And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord. — Job 1:12
A college student is berated by her professor for voicing support for a Gospel principle. A Christian man loses his job, and consequently his family suffers severe financial reverses. A minister has a stroke and cannot speak. A faithful Gospel worker dies of cancer while still in her forties. A missionary is imprisoned and tortured. A Christian church is bombed and many believers are killed. Why does our all-powerful God allow these things?
In today’s text, God permitted Job to suffer, and Job struggled to understand why. We, too, may wonder why difficulties and suffering come our way. God allows difficulties for various reasons. At times, they may be permitted as a form of correction, or to prove and strengthen us. Therefore, it is important to examine our hearts during a trial. At other times, as this account shows, trials come for reasons we may never understand.
In this case, Satan claimed that Job served God only because of the things God gave him — possessions, a large family, health, and security. God allowed Satan to test this assumption by taking from Job all that God had provided. Severe trials will reveal whether we serve God for the benefits or out of love for Him. If we serve Him for the benefits, a trial will defeat us. However, if we serve Him out of love, a trial will strengthen us. Faith built on benefits or prosperity will not endure. To stand the test, faith must be based on the knowledge that God is good, He is just, and He loves us more than we can imagine.
Right living does not guarantee a life free of suffering, and wrong behavior is not always instantly punished. Let us take courage from the insights revealed in these first chapters of Job. Spiritual warfare initiated by Satan against Job is described in the focus verse, and he will attack us, too. In fact, he may attack Christians more than he does unbelievers. (After all, unbelievers are already in his camp.) The enemy would like us to think God has forgotten us or forsaken us in our times of trial, but this text refutes that idea. God knows exactly what is happening in each of our lives.
Job’s extreme suffering touched every area of his life. Although he did not know why he was suffering, he did not lose his faith in God. We also can hold on to our faith no matter what comes to us, and cling to God in the assurance that He is with us.
This opening portion of the Book of Job describes Satan’s assault on Job and his initial lament regarding his suffering.
The text begins with an account of who Job was and what happened to him. God said that Job was perfect and upright. The word perfect, as used in Job 1:1 and 1:8, does not mean without human error, but rather it means “blameless, upright, and undefiled.” Job had a wife and ten children and also possessed great wealth (1:3). The phrase “the greatest of all the men of the east” means that Job was highly respected and honored because of his righteousness, wisdom, and riches. He possessed faith, feared God, and shunned evil.
God and Satan conversed about Job (1:6-12), and Satan’s accusation was that God had a hedge about Job. This text shows that Satan can only do what God allows. It also reveals that affliction and difficulties do not originate in the mind of God, but are permitted to accomplish His purposes.
Satan’s argument to God was that Job only served Him for the benefits. God gave Satan permission to “touch” everything of Job’s except Job himself. In one day, all of Job’s possessions and family (other than his wife) were destroyed. Satan’s accusation proved incorrect; Job refused to “charge God foolishly.” He did not blame God or curse Him. Job’s devotion to God remained constant as he spoke the well-known words recorded in Job 1:21.
Chapter 2 begins with the account of Satan’s further onslaught against Job; he secured permission from God to afflict Job’s body. News of the tragic events reached Job’s friends, and three of them came to comfort him (2:11-13). The sight of Job in his affliction caused them to weep, tear their clothes, and sprinkle dust on their heads. For seven days and nights they sat by him in silence.
Finally, Job spoke (chapter 3) with words that showed the anguish he felt. His grief and despair caused him to wish that he had never been born. He found no rest, as the quietness of his heart was replaced by trouble on every hand. He believed that God had forsaken him, and he desired to die. The groaning of his heart poured out in a mixture of sorrow and despair. This chapter begins the poetic dialog.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The introduction (1:1 — 2:13)
A. The character of Job (1:1-5)
B. The controversy over Job (1:6 — 2:10)
1. The first assault (1:6-22)
a. The conversation in Heaven (1:6-12)
b. The conflict on earth (1:13-19)
c. The confidence of Job (1:20-22)
2. The second assault (2:1-10)
a. The conversation in Heaven (2:1-6)
b. The conflict on earth (2:7-10)
C. The coming of Job’s friends (2:11-13)
II. The solution of Job’s three friends
A. The lamentation of Job (3:1-26)
1. Why born? (3:1-10)
2. Why not death at birth? (3:11-19)
3. Why continue living? (3:20-26)
Victory in trials comes when we trust God in the dark times, even though we cannot see or understand why He has allowed us to suffer.