Job’s Absolute Trust in God

March 2, 2014 / No. 3713

Dear Radio Friends,
The words we consider today are a great treasure, a gem, a jewel of great price. In Job 13:15, Job says, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
Great treasures are not easily come by. In fact, what makes them so precious is the pain and trouble that has gone into producing and accumulating them. That’s true of Job’s confession here. These words are a wonderful illustration of what Jesus says in Luke 6:45: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good…for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Job’s words do not come from nowhere, out of the blue, but rather they show what Job prior to this had been storing up in his heart, and now, out of that treasure-house, his mouth speaks. Job’s words reveal that he is a man of great faith.
When Job says, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,” he answers both the slander of Satan and the charge of his three friends. Satan’s accusation was that Job feared God only for his wealth and prosperity and good physical health, that God with these good things had put a hedge of protection around Job, and that it was only because of this that Job feared God. His claim was that, should Job lose all he had, God’s grace could never sustain and preserve him in his faith. How ably Satan is answered in these words of Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Job is saying, “Yes, God has taken my wealth and health and family from me, yet I still trust Him. And, should He go the next step and take away my life, I will still trust Him.” In one sentence he silences the Devil. And we see here the importance of truth in fighting Satan, of the Word of God as a sword against our spiritual enemies.
In his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” Martin Luther wrote these words.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure;
One little word shall fell him.
One little word from Job’s mouth, and Satan is silenced. You see, this is how you defeat Satan, with the Word of God.
This little word from Job also answers Job’s friends, who had insinuated that Job was a hypocrite, that all his trouble had come because he was hiding some great sin, which he needed to confess, and from which he needed to turn in repentance. These words of Job are the best answer to their accusation, for no one but a sincere child of God would say this. Would a hypocrite trust in God, when God slays him? Will a deceiver cling to God when God is smiting him? Of course not. Job’s faith and godliness shine through here, and it is only because of their own pride and arrogance that his friends do not see it.
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
Job’s confession here is in expression of his absolute trust and faith in God. Job envisions the ultimate test of his faith, and says that even then, he will cling to God. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
To see that, we need to be careful to interpret these words of Job properly. What does Job mean when he says, “Though he slay me?”
Let us understand first, what Job is not saying.
Job is not saying that this would be preferable, that he would prefer it if God slew him, that it would be easier for him to trust God, if God just took away his life. He is not advocating mercy killing, or begging God to kill him. Earlier in the book, in chapter 3, Job did this when, in bitterness of soul and deep dark depression, he said that he longed for death, and he asked, Why is life given to the man whose way is hid?
But now, instead of thinking of those earlier words of Job, we should actually think of God’s earlier words to Satan, in chapter 2, “He is in thy hand, but save his life.” God is saying to Satan, I will allow any agony in Job’s life, but not the last and bitter enemy of death. I will keep Job from the worst.
Job also does not mean by this, as some commentators have it, that should God send him to hell, he would still trust in Him. That is impossible, because there is no one in hell who trusts in God. All who trust in God are spared from hell. The only one who suffered hell, and still trusted in God, was God’s own Son, Jesus, who, when He in our place suffered the bitterest pains and torments of hell on the cross, cried out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” He expressed what hell is, to be forsaken of God, and yet, in that moment when He experienced such agony, He still said, “My God.” No mere man could do that. It was only because He was the eternal and all-powerful Son of God that Jesus could say that. There is wonderful comfort here for all who trust in God. God may slay you, but He will never send you to hell. Jesus has paid the price, taken our place, and redeemed us from eternal death.
Also, Job is not being reckless here with his words, in order to get one up on his friends who are spouting off. Job is not boasting here, “Though he slay me….” Someone who does not know what it is to be tested and tried might do that. Maybe a Christian who has never been physically persecuted for his faith, or who has never experienced the pain of death, might boastingly say, “When that time comes, I will trust in God.” No, Job is not boasting in good times. Rather, he is already going through the most intense trial that any man could know. He has lost his wealth, his children, his support, his friends, his sense of God’s love, and from the midst of that trial he expresses his absolute trust in God.
And neither is Job talking flippantly about death here. No, he knows the justice of God and he knows his own sin. He knows that at death we must all stand before God the judge. Later in the chapter he prays, “How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgression and my sin.” Someone who prays that, does not flippantly say, “let God kill me.” Job is not acquiescing here to the advice of his wife, “Curse God and die.”
