To put the matter succinctly, the problem Job treats involves relationship; the answer it provides entails revelation. The book of Job teaches us how to endure suffering, not the reason for it.
Let me explain. If we look at the text, we observe that Job is never told the reason for his afflictions. In fact, Job endured physical pain in silence. To follow their counsel would have forced Job to live a lie by confessing to the Lord that he felt he deserved his affliction—which he did not, and should not feel. In consequence, many innocent victims have been pressured to confess to the lie that they merit their misfortune—that whatever evil befalls them is less punishment than they deserve. But Job refuses such false wisdom and stoutly maintains that, even weighed in the balance scales of ordinary justice see Job ; , his suffering is disproportionate to any sin that could be laid to his charge.
Though he slay me, yet will I trust him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. Such is the shocking boldness of Job before his friends and his Lord, and such is his stunning trust in a God who, Job knows, does not want man to come before Him as a hypocrite, feigning to comprehend suffering that he cannot fathom. The text propounds few, if any, theoretical reasons for suffering, though the so-called comforters advocate many. Rather, it offers a memorable example of how to suffer suffering.
Thus, the text reminds us that one can say something that is formally wrong but personally right as did Job , and something formally correct but personally wrong as did the comforters. The relationship of the speaker to the speech matters utterly. All these points may have elements of truth, but they are also untrue.
First, they were uttered without compassion. Next, they were glib. Those who suffer are not happy, at least not until they have been allowed to be unhappy first. Such smugness is roundly condemned in the book of Job. Even Elihu, the fourth and final comforter, whose speeches echo those issuing from the whirlwind, had no impact on Job and, in my opinion, stands under the same divine disapproval as the other comforters. As a personal revelation from the Lord to the long-suffering, steadfast Job, the voice from the whirlwind had authority and meaning that no merely human voice could match.
Intellectual answers can never provide this knowledge. This is very wise, but it does not go quite far enough. To human utterance must be added the witness of the Spirit.
Hast Thou Considered My Servant Job (paperback)
We can testify to the truth that the Lord loves and pities His children in the midst of their sharpest sorrows. We can offer scriptural and personal insights about the various purposes served by suffering. But only the Lord can confirm His continuing love through the voice of the only unfailing comforter, His Comforter. This revelation is, ultimately, the sine qua non for resolving a Joban crisis. It is the essential comfort every Job requires. The book of Job, then, is at bottom about the need for personal revelation.
Revelation is the key to human crises of faith brought on by suffering. This interpretation, little recognized in biblical scholarship, fits LDS theology, which stresses the need for both general and personal revelation. There is indeed a mystery in suffering. Job is overwhelmed by mystery in the theophany as the enigma of his own suffering is engulfed by the larger mystery of creation.
Job never does receive an answer as to why he suffered; nor, often, do we. It remains inexplicable, mysterious. Yet one can overstate the mystery. Beyond the mystery, Latter-day Saint readers must affirm the continuing presence of divine justice and love. A good instance of this misreading may be seen in an article by Matitiahu Tsevat. I had to prosper good and punish evil. You [Job] changed all that. You set me free to reign. But does the theophany in Job in fact reveal a God cut loose from justice, order, or morality?
LDS theology, certainly, does not endorse such absolute divine sovereignty, which from a human vantage appears indistinguishable from caprice. Nor does the climax require the collapse of divine justice so the Lord may reign sovereign. We believe that the Almighty Himself subscribes to law see Alma Our innate demand for fairness, order, law, and justice doubtless is a legacy from our divine parentage. When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Nor is it the voice of one detached from justice.
It is, furthermore, the voice of a being who clearly continues to care about human suffering. That the Lord responds at all assures us that He is not a deus absconditus, as Job feared Job —9 , but a God who condescends to reveal Himself to mankind in its darkest hours of need. There is not love without sharing and a God who loves is a God who suffers.
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BOOK REVIEW: Have You Considered My Servant Job?
Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. But do we really understand his role in the gospel? Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Consider My Servant Job , please sign up. Why would God not prevent this? Why did not the Lord heal her? His body was found slumped on the floor. Why would the Lord do this to me? Could he not have considered my three little children who still need a father?
Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. Why do the righteous, those who love and serve God, suffer? Was it the Lord who directed the plane into the mountainside? Did God cause the highway collision? Was it He who prompted the young child to toddle into the canal or the man to suffer the heart attack? Responding to these questions, President Kimball said:.
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I cannot, for though I know God has a major role in our lives, I do not know how much he causes to happen and how much he merely permits. Whatever the answer to this question, there is another I feel sure about. The answer is, Yes. The Lord is omnipotent, with all power to control our lives, save us pain, prevent all accidents, drive all planes and cars, feed us, protect us, save us from labor, effort, sickness, even from death, if he will.
But he will not. The book of Job is a beautiful literary masterpiece that deals with this very question: Why do the righteous suffer? See if you can discover through your reading just what blessings Job obtained as a result of his suffering. It is a marvelous book and many superlative statements have been made about it. Halley, Pocket Bible Handbook, Chicago, , p. An Old Testament scholar, H. Rowley, The Growth of the Old Testament, , p. If any one of these elements is missing then the full basis for faith is missing. Significantly, the Lord acknowledged in identical phraseology the goodness of this man How frustrated Satan must be to realize that for such occasions he never has the true coin.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Is Job History or Story?
With devilish power Satan then inflicted Job with sore boils, making him so miserable that his wife urged him to curse God and die. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? His test, as severe as it was, was not merely to be impoverished, left without offspring, and afflicted with pain for a day and then, having passed the test, find release. Job had well sustained the initial shock but when successive waves engulfed the total reality of his daily life, would he still endure? This question neither he nor the devil could answer initially.
Who can imagine the state of his mind at this point? Perhaps some of us, maybe none of us. One thing, however, is clear.
If we are to empathize at all with his feelings, we must see his life from his own perspective. Job permitted us this by opening his heart and vividly contrasting his present misery with his former blessed state. At that time, all men, young, aged, princes, nobles alike paid deference to Job. Highly regarded at all levels of society, his counsel was often sought and never superseded. Beloved by all, he was a boon to anyone in need.
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In such circumstances, Job took great comfort in feeling that he was as secure as a root in a well-watered soil. His days ahead would multiply like sand and he would die securely in his nest with his glory round about him, dwelling as a chief among his people. We have noted already the loss of wealth, health, and posterity. But his hurts continued to rise in successive waves till death seemed to be a deliverer from a pain-engulfed life. What were these hurtful waves? From the symptoms, some have said that it appears that he had elephantiasis.
Worms or maggots were bred in the sores His breath became so foul and his body emitted such an odor, that even his friends abhorred him ff , and he sought refuge outside the city on the refuse heap where outcasts and lepers lived. Pain was his constant companion , 30 as were also terrifying nightmares And now I am their song, yea, I am their byword.
They abhor me, they flee far from me and spare not to spit in my face. Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me.
They have also let loose the bridle before me. Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my feet, and they raise up against me the days of their destruction. He lost the support that loyal friends and loving kinsfolk might have given had they but rallied around him in this trying moment of his life. But, oddly enough, this was not to be. Thus, in his deepest need, Job stood awesomely alone, isolated from any who might have commiserated with him in this trying time.
And, here again, he held the Lord responsible for having effected this rupture between him and his friends. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me. They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight. I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I entreated him with my mouth.
"Hast Thou Considered My Servant Job?" | Religious Studies Center
Yea young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me. All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me. My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends: for the hand of God hath touched me. Why do ye persecute me as God? Job, too.