A Study of God in the Book of Job.

Note: Our study begins at 6:25 in the recordings.

The book of Job teaches us a lot about God who is sovereign, always just, and unfailingly compassionate. Layton Talbert says "God's right to allow us to suffer without compromising any of His attributes" is one of the underlying themes of the book.

When suffering shakes up our lives, it can bring up sediment of anger, fear, doubt, and incorrect thoughts about God. While reading through this book, we may ask how Job can be God-fearing and righteous and sound how he does? In the case of Job (and of a friend or yourself when under suffering), remember that God knows the heart. He defines His people as righteous. We must pray and walk patiently with those who are suffering.

Suffering is a necessary catalyst to help us understand who God is. It often initiates relational interaction between God and man. Lindsay Wilson wrote, "Sometimes the Lord has to take drastic measures to get people to talk about Him seriously and to seek Him in earnest, to move away from our myopic obsession with our circumstances to something and someone much bigger outside ourselves and over our circumstances. Job's suffering is the occasion for communicating far larger spiritual issues than our problem of personal pain." At the end of the book, God redirects without crushing Job.

As you read, notice the names and descriptions of God. God's attributes can be divided into two categories: His greatness and goodness. Today we will survey several attributes of His greatness.


God is a spiritual being, not physical in nature. He is not limited by a physical body. See Psalm 139:7-12, John 4:24, and Job 10:4.


God is a person, not a force. He is moral, intelligent, self-aware, and has a will and emotion. See Job 38-41, especially 38:18. He has a communicative relationship with His people (Proverbs 3:12, Ecclesiastes 5:2, 5:6, Job 2:26, 7:26.)


God is the creator and sustainer of life. He was alive before the Earth was created. He is not derived from any other being but is self-existent, eternal and infinite, and cannot be limited. See Job 38:4-7.


God cannot be localized with a physicality that takes up space but is present everywhere (Job 11:7-9).


God is all-knowing (Psalm 139:1-6, Job 28:24). In the last chapters of the book of Job, we find that even God's unanswered questions can settle our heart because of His infinite knowledge.


God is all-wise, meaning He acts in light of all the facts and right values. He created and manages the world and all it contains. (See Job 28:23, 38:4-39:30.)


God is all-powerful. He can do anything consistent with His nature and plan (Job 41:1-8).


God is not bound by anything outside Himself. He is only limited by His own nature and will. (See Ecclesiastes 7:15-18, 8:10-17.) In Job 1-2, Satan does not manipulate God; God chooses to prompt him about Job. He is in control. As Erickson described, "God's decisions and actions are not determined by consideration of any factors outside Himself; they are simply a matter of His own free choice."

Job's friends are often wrong on this point about God. They speak as if God is bound to allow suffering only as discipline for sin. They defend God's justice by denying His freedom. This is simplistic retribution theology, and it is incorrect. We also can be in danger of misapplying truth about God in certain circumstances. Hubbard and Bush write, "God was free to enter into Satan's test and tell none of the participants about it, to time His intervention and determine its agenda. He was free not to answer Job's goading questions nor agree with the friends' high-sounding doctrines. Above all, He was free to care enough to confront Job and to forgive his friends."


This attribute simply means that humanity is unable to fully know God's mind. Special revelation about God is completely accurate, but it is not the whole picture of all the truth about who God is. The book of Job strongly affirms the mystery of God's will, especially in chapters 38-42. See also Psalm 145:3, Proverbs 25:2, Ecclesiastes 7:1-8:17, Job 9:1-11, 11:6, 7:15-18, and 10:10-17.

Application Points

God's greatness humbles us. His goodness endears us to Him. Attributes of goodness are those which we can mimic because we are created in the image of God (such as purity, integrity, love, truth, and faithfulness). We will look at these next week.

  • Suffering is a necessary catalyst to help us understand who God is. Has suffering in your life caused you to interact with God more? Is it pushing you to do so now?
  • Have you or a friend ever thought or said surprising or wrong things about God when you are suffering? Do you wonder how a person can still be God-fearing when they feel or think certain ways? In those times, remember that God knows the heart. He defines His people as righteous. Pray and walk patiently with those who are suffering.
  • One of the great dangers of Bible interpretation is saying something right about God but applying it improperly to particular situations. Be careful.

Tools for Further Study

Commentaries to Consult
Quotes to Ponder

The book of Job starts with God and man in a crucible. The catalyst of suffering is poured in. The debate does not alleviate the suffering; it remains until God himself removes it. He does not remove the suffering until after all the issues in this relationship have been resolved.