Bibliotheca Sacra 96 (384)(Oct 1939) 405-11.
Copyright © 1939
Semitics, Old Testament and Archaeology
JOB AND THE NATION
First Study: In the Hands of the Enemy
BY CHARLES LEE FEINBERG, TH.D.
This book is named after its chief character, Job, which
means "persecuted" or "afflicted." In our canon it is the
first of the poetic books of the Old Testament. Although
the book is poetry the story is not fiction but fact (cf. Ezek.
, 20; Jas. 5:11). The events must have taken place
in patriarchal times for (1) there is no mention of the law;
(2) the offerings are burnt offerings and not sin offerings
as required under the law; (3) Job performs the functions
of a priest himself; and (4) no mention is made of the
depth of feeling and grandeur of thought and conception.
Luther said of it: "Magnificent and sublime as no other
book of Scripture." Renan, the author and critic of the
past century, delivered himself as follows: "The Book of
Job is the Hebrew book par excellence-it is in the Book
of Job that the force, beauty, the depth of the Hebrew
genius are seen at their best." Tennyson called it "the great-
est poem of ancient or modern times." Carlyle said it was
"apart from all theories about it, one of the greatest things
ever written with pen. There is nothing written, I think,
in the Bible or out of it, of equal merit."
The theme, subject, or problem of the book is the suffer-
ing of the godly. The suffering of the ungodly is no mys-
tery. The psalmist said: "Bloodthirsty and deceitful men
shall not live out half their days" (Psa. 55:23; cf. also Prov.
406 Bibliotheca Sacra
29:1). But why do the godly suffer? The book really deals
with five problems that grow out of this main one and in-
clude it. (1) Can man serve God disinterestedly from pure
love of Him or is all his worship of God tainted with ulterior
and selfish motives? (2) Is there anyone but God to whom
the control of the circumstances of human life can be
attributed? (3) Are man's outward circumstances a crite-
rion and standard of his moral character and life before
God? (4) Can men, by their wisdom, rightly and completely
comprehend the workings of the providence of God? (5)
Since the righteous do endure such great afflictions in this
life, is a life of righteousness worth it in the last analysis?
Scripture is so full in its truth that although there is
but one interpretation, there may be many applications.
This book in particular lends itself to several applications.
By way of comparison with Job we can see the believer
of this age exposed to himself by the dealings and chasten-
ings of God, judging himself, mistrusting himself, resting
in the all-sufficient grace of God. By way of contrast with
Job we can see Christ, the sinless Sufferer, doing God's will
without murmuring and with complete trust in the wisdom
and will of the Father. By way of application we can dis-
cern in Job the whole story of the salvation of the sinner.
An Englishman once said to Moody: "Did you ever notice
this, that the Book of Job is the key to the whole Bible?
If you understand Job you will understand the whole Bible!"
"No," said Moody, "I don't comprehend that. Job the key
to the whole Bible! How do you make that out?" He said:
"I divide Job into seven heads. The first head is: A perfect
man untried. That is what God said about Job: that is
The second head is: Tried by adversity. Job fell, as Adam
The world tried to restore Job; the three wise men came
to help him. That was the wisdom of the world centered
in those three men. You cannot," he said, "find any such
eloquent language or wisdom anywhere, in any part of the
Job and the Nation
world, as those three men displayed, but they did not know
anything about grace, and could not, therefore, help Job."
"Then in the fourth place, in comes the Daysman, that is
Christ. In the fifth place, God speaks; and in the sixth, Job
learns his lesson. 'I have heard of thee by the hearing of
the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor
myself, and repent in dust and ashes.' And then down came
Job fiat on the dunghill. The seventh head is this, that God
restores him. Our last estate is better than our first."
By way of comparison, still further, Job is a picture
of the nation
through our three studies. For our purposes and true to
the movement of the book we divide Job into three sections:
chapters 1-3 speak of the suffering Job; chapters 4-31 set
forth the sophistries of his friends; chapters 32-42 reveal
the salvation or deliverance of Job by the Lord.
JOB IN HIS SUFFERING
First, let us note what kind of man Job was. Then let
us consider his suffering, sorrow, and trial. This one deliv-
ered over into the hands of the enemy, Satan, was no ordi-
nary man. He had wealth (cf. 1:3; 29 :3, 6, 19). He knew
the prosperity of the Lord. He was blessed with children
(1:2). They are a heritage from the Lord. He was highly
honored (29:7-11; 29:21-25). He was educated. He shows
familiarity with writing, building, natural history, astron-
omy, and science in general. He was pious and godly (1:1, 5,
8; 2:3). He was perfect. This does not mean sinlessly per-
fect. He was perfect in the sense of complete as the word
denotes (tam, from tamam, to be complete, whole). His
godly life was well-rounded: not zealous in some things
and lax in others. He was as honest in public as in private;
he was as true with men as with God. He was upright,
sincere, and straightforward, as we say "on the level." He
feared God. God was the center of his life and desire. He
lived in the presence of God. He turned away from evil,
shunning every form of it. He was concerned for the spir-
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itual well-being of his children (1:5). It was not spasmodic
but a constant practice of his. This is brought out by two
features of the original text: first, the words, "all the days,"
and secondly, the verb in the imperfect denotes that which
is continuous and reiterated. He ever concerned himself for
the needy (29:12-17).
