Bibliotheca Sacra 96 (384)(Oct 1939) 405-11.

Copyright 1939 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Cited with permission.


Department of

Semitics, Old Testament and Archaeology




First Study: In the Hands of the Enemy





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.

14:14, 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

exodus from Egypt. The book is a work unsurpassed for

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

Adam in Eden. He was perfect when God put him there.

The second head is: Tried by adversity. Job fell, as Adam

fell in Eden. The third head is: The wisdom of the world.

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 Israel 407



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 Israel. This thought we shall attempt to carry

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.



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-


408 Bibliotheca Sacra



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

glorified God.



What a parallel to these things does the nation Israel

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 Israel 409


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. 8:18). 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 Israel (Zech. 3:1 ff). God delivered Job

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 Israel and still engulf

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

enemies of Israel. The Middle Ages saw wave after wave

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 Israel who

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 Israel

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


410 Bibliotheca Sacra



say of her present day privations, wanderings, and sorrows?

And the end is definitely not yet. Israel's history has been

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 Israel only knew what God has

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."

Job learned this truth; Israel as a nation will yet learn it.

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

as well.


Job and the Nation Israel 411



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 Israel but

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."

How true for Job and how true for Israel!

Dallas, Texas.


(To be continued in the January-March, 1940, number)



This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

3909 Swiss Ave.

Dallas, TX 75204


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