5 June 2015

Job 42:1-6

"I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." (v. 3)

Psalm: Psalm 149



Here is the end of the story of Job. The story sp far... God allowed Satan to take away Job's riches and children and afflict him with terrible sores. Job continued to be faithful to God through his trials, protesting to his unhelpful friends that he had done nothing to deserve what had befallen him. Finally, when Job complained to God, God reminded him in no uncertain terms that God's ways were not up for debate.

In today's passage Job says he is sorry for his foolish words to God; that he was speaking about things "too wonderful" for him. Before, he had only heard of God, but now he is driven to repentance by encountering God for the first time. God speaks to those who considered themselves friends of Job and makes them realise their wrongdoing. Finally, God restores all of Job's wealth twice over and Job lives a life under God's blessing, before dying an old man "full of days", as the end of the chapter records.

What are we to make of this ending to the story? Perhaps you find yourself disappointed with this uneventful conclusion. After the high drama of the chapters of the story preceding this one, the end is peaceful. There is no dramatic revelation about the mystery of evil and certainly no sense that God has anything to be apologetic about in the dealings with Satan that started the story.

Either it's a bad story, or the meaning of the story is not to be found in these themes. This ending seems to suggest that the story is not trying to provide an answer to the question of why good people suffer. Instead, it seems more interested in Job as a person of faith, coming to a new understanding of what belief in God really means.

To Ponder

  • How do you respond to the quiet conclusion to this dramatic tale?
  • What insights about God, faith or suffering do you take from Job's story?

Bible notes author

David Clough

David Clough is Professor of Theological Ethics in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester. He is a Methodist local preacher, a member of the Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment and the Faith and Order Network and drafted recent reports on peacemaking and climate change on behalf of the Methodist Church.