Just as Job was an extraordinary man, so was his trial
unusual at the hand of the enemy Satan. Job was tried
in his circumstances or circumstantially, in his body or
physically, and in his faith or spiritually. In these three
spheres he was tested to the full. He lost all his wealth
and property. He lost his children, dearer far than his
riches. And all of this transpired with Satanic speed and
suddenness. He lost his health. Someone has described it:
"The disease of Job seems to have been an universal ulcer,
producing an eruption over his entire person, and attended
with violent pain and constant restlessness. A universal
boil, or group of boils, over the body would accord with the
(account of the disease in the various parts of the book.
In the elephantiasis the skin is covered with incrustations
like those of an elephant. It is a chronic and contagious
disease, marked by a thickening of the legs, with a loss of
hair and feeling, a swelling of the face, and a hoarse, nasal
voice. It affects the whole body: the bones as well as the
skin are covered with spots, and tumors, at first red, but
afterwards black." Payson was asked, when under great
bodily affliction, whether he could see any particular reason for
such dealings of God with him. "No," he said, "but I am
as well satisfied as if I could see ten thousand; God's will
is the very perfection of all reason." So reasoned Job in his
trial. Then Job lost the help and sympathetic understand-
ing of his wife. Through all these tests Job stood firm and
a parallel to these things does the nation
afford! She too was highly favored of God. God delighted
in her. He called her the apple of His eye, His chosen,
Job and the Nation
His son. Yes, He even called her His Jeshurun (the same
root word as "upright" used of Job), His upright one (Dt.
32:15; 33:5; 33:26; Isa. 44:2). She too was prosperous
under the hand of God (Dt. ). God gave her power to
acquire wealth. Just as Satan resisted God's word of com-
mendation and joy in Job, so has he done and still does
with regard to
permissively into the hands and devices of the enemy Satan
for dreadful trials. In a similar manner God delivered
over the dearly beloved of His soul into the hands of her
enemies (Jer. 12:7). As Job was stripped of all, so was
.Israel also (Lam. 5:1-5). This is true in a greater measure
today than it was in Jeremiah's day when he wrote the
"Lamentations." Many were the waves and billows of woe
that came over Job. How many and of what magnitude
have they been that have swept over
her in this hour! First, she was persecuted of Pharaoh
upon arriving at nationhood. Then the nations on the wilder-
ness journey, especially Amalek, vented their wrath on her.
In later years Haman took up the cudgel of persecution
against her to exterminate her. Antiochus Epiphanes in the
second century before Christ joined himself to the number
of those who can be called the inveterate and unrelenting
I of destruction break over the defenseless head of the nation
of the weary foot and the weary heart. If thousands died
in plagues from contaminated waters, it was
had committed the dastardly deed, although many of her
own number perished. If a Gentile child were found dead
near the time of Passover, it was the community of God's peo-
ple that had perpetrated the crime in order to have the blood
for ritual purposes, although it was known that
turned with loathing from all blood in their ritual and in
their food according to the explicit prohibitions of the
Mosaic law. The long, sad, blood-stained story of the Span-
ish Inquisition has never been fully told and it were best
passed over in some degree of silence. And what shall we
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say of her present day privations, wanderings, and sorrows?
the end is definitely not yet.
one drawn-out concatenation of woes.
But we must realize what Job's friends had to learn
and that is that not all suffering is retributive. God's great-
est trials are inflicted upon the strongest for by His grace
they are empowered to bear them. If Job had only known
what God had said of him to Satan and how His heart went
out to Job in his trial; if
said of her in His Word to Satan and all men and how
His heart yearns for her! Here we have exemplified in a
clear way the truth that whom the Lord loveth He chas-
teneth. Satan in the last analysis strikes at God by imply-
ing that He can only be loved with a mercenary love and
only for His benefits do human creatures feel drawn to Him.
When the human heart really catches a glimpse of the love
in the heart of God, it responds with love. "We love him,
because he first loved us."
It is said that Spurgeon, while visiting at a friend's
home in the country, was attracted to a beautiful weather-
vane which the friend had placed upon the cupola of a new
barn which had just been built. On the weather-vane were
\inscribed the words, "God is love." Spurgeon expressed
surprise at the choice of such a motto for such a place and
said, "What do you mean by putting that text of Scripture
on the weather-vane? Do you mean that God's love is as
changeable as the wind ?" "Oh, no," said his friend, "I
mean to say that God is love whichever way the wind blows."
learned this truth;
No matter what the trial, how deep the sorrow, how cut-
ting the wound, how painful the disease, how loathesome
the affliction, how unbearable the circumstances, God is
always and ever love. And He chastens those He loves. In
these first chapters we have seen that God permits the
godly to suffer for the glory of God. In the remainder of
the poem it is seen that the godly suffer for their own good
Job and the Nation
What is as evident as the afflictions imposed by Satan
upon Job is the protection afforded him by God. Satan in
his venom could go only thus far and no farther. Through-
lout the centuries Satan has longed to blot out
she knows God's protecting hand. It is said of Felix of Nola
that when he was hotly pursued by murderers, he took
refuge in a cave, and instantly over the rift of it the spiders
wove their webs. Seeing the web the murderers passed by.
Then said this saint, "Where God is not, a wall is but a
spider's web; where God is, a spider's web is as a wall."
true for Job and how true for
(To be continued in the January-March, 1940, number)
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