2 On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
This is a nearly identical replay of the scene in 1:6-12, except that this test would be focused directly on Job. Satan’s phrase “skin for skin” falsely accused Job of sacrificing his children, his animals, and his servants in order to preserve his own life.
These verses are similar to Job 1:7-8. But God also accused Satan at the end of verse 3. God said that Satan had no reason to oppose Job.
Satan contended that what he had done to Job so far was just touching the skin, scratching the surface. Job endured the loss of all that he had, even the lives of his children, but would not endure the loss of his own well-being. If God allowed Satan to make the disaster a personal matter of his own physical body, the Adversary contended, job’s faith would fail.
Life threatening illness does cause some to turn from God but others it draws closer to God. I remember a friend who came back to God having been diagnosed with cancer and died in peace even though the illness ravaged his body and he endured many months of discomfort and pain with broken bones that would not heal due to the illness.
The “boils” could have been the same affliction that plagued the Egyptians in Exodus chapter 9. Job’s disease was not merely painful but life-threatening (2 Kings 20:7, Isaiah 38:21). Scraping himself with broken pottery was for momentary relief and sitting among the “ashes” was a way of publicly demonstrating his intense state of grief (Jonah 3:6; Esther 4:3).
Although the nature of Job’s affliction cannot be diagnosed exactly, it produced extreme physical trauma (2:13; 3:24; 7:5, 14; 13:28; 16:8; 19:17; 30:17, 30; 33:21). Job’s conversations throughout the book are not simply a dialogue with God but actually a dialogue under extreme physical distress without medicine or pain relief.
I have prayed at times under extreme emotional distress but not with the intensity of physical trauma that would have been endured by Job. I know that on the few occasions in my life when I have been in extreme physical pain I have not been able to focus on anything but the pain. Severe toothache, headache, a fractured rib, broken leg, a stinging wound.
Through all of Satan’s carnage, God is confident that Job will respond favourably but it will be a soul searching journey that many of us will have to go through in life. Few of us will have to endure such severe circumstances but suffering is synonymous with drawing close to God. Sometimes it is suffering of our own doing as a result of sin and sometimes it is suffering of circumstances that are around us in a broken world. One thing is for certain. God is nearby.
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Different circumstances but Job’s wife hints at a parallel with the occurrence in the garden of Eden. She attempts to persuade her husband to fall into Satan’s hands and doubt the goodness of God. On this occasion Job stands firm and is not swayed by his wife’s emotional response.
Job asserts that she is talking like “foolish” woman.
In this instance foolish does not mean silly or ridiculous, but an act of rejecting God and his will. The word is used to describe the unwise in the Psalms (14:1; 53:1) and in Proverbs (30:22). She is not seen nor heard of again in this book, except indirectly in 42:13-15.
Job’s actions demonstrated his confidence in God. It is easier to trust God’s sovereignty in difficult moments when your conscience is clear. That’s my experience. Negativity, blame and bitterness come from Satan when we engage in his schemes. We stop trusting and start to take matters in our own hands.
11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
So having maintained his integrity in the presence of God and also in the presence of his wife, Job was about to encounter three friends. All this in the midst of great suffering and pain. I think I would struggle to want to see anyone at all.
“Eliphaz” seems to have been the eldest and most prominent. He was from Teman, a well-known Edomite city where wise men lived (Genesis 36:4, 11; Jeremiah 49:20; Ezekiel 25:13; Amos 1:12, Obadiah verses 8 and 9).
“Bildad the Shuhite” lived in the same general area inhabited by the descendants of Shuah, one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah (Genesis 25:1-2, 6).
“Zophar” also lived nearby in the area of Naamath. This is an unknown location probably in Edom or Arabia, although some have suggested Naamah on the Edomite border (Joshua 15:41).
Little is known about any of these men. This is a very touching scene, as Job’s friends came to comfort and commiserate with him in his pain, They expressed all the traditional gestures of grief. The intensity of their mourning, from the moment they saw Job and during “seven days” of silence, was appropriate for the devastation he had experience (Genesis 50:10; Romans 12:15)
“Eliphaz” means struggle against. “Bildad” means son of contention. “Zophar” means chatterer.
Job’s illness was very severe. So severe that his friends did not immediately recognise him.
This was extreme suffering and grief. Job just wanted to remain silent. His friends respected this. So they were silent until Job spoke.
The literal seven days is questioned by some scholars but there is no reason to really question this.