In his book The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes, Derek Kidner describes the conclusion of the book of Job with these carefully crafted words:
“After nearly 40 chapters of tempestuous poetry, the return to the simplicity of prose and the idyllic setting in which the book had opened rounds off this masterpiece, one may feel, to perfection.”
The book of Job is indeed a divinely inspired masterpiece and the conclusion is perfection. In this concluding section there is no more tempestuous poetry whether in the form of Job’s laments in relation to God or Job’s arguments with his friends or God speaking to Job out of a whirlwind. There is nothing but happy stuff at the end because God is compassionate and merciful (James 5:11). And just so there is no misunderstanding Francis Anderson reminds us,
“These gifts at the end are gestures of grace, not rewards for virtue.”
God vindicates Job before his friends, commending Job for speaking rightly of him and giving Job the role of intercessor for his friends.
Job’s 3 friends are corrected and convicted for they have misrepresented God and falsely accused Job. They repent in relation to God and toward Job. Job and his three friends are reconciled.
The Lord restores the fortunes of Job and gives Job twice as much as he had before.
Most important, Satan’s accusation about Job and ultimately against God has been refuted and the worthiness of God has been revealed in and through Job’s suffering.
A very happy ending.
One more thing. Job never finds out why he suffered. God doesn’t reveal this to him. And it no longer matters to Job. His agonizing “why” question isn’t important to him anymore because Job has seen the greatness of God (Job 42:5). Having seen who God is, the why question no longer matters. God has given Job a better gift than to answer his question why question. God gave the gift of himself to Job. And its no different for us. God normally doesn’t answer our “why” questions when we suffer but he does something far better: He reveals himself to us in a deeper way than before we suffered. And this knowledge of God and the nearness of God leaves us, like Job, trusting God and entrusting unanswered questions to God.
Francis Anderson effectively describes this concluding scene:
“It is one of the many excellencies of the book that Job is brought to contentment without ever knowing all the facts of his case. The test would only work if Job not know what it was for. God thrusts Job into an experience of dereliction to make it possible for Job to enter into a life of naked faith, to learn to love God for himself alone. He does not say in the end, ‘Now I see it all.’ He never sees it all. He sees God.”
A very happy ending indeed.
This post is adapted from a sermon I preached this past Sunday at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville entitled “A Happy Ending.”