Devotional: Job 2 – Imperfect Friendships

In the last chapter of Job, we learned that he was a godly man, but lost everything to test his faith in God. He passed the test, but the story isn’t over. We now dive into chapter 2.

1) Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

Some commentaries see this gathering of the heavenly court as being a yearly event. If that is so, Job has had a long period of time to process his loss and to experience the day to day struggles of poverty. In my own life, I have found that I feel numb at first experiencing hardship. During that numb stage it has been easier for me to express faith. The struggle, for me, is later after I have processed it all.

2) And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
3) And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

In this conversation between God and Satan, God points out that Job has remained faithful through everything, even as time has passed. I don’t think, though, this observation is just an “I told you so” to Satan. Just like in the first chapter, God is bringing Job’s life up intentionally. He knows what will happen next. For some reason, God isn’t done in testing Job.

4) And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5) But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
6) And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

The phrase “skin for skin” here means that Job is willing to sacrifice other people’s skin, such as his servants and children, for his own skin. This phrase is a cowardly concept that is unfortunately true in those with weak character. The terrible thing about it is that we often don’t know if we are that kind of person until we are tried. Even when it comes to sympathy, we often do not feel the hurt of others as deeply as our own hurt. Satan is saying that until Job hurts in his own body, he really won’t internalize his trials fully.

Again, we see God give permission for Job to suffer. Again, we cannot escape the fact that God bears responsibility for Job’s trials even if the evil is not committed by God directly. We are faced with the question I hear the most from non-Christians – if God is a good God, then why does he let bad things happen? We Christians cannot try to protect God from this question or run away from it ourselves. He is a big God who can handle it and invites this question. After all, this is specifically why Job is in the Bible.

7) So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8) And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

In each commentary I read, a whole list of different posible diseases are listed for what Job might have been experiencing. Some of the suggestions are elphanitits, leperasy, smallpox, No one really knows what is being described. It really doesn’t matter scientifically what Job has. We just need to know that is was really painful and terrible enough to have him scrape his skin with broken pottery

9) Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
10) But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Many of the commentaries I read were extremely harsh on Job’s wife by saying she was being used of Satan and that she was a hinderance and burden on Job. If Job was in an unhappy or love less marriage, he probably would have taken a second wife and most certainly not had ten children by this one. Also, when God blesses Job at the end of the book and doubles all he has, God does not double his wife/wives. John Piper notes that Job is not calling her a foolish woman, but comparing her to other women who are foolish rather than being her typical non-foolish self.

I have also observed that caretakers, especially women, after along time of watching someone suffer will desire to relieve or end that suffering. This desire doesn’t typically lead to a wish to kill or suicide, but does lead to unclear thinking. Job’s wife’s suggestion that he die was not a selfish desire. Without a husband or children to care for her, in those days that would have left her completely helpless and brutally impoverished for the rest of her life. what Job’s wife was experiencing was an emotional lapse in judgement. It was used as a temptation from Satan, but there is no indication this was her normal feelings or that she ever repeats this lapse. We all have said foolish things in compassion sometimes with the result of hurting the one we want to comfort. I think we should have grace for Job’s wife as he does. Apparently, he continues to love her even to have more children with her latter (though I am not sure how plausible that is in reality, but as a parable, this is his only beloved wife throughout the book with no need to be replaced by anyone better.)

11) Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
12) And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
13) So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

Job’s friends here show very real sympathy and compassion. We do not know if they visited Job after his previous hardships, but I have observed that many people will make the effort and time to visit when their friends or relatives have a terminal or life threatening illness. They too demonstrate the outward show of distress and mourning that was accepted in ancient times. Everything they do here is a sign on true friendship and perceptive condolences. One commentary makes note that the friends couldn’t just sit in the same spot for seven days and that this is figurative. I disagree. Anyone who has observed older people sitting on a front porch or visiting each other for a long vacation would recognize the way they sit in conversation or with much talk for days without much change or activity. I remember as a child sitting with my grandfather “watching the grass grow” for very long periods of time. It was just about being with each other. The conversation that follows in the rest of the book maybe hurtful to Job in his suffering, but it does not diminish the value of his friends in their sincere regard. Job does not hold their hurtful words against them just as he doesn’t hold his wife’s words against her. This grace is part of what shows Job’s solid virtue through everything.

Thank you for reading this devotional. Post In the comments your thoughts and questions. Next week we will begin the poetic section with chapter 3.