1 - 6 Job Retracts and Repents
1 Then Job answered the LORD and said,
2 “I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
4 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
6 Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”
When the LORD has finished speaking, Job answers Him again (verse 1). His answer testifies of a profound work of God’s Spirit in him. He has understood the message that it is only about what God wants and that He carries out that will, without giving an account of it to man. Job submits to the government of God and comes to the confession which the psalmist will pronounce centuries later: “I know, LORD, that your judgments are just” (Ps 119:75a).
Job has acknowledged in his first answer that he is insignificant (Job 40:4); now in his second answer he acknowledges God’s omnipotence, that He can do whatever He wishes (verse 2). He acknowledges that God not only cares for all creation and controls the world, but also does so in his life. God has a plan for each of His own. He carries out that plan for their benefit. This is apparent from the life of Job. If He deems oppression necessary, He brings it into the life of His own. If His purpose is achieved by oppression, He takes it away.
In verse 3 Job repeats what God said to him in Job 38:2, who he is, that he darkens or hides His counsel. This repetition means that Job confesses his sin. Confessing sin means repeating God’s judgment of that sin and agreeing that His judgment about it is righteous. Job acknowledges that he has confessed more than he understood (cf. Psa 131:1). He has made a judgement about things that are too wonderful for him and that he does not know (cf. Psa 73:21-22).
He recognizes that he has taken an inappropriate attitude toward God by commanding Him to listen to him, for he would tell Him something (verse 4; Job 13:22). He would interrogate God and then God would have to answer him. Job had called God to account and of course he was not allowed to do that.
Job comes to complete surrender to God. After hearing God speak in His first speech, he has come to the understanding that he should not contradict God (Job 40:5). That is all well and good, but it is not enough, because he has contradicted God and he has yet to confess that. He does so in response to God’s second speech. In it he has seen God in His works and how He controls everything (verse 5). That breaks him. He despises himself and repents “in dust and ashes” (verse 6), that is, sitting in literal dust and ashes which at the same time serve as symbols of mourning (Job 2:8; Jer 6:26; 25:34; Jona 3:6). What he says now, he did not say in the days of his prosperity.
7 - 9 The Prayer of Job for His Friends
7 It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. 8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you [according to your] folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite [and] Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job.
When Job is where he should be, the LORD turns in kindled wrath to the friends of Job (verse 7). He turns to Eliphaz, who is most likely the oldest of the friends, and first took up the word against Job. It says remarkably that this happens “after the LORD had spoken these words to Job” and not ‘after Job had retracted and repented in dust and ashes’. Job is where he should be, but God has brought him there by speaking to him and showing Himself to him. Now He also wants to bring His friends to acknowledge their sins.
Towards them God justifies Job, whom He calls, as in the beginning of this book, “My servant” (Job 1:8; 2:3). Job has also been His servant during his suffering. God tells Eliphaz that Job has spoken of Him what is “right” and that he and his two friends have not done so. Surely Job has said things about God that are not right. But God protects Job against his friends. He sees that even during Job’s faulty pronouncements about Him, his heart was focused on Him. This enables Him to pass by the sinful words that Job spoke about Him.
This attitude of Job towards God was lacking among friends. Their hearts were not turned towards God, but towards Job. They proposed to Job a God Who judges evil in strict righteousness and does so by bringing disasters upon people. Without having any proof of sins that Job would have committed, they told him that God was acting in this way because he had sinned. As a result, they have not spoken of God what is right and presented a completely wrong image of Him to Job and the bystanders. They did not do wrong to Job in the first place, but to God. That is why His wrath was kindled against them.
God also wants to be good to the friends and reconcile them with Himself and with Job. His wrath can only be appeased in the way He indicates and that is by bringing burnt offerings to Him and by intercession of Job for them (verse 8). The friends must go to Job with “seven bulls and seven rams”. That is a great sacrifice (Num 23:1; Eze 45:22-23). It must be a great sacrifice because their sin is great and because they are distinguished men with an exemplary role.
In the presence of Job, they must sacrifice these burnt offerings for themselves to God. By doing so they acknowledge that they can only exist before God on the basis of the burnt offering. We know that God sees in it the sacrifice of His Son, Who offered Himself to God as a burnt offering. The Innocent died in the place of the guilty. That is how the friends came to terms with God.
Now they and Job still have to make things right. Job is asked to pray for them. Their asking Job to do so is a confession of their sins to him. When Job prays for them, it means that he accepts their confession and forgives them. God adds that the prayer of Job is the condition for Him not to do with them according to their foolishness. He repeats that they have earned His wrath because they did not speak rightly about Him, “as My servant Job has”. Bringing burnt offerings is therefore not enough if there is also something to be done with another. God does not forgive until it has been made right with all concerned.
The three friends, who are now mentioned separately with their names, humble themselves (verse 9). Someone may be chiefly responsible, such as Eliphaz, whose name is only mentioned (verse 7), but he cannot offer an offering for the guilt others have brought upon themselves. Everyone has to do this personally. The three friends obey God’s command and bow under His judgment. By doing so they prove that they love God more than their own prestige and that is a great joy for God. That they have brought the offerings prescribed by God is not mentioned, but is enclosed in the words that they “did as the LORD told them”.
