The books at “the heart” of the Old Testament are called the wisdom books. It is interesting that being in the heart of the OT, they are the books which tend to appeal to the “hearts” of believers. It is perhaps helpful to view them in this light:
- Job – wisdom for suffering
- Psalms – wisdom for singing
- Proverbs – wisdom for society
- Ecclesiastes – wisdom for the searcher
- Song of Songs – wisdom for the suitor
In Job the heart is overwhelmed with grief. In the Psalms it is filled with gratitude. In the Proverbs it is instructed in godliness. In Ecclesiastes, the heart is marked by groans. But in the Song of Songs, it is overflowing with gladness.
As one of the poetic books, Job is filled with imagery, especially in the latter chapters. Some of the figures of speech, word pictures, metaphors and similes, are part of our everyday vocabulary. The poetry of Job is of a high order and illustrative of Hebrew poetry at its best. It should be mentioned that there are many textual and interpretive difficulties with which translators have struggled, but the major themes and theses are not changed by those difficulties.
Job can be compared with 1 Corinthians and the life of Paul, and even, perhaps, with the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians, false teachers attacked Paul’s apostleship, saying Paul must be wrong and not of God, not an apostle, because he was suffering and not being blessed.
Likewise, men mocked the Lord Jesus when He was suffering, basing their self-righteous attitude on the fact that He claimed to have trusted God yet He was left to suffer alone.
The mentions made of Job in James 5 and Ezekiel 14:14,20 attest to his being a real man who lived on the landscape of history. He probably lived during the times of the patriarchs. From internal evidence, it appears that he lived after the flood and before the law. The length of his life (140-210 years) best fits with the days either just before Abram or concurrently. It is quite similar in length to Terah’s, Abraham’s father. He lived in the east and is referred to as a man who was “perfect and upright.”
The first chapter introduces:
- God’s Testimony to Job
- Satan’s Treachery toward Job
- One Day’s Tragedy for Job
The book of Job deals with the moral problem of the suffering of the righteous. Job’s friends represent those who hold tenaciously to Retribution Theology. The book does not really give us an ultimate answer but does show us that, contrary to the reasoning of Job’s friends, the reason does not have to lie in the person. It does not have to be punitive. It can be educational. The reason may not be in the cause but in the result. Ultimately, it shows the conflict between Satan and the seed of the woman, or, perhaps more accurately, with God.
Though all that Job’s friends said has been recorded and is inspired, not all they said was true, and even when they uttered truth, it did not always apply to Job.
Job may well be the earliest book in our Bible, yet its early date does not preclude it from introducing principles which will be seen throughout Scripture. Both the prologue and epilogue are in prose format; the dialogue is in Hebrew poetry. In the dialogue of Job with his friends, there are three cycles from each of the friends and to which Job replies. Some of the highlights of the book include the beautiful poem to wisdom in Job 28, the lament of Job in chapters 28 and 29, and the majestic character of God as revealed in creation, described in chapters 38-41.
Main Body (1:6-42:6)
- 1:6-2:13 – Two interviews of God with Satan
- Notice “My servant Job” 2x
- Job and three friends (3:1-31:40)
- Four speeches by Elihu (32:1-37:24)
- 38:1-42:6 – Two Interviews of God with Job
- Notice “My servant Job” 4x
Calamity and Captivity (chs.1-2) – Prologue
Controversy and Countercharges (chs.3-37) – Dialogue
- Initial Arguments (chs.3-14)
- Intensification of Arguments (chs.15-21)
- Inductions and Indictments (chs.22-31)
- Illumination by Elihu (chs.32-37)
Challenge and Correction (chs.38-42) – Epilogue
- Greatness of God in Creation (chs.38-39)
- Glory of God in His Creatures (ch.40:1-42:9)
- Goodness of God in His Consolations (ch.42:10-17)
The major issues dealt with in Job include:
- The Majesty of the Sovereign
- The Mystery of Suffering
- The Movements in the Spirit World
- The Ministry of Sympathy
- The Making of a Saint
- The Moral Struggle