“Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten us, and he will bind us up” (Hos. 6:1). “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11). Can it be that the Lord loves us when we fall into sin or chastens us? When we feel suffocated by our trials, we may be tempted to cry, “Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses?” (Ps. 89:49), but he remains full of compassion. Whatever we experience, we must trust his love. Nothing alters his intent to do us good in our latter end (Deut. 8:16). The Lord has brought Job to feel his weakness, humbled his pride, and made him meek. Now, the Lord consoles him as a father comforts his injured or scared child. All is well, Job. You are my servant, and I love you. I have brought you through a hard time, and now I will bless you. But I never want you to forget my glory. My purposes remain too high for you to understand, my power too great, my wisdom too deep. Trust me. Do not try to debate with me or prove to me that you do not deserve these troubles. You do not understand all that has happened to you, but I do. God never mentions Satan’s schemes against Job, for it is not nearly as important for us to know the “middle man” and secondary causes of our suffering as it to yield to God’s will, power over us, and loving purposes. When he touches us with affliction, we must never forget his great love. We must often return to the “end of the Lord” in Job’s afflictions. God threw his faith into the fire, but he never for a moment left off loving or protecting Job. Always his intent was to give Job fuller tastes of his goodness, but with a difference. Never again would Job enjoy God’s blessings without remembering their source: the undeserved mercy and love of God.
Job’s Captivity Turned (v. 10)
If we are God’s children, to feel estranged from him is unbearable. It is worse than death (Ps. 13:3). The Lord now says, “It is enough.” He has accomplished his purposes in Job’s testing. Satan’s original accusation, “Does Job serve God for nothing?” has been refuted. When he lost everything, Job continued to cry to the Lord. Job has been humbled and his faith purified. God has shown to Job and to the whole world that true faith survives the worst afflictions, not because we are strong but because God is faithful. Notice, however, that only God can turn our captivity. Trials end only when his purposes for sending them have been accomplished. They may last all our lives. They will certainly last until we humble ourselves before the Lord. His captivity takes many forms: personal afflictions, domestic troubles, national judgements. He has many arrows in his quiver, and he always uses those that will most sharply sift us where we need it. Thus, we must fall into his hand and truly yield ourselves to him. Only then do we learn the discipline of the cross and sincerely confess, “Father, not my will but thine be done.” Job’s captivity did not end until he worshipped God in the dust of his misery. The blessings that followed were not so much the turning of Job’s captivity as was the resting of his soul in meekness before God.
We must take seriously that the Lord will teach us obedience to his will. Our Savior learned obedience by the things that he suffered, and it will be no different for us. The Lord has other purposes for sending trials, such as revealing “the greatness of his power in us who believe” (Eph. 1:19). Yet, we must always think of our obedience to the Lord. Where have I grown careless, lazy, or ungrateful? Am I trusting the Lord or myself? Surely the Lord is doing many great works in the world, and many think that it is a waste of time to get bogged down in his dealings with the individual soul. Are there not enemies that must be faced? Is not God’s glory in the world and the discipleship of the nations more important? He is vigilant over all that concerns his kingdom, and the souls of those for whom his Son shed his precious blood are important. He is our Father, and he will deal with us as he did with Job. Seasons of “captivity” we shall experience: to sin, hurt, weariness, sickness, and even death. He will turn our captivity when it pleases him. Our groaning and complaining and bitterness will not alter his purposes. We must yield. Our lives are not in our own hand. The times and seasons are the Lord’s. As soon as trouble comes or we feel his chastening, let us turn immediately to him. The only safe and wise response to God’s afflictions is to confess our sinfulness, admit our need of his fatherly discipline, and wait upon him to make an end. We are his, and he will do what is beset for us. In time, he will turn our captivity, either by making an end of the trial, or giving us grace to endure it patiently, or bringing us to heaven. The real captivity is not only the trial itself but also our sinful attitudes and responses to his working. When we are humbled before him, we may still be lying in the dust, as Job was, but we are turned. Our soul is restored to peace by reposing in the love and wisdom of our Father.
