Study Guide

Book of Job Loyalty to God

Loyalty to God

Then Satan answered the Lord, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.' (NRSV 1:10)

Then Satan answered the Lord and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. (KJV 1:9-10)

Well of course Job is a stand-up guy. He has everything he could ever want. Satan's pretty sure that Job's loyalty is dependent on God' favors. Take that fence and house—and hey, his entire family, while you're at it—and maybe he wouldn't be so loyal.

This is already starting to look like the cynical Satan we know in modern culture, assuming that humans respond only to material motivations.

But he said to her, 'You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?' In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (NRSV 2:10)

But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (KJV 2:10)

First, let's just get this one out of the way: Job called his wife a foolish woman. We all heard it. We urge you to think about what this means for Job's personal life, but here we're focused on the whole loyalty-to-God issue, so let's get down to it.

Why didn't the author just say "In all this Job did not sin"? Why the added "with his lips"? Well, thoughtful readers, it probably implies that Job was sinning—just not out loud. There's a big difference between thinking something and saying it, right? Either way, we're pretty sure this is where doubt first starts to sneak into Job's mind.

'How happy is the one whom God reproves;
therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.' (NRSV 5:17)

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: (KJV 5:17)

Tough love is the name of the game. If God disciplines you, at least it means he's there, right? Don't forget: your average Israelite would have expected evidence for God. These writers answered that call by saying, "You want evidence? Well, here he is, punishing the best of the best."

'For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals shall be at peace with you.' (NRSV 5:23)

For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. (KJV 5:23)

This verse forms part of a long list of why we should be thankful for God. Bottom line: he'll protect us when things get messy. In this case, divine loyalty is linked with safety in the natural world. It makes sense, too. If you were a shepherd—which was likely back then—safety from wild animals would huge.

'See, God will not reject a blameless person,
nor take the hand of evildoers.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter,
and your lips with shouts of joy.
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
and the tent of the wicked will be no more.' (NRSV 8:20-23)

Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers:
Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing.
They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought. (KJV 8:20-23)

Seems like the whole stinkin' world is divided into Lakers fans and Celtics fan—and you know whose side God is on, right? But seriously, the text is promising a lot here. Seems like if you're on the right team, you get free stuff. We're talking SWAG galore. Sounds great, but what effect would this have had on Job? He had probably heard this speech at some point in his life before he lost everything….

'If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
and do not let wickedness reside in your tents.
Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish;
you will be secure, and will not fear.
You will forget your misery;
you will remember it as waters that have passed away.' (NRSV 11:14-16)

If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.
For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear:
Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away. (KJV 11:14-16)

Zophar is giving Job a major dose of "this too shall pass." It's a little less gentle, though. More like this: "Dude, you must have messed up. People who renounce their sins do fine, so why don't you just say you sinned? You must have. Just do it."

Here's the best part: when you renounce your evil ways, you get to live in peace with nature—and its metaphors.

'If I have rejoiced at the ruin of those who hated me,
or exulted when evil overtook them—
I have not let my mouth sin
by asking for their lives with a curse. (NRSV 31:29-30)

If I rejoice at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him:
Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul. (KJV 31:29-30)

Remember the whole "Job did not sin with his lips" thing (2:10)? Here it comes again. Job is trying to clear his name with his friends, but these guys might thing that by asking questions, he's done the deed. Curious about this? Head on over to our discussion of faith perspectives for more.