No, still he acknowledges the sovereignty of God. “Though he slay me.” He is saying that God has the right to do that, God is the one who kills and makes alive (Deut. 32:39). With the psalmist in Psalm 31 he says, “My times are in thy hand.” The right to life belongs to God, God has the right to slay him and God might yet do that. And he realizes that should God slay him, that would be the ultimate test of his faith.
“Though he slay me” is an all-inclusive statement. Job includes here every possible evil that God could send to him. He includes in this statement all the trouble that God has already sent on him. Though God has taken away flock and field, family and friends, health and happiness; though all God has left me with is a pile of ashes and broken pieces of pottery, yet will I trust in Him.
Included in this statement of Job is also the physical and spiritual pain that he endures. Job is smitten with the most excruciating pain from his toes to his head; so sore is he, that he cannot sleep, that he has no appetite, and that he scrapes away, hoping for the slightest relief. In his soul, he does not experience the love of God, he does not have peace and joy, but only bitterness, and yet he says, “I will trust in Him.”
This bold confession includes the loss of loved ones dear to him, his ten children. Let us think about that a minute. The Lord may suddenly take away from you the dearest person in your life—your husband or your wife. Can you trust Him then? He might take out of your home dear children. You may have to sit and watch a spouse, a child, your closest companion, suffer and die. Will you trust Him?
Commenting on this Charles Spurgeon says,
You may be the last of the roses, left alone, scarcely blooming, but bowing your head amid the heavy showers of sorrow which drench you to the soul. Now, believer, if you are in such a deplorable case as that, can you still say, “If the Lord should go even further than this, should his next arrows penetrate my own lacerated heart, even then, as I bleed in death, I will kiss his hand”?
You see, this statement not only includes what Job has experienced thus far, but goes to the extreme possibility, to what Job has not yet experienced, to death. Death is bitter. Death is the last enemy. Death is final.
We read Job’s words, and we wonder, Could I say such a thing? “Should God slay me, I will trust in Him.” Can you say that? Let us imagine that this week you find out you have terminal cancer that cannot be treated, and the doctor says you should count your remaining days not in years and months, but in weeks and days. The clear will of God is that you are going to die. Would you able to say, “God is slaying me, and I will trust in Him?” Maybe you are a family man, with seven or eight mouths to feed, and a wife who needs your daily moral and spiritual support; or maybe you are a young person, just coming into the prime of your life with a large and bright future before you; or maybe you are a mother who is constantly needed in the home—so much and so many depend on you…. And God says, “Your time has come!” You will die, not just by cancer or car accident or some other means, but God Himself says, “I am going to take away your life, I will slay you”—how, under such a trial, can the believer confess, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him”?
This is what Job is saying.
It is an amazing confession of absolute trust in God.
Job’s faith here includes these four elements:
Job depends on God completely.
Job believes in God only.
Job hopes in God entirely.
Job waits on God patiently.
This is his faith.
First, he depends on God completely. In faith, Job throws himself entirely on the Lord. Here, as Job considers the possibility of his own death, he realizes that there is nowhere else to turn, there is no one else on whom he can depend. Did you ever think about that? In death, there is no one else that can save or deliver you or bring you comfort or hope. In death, you lose all contact with the living and you are alone with God. Should God slay you, will you trust Him or curse Him? God is the only one who can bring any consolation and comfort in death. That comfort comes through believing in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who through His death conquered the curse of the grave. You see, death is not just physical. You do not go to the grave and that is the end of it. No, there is also spiritual and eternal death, the torment of hell for sins unpaid. And trusting in Jesus Christ, who died for sin, is the only way that we can face death with any confidence. Job throws himself here on the Lord. Later in the book he specifically confesses his trust in Jesus Christ, when he says, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that even though this body will be eaten by worms, yet in my flesh shall I see God. Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. That is complete dependence.
