Job 1–42

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 153–55


Introduction

Job is the first of the books in the poetry or writings section of the Old Testament (see “How Is the Old Testament Organized?” on p. 8). Most of the book (Job 3–42:6) is written using poetic language, and the literary content of the book of Job is considered to be brilliant. The book of Job records the questions, doubts, and fears of a sufferer. It can help strengthen us during times of trial and tribulation by reminding us of God’s purpose for our suffering.

  • Why do righteous people suffer?

  • Why do righteous people choose righteousness?

  • The prologue (chapters 1–2) sets the stage and introduces the plot.

  • The poem (chapters 3:1–42:6) recounts the discussions of Job and his friends on the subject of why Job experienced so much suffering.

  • The epilogue (42:7–17) records the final blessing of the Lord.

For more information, see Bible Dictionary, “Job, book of” (pp. 713–14).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

weekly icon Job 1–42. In mortality, the righteous often suffer. Blessings come to those who endure their afflictions. (75–90 minutes)

Bring a piece of coal to class or reproduce the pictures in the following diagram on the board or on a transparency. Include the labels Coal and Diamond, but leave off the other labels for now.

Ask students what is required to create a diamond from coal. Fill in the middle section of the diagram as they respond. Ask:

  • Does all coal become diamonds?

  • Why not? (Some coal is not subject to or does not endure the heat, pressure, and time necessary.)

Write (Mankind) and (Godhood) under the words Coal and Diamond on the diagram. Ask students:

  • If it takes heat, pressure, and time to make diamonds from coal, what does it take for an imperfect mortal to become like God?

  • Will all people become like God?

  • Why not?

Ask a student to read the following statement by President Brigham Young:

“Joseph [Smith] could not have been perfected, though he lived a thousand years, if he had received no persecution. If he had lived a thousand years, and led this people, and preached the Gospel without persecution, he would not have been perfected as well as he was at the age of thirty-nine years” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 351).

Ask students:

  • Why do weightlifters add more weight to the barbells as they progress?

  • Does the added weight make it harder for them to lift the barbell?

  • Is it bad for them to have the added weight?

  • Would they become stronger or weaker if they always added weight?

  • What are some of the extra weights, or trials and afflictions, we are sometimes called to carry in this life that are necessary for our spiritual growth? (For example, illnesses, disappointments, living in a single-parent home, and lack of desired abilities and talents.)

Tell students that Job was a man who carried many extra weights. Ask them to observe how Job successfully endured his afflictions.

Have students read Job 1:1–19 and 2:7–10. Ask students what blessings Job enjoyed before his trials, and list them on the board. Then ask:

  • How many of those blessings did he lose?

  • Which of Job’s afflictions do you think would have been the hardest to endure?

  • Why do you think trials and afflictions are part of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness?

Read Job 10:15–16 and 28:12–13 and tell students that Job wondered why all of those trials were happening to him. Ask students to think of a righteous person they know who suffered a lot. Ask: Did you ever wonder why God does not use His power to stop all suffering? Write the following questions on the board:

  • Why do bad things happen to good people?

  • What are the benefits of righteously enduring trials?

Have students search the following scriptures, and discuss reasons afflictions come to the righteous:

Have students read Alma 62:41 and identify two ways people react to afflictions. Have students read the following scripture references, and discuss blessings that come to those who successfully endure their trials:

Read Job 42:10–17 and compare Job’s final blessings with the blessings he started with. List the final blessings on the board next to the list of the ones Job had at first. Be careful not to diminish the sorrow and pain of Job’s first loss. His final blessings were great, but Job still suffered.

Help students understand that while knowing about those reasons and blessings can help us better endure some afflictions, there are times when the innocent suffer and no explanation seems adequate. But not knowing why we suffer may actually be part of the test. Share the following statement by Elder Harold B. Lee, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“The more complicated our lives and the world conditions become, the more important it is for us to keep clear the purposes and principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 108).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 76:5–7. Ask:

  • How might those verses reassure those who do not know why they suffer?

  • What do they suggest we need to do to receive that knowledge from God?

Ask students to think about the last time something negative happened to them and how they reacted. Find out how Job reacted to his trials by reading through the following scriptures: Job 1:21; 2:10; 13:15; 19:25–26; 23:10; 27:4. Discuss with students why they think Job was able to respond so positively in the face of such suffering. Share the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“Spiritual staying power requires strength—strength to be achieved by feasting upon the gospel of Jesus Christ regularly, deeply, and perceptively. If you and I go unnourished by the gospel feast which God has generously spread before us, we will be vulnerable instead of durable” (“If Thou Endure Well” [fireside address at Brigham Young University, 2 Dec. 1984], 5).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 121:7–8 and ask students what the Lord promised those who endure adversity and afflictions well.

Job 2:11–13.We should help lift and comfort those who suffer. (15–20 minutes)

Ask students if they know of someone who suffered a tragic experience and what they or someone else did to try to help that person. Review what happened to Job in Job 1–2. Read Job 2:11–13 and find out what Job’s friends wanted to do for him. Read Mosiah 18:8–9 and discuss how it could apply to that situation.

Have various students read the following verses and look for what Job’s friends said to try to help him: Job 4:7–8; 8:6, 20; 11:3–6; 15:20; 18:5–6; 20:5, 29; 22:5, 23; 34:35–37. Ask:

  • What did Job’s friends say was the reason for his misfortunes?

  • Would statements like that from your friends comfort you?

  • Read Job 16:1–2. How did Job feel about what his friends said?

Read Job 9:13, 17, 22; 12:6; and 21:7–13 looking for what Job said to his friends that helps us know why we cannot say misfortunes are the consequences of sins. Read Job 1:1 and remind students of the kind of man Job was. Ask:

  • What can we learn from the mistakes of Job’s friends?

  • What would have been better for Job’s friends to have done and said?

Encourage students to seek out those in need and to help comfort and strengthen them in their trials.

Job 19:25–26. An understanding of the plan of salvation and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ can help us understand and endure the trials and afflictions of mortality. (10–15 minutes)

Sing the hymn “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Hymns, no. 136). Repeat the phrase “What comfort this sweet sentence gives!” Discuss why comfort comes from knowing that our Redeemer lives.

Remind students of Job’s afflictions and why he needed comfort. List the following scriptures on the board. Have students read them and identify the reason Job gave for how he was able to successfully endure his trials.

  • Job 1:20–21 (all that we have comes from God; trials do not justify us in turning from Him)

  • Job 2:10 (trials are a part of mortality)

  • Job 13:15 (we should trust in God, especially when there does not seem to be a reason for our suffering)

  • Job 19:25 (we should look at our trials from the larger perspective of the plan of salvation)

  • Job 23:10 (trials are for our ultimate benefit)

  • Job 27:4–6 (our commitment to God should not depend on our circumstances)

  • Job 42:7–12 (the Lord is fair and will bless the righteous)

Have students read Matthew 11:28–30, and discuss the different ways burdens can come to people. Read Alma 7:11–13 and ask students to write how they feel knowing that regardless of the kind of suffering they experience, Jesus intimately knows their suffering.

scripture mastery icon Job 19:25–26 (Scripture Mastery). Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all mortals will also be resurrected. (5–10 minutes)

Help students memorize Job 19:25–26.

Divide students into groups and give them five minutes to find as many scriptures as they can on resurrection. Have the groups compare the scriptures they found and share what they learned. Encourage students to write in their Bible, next to Job 19:25–26, some of the important scripture references they found.