The Bible book of Job contains some of the most beautiful poetry in the English language. The suffering of the patriarch is intense and difficult to understand. The reversal in his life is as shocking as the contrast in life descriptions in chapters 29 and 30. At one point Job says:
“But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.”
His three friends have offered no real comfort or understanding. In one fashion or another they conclude that the suffering must be a sign of God’s displeasure with Job over some shortcoming or sin. Job is at a loss as to the culprit stumbling. He is entirely baffled, but will not let go of the assurance that God is good and trustworthy.
A storm is approaching in the natural. A fourth friend, younger than the others, Elihu has refrained from speaking. Now he draws comparisons between God’s awesome power and the approaching natural display. God uses nature to accomplish His sovereign will. No one may question His motive. The same event, a rainstorm for example, may work unto good or unto evil:
11 Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud:
12 And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth.
13 He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy.
The suggestion is that there is something inscrutable in all of the dealings of God. In saying this Elihu perhaps came closer to the truth than the others. We do not like to hear this, however. We have no “handle” on God through all of this. Our pride and self-determination are assaulted. And that is what God confronts in the final “breaking” of Job. His Voice comes out of the whirlwind in chapters 38 and 39 and asks Job a series of marvelously vivid questions for which only Omniscience holds the answer (Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? etc.).
Job’s victory comes when he dispenses with the insolent question “why?” and repents in dust and ashes. God says that in the entire episode Job has proved more righteous than the others. He is to pray for his detractors. His restoration of blessing and of stature will prove double that which he had before, including seven sons and three daughters. The names chosen for the girls are telling. They translate “The Day”, “Fragrant” and “Paint (Cosmetic) Pot”.
Restoration complete. Test passed.