What Job Is About

A good reminder that the way the book of Job helps us with suffering is to learn more about God than to look to Job as an example. I’m learning the importance of distinguishing between narrative of imperfect people, even if they are ‘blameless before God’, and doctrine (teaching) that is perfectly inspired by God.

We are used to reading the book of Job to find encouragement from Job’s exemplary response to suffering. We consider his patience, longsuffering, faithfulness, righteousness, and integrity all to make him an admirable character. In our desire to preserve this pristine role model, we are perhaps sometimes too eager to eliminate or neglect anything that might compromise his stellar performance. This approach reads against the grain of the book’s rhetorical strategy. The book is not trying to prove that Job’s response to his situation is irreproachable; he is not held up as a paragon of virtue showing us how we ought to respond in suffering (though some of his responses are certainly admirable). The book is teaching us about God and his policies, not offering Job as a biblical paradigm for how to approach suffering. We will uncover the authoritative teaching of Scripture by unfolding its rhetorical strategy, not by imitating its characters. To say this another way, we will learn more about surviving crises by understanding God than by imitating Job.

–John Walton, Job (The NIV Application Commentary)

2 Responses to “What Job Is About”

  1. 1 Eric

    That’s a great point. Learning more about God is more helpful than looking at Job or his friends. When He delivers the “where were you…” speeches, I realize I simply don’t have the ability to grasp something as complex as suffering. Probably the best goal is to get to know His character better (I had heard of Him by the hearing of the ear, now my eye sees Him).

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    Sometimes I even think reading books about what Christ did or God’s character are better than reading books specifically about suffering. Some put a whole lot about Christ in their books on it of course. Michael Horton’s book on preparing for suffering was like that.

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