“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8)
Job is perhaps one of the best-known men in the Bible. Countless individuals have looked to Job – the man of suffering and affliction – for encouragement during their own trials.
While we know so very little about his life itself, the Scriptural witness shares much to the fact that Job was “perfect and upright,” fearing God, and shunning evil (Job 1:1). What we are told is that Job was a good man; a righteous man; a Godly man. If it is possible to say so about a mere man: Job did everything right.
This is the look into Job’s life given to us in the first few verses of this book. In fact the first five verses of the Book of Job show us a man who exemplifies the very ideal of a God-fearing man; he is perfect in all his ways and upright in all his dealing. We might gain from this view of Job’s life that he is walking in obedience to the Lord. Such a man is surely to be blessed all the days of his life, with neither a toil nor a worry. After all, isn’t that how God works?
Then the picture shifts somewhat, and we see an episode in heaven. Satan and God are having a conversation about Satan’s dealings and wanderings in the earth. As he begins to relate such, the arch deceiver is interrupted from his boastings; God asks if he has considered Job’s perfect standing. The response reveals that Satan in fact had done a lot of consideration about Job’s case, and that he had a complaint about God’s hand of grace that was protecting Job.
Our text verse cases us to pause momentarily, and reflect on God’s Sovereign purpose in Job’s affliction. It is obvious from the text that God is the first to make mention of Job, asking if Satan had considered his upright standing. However, Satan’s response reveals to us that he had in fact considered Job and was able to say that it was only God’s hand that had sustained him. Perhaps Satan had already tried to assault Job, but his assaults met with failure because God had placed a special hedge of protection around His servant. God was keeping Job. And Satan hated it.
The remainder of the Book of Job expands on this simple premise. God allows Job to be afflicted; Job’s friends try to condemn him for secret sins. Job maintains his innocence and, although he doesn’t understand it, he knows that God is in control:
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 13:15)
And then we see God stepping in once again to protect Job from himself as his suffering had caused him to despair of his life.
What a wonderful thing God’s grace is seen to be! When we stop to consider Job, we see that no trial, affliction, or hardship can come to us unless God permits it. And even then He places limitations on its intensity and duration (1 Corinthians 10:13).
When we get to the question of why God initiated Job’s trial of suffering, we are met with the answer: to show that His grace is sufficient for every need. He will not forsake us, nor should we think He has done so when we are faced with trials. Rather we should consider Job as a great man of faith and be encouraged by his example to trust God in any situation.