Satan: the adversary

Job wife

The very name Satan means adversary. Satan rebelled against God and has been in battle against God and mankind ever since. He is at his best with his attack on Job. The first several verses of Job 1 talk of Job’s wealth and righteousness. He sacrificed on behalf of his children, just in case they might have sinned. Job was that devoted and proactive! Satan accused Job of honoring God only because God had been good to him and put a “hedge around him”.

So, Satan lived up to his name and reputation. He saw to it, with God’s permission, that Job lost everything he had (livestock, servants, and children) with the exception of three survivors who reported the dreadful news. Unfathomable; even his children were killed. Job’s response was nothing short of remarkable. As we read, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22). Double-take: In spite of his horrendous losses, Job worshiped and remained steadfast in his belief that God is good.

God again draws attention to Job’s continued faithfulness in a subsequent meeting. “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where have you come?’ Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.’ Then Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life’” (Job 2: 1-6, ESV).

Satan struck Job with “loathsome sores” from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. Job sat on a trash heap and scraped his sores with a piece of broken pottery. He maintained his integrity and his confidence in God’s goodness. His wife suggests he “curse God and die”. R.C. Sproul (The Reformation Study Bible) suggests Job’s wife is unaware of God’s guarantee that Job’s life would not be taken, that she does not doubt his integrity, and might have been speaking out of sympathy believing death would be better than prolonged suffering. Nonetheless, Job maintains his integrity. “But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” Job 2:10, ESV).

That is nothing short of remarkable. I cannot fathom the depth of Job’s confidence in and devotion to God. I challenge all of us to reflect upon Job’s reaction, especially in light of society’s tendency to expect God to provide and protect. We are prone to see God as a “sugar daddy”. We are told if we “name it”, we can “claim it”. Job certainly did not hold that perspective. We would be wise to reconsider how we view God.

In the next meandering I will write about Job’s so-called friends and offer some observations and warnings against responses and platitudes that Christians can, and do, readily fall into. As suggested by a previous meandering, Job was slandered and accused of things he did not live up to. Oh, the temptation to assign meaning and fault to things that happen to people. Stay tuned.