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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Job 42

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Job's Repentance and Restoration

A. Job's repentance.

1. (Job 42:1-3) Job confesses his presumption and lack of knowledge.

Then Job answered the LORD and said:
"I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?'
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

a. I know that You can do everything: This wonderful statement from Job was obviously connected to the impressive display of the power and might of God over creation; but it was also connected to the comfort that the sense of the presence of God brought to Job. God indeed could do everything, including bring comfort and assurance to Job, even when Job still did not understanding the origin or meaning of his crisis.

b. And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You: The God who can master Behemoth and Leviathan (Job 40 and 41) can also accomplish every purpose in Job's life, including the mysterious meaning behind the twists and turns.

c. I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know: Job said many sad and imprudent things, both in his agonized cry of Job 3 and in the bitter and contentious debate with his friends. At times he doubted the goodness of God and His righteous judgment in the world; at times he doubted if there was any good in this life or in the life beyond. Now Job has come full circle, back to a state of humble contentment with not knowing the answers to the questions occasioned by his crisis and his companions.

i. "Job felt that what he had spoken concerning the Lord was in the main true; and the Lord himself said to Job's three friends, 'Ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath'; but under a sense of the divine presence Job felt that even when he had spoken aright, he had spoken beyond his own proper knowledge, uttering speech whose depths of meaning he could not himself fathom." (Spurgeon)

ii. Job's thinking here is well expressed by one of the shortest psalms, Psalm 131:

LORD, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.

2. (Job 42:4-6) Job repents before God.

Listen, please, and let me speak; You said,
'I will question you, and you shall answer Me.'"
"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes."

a. Listen, please, and let me speak: Before Job seemed to want to challenge God (Job 31:35-40) in a confrontational way. Now, after his wonderful revelation of God, He respectfully asked God for the right to speak.

b. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You: This reminds us that the most powerful aspect of Job's encounter with God. It was not primarily what God said; but God's simple, loving, powerful presence with Job that changed him most profoundly.

i. Seeing God - not with his literal eye, but in a way literally real - gave Job what he so wanted: to know that God was with him in his crisis. This wonderful presence of God has humbled Job.

ii. We should not assume that what Job knew of God was necessarily false; yet each fresh and deeper revelation of God has a brightness that makes previous experience of God seem rather pale. What he had just experienced was so real it made his previous experiences seem unreal.

c. Therefore I abhor myself: It is important to understand each phrase of this statement of Job's. This would seem to be the normal conviction of sin that even a saint like Job senses in the presence of God; yet there is good evidence that Job, with this statement, was really formally retracting his previous statements made in ignorance.

i. "The verb translated 'I despise myself (Job 42:6) could be rendered 'I reject what I said.'" (Smick)

ii. "The Hebrew word literally means, from the standpoint of etymology, to disappear; from the standpoint of usage, to retract, to repudiate. As a matter of fact, Job at this point went beyond what he had previously said when he declared, 'I am of small account,' and declared that he practically cancelled himself entirely. I disappear, I retract all that has been said; I repudiate the position I have taken up." (Morgan)

iii. "I despise (and translations usually supply myself as the object not found in the Hebrew). This does not go as far as the abject self-loathing of that radical repentance that requires admitting known sins. If we are to connect it with verse 3, Job could be expressing regret at his foolish words, uttered hastily and in ignorance." (Andersen)

d. And repent in dust and ashes: It was right for Job to repent. He had done nothing to invite the crisis that came into his life; the reasons for that crisis were rooted in the contention between God and Satan as recorded in Job 1 and 2. Yet he did have to repent of his bad words and bad attitude after the crisis; both for excessively giving into despair in Job 3 and for his unwise and intemperate speech as he contended with his companions.

i. It is important to note that Job did not give into his friends and admit that they had been right all along. That simply was not true. The sins Job repented of here were both general sins, common to all men, which seemed all the darker in the presence of God yet were not the cause of the catastrophe that came into his life; and they were sins committed after the catastrophe came.

ii. What did Job have to repent of? In his sermon, Job Among the Ashes, Charles Spurgeon suggested several things:

- Job repented of the terrible curse he had pronounced upon the day of his birth.
- Job repented of his desire to die.
- Job repented of his complaints against and challenges to God.
- Job repented of his despair.
- Job repented that his statements had been a "darkening of wisdom by words without knowledge"; that he spoke beyond his knowledge and ability to know.