When Job Prayed for his Friends (v. 10)
Job’s friends had done him great wrong, but Job’s restoration is tied to his praying for them. We cannot be reconciled to him and remain estranged from his people, at least as far as peace depends upon us (Rom. 12:18). Harboring grudges and hurts will prevent our fellowship with the Lord. To be restored to him requires that we walk humbly with him and with men. This is also true of our enemies, for we are to love them and do them good. Job was appointed to intercede for his friends, and however justly he may have been hurt with them, he obeyed God. Since he could not do this with integrity unless he forgave them and embraced them as his friends and brothers, we are taught that we must pray for those who injure us, not with a smug sense of superiority but with sincere love and intent to do them good. Yet, it is often the case that we leave the wreckage of broken relationships behind us, even in the church, content to move on in our walk with the Lord without giving much thought to what God thinks about our cold hearts. If we are humbled before God, however, we shall be humble before men. The best way to love those who have injured us is to pray for them and to seek their good. This does not preclude confrontation of their sins, but even if this fails to achieve mutual understanding, repentance, humility, and peace, we must nonetheless pray for them and seek to treat those for whom Christ died with tenderness, always willing to be reconciled.
Given the wickedness of Job’s friends and God’s displeasure with them, his directive may seem strange. Why would he tie Job’s restoration to his intercession for his friends? First, Job was taught by this not to blame his grief upon them. However much they agitated him, God was behind the test. It will help us to bear with the provocations of others if we remember, as David did when cursed by Shimei, that God is behind their injuries. What men intend for evil, God intends for good, either to rebuke us for our sins, humble our pride, or to teach us to treat our enemies with gentleness, as he does. Second, only toward the merciful does he show mercy. This is not because our mercy merits God’s mercy. But we have been forgiven a great debt against God’s justice, and we should therefore forgive the comparatively trifling offenses of men toward us. Since the Lord had graciously forgiven Job, he must now forgive his friends and pray for them. Third, we must not forget that Job was in some sense a priest and a wise ruler among his people. By telling him to intercede for his friends, the Lord is restoring Job to his former position and doing so in a public way. His three friends, family, and people are also taught that Job’s worthiness does not lie in his wealth but in God’s gracious acceptance of him. There is our priest and leader, in the dust of affliction, but still God directs us to seek his blessing and wisdom through Job. What a remarkable picture of our Lord Jesus Christ! Though he was despise and humbled in the dust of our curse and death, we must look to him and boast only in his cross, for he is God’s servant. No other sacrifice or intercession will avail for us before God but the One whom he has chosen to be the covenant of the people, the mediator of the covenant, our life and salvation.
Double for His Trouble (v. 10)
The Lord was not bound to restore Job’s outward fortunes (1:21). Yet, the Lord is generous to his servants. None ever served him for nothing. Our Savior said the same (Mark 10:30). Now, if the Lord sees fit for our house to burn down, this does not mean we should expect for him to give us two replacement homes. We can see more clearly than the ancient believers that our blessedness does not lie in this life but in the one to come. Under earthly blessings, the Lord typified the riches of heaven, so that they were taught to aspire for it. We see this very thing in Job. He lost everything, but the loss that troubled him most was not children and livestock but God’s friendly fellowship. Nothing was more horrible to him than his sense that the God he loved had become his enemy. So, we should not turn this “double” into a promise on God’s part to make our lives here a paradise. We already possess all things in heaven and in earth through Jesus Christ, and we must be content with food and clothing (1 Tim. 6:8). When we see the wicked blessed with abundance, we should grieve for them that the Lord has given them their good things in this life, for we know that he will give them misery in the life to come (Ps. 73:18; Luke 16:25; James 5:3).
