Book summary

The book of Job wrestles with the timeless question of how a loving God can allow suffering.

Job is a righteous man, but Satan says to God that Job would turn away from God if he wasn’t so prosperous. God agrees to let Satan make Job suffer. Job’s friends come to comfort him but are of little help, mostly telling Job that his suffering must be a result of his sin, and that if he repents then he will be made prosperous again.

Despite tragic loss and immense suffering, Job remains faithful to God. At the end of the book, God speaks to Job. But instead of explaining any reasons for Job’s suffering, God speaks of his wisdom and power. Job acknowledges his ignorance, accepting that mere humans won’t always be able to understand God’s reasons and actions.

Chapters 1-3 — Prologue

Job was blameless and upright
  • In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. (Job 1:1)

Satan makes a deal and strikes disaster
  • “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 1:9-11)

  • The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:12)

  • [Job’s servants were killed, fire burned up his sheep, raiding parties carried off his camels, and his house collapsed on his sons and daughters.]

Job praises God
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:20-22)
Satan pushes the boundaries
  • “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. (Job 2:4-7)

Job curses the day of his birth
“Why did I not perish at birth,
and die as I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11)

Chapters 4-14 — First dialogue

Ch 4-7 — Eliphaz

Ch 4-5 — Eliphaz
“Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?
Where were the upright ever destroyed?
As I have observed, those who plow evil
and those who sow trouble reap it. (Job 4:7-8)
Ch 6-7 — Job’s reply
“But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams (Job 6:15)
“If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
you who see everything we do?
Why have you made me your target?
Have I become a burden to you?” (Job 7:20)

Ch 8-10 — Bildad

Ch 8 — Bildad
“But if you will seek God earnestly
and plead with the Almighty,
if you are pure and upright,
even now he will rouse himself on your behalf
and restore you to your prosperous state.” (Job 8:5-6)
Ch 9-10 — Job’s reply
“Indeed, I know that this is true.
But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God? (Job 9:2)
“I say to God: Do not declare me guilty,
but tell me what charges you have against me.” (Job 10:2)

Ch 11-14 — Zophar

Ch 11 — Zophar
“You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless
and I am pure in your sight.’
Oh, how I wish that God would speak,
that he would open his lips against you
and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,
for true wisdom has two sides.
Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.” (Job 11:4-6)
Ch 12-14 — Job’s reply
“I have become a laughingstock to my friends,
though I called on God and he answered —
a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!” (Job 12:4)

Chapters 15-21 — Second dialogue

Ch 15-17 — Eliphaz

Ch 15 — Eliphaz
“Your sin prompts your mouth;
you adopt the tongue of the crafty.
Your own mouth condemns you, not mine;
your own lips testify against you.” (Job 15:5-6)
Ch 16-17 — Job’s reply
“My face is red with weeping,
dark shadows ring my eyes;
yet my hands have been free of violence
and my prayer is pure.” (Job 16:16-17)
“Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.” (Job 16:19)

Ch 18-19 — Bildad

Ch 18 — Bildad
“Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man;
such is the place of one who does not know God.” (Job 18:21)
Ch 19 — Job’s reply
“How long will you torment me
and crush me with words?” (Job 19:2)
“I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25)

Ch 20-21 — Zophar

Ch 20 — Zophar
A flood will carry off his house,
rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath.
Such is the fate God allots the wicked,
the heritage appointed for them by God.” (Job 20:28-29)
Ch 21 — Job’s reply
“Why do the wicked live on,
growing old and increasing in power?
They see their children established around them,
their offspring before their eyes.
Their homes are safe and free from fear;
the rod of God is not on them. (Job 21:7-9)

Chapters 22-27 — Third dialogue

Ch 22-24 — Eliphaz

Ch 22 — Eliphaz
“Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?
You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked. (Job 22:5-6)
Ch 23-24 — Job’s reply
“Would he vigorously oppose me?
No, he would not press charges against me.
There the upright can establish their innocence before him,
and there I would be delivered forever from my judge. (Job 23:6-7)

Ch 25-27 — Bildad

Ch 25 — Bildad
“How then can a mortal be righteous before God?
How can one born of woman be pure? (Job 25:4)
Ch 26-27 — Job’s reply
I will never admit you are in the right;
till I die, I will not deny my integrity.
I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it;
my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” (Job 27:5-6)

Chapter 28-31 — Job’s closing speech

Ch 28 — Where wisdom is found
And he said to the human race,
“The fear of the Lord — that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)
Ch 29-31 — Job’s final defense
If I have walked with falsehood
or my foot has hurried after deceit —
let God weigh me in honest scales
and he will know that I am blameless — (Job 31:5-6)

Chapters 32-37 — Elihu’s speech

  • So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. (Job 32:1-3)

“God does all these things to a person —
twice, even three times —
to turn them back from the pit,
that the light of life may shine on them.” (Job 33:29-30)
“To his sin he adds rebellion;
scornfully he claps his hands among us
and multiplies his words against God.” (Job 34:37)

Chapters 38-42 — God speaks to Job

Ch 38 to 40:5 — God challenges Job’s wisdom and power

Ch 38 to 40:2 — God
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.” (Job 38:1-3)
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand. (Job 38:4)
Ch 40:3-5 — Job’s reply
“I am unworthy — how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.” (Job 40:4)

Ch 40:6 to 42:6 — God challenges Job’s criticism

Ch 40:6 to 41:34 — God
“Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (Job 40:7-8)
Ch 42:1-6 — Job’s reply
“Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:3)
“My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)

Ch 42:7-17 — God blesses Job

  • After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7-8)

  • After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10)