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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Job 2

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Job's Health Is Destroyed

A. The second act of the heavenly scene.

1. (Job 2:1-3) God boasts again over His servant Job.

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. And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause."

a. Again there was a day when the sons of God came: This again indicates that Satan and certain angelic beings (fallen as well as faithful) have somewhat open access to God's presence in heaven.

b. And the LORD said to Satan: The dialogue recorded here was completely unknown to Job; though perhaps, if he was the author of the book, at a later time God revealed this heavenly behind-the-scenes conversation to him.

i. From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it: "Surely as Job still retained his integrity, so did Satan his vanity; boasting that he came now from visiting his estate." (Trapp)

c. And still he folds fast to his integrity: Up to this point, this second recorded dialogue followed the same pattern shown in Job 1:6-8. God used the repetition to impress upon Satan the futility of his first attack against Job.

i. And still he holds fast to his integrity: The idea "indicates a strengthening of the grip he already had." (Smick)

d. Although you incited Me against him: This shows that both God and Satan understood that the attack could only come to Job because God allowed it. Although God did not actively send the Sabeans, the Chaldeans, the fire, or the wind, they could only come by His permission.

e. To destroy him without cause: The idea is not that cause was absent in either God or Satan; they both had something they wanted to prove and establish in the whole account. However, there was no sinful cause in Job that prompted the calamities that befell him.

2. (Job 2:4-6) Satan's reply.

So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life."

a. Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life: Satan here asserted that Job failed to curse God only because he was afraid that if he did, it would bring personal punishment from God. Satan argued that the problem with the prior attacks was that none of the previous attacks touched Job directly, but only things next to or outside of Job (his family and his possessions).

i. "In Job's ancient culture, 'skin for skin' was a bartering term meaning to trade one skin for another. The Devil is accusing Job of being willing to risk the skin of his children and livestock in order to protect his own skin." (Lawson)

ii. "Any skin for his own; cattle, servants, children may be easily parted with by him, to save himself in a whole skin, to keep himself whole." (Trapp)

iii. When it came down to it, Abraham betrayed his wife to save his life. David forsook his sanity to save his life. Peter denied Jesus to save his own life. There is certainly some truth to the statement, all that a man has he will give for his life.

b. Touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face! Satan insisted that if the attack were made against Job directly - if some calamity came upon Job's body - then Job would certainly curse God.

i. "Satan suggested to God a new test for Job. Physical suffering. Pain can weaken our resistance and make everything look and feel worse than it really is. More than one person has withstood tragedy only to fall apart under the onslaught of pain." (Lawson)

ii. "It is the devil's perpetual estimate of humanity that flesh is supreme." (Morgan)

c. Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life: With this God again "lowered the hedge" that protected Job, but He did not eliminate it. Satan was given greater allowance to attack Job, but not unlimited allowance.

B. Job suffers affliction and shows integrity.

1. (Job 2:7-8) Job is smitten with painful and disgusting sores.

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.

a. Struck Job with painful boils: This disease that came upon Job was specifically meant to drive Job to such great despair that he would curse God. We are not surprised that the attack against Job was severe (painful boils) and massive (from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head).

i. We again are challenged to see that Satan has the power to attack mankind in ways we perhaps previously did not perceive. Previously we saw that Satan could inspire others to attack Job (Job 1:14, 1:17) and could direct natural calamity as an attack against Job (Job 1:16, 1:18-19). Now we see that disease and physical suffering could come against Job as a attack from Satan. Another example of this is in Luke 13:17, where Jesus revealed that a woman who had been afflicted for 18 years was actually afflicted with a spirit of infirmity and was bound by Satan in her condition.

ii. The exact nature of Job's ailment has been debated. "Some kind of acute dermatitis spreading everywhere and developing infections with darkened (Job 30:28) and peeling (30:30) skin and constantly erupting pustules (7:5b) would manifest the pruritus and purulence highlighted in 2:7." (Andersen)

iii. One of the curses God promised to a disobedient Israel was, The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed (Deuteronomy 28:27). This may very well be the same affliction that Job suffered from; it reminds us also that Job had every reason to feel cursed by God, and he appeared that way to others also.

iv. Whatever the exact diagnosis of Job's condition, taken together his medical problems were significant. Other passages in the Book of Job tell us more of what Job suffered.

