Job 42: Does the story of Job have a happy ending?
Keep in mind that Job is not about suffering any more than a movie is about suffering but more about characters overcoming suffering and adversity. The story of Job, then, is about how he responds to suffering. So, how does Job respond?
At first Job responds to the destruction of his property, the deaths of his children by saying, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1).
Then when his health is attacked, he asks his wife, “Shall we not accept the bad with the good in life?” (Job 2)
Then Job cursed the day he was born (Job 3).
Throughout the poetic dialogue with Job’s friends, Job maintains his innocence. He demands finally to appear before God.
After God speaks, Job repents.
Job’s response is humble, and he knows he’s overstepped his bounds. Not that God doesn’t honor Job’s honest anger, for it seems God accepts this, can handle it, and is less pleased with Job’s friends’ flattery of God and inability to handle Job’s transparency about his suffering.
Here is Job’s response in Job 42 from the NRSV:
Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
7 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. 8 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.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch.15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.
We really need to contemplate the ending. Is it happy? Is it a quid pro quo for something good Job has done? Is it simply a gift from God for a man God loves? Does restoring the fortunes of Job and giving him and his wife more children show that God won the wager with the Accuser? (Job 1).
What do you think about the ending? Is it happy, sad, and what does it leave you thinking? Post a comment below.
Job’s response is humbly praying to God for mercy. Ponder the powerful and famous words of Job: “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”
Lord, we pray for your mercy on us. Help us take the humble words of Job to heart when we utter nonsense born from pain, our own stupidity, or trusting worldly wisdom: “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.