Nothing else is said about the acceptance of the offering by the LORD. That is not a question. Of course He accepted it. What is said, however, is that the LORD accepted the prayer of Job. That puts a special emphasis on the prayer of Job for his friends. When Job has prayed, everything is all right between the friends and God and between the friends and Job.
The fact that God accepts the prayer of Job also means that Job has been fully restored in his relationship with God, although in his outer circumstances nothing has changed yet. Job can be an intercessor. His sins have been forgiven him, allowing him to pray a powerful prayer as a righteous one (Jam 5:16). He is again fit to do a service for other believers. We also see this service of intercession for example with Abraham (Gen 20:7,17), Moses (Exo 32:30-32; Num 11:2; 21:7) and Samuel (1Sam 12:19,23). Above all, Job here is a type of the Lord Jesus as the intercessor (Rom 8:34).
10 - 17 The Blessed End of Job
10 The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold. 11 Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the LORD had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold. 12 The LORD blessed the latter [days] of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He had seven sons and three daughters. 14 He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15 In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. 16 After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man and full of days.
When Job is free in his heart from the accusations of his friends, and he has prayed for them and thereby proved his forgiveness to them, God is going to bless him (verse 10). God gives him twice as much as he has lost (cf. Isa 40:2; 61:7; Zec 9:12).
Are the friends then proven right that prosperity is the result of piety? Or even worse, is satan proven right in asserting that serving God is very rewarding? The answer to these questions is that none of them are proven right. Job did not expect this and certainly did not strive for it. He does not get his prosperity because of a God-fearing life, but because of an unexpected goodness from God. Satan is certainly not right, because Job did not say goodbye to God when He took away from him everything, which satan had suggested.
God is sovereign to take away blessing, but can give it again with the same sovereignty. James writes of the blessing that Job receives: “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and [is] merciful” (Jam 5:11). The end of the Lord is the blessing He gives Job. God humbles us and puts us to the test in order to “to do good for you at the end” (Deu 8:16). He wants us to say: “It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.” (Psa 119:71).
When the LORD has brought a turn in the destiny of Job, “all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before” come to him (verse 11). There appears to be no resentment with Job; there are no bitter feelings that they abandoned him during his trial (Job 19:14-19), for “they ate bread with him in his house”. When he suffered deeply, they had walked around him with a bow, but now they are coming to see him again. And Job receives them with the same hospitality as before (Job 31:31-32).
As they sit with him at the table, they express their deepest sympathy to him and comfort him “for all the adversities that the LORD had brought on him”. They also know that the adversities that had afflicted him had been brought upon him by the LORD. The piece of money and the ring of gold that each of them brought may simply have been gifts as proofs of compassion. They may also have served as ‘starting capital’ for his new fortune.
Job receives from the LORD more abundance than he had before everything was taken away from him (verse 12; cf. Job 8:6-7). Thus God always works. If He takes something away from us, it is to give us more in return. Grace always gives us much more than we have lost through sin. We have lost paradise because of our sin. Grace gives us back the whole of creation over which we may reign together with the Lord Jesus. That is all because of His sacrifice. We have a part in it because by grace we were allowed to accept His sacrifice.
When we see in Job 1:3 what Job used to own in cattle, we see that he is now blessed by the LORD with the double. He also gets double in children (verse 13). He had seven sons and three daughters (Job 1:2). They did perish, but he did not lose them. He lost his cattle, not his children. They went ahead of him. He gets seven more sons and three more daughters.
Of his children only the names of his three daughters are mentioned which Job has given them (verse 14). That means we can learn something from these names. The first daughter he gives the name “Jemimah”. It is a name with different meanings, such as ‘the [bright] day’, ‘dove’, ‘happy’. It speaks of the bright day after the dark days of trial, the new peace, the new happiness. He gives the second daughter the name “Keziah”. That name is derived from the fragrant spice cassia. A fragrant scent emanates from Job’s life. The third daughter he calls “Keren-happuch”, which means “horn of the beautiful colors”. That horn contained the colors with which the women dressed up. Not only did a good smell of Job go out through his daughters, but everything was pleasant to look at as well.
It is said of the daughters of Job that such fair women as they were, could not be found in all the land (verse 15). We see here that what emerges from the trial surpasses everything else in beauty and loveliness. Job can say that the old is over and everything has become new, and that the new completely overshadows the old. This also applies to us in our new nature.
Job is a good father to his daughters. He not only gives them names, but also “an inheritance among their brothers”. There is no question of women being disadvantaged compared to men. The very fact that only their names are mentioned, and only of them is mentioned that they also get an inheritance among their brothers, shows the high place they have in the thoughts of Job and of God. Peter mentions in his first letter that women are “a fellow heir of the grace of life” with their husbands (1Pet 3:7).
Job lives for 140 years after a turning point in his life (verse 16). If the same is true here as for his possessions, it means that he was 70 when the disasters struck him and that he lived to be 210 years old. He sees his offspring into the fourth generation. That is a great blessing and must have been a great pleasure for him.
Then follows the news of Job’s death (verse 17). He has grown old. He can look back on an eventful life in which he has seen the hand of the LORD both in his suffering and in his prosperity. He has become old and full of days. The fact that he is full of days does not mean that he is tired of life, but that he has enjoyed all that God had given him on earth. He can die in peace and go to the place of complete peace and happiness. But his history does not die …