At the same time, when God gives his servants earthly abundance, we must rejoice in his goodness to us and never allow his generosity to lull us to sleep or to make us forgetful that the true riches are waiting for us in his eternal kingdom. Then, if we have much, we shall not abuse it (1 Cor. 7:31), or think it is a birthright, or grow peevish toward God if we have less than others. The lesson we are taught here more than any other, however, is that God rewards his servants. Some are squeamish about this, thinking that if we have an eye toward a reward, then we are not sincerely serving God. Our Father thinks otherwise. He promises us blessings that we cannot now fathom. He does this to encourage us to bear the cross patiently and to set our affections on Christ and his eternal kingdom. We love and hold on to this life too much, and our Father weans us from the love of the world through suffering, so that we may set our hope upon him alone. Yet, we should not think of heaven as palaces stuffed with gold. The Lord speaks in terms of earthly magnificence because we are often unable to appreciate the true riches of fellowship with him without sin or any cloud of trouble upon the horizon that would lead us away from seeking our happiness in God himself. We should often think of heaven’s blessedness and our Father’s reward. When we stand before him, we shall never think that we have suffered too much or attempted too much for his honor. When we see the King in his beauty, no cross will have seemed too heavy. We shall see how light our burdens were on earth, how patient the Lord was with us. If anything, we shall want to have done more to please him. Rewards will lead us to think only of his generosity in giving such unprofitable servants anything at all. Then, when he crowns us with glory and honor, wipes away our tears, and admits us to everlasting happiness, we shall know that it was all by his grace and mercy. We shall know that we are in heaven by the sufferings and intercession of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Knowing this, we shall love him with pure hearts and feel that this is heaven: to know God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent to redeem us from all our sins.
Family Visit and God’s Generosity (vv. 11-12)
Where Job’s family and circle of friends were during his afflictions is unknown. It is likely that they stayed away out of grief or embarrassment – or fear. We often find that our family is unable to cope with our afflictions. If Job’s wife is any indication, then his afflictions were so grievous that no human words or sympathy could possibly uphold him, and she bitterly advised Job to “curse God and die.” If this was his wife’s best counsel, how would his extended family have responded to him? Hearing of his recovery, they now return to his side. Job would not have held this against them. If he could not understand what God was doing and despaired of life, he knew that their wailing and halting attempts to comfort him would have been a further aggravation. Let us always remember that “the heart knoweth its own bitterness” (Prov. 14:10). Still, if all we can do is weep with the bereaved, this is often sufficient. Would not our Savior have received some slight comfort had his disciples remained awake with him in his garden vigil rather than falling asleep? Sadly, comfort often goes to sleep in our hearts when afflictions strike. When those who need us the most and are tied to us by bonds of blood or covenant are laid low by God’s hand, we do not know what to say and either give miserable comfort or simply stay away. Job’s family chose the latter.
With his brothers and sisters near him, they sit down and eat with Job. They now weep with him and comfort him concerning all his losses. Odd that they hold a wake now that he is recovered, but we must remember that the loss of his children and health were heavy burdens to bear. The pain was still very fresh. How should we take their mourning over “all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him?” It could be simply a general statement of his calamities, for however much the Lord now accepted and had exalted Job, he had also laid him very low. None can come away from such an encounter without feeling its effects. But did the Lord do evil? He certainly brought calamity upon Job, and this word evil is sufficiently broad to cover all kinds of injuries, adversities, and distresses. But he did Job no evil, no injustice. Even so, his family recognizes that the Lord had done this to Job. They were wiser than many today, who ascribe all evil to Satan and prat on and on that God only does good. Scripture sings a different tune. “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (Isa. 45:7). It is not that the Lord does evil, or that the calamities that he brings are evil in themselves, either in their motives or tendency, but to us, they seem to be evil. Yet, because Job humbled himself before the Lord and was brought to recognize the Lord’s right to do with him according to his wise and holy will, they turned out for his good. Confirmed is the promise: “There shall no evil happen to the righteous” (Prov. 12:21). Men may mean their deeds to harm and injure us; Satan is certainly filled with malice against our Savior and his church. Yet, what man means for evil, God means for good to those that love him (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28).