- Intense pain (My bones are pierced in me at night, and my gnawing pains take no rest; Job 30:17)
- Peeling and darkened skin (My skin grows black and falls from me; Job 30:30a)
- Pus-filled, erupting sores (My flesh is caked with worms and dust, my skin is cracked and breaks out afresh; Job 7:5b)
- Anorexia, emaciation (My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh; Job 19:20)
- Fever (My bones burn with fever; Job 30:30b)
- Depression (I loathe my life; I would not live forever; Job 7:16 and My heart is in turmoil and cannot rest; days of affliction confront me. I go about mourning, but not in the sun; Job 30:27-28)
- Weeping (My face is flushed with weeping; Job 16:16a)
- Sleeplessness (When I lie down, I say, 'When shall I arise, and the night be ended?' Job 7:4)
- Nightmares (Then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions; Job 7:14)
- Putrid breath (My breath is offensive to my wife; Job 19:17)
- Difficulty breathing (He will not allow me to catch my breath; Job 19:18)
- Failing vision (On my eyelids is the shadow of death; Job 16:16b)
- Rotting teeth (I have escaped by the skin of my teeth; Job 19:20)
- Haggard looks (When they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him; Job 2:12)
- Painful swollen sores all over his body (painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head; Job 2:7)
- Intense itching (to scrape himself; Job 2:8)
- This condition lasted for months (Oh, that I were as in months past; Job 29:2 and I have been allotted months of futility; Job 7:3)

b. He took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself: Job dealt with his painful affliction to the best of his ability and then sat in a mournful place. In the midst of the ashes probably means "in the city dump," where garbage was burned; Job sat on a burned heap.

i. "He took him a potsherd; partly to allay the itch which his ulcers caused; and partly to squeeze out or take away that purulent matter which was under them, or flowed from them, and was the great cause of his torment." (Poole)

ii. "Though somewhat messy, 'the ashes' were perhaps the most sterile place a man with sores could sit. That aspect may be only coincidental; but the ancient, by practice, may have found it physically advantageous." (Smick)

2. (Job 2:9-10) Job holds his integrity before his wife.

Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

a. Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die! Job's wife has become a proverbial example of a cruel, unsupportive, sharp-tongued wife. Yet some allowance must be made considering her losses in the previous few days. She also lost her children and her wealth, and should not be too harshly judged.

i. The Septuagint puts more words into the mouth of Job's wife: How long wilt thou hold out, and say, "Behold I wait yet a little while, expecting the hope of my deliverance?" For, behold, thy memorial is cut off from the earth - [even thy] sons and thy daughters, the pangs and pains of my womb, which I bore in vain, with sorrows; and though thyself sittest down to spend the nights in the open air among the corruption of worms, and I am a wanderer, and a servant from place to place, and house to house, waiting for the setting of the sun, that I may rest from my labours and my pains, which now beset me. Now curse God and die. (Cited in Bullinger)

ii. "She can't bear to see her husband suffer like this. Her heart, already crushed by the loss of her ten children, is now without hope. She is saying, 'Curse God and He'll strike you dead too. Then you can escape this pain. Death would be better than this.'" (Lawson)

iii. "Renounce, she says, God and die. Leave the unprofitable service of this God, Who has left thee to so undeserved a fate. Leave Him, and quit life, a life that has nothing left worth living for." (Bradley)

iv. Nevertheless, the implication of her words, "do you still hold fast to your integrity?" is that she had abandoned her integrity. Satan's goal in his attacks against Job was to shake Job from his standing; he failed in regard to Job, but he succeeded in regard to Job's wife. Job must have been severely grieved both at his wife's foolish words and her own shaken faith. "His cup seemed full. One other turn of the rack, so to speak, is yet possible. It is not spared him. From the one human quarter from which comfort might have yet come, there comes only a vulgar taunt, and suggestion of despair." (Bradley)

v. "Not knowing the limitation God had put on the Accuser, Job's wife at this point diagnosed the disease as incurable and recommended that he curse God and die." (Smick)

b. You speak as one of the foolish women speaks: This was a wisely-worded rebuke to Job's wife. He did not accuser of being a foolish woman, but of speaking like one of the foolish women. He indicated that this was out-of-character for her.

