Lesson 107

Job 1–16

“Lesson 107: Job 1–16,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Introduction

Job, a righteous, God-fearing man, experienced severe trials and afflictions. Job lost all of his property, his children died, and he suffered great physical agony. In the midst of his suffering, Job was visited by three friends. Though Job’s friends intended to comfort him, they accused him of transgression.

Suggestions for Teaching

Job 1:1–2:10

Job endures the loss of his possessions and children and is afflicted with boils

Invite students to ponder the following questions:

  • How do you typically respond when something bad happens to you?

  • How might you respond if something bad happened to you and you had done nothing to deserve it?

Explain that the book of Job tells about a man who experienced severe trials and afflictions. Some have wondered if Job was a fictional character, but both ancient scripture and modern revelation clarify that Job was a real person who went through very real suffering (see Ezekiel 14:14, 20; James 5:11; D&C 121:10). Invite students as they study Job 1–16 to look for principles that can help them when they or those around them experience trials.

Invite a student to read Job 1:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for words or phrases that describe Job.

  • What words or phrases did you find that describe Job? (You may want to clarify that the word perfect in verse 1 does not mean Job was without sin. Rather it implies that Job faithfully kept the commandments of God. Those who keep the commandments and endure to the end will eventually be made perfect through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.)

Explain that Job 1:6–12 contains a poetic rendition of a conversation between the Lord and Satan, who became the adversary of mankind following his rebellion during the Council in Heaven (see Moses 4:1–4; Guide to the Scriptures, “Devil”; scriptures.lds.org). (You may want to inform students that satan is a Hebrew word meaning “adversary”; these verses in Job 1 use the form hassatan, meaning “the adversary,” which describes the devil’s role here.) Ask three students to read Job 1:6–12 aloud by assigning one student to read the words of the narrator, another to read the words of the Lord, and the third to read the words of Satan. Invite the class to follow along and look for what Satan claimed about Job.

  • According to verses 9–10, what did Satan claim about Job? (Satan claimed that Job feared or worshipped the Lord only because the Lord had protected and blessed Job.)

  • According to verse 11, what did Satan claim Job would do if the Lord removed His protection and blessings from Job? (Satan claimed that Job would curse the Lord.)

  • According to verse 12, what did the Lord allow Satan to do? What limits did the Lord set on Satan’s power to test Job? (Satan was allowed to afflict all that Job had, but he was not allowed to harm Job.)

Point out that contrary to the account in Job 1:6–12 (and a similar account in Job 2:1–6), the Lord does not really make agreements with Satan. The conversations between the Lord and Satan in the book of Job are presented in a poetic narrative that emphasizes Satan’s role as our adversary. In reality, the Lord has power over Satan and has no need to bargain with him.

Ask a student to read Job 1:13–19 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and identify all that Job lost.

  • If you were Job, what questions or feelings would you have after experiencing these losses?

Invite a student to read Job 1:20–22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Job responded to these trials.

  • How did Job demonstrate faith in God during these trials?

  • What principle can we learn from Job’s example as he experienced these trials? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: We can choose to have faith in God even in the midst of our trials. Using students’ words, write this principle on the board.)

Summarize Job 2:1–2 by explaining that these verses introduce another poetic rendition of a conversation between the Lord and Satan. Ask three students to read Job 2:3–6 aloud by assigning one student to read the words of the narrator, another to read the words of the Lord, and the third to read the words of Satan. Invite the class to follow along and look for what the Lord and Satan each said about Job.

  • According to verse 3, what did the Lord say about Job?

  • What did Satan claim about Job? (Satan claimed that if Job were afflicted physically, then Job would curse the Lord.)

  • What did the Lord allow Satan to do? (Afflict Job physically but not kill him.)

Ask a student to read Job 2:7–9 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what happened to Job next.

  • How was Job afflicted this time? What are boils? (Boils are a very painful skin condition.)

You may want to explain that a potsherd is a piece of broken pottery. Job was using the potsherd to try to scrape off his diseased skin.

  • What did Job’s wife encourage him to do?

  • How might we be tempted to curse God, or blame Him and turn away from Him, during our trials?

Invite a student to read Job 2:10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how Job responded to the afflictions he experienced.

  • How did Job continue to show faith in God during his trials?

Refer to the principle you wrote on the board earlier. To help students further understand and feel the truth and importance of this principle, ask:

  • What can we do to show faith in God during our trials?

  • Who is someone you admire for choosing to have faith in God during trials? How did this person show faith in God?

Job 2:11–16:22

Job and three friends discuss why Job’s misfortunes may have come upon him

Ask students to consider whether they have ever had a friend help them during a difficult time.

