Job Background and Introduction
Job is considered to be classic Hebrew poetic scripture, and offers many eternal gospel truths. However, the legitimacy of the book of Job is questioned by some because it isn’t known for certain when and where its events occurred, or even if it is an authentic account of a real person, or simply a fictional, moralistic story. But we have evidence, for in Doctrine and Covenants 121:10 the Lord—in answer to Joseph Smith’s questions about his imprisonment in Liberty Jail—said to Joseph, “Thou art not yet as Job.” What consolation would this provide for Joseph if Job wasn’t even a real person? (see also Ezekiel 14:14, 20; James 5:11).
The book of Job presents wonderful life lessons and excellent examples of faith in God despite trying, troubling circumstances. Like others in the Old Testament, the man Job symbolizes Jesus Christ as a “suffering servant,” and portrays his steadfast patience and righteousness. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve taught, “I do not know of anything that members of the Church need more than they need the conviction and perseverance of Job” (Ensign, November 1987, p. 8).
Job 1-6, 8-9 Why Did Job Suffer?
Read Job 1:1-3, 6-12. (It appears that verses 6-12—along with other such scenarios in Job—are allegorical and not literal.) Consider:
- Job 1:9-10 raises a question for all of us: Take away your blessings, and will you still obey and serve God?
- Verses 14-19 contain a list of the blessings Job had lost. What did Job do and say in response, in verses 20-22?
- In 2:7, Job’s physical health takes a terrible turn. What did he say in response to this, in 2:10; 3:2-3, 11, 13?
- In 3:11-13, Job’s friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) visit him with the original intent to “mourn with him and to comfort him.”
- In 4:3-4, Eliphaz commends Job for his righteous works, but then in verses 7-9 he indirectly accuses Job of having turned to iniquity, thus bringing on Job’s bad fortunes.
- In 5:17, Eliphaz suggests that God is chastening Job because he needs correction (see also Bildad’s words, with which he implicates Job, in 8:6, 11-13). We are not in position to judge such things; Eliphaz should have continued to comfort and mourn with Job.
- Rather than revile against Eliphaz and Bildad, what did Job ask of the Lord in 6:24? And what did Job say about himself in 9:20?
Job 10-14 “Yet Will I Trust in Him”
Job is seeking answers:
- What things did Job say in his prayer to God, in 10:2, 7, 15, 18?
- Next, it is Zophar’s turn, and he chastises Job even more. What did Zophar tell Job in 11:5-6, 14, 20?
- Read Job’s wise sayings in 12:4, 6, 9-10, 13, 23. What deep trials have you passed through? How could Job’s words help you?
- How did Job reply to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar in 13:4-5, 13?
- Read Job’s classic declaration in 13:15. How would you re-write this verse in your own words? If the time were to come in which it seems that everything has gone wrong, would you still trust in the Lord?
- Note Job’s statement of confidence in 13:18, and his statement of humility in 13:23.
- In 14:14 Job asks God a question that has perplexed people throughout the ages. An answer is given in the oft-repeated teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who said, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 121). Because Christ resurrected, so will we all (see 1 Corinthians 15:20-22)—this being the answer to one of man’s greatest quandaries.
Job 15-17, 19 My Redeemer Lives, and So Will I
What did Eliphaz say about wicked men, in 15:16, 20, 22, 24-25, 29-31, 34-35? (see also Zophar’s statements in 20:4-5, 15). Such are the consequences of wicked behavior, prompting the Savior’s invitation: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Read more of Job’s reactionary words to his three “friends,” as found in 16:1-5, 16-17, 19-20; and in 17:9-10 and 19:1-3. But now comes the high point of Job’s testimony and the evidence of his steadfastness. Read 19:6-27. Could Job’s words in these verses also be your words? Are you prepared and determined to remain resolute and unflinching in your faith and obedience? Note that Job’s prophecy in 19:23 is about the days in which we now live. Read and ponder the hymn, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Hymns, #136).
Job 21-24 Why Do the Wicked Prosper?
In chapter 21, Job notes that often the wicked prosper and even become “mighty in power” (verse 7). Read 21:7-15 and think of other examples you could add from our modern times (see also Job 24:23-24; Malachi 3:14-15).
President Spencer W. Kimball wrote, “If all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith…. There would be no test of strength, no development of character… Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy…. If we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, pp. 97-100; see also 2 Nephi 2:11).
- But again, Job is falsely accused by Eliphaz, in 22:5-7, 9, 23. How do you think Job should respond?
- Read what Job said about God in 23:3, 8-9. Even Joseph Smith felt this way; see D&C 121:1. And the Savior expressed similar emotions, in Matthew 27:46.
- But after these expressions, what did Job conclude and declare, in 23:10-12? (see also Job 27:2-6; 29:12-16; 30:25; 31:16-32). Do you crave God’s word more than food? Do you partake of daily spiritual nourishment? Do you “search out” those in need and render aid? (see 29:16).
- According to 24:2-10, what are some of man’s greatest sins? Who are the victims of such wickedness?
Job 38-40 Shout for Joy
Now the Lord teaches Job:
- What did the Lord say about Job’s friends? (38:2).
- What did He tell Job to do? (verse 3). What questions did He ask Job? (verses 4-7).
- We all “shouted for joy” at the prospect of mortality, when presented to us in the council in heaven (38:7). At times we may feel that our mortal lives are overwhelmingly difficult or disappointing; but by faith and obedience we maintain an eternal perspective and seek joy.
- In 38:8-41, the Lord continues asking questions of Job—mostly rhetorical in nature—thus pointing out the Lord’s sovereignty over all His creations. This questioning continues in Job 39-40, raising Job’s understanding of God’s greatness, wisdom, justice, and power.
- Read the interchange between the Lord and Job in 40:1-4. What conclusion did Job come to in verse 4? How might this apply to you? (see also Jacob 4:10).
Job 42 “Things Too Wonderful for Me”
- In the end, what conclusion did Job make about the Lord, in Job 42:2? What implications does this verse have for you and for all mankind?
- What “things too wonderful” (verse 3) have you experienced in your life?
- The Lord raises Job’s understanding to an even higher level, which Job expresses in 42:5-6. It appears the reason Job felt the need to repent (verse 6) was because he had questioned God.
- What did the Lord say about Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar? (verses 7-8).
- Verse 8 says, “the Lord accepted Job.” The Lord loves all perfectly, but He seeks to make us better. May we submit and let Him do so.
- According to verses 10-13, how did the Lord reward Job?