Summary: The restoration of Job.
A NEW VISION OF GOD
The prose narrative bookends of the epic poem which is the Book of Job provide us at either end with the same judgment of Job’s character.
Twice in the first two chapters the LORD taunts Satan with the integrity of Job (Job 1:8; Job 2:3). Twice Satan questions the motive for Job’s integrity. Twice the LORD gives a controlled permission for Satan to do his worst!
Job thereafter lost property, family, servants, health, and the support of his grieving wife (who mocks him for keeping his integrity, Job 2:9). At first Job was supported in the silence of his companions on the ash-heap, but then he was subjected to accusations and taunts which can only have added to his anguish. Yet ultimately the LORD is the only judge to whom the integrity of man must answer, and His verdict is announced to the astonished friends: despite all of Job’s complaints and questions, he is the one who has spoken of the LORD “the things that are right” (Job 42:7-8).
There are times when it seems that the LORD is far off, that He has withdrawn Himself from us. Sometimes this is on account of sin, as Job’s friends seemed convinced was the case with Job. Yet, as Jesus taught His disciples in the case of the man born blind, that is not always the cause (John 9:1-3).
There is such a thing as speaking truth into raw emotion. Imagine a situation where you are one of the worship team in the Temple at Jerusalem, and you are taken hostage to Samaria (cf. 2 Kings 14:14). On the way your heart identifies with a deer panting for water as you find yourself yearning for the things of God from which you have been so recently, so suddenly, and so violently dragged away (Psalm 42:1-3).
You reflect on the past which seems now lost to you (Psalm 42:4), but you also ask questions of God. You summon up courage to hope in the midst of affliction (Psalm 42:5). You are still downcast, but you will yourself to keep your God in mind (Psalm 42:6).
You reassure yourself of the LORD’s unfailing covenant love; and even in the night, the dark night of your soul, you continue to praise Him (Psalm 42:8; cf. Acts 16:25). You call out to the Rock of your salvation - Jesus - but it seems that there is no answer (Psalm 42:9-10). Yet still you persist, and dare to hope for a restoration to the familiar place of His closeness (Psalm 42:11).
You cry out to God again in your pain. You seek vindication against those who taunt you, who are questioning your faith (Psalm 43:1-2). You gain courage as you reflect on the light, truth, and covenant faithfulness of your God, and you dare to envisage an end to your exile (Psalm 43:3-5).
Our sense of separation from God is only possible because we have a relationship with Him. In the case of Adam and Eve, it was God who, in His grace, came seeking after them (Genesis 3:8-9). In the case of the prodigal son, the young man first came to his senses, set out back to his father’s house - and found his father running out to greet him (Luke 15:20).