His family also provides him with some financial assistance: a piece of money and an earring, which could also be turned into ready cash. We are not to think that God waved some kind of magic wand and instantly recovered Job. New children and cattle require time. In the short term, Job needed some family help, and they were willing to give it. These gifts were likely made at the beginning of Job’s recovery. As time passed, the Lord recovered all that Job had before, and more. In fact, he was more blessed after his affliction than he had previously been: multitudes of sheep, camels, oxen, and asses. The numbers given in verse 12 are exactly double his original wealth (1:3). By these gifts the Lord confirmed Job’s repentance and showed himself to be the source of Job’s wealth. Job would never forget it; from nothing to double. As the years passed, his family and friends would not forget that that “the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.” Each time they saw Job’s mounting wealth, they were to think, “This is the man whom we saw lying in the dust, covered with ashes, weeping for his dead children, and suffering.” We are taught by this that what we have is not tied to market forces or our own ingenuity. God made a dead man rich. Should we not trust him to provide for us? The Lord possesses all the wealth of heaven and earth. He distributes it according to his will, and he does not need our worrying or strength. He calls us to be faithful, but we must bear in constant mind that he is the giver of every good and perfect gift. We draw our daily bread from his pantry, not from our resources.
It is obvious that we should not expect for the Lord’s recovery of us to repentance and humility to be accompanied by vast amounts of wealth. Even if we are directly attacked by the devil, our children are killed, our possessions stolen, and our health ruined, still we should not expect the Lord to reward us as he did Job. We certainly have his promise to take care of us, but what of the apostles and martyrs, many of whom have suffered troubles commensurate to Job’s? What of the persecuted church, which takes “joyfully the spoiling of its goods” (Heb. 10:34)? Is it the hope of earthly wealth that should inspire us to suffer for righteousness’ sake? No; we have “in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Heb. 10:34). This was not as clearly known then as it is now, for Jesus Christ has come and opened heaven to us. We have the Scriptures and the confidence that our Savior is preparing a place for us. In Job’s age, as we have seen, the Lord dealt with his people in a period of infancy, and he often led them to the higher blessings of heaven and life with him through the lower, earthly blessings. Did this dull Abraham’s faith? Daniel’s? Did it dull Job’s? Do we find him pining away for God to make him rich again? No; he wanted God. We are able to thank God with much or little of this world’s good only if, like them, our hearts are settled upon God’s promise. They wanted God; he was pleased to give them much besides, but this encouraged them to endure more and to believe more fervently in the coming Savior.
Job’s Beautiful Daughters (vv. 13-15)
Job’s daughters are singled out by name, for they were evidently marked out for their beauty and piety. He also had seven sons, whose names are not given. His children were not doubled in the same way as his worldly goods. Perhaps they were in one sense, for assuming his slain children to have been believers, they were alive with God in heaven. Some have reasoned in this fashion, but as we cannot say with certainty, it is best to leave the matter with the Lord. His first daughter’s name was Jemima, which means “day by day,” which testifies to the way Job lived ever after: trusting the Lord and rejoicing in his mercy, bruised but exalted. The second daughter, Kezia, was named after the spice cassia, likely implying that God had restored to him the aroma and taste for life. The third, Kerenhappuch, means “a horn of paint,” and may refer to her dark eyes, which were much valued in that age. They were the most beautiful women in the land. Job gave them an inheritance “among their brothers,” which cultural anomaly anticipates the allowance made for this in the Mosaic legislation (Num. 36:1-10). It is likely that they were also godly, for Job would not have rewarded vanity. Job’s gifts to his daughters are striking evidence of his enlightened views respecting women. He had none of that demeaning, dismissive attitude toward his daughters that one often finds today, even in professedly Christian homes. Fathers should give careful thought to the future wellbeing of our daughters, making sure that they are adequately trained to run households, provided for in the event that their husbands die or they are never married, and not treat them as ornamental. If we do, caddish men will do the same, and they will never be that picture of the church’s devotion to Jesus Christ that he intends them to be. Who the mother of these ten children was is not mentioned. If it was his first wife, she is unworthy to be mentioned. Anyone who encourages us to curse God is worthy to be forgotten. For my part, I think she was their mother, although Job might have had several wives. The silence might mark her with a permanent reproach and be a reminder to wives that they must reverence their husbands, especially when they are brought low, not be a thorn in their side or nagging them like a “continual dropping on a very rainy day” (Prov. 27:15).