iii. One might say that these words of Job - words of humble repentance and submission before God, for sins that were greatly provoked, sins that come from the godly and not from the wicked - these words that contain no curse of God whatsoever - these words ended the contest between God and Satan, and demonstrated that the victory belonged to God and to Job.

iv. God's confidence in Job's faith was completely vindicated. "Job is vindicated in a faith in God's goodness that has survived a terrible deprivation and, indeed, grown in scope, unsupported by Israel's historical creed or the mighty acts of God, unsupported by life in the covenant community, unsupported by cult institutions, unsupported by revealed knowledge from the prophets, unsupported by tradition, and contradicted by experience. Next to Jesus, Job must surely be the greatest believer in the whole Bible." (Andersen)

v. Simply put, "Without anger toward him, God allowed Job to suffer in order to humiliate the Accuser and proved support to countless sufferers who would follow in Job's footsteps." (Smick) This was now accomplished.

B. Job's restoration.

1. (Job 42:7-9) Job's friends are rebuked; Job is vindicated

And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has." So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the LORD commanded them; for the LORD had accepted Job.

a. My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends: God rebuked Job's three companions, addressing Eliphaz as their head (he was the first of the three to speak).

i. Curiously, Elihu is not addressed by God in this final chapter. Some people think this is because Elihu was correct in what he said, and was indeed God's messenger to Job. Taking into account exactly what Elihu said, it is better to think that God did not answer him as a way of dismissing him altogether.

ii. "He is therefore punished (as ambassadors are used to be when they commit undecencies) with silence, which is the way royal to correct a wrong." (Trapp)

b. You have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has: The friends of Job spoke many general principles that, in their setting, have great wisdom. The problem was that in Job's circumstance their principles of wisdom did not apply. They presented God as angry and judgmental against Job when He was not. This displeased God.

i. It displeased God so much that He specifically repeated the charge (Job 42:8); He commanded them to sacrifice a burnt offering to make atonement for their sin; and He commanded them to humble themselves and ask Job to pray for them.

ii. We can imagine that they were quite surprised by this. They no doubt thought that God was in agreement with them all along. "And yet they seemed to be all for God; and to plead his cause against Job throughout. But as in some things they were much mistaken, so they had their self-respects, and were much biased in their discourses." (Trapp)

iii. God's rebuke of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar was at the same time an explicit vindication of Job. It was true that in his frustration, stubbornness, and misery Job said things that he had to repent of. Yet God could still say of him, "as My servant Job has," putting forth Job as an example of one who spoke what is right.

c. So Eliphaz … Bildad … and Zophar … went and did as the LORD commanded them; for the LORD had accepted Job: The friends of Job were accepted for Job's sake, because the LORD had accepted Job. God made Job a mediator to his friends. This must have been a humbling and instructive experience for the friends, and a happy and healing experience for Job.

i. "These men did not say, 'No, we will not go to Job'; they did not attempt to justify themselves, they did exactly what God told them to, and in so doing they did a grand and noble thing, and took the only chance of getting to know God." (Chambers)

ii. "They had attempted to restore Job by philosophy. They had failed. He was now to restore them by prayer. The bands of his own captivity were broken, moreover, in the activity of prayer on behalf of others." (Morgan)

iii. "Job was permitted to take a noble revenge, I am sure the only one he desired, when he became the means of bringing them back to God. God would not hear them, he said, for they had spoken so wrongly of his servant Job, and now Job is set to be a mediator, or intercessor on their behalf: thus was the contempt poured upon the patriarch turned into honor." (Spurgeon)

2. (Job 42:10-11) Job is blessed and received by his friends again.

