

After poor Job suffered the loss of dear children, possessions, his reputation, and his health, he then faced unjust rebuke from three “friends” who knew him well. If these friends would have been honest with themselves, they would have acknowledged that Job was far from being a wicked man. They knew his reputation for good works and mercy to the miserable. Job was so eminent in godliness that the book of Job begins with: There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job: and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. (Job 1:1). However, they had to accuse him of wrong-doing in order to explain his extreme suffering within the confines of their wrong understanding of God.

As the book concludes, in chapter 42, verse 7, we read:

And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

I find this verse heart-calming, and an encouragement to commit cases of misunderstanding to the Lord. When we have done all we can to explain ourselves to those who misunderstand us or who are suspicious of us, we must be quiet in our hearts and wait patiently for the Lord to instruct those who oppose us or who judge wrongly of us.

Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. – Psalm 26:1

Another application I take from the Book of Job is that I must be cautious about “reading” God’s providence in my life and in the lives of others. It is a common error to think that those who are suffering have sinned in some way. We simply do not have the whole picture. Here are some thoughts on this subject from the commentator Matthew Henry:

Therefore I uttered that which I understood not,’’ that is, “I have passed a judgment upon the dispensations of Providence, though I was utterly a stranger to the reasons of them.’’ Here,

1. He owns himself ignorant of the divine counsels; and so we are all.
God’s judgments are a great deep, which we cannot fathom, much less find out the springs of. We see what God does, but we neither know why he does it, what he is aiming at, nor what he will bring it to. These are things too wonderful for us, out of our sight to discover, out of our reach to alter, and out of our jurisdiction to judge of.

They are things which we know not; it is quite above our capacity to pass a verdict upon them.

The reason why we quarrel with Providence is because we do not understand it; and we must be content to be in the dark about it, until the mystery of God shall be finished.

(Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible is available online at Blue Letter Bible.)

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