Is the ending of the book of Job “a happy ending,” do we think? Or is it … something else? Why do we say this? That is, what do we mean by “a happy ending,” or even, by “happiness”? This might be one of the questions we’re moved to ask about the ending of the book of Job, in Job 42, which we are studying for Sunday, February 27. [Some notes on the text are here.] But it’s only one of the probing questions the book of Job addresses to us, and may not be the most central one. What is the most central one? That’s another question. And here are a couple of additional questions, by no means exhaustive, that we might want to think about or discuss in class:
How do we ourselves understand God’s response to Job at the end of the book, and Job’s response to God in our text? What is the message of the exchange between Job and God for us? That is – what do we think the text itself is saying?
[more challenging, perhaps] What does that message tell us about God, do we think? What are our thoughts and feelings about that? What do those thoughts and feelings tell us about ourselves?
One assessment of the ending of the book of Job is
… we can trust God to be in control; we can trust God to be loving and just; and we can trust God to be present with us in the midst of suffering. We can trust that all things will work for good. (Catron, 77)
What does “loving and just” mean in this context, do we think? What do they not mean? Is that different from how we ordinarily think of “loving and just”? How?
What is our understanding of “good” in this context? Again, is that different from how we ordinarily think of “good”? How?
What is the purpose of the mention of the daughters’ names and inheritances in verses 14-15, do we think? What does it tell us about what has happened in this story?
[I think this is an important question, masquerading as trivia. Here’s why: It is unusual for the Bible to tell us the names of the women characters. Job’s wife, for instance, who has a speaking part, is anonymous. It is unusual for women to receive a share of inheritance. The Daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 26:33; Numbers 27:1-11; Numbers 36:1-12) are famous because they are out of the ordinary. The author chose to give us this peculiar information; it’s in here for some reason. What is the reason??]
Catron, Janice. The Present Word Adult Bible Lessons: Participant’s Book Winter 2021-2022 Justice, Law, History. Growing Faith Resources – Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 2021.
Image: “Christ and the Samaritan woman at the Well,” [crop] John Linnell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons