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Proven Faith in The Book of Job

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The book of Job in the Holy Bible is the story of a righteous man, living in the land of Uz, whose faith is tested by God and Satan. The author of the text is unknown, though due to the changing voice within the narrative it is most likely that the book has had multiple authors over a period of time. The exact period, however, is also unknown, and the ambiguity of the historical context and original writer is paralleled with the nature of its conclusion. Job’s severe punishment by the hand of God is exclusively had in order to take Satan up on a bet; the Devil questions whether Job will uphold his faith when God disposes of his servants, his livestock, and his ten children in the space of a day, that said, God believes that Job is one of his most faithful servants, and insists that his faith will not waver in the face of adversity. After the fact, Job, a man who never puts a foot out of line, immediately questions why so many ills could have occurred to someone as good as he is. In response, Job mourns and gathers his friends – Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu. With them Job discusses his fate. God and Satan look on, with God hoping that Job keeps his faith, and Satan wishing for Job to curse God himself, Satan says, “Stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face”[1]. Job comes close to losing faith after being questioned and accused by his friends, but he keeps it throughout the entire narrative, proving God correct on his bet with Satan. Although Job continually challenges God by asking him to give him his day in court, at no point did Job curse God to his face, as was predicted by Satan, thus, God must be right in his thinking that Job was too devout in his faith to curse him.

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To understand Job’s requests that he go to court against God, it is critical to first understand the judicial culture of the day. At the gates of city, elders would gather and form a court; the court would judge cases brought to them by the people. Job states, “But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.”[2] In saying this, Job contests God’s judgment, not God’s power, and desires to see him in court. Additionally, Job remains in awe of God, for instance, Job stresses that he would approach God as if he were royalty.[3] Job retains respect and faith in God, as evidenced by Job’s language, regardless of his other requests of God. Nonetheless, Job exhibits that he thinks himself to be perfect, and more powerful than he really, as pointed out by Elihu.[4] As this is incorrect in the eyes of God, Elihu is not forced to give tribute to God later on. In response to Job’s claims to be completely righteous, God says to Job, “‘Shall a faultfinder contend with the almighty?’ Anyone who argues with God must respond.”[5] God allows Job his opportunity to take him to court, but never actually argues a case, as he knows he cannot defeat God. Evidently, Job never curses God, but only attempts to test his power by taking him to court.

Job questions God throughout the book, but his belief holds steady; he only questions him, but always believes in God, a crucial distinction. Job states, “O that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me; when his lamp shone over my head, and by his light I walked through darkness; when I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent; when the Almighty was still with me.”[6] Job claims that at a certain point he was loved by God, but it does not seem so anymore. Significantly, Job never actually questions that God exists, nor dos he blame him, he only remarks that God was previously a “friend.” Though this statement is later refuted by God, Job’s piety lasts, even when he thinks God’s love for him does not exist.

The lack of confidence displayed by Job in God is all but pushed by his wife and his friends. Soon after the news regarding his lost possessions and family, Job’s wife says he should curse God.[7] Job maintains his faith, and after his period of mourning engages in conversation with his friends who were visiting to mourn with him . The conversation primarily consists of his friends telling Job he must have committed a great sin, and their diction becomes increasingly blunt. For example, Bildad first says, “See, God will not reject a blameless person, not take the hand of evildoers”[8] easing Job into the idea that he may have done something that was not righteous in the eyes of God. Job defends himself repeatedly, “How you have helped one who has no power! How you have assisted the arm that has no strength!”[9] Eventually the conversation becomes an exchange of shots between Job and his friends, Eliphaz says, “You have given no water to the weary to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry.” [10] Job’s friend’s lack of faith in Job pushes him to a new low; Job thinks that both God and his friends have all lost love for him and faith in him. Notwithstanding, Job remains faithful to God and to his friends, further ascertaining Satan incorrect.

Despite the doubts that Job’s friends try to convince him of [11], he remains confident in himself, “I hold fast my righteousness, and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.”[12] His reassurance in himself allows him to be strong enough not to curse God, in fact, he does quite the opposite. His decision to revere in the power of God instead of deny it further attests to the fact that God was correct in his bet with Satan, “Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?”[13] At this point in the narrative, Job questions why he would not be allowed a trial, but nevertheless continues to exclaim the power of the Almighty.

Job’s persistent confidence in the Lord leads to God appearing in a whirlwind before Job and his friends. God affirms that Job is and always has been righteous, insuring that Satan must have been wrong, for if Satan were correct God would not reward him. God doubles the fortunes of Job as a result of his good faith, a further representation of God’s satisfaction with Job for being a good man.[14] By God recompensing Job, it must be assumed that even by God’s standards Job continued to stay faithful, and never cursed God, “my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has done.”[15] God reaffirms that Job did what was right, and if God rewards job, it must be assumed that Satan was incorrect.

Job begins to question his faith in God after he receives news of the loss of his wealth and family, is ridiculed by his friends, and provoked by his wife, though he never stoops so low as to curse God himself. Job challenging God among those circumstances can be understood, and his moral fiber is maintained throughout the book. Through all of Job’s mourning and questioning, he does not once curse God, and stays true to God. For Job, though bad things happen to him, his reward is far greater, verifying that Satan must have been wrong about Job, and that God will recognize his faithful servants.

[1] Job 1:11

[2] Job 13:3

[3] Job 31:37

[4] Job 36:17-23

[5] Job 40:2

[6] Job 29:2-5

[7] Job 2:9

[8] Job 8:20

[9] Job 26:2

[10] Job 22:7

[11] Job 37:21-22

[12] Job 27:6

[13] Job 23:6

[14] Job 42:10

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[15] Job 42:8

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