And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the LORD had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.

a. And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends: God was good enough to restore Job's wealth to him, even though Job never asked for this. Job's agony was always more rooted in the more spiritual aspects of his crisis, much more than the material. Yet once the spiritual was resolved, God restored the material.

i. As the margin in the New King James Version notes, this can also be translated, and the LORD turned the captivity of Job. This is a suggestive phrase; that the act of praying for his friends and restoring his relationship with them in a sense freed Job from captivity.

ii. It does not say that God turned the poverty of Job, nor the health of Job, nor his friendships; rather, literally, He turned the captivity of Job. A man may be poor, sick, and friendless without being captive. Yet until Job had a revelation of God; until he humbled himself before God; until he brought atonement to his friends and prayed for them, he was still in captivity.

iii. This happed after Job's relationship with his friends was restored (when he prayed for his friends). It would have been a weak restoration if Job's relationship with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar remained as contentious and bitter as it was during their debate.

b. Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house: Job was once an outcast even from his own family (as described in Job 19:13-14). Now these relationships were restored.

i. It is interesting to notice that they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the LORD had brought upon him, and this was even after his losses were restored, his captivity was released. "It is worth dwelling on the fact that, even when everything is set right, Job still feels the hurt of his losses, and needs human comfort for them." (Andersen)

i. They also gave him generous gifts (a piece of silver and each a ring of gold); probably more to honor his greatness than to make it. "Partly to make up his former losses, and partly as a testimony of their honourable respect to him." (Poole)

3. (Job 42:12-17) The happy end to the story of Job.

Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days.

a. Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning: In the beginning of the story of Job we find a blessed and godly man; at the end of the Book of Job we find a man more blessed and more godly. In the end, all the attack of Satan served to make Job a more blessed and more godly man.

i. "Our sorrows shall have an end when God has gotten his end in them. The ends in the case of Job were these, that Satan might be defeated, foiled with his own weapons, blasted in his hopes when he had everything his own way." (Spurgeon)

ii. Job had doubled his possessions under the blessing of God, and doubled his children also. "Job had the number of his children doubled; for they are ours still whom we have sent to heaven before us." (Trapp)

iii. We can also see, as Mason suggests, this chapter as an example of the work of revival.

- God's people are convicted of their sin (I abhor myself)
- God's people are broken and repentant (repent in dust and ashes)
- God speaks to hard hearts and they listen (the LORD said to Eliphaz)
- God's people pray for others and God answers (Job shall pray for you)
- God's people obey God (Eliphaz … Bildad … and Zophar … went and did as the Lord commanded them)
- God's people are united and jubilant (all his brothers, all his sisters … came to him and ate food with him in his house)
- God's people are blessed (the LORD blessed)

b. He also had seven sons and three daughters: Nothing could replace the children Job so tragically lost in Job 1; yet these ten children were of true consolation. It also is some evidence that Job's relationship with his wife was restored to goodness as before.

i. The daughters of Job were also uniquely blessed, noted as being beautiful, and having an inheritance among their brothers. There was, no doubt, some connection between Job's godly conduct as a family man (Job 31:1-4; 31:9-12) and this blessing on his daughters.

ii. The names of the daughters of Job are of some interest.

- Jemimah: "Turtledove" or "Day-bright."
- Keziah: "Cinnamon" or "Cassia," a fragrant scent.
- Keren-Happuch: "A Jar of Eye Paint" or "Horn of Beauty"; the idea was that she was so beautiful that she needed no cosmetics.

c. Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. . . . Job died, old and full of days: Job's life ended long and blessed. He was well rewarded as a warrior who won a great battle for God's glory.

i. According to Adam Clarke, the idea behind full of days is that Job died when he was "satisfied with this life." "Job is now as willing to die as ever he was to dine; he is satisfied with days, saith the text, not as meat loathed, but as a dish, though well liked, that he had fed his full of." (Trapp)

ii. "The greatest, the most important purposes were accomplished by this trial. Job became a much better man than he ever was before; the dispensations of God's providence were illustrated and justified; Satan's devices unmasked; patience crowned and rewarded; and the church of God greatly enriched by having bequeathed to it the vast treasury of divine truth which is found in the BOOK OF JOB." (Clarke)

iii. "In this great Book there is no solution of problems. There is a great revelation. It is that God may call men into fellowship with Himself through suffering; and that the strength of the human soul is ever that of the knowledge of God." (Morgan)

iv. "We are not all like Job, but we all have Job's God. Though we have neither risen to Job's wealth, nor will, probably, ever sink to Job's poverty, yet there is the same God above us if we be high, and the same God with his everlasting arms beneath us if we be brought low; and what the Lord did for Job he will do for us, not precisely in the same form, but in the same spirit, and with like design." (Spurgeon)

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

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