The book of Job fits in with the book of Proverbs as a book of kingly training. It begins with the familiar story of this great and wealthy man who loses everything he has — his family, his home, his servants, animals, and crops — all in one day. He is plagued with sores from head to foot and his friends, the advisers or counselors of this great, powerful man, come to sit with him and comfort him. But they don’t. They sit with him for seven days without saying anything. When Job finally speaks, saying, It would be better if I’d never been born, they pounce on him and begin to attack, accusing him of unbelief and unrepentance. The innocent are not torn down like this, they say; you are guilty of sin. Repent! “God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.” A man reaps what he sows. This at least is certainly true. But Job’s friends reason backwards. If we sin and try to cover it up, we can expect trouble to find us. But it doesn’t follow that if we have trouble, then it means we must have sinned.
Job maintains his innocence, rejecting their false accusations, and longs to plead his case before God, the Judge. The beginning of the story — the part we get to see that Job didn’t, the conversation in heaven between God and the Accuser — shows us that Job is not just being caught in the machinery. “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” He is not being punished for sin. He is not being crushed merely on the whim of a capricious devil. God initiates and maintains a watchful eye over the whole process. The trials that He sends Job, and the accusers He sends to wrestle with him, are for his training in kingly rule. Job gains his victory by clinging to God in trust. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away; blessed be the name of Yahweh.” “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” “Though he slay me, I will hope in him”
Certainly Paul recognizes this same progression in his trials. “I am being poured out as a drink offering… I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.” Victory and kingship come through our suffering, our struggles, our wrestling because in our suffering we follow Christ. He has gone before us in this; He leads the way, and He is our hope.