i. "He does not call her 'wicked', merely foolish, that is, lacking in discernment. She thinks God has treated Job badly, and deserves a curse; Job finds nothing wrong with what has happened to him." (Andersen)

ii. Mason comments on Satan's strategy here: "He sows strife and succeeds in turning the couple against each other. She ridicules his religion, and he calls her a fool. A degree of alienation sets in which, just in itself, would very likely have been the worst trial these two had ever passed through in their married life."

c. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? Job again shows his wisdom in this reply. He recognized that God does not owe us good; He gives it as a gift that we should accept. Accordingly, if adversity comes to us, and we are wise to see that even in adversity there may be a "gift" that we should accept.

i. "Shall we poor worms give laws to our supreme Lord and Governor, and oblige him always to bless and favour us, and never to afflict us? And shall not those great, and manifold, and long-continued mercies, which from time to time God hath freely and graciously given us, compensate for these short afflictions?" (Poole)

d. In all this Job did not sin with his lips: This is another remarkable statement to the credit of Job. He did not sin in his response to either his God or his wife.

i. In all this is a broad statement, meaning that up to this point Job had not sinned at all in what he said. This is important to note, because some say that these calamities came upon Job because of a negative confession he made, supposedly recorded in Job 1:5 and in Job 3:25. This statement makes it clear that Job did not sin with his lips, certainly not in the sense of a negative confession.

3. (Job 2:11-13) The consolation of Job's friends.

Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.

a. When Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place: This passage introduces three remarkable friends of Job. Their names were Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. These men came to Job in his hour of need.

i. For they had made an appointment: "The fact that they met by appointment shows that they were already acquaintances who felt it would be better to come together." (Andersen)

b. To come and mourn with him, and to comfort him: Their intended goal was good and noble. They came to be with him (to come), to share his sorrow (and mourn with him), and to bring some relief to Job (and to comfort him).

c. And did not recognize him: The boils left Job with a horrific, disfigured appearance. Upon seeing Job, his three friends were instantly gripped with grief and mourning as if one had died.

i. "As they drew near and raised their eyes and saw the change which disease and misery had worked in his form and face, the horrors of the spectacle overcame them." (Bradley)

d. They sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him: This was a wonderful display of comfort and common cause with Job. They shared in his afflicted state, acting as if they were similarly afflicted. They offered no statement except for their compassionate presence.

i. "Seven days and seven nights was the usual time of mourning for the dead, Genesis 50:10; 1 Samuel 31:13, and therefore proper both for Job's children, who were dead, and for Job himself, who was in a manner dead whilst he lived." (Poole)

ii. After this point in the Book of Job there begins 35 chapters of discussion between Job and his friends. Yet all that discussion must be put in the context of the genuine love and concern that these friends had for Job, and there was a sense in which they earned their right to speak by their sacrificial display of compassion.

iii. "While it is true that Job suffered more at the hands of these friends ultimately than by the attacks of the foe, yet some recognition must be made of the goodness of the men."

- They are to be admired because they came to Job.
- They are to be admired because they wept for and with Job.
- They are to be admired because they sat in silence with Job for seven days.
- They are to be admired because they intended all the best for Job, and were persistent in wanting and doing what they thought was best for Job.
- They are to be admired because they spoke their opinion about Job and his condition to Job himself, instead of speaking about him to others.

iv. "They believed him to be suffering for heavy crimes; and seeing him suffer so much, they were not willing to add to his distress by invectives or reproach. Job himself first broke silence." (Clarke)

v. "We leave Job and his friends seated in silence. There is calm around them, but we feel that the air is heavy, and that there is a tempest in the sky. We shall hear the storm burst and the thunder roll when next we meet." (Bradley)

© 2007 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Study Guide for Esther 1 ← Prior Book
Study Guide for Psalm 1 Next Book →
Study Guide for Job 1 ← Prior Chapter
Study Guide for Job 3 Next Chapter →
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