Summarize Job 2:11–13 by explaining that three of Job’s friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—came to Job to comfort him in his afflictions. Job expressed some of his thoughts and feelings to his friends. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Job 3:1–4, 25; 6:1–3. Ask the class to follow along and look for thoughts and feelings Job experienced because of his trials.

  • What thoughts and feelings did Job experience because of his trials?

Summarize Job 4–16 by explaining that each of Job’s friends expressed his belief that Job’s afflictions had come upon him because of something wrong he had done. Write the following names and references on the board:

Eliphaz: Job 4:7–9; 15:4–6

Bildad: Job 8:1–6, 20

Zophar: Job 11:1–6

Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group to study the words of one of Job’s friends in the scripture references you wrote on the board. Ask students to look for phrases indicating why each friend believed Job deserved his afflictions. Then ask each group to report what they find.

  • Based on what we learned about Job, did Job’s afflictions come upon him because of sin? (No.)

  • From Job’s experience, what truths can we learn about trials and difficulties? (Students may give a variety of answers, but make sure they identify the following truth: Trials and difficulties come upon the righteous as well as the wicked.)

  • Why do you think it is important to know that trials and difficulties come upon the righteous as well as the wicked?

Invite a student to read Job 10:2, 15 aloud. Explain that these verses record that Job said he did not know why his afflictions had come upon him. Write the following incomplete statement on the board: Although we may not know the reasons for our trials, we can …

Invite students to ponder how they might complete this statement as they continue to study Job’s words. Ask a student to read Job 13:13–16 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and look for what Job said he would do no matter what happened to him.

  • What did Job say he would do no matter what happened to him? (Trust in the Lord.)

  • Based on Job’s example, how would you complete the statement on the board? (Using students’ words, complete the principle so that it conveys the following truth: Although we may not know the reasons for our trials, we must continue to trust in the Lord.)

To help students understand this principle, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (You may want to provide students with copies of this statement.) Invite students to follow along and look for what can prevent us from trusting in the Lord and what we can do to trust in the Lord.

Elder Richard G. Scott

“When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? …

“This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ, trust in His teachings, trust in our capacity as led by the Holy Spirit to obey those teachings. … To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Prov. 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience” (“Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 17).

  • According to Elder Scott, what are some examples of questions we can ask during times of trial to help us to develop greater trust in the Lord?

Ask students to ponder again the statement by Elder Scott and consider what they will do to show their trust in the Lord. You may want to invite a few students to share what they are going to do to show their trust in the Lord.

You may want to conclude by testifying of the Lord’s love for all of us. Invite students to act on any promptings they have received to place their faith and trust in the Lord.

Commentary and Background Information

Job 1:1. “That man was perfect”

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave this insight into the meaning of the word perfect:

“In Matthew 5:48, the term perfect was translated from the Greek teleios, which means ‘complete.’ … The infinitive form of the verb is teleiono, which means ‘to reach a distant end, to be fully developed, to consummate, or to finish.’ Please note that the word does not imply ‘freedom from error’; it implies ‘achieving a distant objective.’” (“Perfection Pending,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 86).

Job 2:6. “The Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand”

As long as we are faithful to the Lord, He will never allow Satan to tempt or try us more than we are able to overcome (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).

President James E. Faust of the First Presidency affirmed:

“The power to resist Satan may be stronger than we realize. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: ‘All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power’ [The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook (1980), 60].

“He also stated, ‘Wicked spirits have their bounds, limits, and laws by which they are governed’ [History of the Church, 4:576]. So Satan and his angels are not all-powerful” (“The Forces That Will Save Us,” Ensign, Jan. 2007, 8).

Job 2–18. Summaries of portions of the book of Job

The poetic nature of the writing in Job may make it difficult to find the book’s message. The summaries below may help you to understand the following passages.

Job 3:1–11. Job laments his afflictions and wonders if it would have been better to never have been born.

Job 4:7–9; 15:1–6. Eliphaz states that the righteous are not punished by God; Job should confess his sins.

Job 8:6, 20; 18:1–5. Bildad claims that God, who is just, does not punish the innocent; Job should admit he sinned.

Job 16:2. “Miserable comforters are ye all”

While Job’s friends intended to comfort him, their hasty judgments regarding the reasons for his suffering actually added to his misery. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency taught:

“It is unworthy of us as Christians to think that those who suffer deserve their suffering. … Our Savior willingly took upon Himself the pain and sickness and suffering of us all—even those of us who appear to deserve our suffering.

“In the book of Proverbs we read that ‘a friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.’ Let us love at all times. And let us especially be there for our brothers and sisters during times of adversity” (“You Are My Hands,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 69–70).