The Mystery of Affliction
Mr. J. Boyd Nicholson, Sr., makes his home in St. Catharines, Ontario. This article is the second of a three-part series on Job.
The Second Attack
“Again there was a day” (Job 2:1). The enemy pressed the attack now in an endeavour to capture the inner citadel of the man himself. He had challenged Job’s integrity. Now he challenged his intentions. For his life, Satan believed Job would give up all that he had. What did he have left? He still had his life, his health, his wife, his brothers and sisters, acquaintances and friends (see Job 42:10-11).
First, Satan attacked Job’s body with a loathsome disease. Some have tried to diagnose just what it was. Lionitis, eliphantiasis and black leprosy have all been suggested. In any case, the symptoms were most severe. Throughout the book we can discover eight distinct symptoms. Skin eruptions, severe itch, pain in the bones, muscular cramps, the blackening of the skin, organic disorders, and sleeplessness punctuated with terrifying nightmares. Poor Job! What a sight he must have been.
Next the enemy attacked the feelings of his heart. The beloved of his bosom cried out to him to curse God and commit suicide. “Curse God!” That was what Satan really wanted. He cared little for Job; he was just one man. The attack was really against God. To dishonor Him has always been the Satanic resolve. He cares nothing for human anguish or love or loyalties. Now Job’s wife gave her tongue to Satan. What a solemn responsibility! It is sadly possible that even today we may give our members to Satan to use. But have pity on Mrs. Job! Remember, it was also her children, whom she had borne and nursed, that perished so tragically in one day. It was her beloved upon whom she looked, covered with sores, disfigured by disease, scraping himself with a potsherd and sitting on the garbage dump. There is a peculiar pain between love-partners when one has to see the other suffer intensely. Her mind gave way and Job’s last human support was taken away.
Now Satan attacked Job’s mind by being misjudged by his friends. Consider the force of the attack that had been mounted against this man. From the south came the Sabeans; from above came the fire; from the east came the Chaldeans; and from all quarters came the wind. Within he was afflicted with a raging disease; his wife at his side and his friends before him were all raised against him. But for all these things, Satan’s second attack failed. We hear Job say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
Job And His Friends
While Job called them “miserable comforters” — and they certainly did give Job a hard time — we must give them their due for two reasons. They came, when brothers, sisters and acquaintances who had eaten bread in his house never looked near. They came. They didn’t just send him a card or its equivalent in those days. They didn’t just sigh between cups of tea, “Ah, poor Job!” No, they heard the news and made an appointment to come together both to empathize with him and to comfort him.
It was good that they came to visit him in his grief and pain. It was good, too, that they had sense enough to keep silent in the presence of such sorrow for seven days. It was good that they spoke to Job face to face about what they had in mind and not behind his back.
When we too take our place before this sorrowing man, Job, we are reminded that every righteous sorrowing man in the Bible is in some way a picture of the Man of Sorrows, our beloved Lord. When we hear Eliphaz say to Job, “Remember I pray thee, who ever suffered being innocent?” we can only look by faith to Calvary and See One, the Only Innocent, dying in deepest anguish for the guilty.
There was no hedge about Him to preserve Him. He was rich! And how very rich! He willingly gave all that we, so poor, might be made rich. He suffered in His heart. “My heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” He suffered in His emotions. “I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” He suffered in His body. “They pierced my hands and my feet.” He suffered in His spirit. “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!”
Our Lord and Saviour could not say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” He was the Redeemer, paying the price. Job’s life was spared by the command of God; the Saviour’s life was yielded up under the judgment of God.
As we look away to that lonely hill and view that Suffering Man, well might we take the words from the book of Job, “And there was a Man …” What a Man, the Man of Sorrows. “And there was a day …” What a day! A day that will never be forgotten through endless ages.
Well may we sing:
“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!