A Man Devoted to God
1 1-3 Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was also very wealthy—seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants—the most influential man in all the East!
4-5 His sons used to take turns hosting parties in their homes, always inviting their three sisters to join them in their merrymaking. When the parties were over, Job would get up early in the morning and sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children, thinking, “Maybe one of them sinned by defying God inwardly.” Job made a habit of this sacrificial atonement, just in case they’d sinned.
The First Test: Family and Fortune
6-7 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. God singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?”
Satan answered God, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.”
8 God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”
9-10 Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can’t lose!
11 “But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”
12 God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him.” Then Satan left the presence of God.
13-15 Sometime later, while Job’s children were having one of their parties at the home of the oldest son, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing in the field next to us when Sabeans attacked. They stole the animals and killed the field hands. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
16 While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Bolts of lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and fried them—burned them to a crisp. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
17 While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Chaldeans coming from three directions raided the camels and massacred the camel drivers. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
18-19 While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
20 Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped:
21 Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
God’s name be ever blessed.
22 Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.
The Second Test: Health
2 1-3 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan also showed up. God singled out Satan, saying, “And what have you been up to?” Satan answered God, “Oh, going here and there, checking things out.” Then God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him, is there—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil? He still has a firm grip on his integrity! You tried to trick me into destroying him, but it didn’t work.”
4-5 Satan answered, “A human would do anything to save his life. But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away his health? He’d curse you to your face, that’s what.”
6 God said, “All right. Go ahead—you can do what you like with him. But mind you, don’t kill him.”
7-8 Satan left God and struck Job with terrible sores. Job was ulcers and scabs from head to foot. They itched and oozed so badly that he took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself, then went and sat on a trash heap, among the ashes.
9 His wife said, “Still holding on to your precious integrity, are you? Curse God and be done with it!”
10 He told her, “You’re talking like an empty-headed fool. We take the good days from God—why not also the bad days?”
Not once through all this did Job sin. He said nothing against God.
Job’s Three Friends
11-13 Three of Job’s friends heard of all the trouble that had fallen on him. Each traveled from his own country—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuhah, Zophar from Naamath—and went together to Job to keep him company and comfort him. When they first caught sight of him, they couldn’t believe what they saw—they hardly recognized him! They cried out in lament, ripped their robes, and dumped dirt on their heads as a sign of their grief. Then they sat with him on the ground. Seven days and nights they sat there without saying a word. They could see how rotten he felt, how deeply he was suffering.
Job Cries Out
What’s the Point of Life?
3 1-2 Then Job broke the silence. He spoke up and cursed his fate:
3-10 “Obliterate the day I was born.
Blank out the night I was conceived!
Let it be a black hole in space.
May God above forget it ever happened.
Erase it from the books!
May the day of my birth be buried in deep darkness,
shrouded by the fog,
swallowed by the night.
And the night of my conception—the devil take it!
Rip the date off the calendar,
delete it from the almanac.
Oh, turn that night into pure nothingness—
no sounds of pleasure from that night, ever!
May those who are good at cursing curse that day.
Unleash the sea beast, Leviathan, on it.
May its morning stars turn to black cinders,
waiting for a daylight that never comes,
never once seeing the first light of dawn.
And why? Because it released me from my mother’s womb
into a life with so much trouble.
11-19 “Why didn’t I die at birth,
my first breath out of the womb my last?
Why were there arms to rock me,
and breasts for me to drink from?
I could be resting in peace right now,
asleep forever, feeling no pain,
In the company of kings and statesmen
in their royal ruins,
Or with princes resplendent
in their gold and silver tombs.
Why wasn’t I stillborn and buried
with all the babies who never saw light,
Where the wicked no longer trouble anyone
and bone-weary people get a long-deserved rest?
Prisoners sleep undisturbed,
never again to wake up to the bark of the guards.
The small and the great are equals in that place,
and slaves are free from their masters.
20-23 “Why does God bother giving light to the miserable,
why bother keeping bitter people alive,
Those who want in the worst way to die, and can’t,
who can’t imagine anything better than death,
Who count the day of their death and burial
the happiest day of their life?
What’s the point of life when it doesn’t make sense,
when God blocks all the roads to meaning?
24-26 “Instead of bread I get groans for my supper,
then leave the table and vomit my anguish.
The worst of my fears has come true,
what I’ve dreaded most has happened.
My repose is shattered, my peace destroyed.
No rest for me, ever—death has invaded life.”
Eliphaz Speaks Out
Now You’re the One in Trouble
4 1-6 Then Eliphaz from Teman spoke up:
“Would you mind if I said something to you?
Under the circumstances it’s hard to keep quiet.
You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words
that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit.
Your words have put stumbling people on their feet,
put fresh hope in people about to collapse.
But now you’re the one in trouble—you’re hurting!
You’ve been hit hard and you’re reeling from the blow.
But shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now?
Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?
7-11 “Think! Has a truly innocent person ever ended up on the scrap heap?
Do genuinely upright people ever lose out in the end?
It’s my observation that those who plow evil
and sow trouble reap evil and trouble.
One breath from God and they fall apart,
one blast of his anger and there’s nothing left of them.
The mighty lion, king of the beasts, roars mightily,
but when he’s toothless he’s useless—
No teeth, no prey—and the cubs
wander off to fend for themselves.
12-16 “A word came to me in secret—
a mere whisper of a word, but I heard it clearly.
It came in a scary dream one night,
after I had fallen into a deep, deep sleep.
Dread stared me in the face, and Terror.
I was scared to death—I shook from head to foot.
A spirit glided right in front of me—
the hair on my head stood on end.
I couldn’t tell what it was that appeared there—
a blur . . . and then I heard a muffled voice:
17-21 “‘How can mere mortals be more righteous than God?
How can humans be purer than their Creator?
Why, God doesn’t even trust his own servants,
doesn’t even cheer his angels,
So how much less these bodies composed of mud,
fragile as moths?
These bodies of ours are here today and gone tomorrow,
and no one even notices—gone without a trace.
When the tent stakes are ripped up, the tent collapses—
we die and are never the wiser for having lived.’”