Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Book Review: Job, Holman Old Testament Commentary #10

Job (Holman Old Testament Commentary #10) Steven J. Lawson. 2005. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The story of Job is one of the best known in the entire Bible yet, strangely enough, one of the least understood.

If you've ever read Job and found it puzzling, then Steven Lawson's commentary was written with you (yes, you) in mind.

Lawson admits Job can often be confusing in the introduction when he quotes Churchill and applies it to Job. "Job is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." But is it worth reading? Lawson argues YES, YES IT IS.

There are many reasons why it's important for believers to read and study Job.
Addressed in this puzzling book are such confounding issues as: Why do the righteous suffer? Where is God when tragedy strikes? If God is all-loving, how can he allow human suffering? Does he not care? Is God worthy of worship in tough times? Or must he buy worshippers with blessings?...As you study the trials of Job, you will gain new insight into life's oldest enigmas—those dealing with sovereignty, Satan, and suffering.
Ultimately, he concludes that, "More than being a book about Job, it is, actually, a book about God. This is the primary lesson learned by Job as taught in this book. God is God. He will do as he pleases, when he pleases, with whom he pleases, without consulting his creatures, and he will do so for his own glory and the ultimate good of his people."

The commentary takes readers through the book chapter by chapter, verse by verse. Each chapter focuses on one chapter of Job. Each chapter has an introduction, the commentary, a conclusion or summary, application points, prayer, word studies, and a teaching outline. Everything is organized and clear.

I found the book to be insightful, relevant, and practical. For example, the application points for Job 2 are about handling temptation.
Every temptation is an opportunity to demonstrate our faith in God. How do we react to temptation? 1. Expect it. Each Christian should expect that Satan will launch his offensives against us. 2. Detect it. Every believer must sharpen his powers of discernment in spiritual warfare. 3. Reject it. Once the advance of the devil is detected, it must be firmly rejected.
From Job 3, the application points are for handling discouragement:
How do we deal with this discouragement? 1. Remember that even the strongest believer can become discouraged. 2. Believers can suffer deeply on many levels at one time. 3. Discouragement can cause God's people to lose perspective.
From Job 7, the focus is on God's glory and our suffering:
How can we go through tough experiences without losing focus on the “big picture” of God's glory?
1. Read the Bible. The Scripture is an anchor for the soul, a harbor and refuge for the storm-tossed life. There is no peace like the mind that is fixed on God through his Word. The soul is made strong when it is resting in God's truth. 2. Read Christian biographies. Read the biographies of great Christians who sacrificed their all for God. 3. Read the Puritans. The English Puritans of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had a strong faith and a way of communicating essential spiritual truths in a way that transcends time.
From Job 9, the application is on how to find comfort in times of suffering:
When hurting deeply, what are some practical steps believers can take to find comfort for their aching hearts? 1. Memorize and meditate on Scripture. The Word of God is always a soothing balm to a sorrowful heart. Scripture in the heart is the greatest healer of a troubled life. 2. Stay plugged in to Christian fellowship. Believers need the strength that other Christians can provide. 3. Have a prayer partner. 4. Minister to someone else. Take your focus off yourself and place it on others. 5. Listen to good Christian music. The psalmist says that God inhabits the praises of his people. 6. Maintain physical exercise. Walk, jog, ride a bike, plant a garden, or take up a new hobby.
From Job 23, the focus is on finding God.
Where can we find God? Several spiritual truths need to be kept in mind. 1. God is found in his Word. God primarily makes himself known in the pages of Scripture. The written Word of God is the chief place in which he has chosen to reveal himself to man. 2. God is represented by his Son. There is only one way to come before God, who is revealed in his Word, and that is through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. God is revealed by his Spirit. All spiritual truth about God must be revealed by his Spirit. 


  • At the core of a healthy, vital relationship with God is a trembling heart that stands in awe of his majesty.
  • When answers are not forthcoming and trials overwhelm us, it is in these difficult times that the greatest worship is offered to God. Believers must respond as Job did in these dark hours by worshipping God.
  • If you are to remain strong in your faith, you must be vigilant in your spiritual life and remain firmly anchored to God.
  • “God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have a mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Therefore, I will trust Him. Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me—still He knows what He is about.” ~ John Henry Newman
  • Believers must purpose to look to God, or they will be overwhelmed by feelings of despair.
  • Trusting God does not mean God's people do not experience pain. But it does mean they believe that God is at work through their adversity for their ultimate good. 
  • God is both a God of judgment and a God of love. But one without the other is not God.
  • C. S. Lewis quipped, “If Satan's arsenal of weapons were restricted to a single one, it would be discouragement.”
  • No matter how great our trial or suffering may be, God remains greater still.
  • Never will God deviate from his eternal purpose.
  • It is when discouragement threatens to overwhelm us that God's grace is multiplied in lives that are yielded to him.
  • We live for the glory of God; we suffer for the glory of God; we endure for the glory of God.
  • As believers, one way we honor God is by the way we go through our trials.
  • Half of the truth is no truth, and no truth is a lie. Thus Job had been listening to the devil's voice in the voice of Bildad.
  • Wrong thoughts about God inevitably lead to wrong thoughts about ourselves.
  • God will not take us home until we have fulfilled our purpose. While we have life and opportunity, we need to do what God has called us to do. 
  • If we are to truly know him, we must enter into the fellowship of his suffering. Human pain identifies us with Christ, who knew adversity in this world. He lived with the cross before him and suffered under the most grueling death imaginable.
  • Robert Murray McCheyne once stated, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”
  • As Martin Luther once said, “I can only bring God's Word to the ear but can go no further. The Holy Spirit must take the Word from the ear to the heart.”
  • God's sovereignty over all heaven and earth should evoke awe in the hearts of all people.
  • True worship of God is fueled by a deepened knowledge of God. Head knowledge that does not lead to heart worship is worthless and leads only to pride. But when our knowledge of God is growing in depth and fervor, our worship will also grow in depth and fervor. Is your worship fueled by your knowledge of God?
  • “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.” D. L. Moody

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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