A Long and Blessed Life (vv. 16-17)
The traditional view is that Job was around 70 years of age when his afflictions began, which would mean that he lived to be about 210 years old. This is well within the longevity range of the patriarchal age, likely within the general time frame of Abraham. He saw four generations of children after his afflictions. He spent those years blessing God for his goodness. It is certain that such afflictions left a permanent mark upon Job, yet it was not a bitter one. Humility restores our soul. We see life differently after passing through a season of affliction. Things that were once important are less so. We value walking with God more than anything else. We learn the fleeting nature of riches, health, and human relationships. Not that we grow cynical, far from it, but we do become meeker under God’s hand, knowing that our lives are in his hand, and ready to follow him wherever he leads. We learn to value every small blessing as an expression of his love for us. Thus, the “end of the Lord” in Job’s case was very pleasant and satisfying. The storms were over. He lived a long and full life, giving abundant testimony to what the Lord had brought upon him and his goodness in restoring him. He died in this faith, with his great-great grandchildren around him, a testimony to godliness and biblical religion in a fast-declining age, when God was preparing to do a far greater work in the family of Abraham, the promise of his coming Son, the salvation of the world, and the destruction of the accuser of the brethren.
One final word about Job – trust God. Troubles come to us that shake the very root of faith. The godliest believer will feel these fires, for God will refine our faith and show his strength in our weakness. When it is our time to suffer, let us remember Job. He suffered loss, cried, and for a time seemed to have lost hope and even reason. Yet, God’s testimony about him is that he is an example of patience to us. The Lord is working in our trials in ways of which we are unaware. He still brings his people low so that when he raises them up, everyone will know that he did it. When he brings us low, let us not doubt his love but trust that he is working all things together for our good. This is not so that our life will have a fairy tale ending but so that we shall ever after live for his praise and bear witness to his sustaining power. When we are humbled in the dust, our Lord is with us. He will never leave or forsake us. He will raise us up in due time, for our Savior is now exalted, extolled, and very high. We are raised and seated with him, and he will crown us with glory and honor after we have suffered a little (1 Pet. 5:10). Until then, let us trust him to perfect that which concerns us. This is what settles our hearts in times of trouble.
Profiting from the Word and Searching Our Hearts
1. Why must we think often upon the “end of the Lord” in Job’s afflictions? (see James 5:11)
2. What is the Lord’s main purpose in bringing us into seasons of “captivity?”
3. What does God teach all his children?
4. When will God turn our captivity?
5. Why did God tie Job’s restoration to his praying for his friends?
6. How should we love those who injure us?
7. Why can we not turn God’s “double” (v. 10) into a formula?
8. Why does the Lord promise to reward us for faithfulness?
9. Where should his promise lead us?
10. Why are friends and family often unable to cope with our afflictions?
11. What warning do we receive from Proverbs 14:10 about our expectations of comfort from others?
12. Where do you need to be a greater comfort to the grieving, suffering, and struggling?
13. What do we learn from Job about the treatment of our daughters and wives?
14. How are we to be changed by God’s afflictions?