Second, in faith Job believes in God only. His friends have said a lot of things to him. His bitter circumstances seem to tell their own story. But Job’s faith is in the supernatural, not the natural. He is not an evidentialist or a scientist who believes only what he sees. No, Job trusts in the revelation of God, in God’s promises, and in God’s greater unseen work of salvation. He knows God as Sovereign and Good. These are the treasures that Job has been storing up in his heart, and out of the abundance of that heart, he now speaks. His faith in God is a faith in God’s revelation. And that, dear friends, is true faith. Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is not a guessing game. Faith does not come through observation. But faith is a trust in what God has said about Himself, it is to believe for true all that He has revealed in His Word, the Bible. How privileged we are to have the Scriptures in our hands. Living in Abraham’s Day, Job did not have this. There was at that time no written Word of God. Instead, Job depended on an oral tradition of God’s promises and of history, and on occasional special revelations through an angel or a prophet. What Job knew was just a sketch compared to what we have in the Bible. And yet Job’s faith was this, that he believed in God alone.
Third, in faith Job hoped in God entirely. The word that is used in the passage here for trust, “yet will I trust in him,” is actually the Hebrew word for “hope.” “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” Job’s situation looked hopeless. He had lost everything, and contemplating the possibility that God would slay him on top of all this, things sure looked hopeless. But Job, in hope, looks beyond his circumstances to God and to the eternal things that God has in store for him. “Hope” describes the child of God’s life in this world. As Christian’s we live in hope. We do not live for the here and the now, but we live in hope of heaven. And again, this was something Job had always done. Even in his prosperity Job didn’t set his heart on his wealth. He was a spiritually minded man, who had his eye fixed on God and heaven and eternal realities. He found out that health, wealth, and earthly relationships will disappoint, but he also knew that God would never disappoint, and so he hoped in Him. When we speak of our hope as Christians, we are not simply describing a desire for something different. Generally we use the word that way. If we are sick, we say, “I hope I feel better soon”; or if it is raining, we say, “I hope the sun will come out.” But we do not know whether what we hope for will actually happen. Our Christian hope is different from that. Yes, it is a desire for something different and better—that describes our longing—but our hope is also something sure, because the object for which we long is real and it has already been secured for us. Heaven is real, and Jesus has opened the way for us to go there. He is there preparing a place for us, so that he make take us to be with him. Our hope will never make us ashamed (Rom. 5:5). So Job’s hope goes beyond death, to heaven. That is why he can say, though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.
Then fourth, Job’s faith is a patient waiting on God. In faith he rested in God, he believed God’s word, he hoped beyond the present, but also he waited. That is a part of faith, waiting on God. We do not always and immediately receive the thing for which we hope, and so we have to wait on God; we have to endure and persevere through difficult situations. That is what Job did, and here, especially, he stands out as an example for us. In James 5:11, we read, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” Trusting in God, Job endured under a very heavy burden and persevered through the trial. No, Job did not do this perfectly, he did ask questions that he should not have, but there was one thing Job did, this, that he clung to God. He did not let go.
And that is because God was clinging to Job. God did not let Job go. In Psalm 51, David prays, “Take not thy Spirit from me.” God never took His Spirit from Job. Job’s faith in God was the result of an inseparable and permanent union between God and Job, by the Holy Spirit. That explains Job’s confession too. What Jesus said to Peter after his beautiful confession, applies here to Job, and to any believer who sits with Job and says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Jesus said to Peter, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Only by the powerful work of God’s Spirit can anyone look death in the face and say to God who brings it, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
Job’s faith is the remarkable and miraculous fruit of the work of God’s sovereign grace in his heart. We remember it was God who challenged Satan with the words, “Hast thou considered my servant Job?” God was confident that Job’s faith would not fail, because God Himself had chosen, saved, and changed Job. And that is our confidence too as sometimes we contemplate difficult situations that we have not yet experienced and that we can hardly imagine having to go through. God’s grace will sustain, and through the trial itself, God will strengthen our trust in Him.
The best place for Job to be, spiritually, was right here, on the ash heap, in pain and grief, because from here Job looked to God, and made this glorious confession, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
Oh may God so sustain and teach us in our trials.
Let us pray,
Father, we can hardly imagine having to go through what Job experienced, and yet, unless Christ comes soon, all of us at some time will have to face death. Our times are in Thy hand. Lord, sustain us so that we will be able then to say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Give to us the faith of Job, so that we depend on Thee, believe Thy Word, hope in things unseen, and bear patiently through trial. For Jesus’ sake we pray. Amen.