9月8日-Job and the Problem of Suffering

约伯记1-3章

约伯与苦难的问题-Job and the Problem of Suffering

Now, some 45 years following the first deportation from Judah, God’s chosen nation continues to be a dispersed people. By this time many of them must wonder if there is still a God—not a “state God” attached to a nation which has been virtually destroyed, but a personal God who knows their personal misery and still cares. Even the wicked and rebellious exiles, who by now must have bent their knees in prayer for deliverance, are surely thinking that God no longer hears them. For a nation in suffering, there are many questions to be asked: how can they believe in a God who would allow such suffering? On the other hand, how can they curse God in times of adversity when he has previously brought such prosperity? Is their faith to be contingent upon economic well-being?

The ones who must be the most perplexed, however, are the faithful ones who never understood their personal involvement in the first place. After remaining true to God while almost everyone else chased after idolatry and wickedness, their reward has been the same—and sometimes worse. They too were taken captive. They too saw swords enter their children’s bodies. In the siege of Jerusalem they had starved and been victims of pestilence and plague. Here in captivity they still often go hungry and are poorly clothed. Whatever happened to the promise that the righteous would be blessed? Why were some of the wicked not taken into exile, but rather allowed to prosper under the same government that has enslaved their fellow countrymen? Where is the justice of God in these circumstances? And if punishment is for the wicked, what sin has led to the suffering of the righteous?

Of course these are the same questions which every generation asks about death, sorrow, pain, and suffering. But because his people are suffering so greatly at this time, it may well be that God chooses this context in which to give at least some insight into both the thorny theological issues and the intense emotional feelings of individual sufferers. Although there is a wide difference of opinion about its date, one of the most outstanding masterpieces in all of literature is possibly written during this period. The writing is in the form of a historical poem. It is historical in that it is based upon the life of one of the early patriarchs named Job. Job’s steadfastness following more adversity than most people will ever face has been legendary. Even the prophet Ezekiel referred to Job, along with Noah and Daniel, as a man of great righteousness. And yet Job apparently struggled with the reasons for his adversity before coming to peace about it. Therefore it is altogether fitting that this poem addressing the problem of suffering be based upon Job’s personal struggle.

There is still another reason why Job is a most appropriate choice. At this time when people are in search of a personal God, the writer takes them back before their own prophets, before the teaching of the law, before the promises made to Abraham, to a man who is not even one of the children of Israel. He is just a lone human being who finds himself in terrible suffering for no apparent reason.

The first scene of the poem opens with a picture of Job’s enviable prosperity, then turns quickly to a conversation between God and Satan. When God points to Job as an example of a righteous man, Satan suggests that Job remains righteous only because of his prosperity. God permits Satan to test this theory by removing Job’s prosperity. Job’s faith remains intact. So Satan next suggests that his personal suffering will bring curses against God. Once again Job disappoints Satan.

In the second scene, Job still does not curse God, but he does put some hard questions to God. Why must he, a righteous man, suffer? What sins have brought on his pain? Why is God so inconsistent in his punishment of the wicked? Throughout the presentation of Job’s case against God, three of Job’s friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—argue against him. They try to convince him that the answer lies in a simple syllogism: God always punishes sin; suffering is the result of sin; therefore Job is more of a sinner than he is willing to admit. Throughout it all, Job maintains his innocence and demands to know God’s rationale.

The third scene introduces a young man named Elihu who claims that neither Job nor his friends are correct. God does not act capriciously, as Job claims, and suffering is not necessarily the result of sin, as Job’s friends claim. Elihu argues that suffering is often used by God to teach lessons and to strengthen a person.

In the final scene God himself speaks to Job and demands to know what right Job has to question the Creator of the universe about his ways. Job’s humble response demonstrates the depth of his righteous character, and his prosperity is restored.

# 约伯记(JOB)
## 约伯之善行
[1:1] 乌斯地有一个人,名叫约伯;那人完全正直,敬畏神,远离恶事。
## 约伯之富有
[1:2] 他生了七个儿子,三个女儿。
[1:3] 他的家产有七千羊,三千骆驼,五百对牛,五百母驴,并有许多仆婢。这人在东方人中就为至大。
[1:4] 他的儿子按着日子,各在自己家里设摆筵宴,就打发人去请了他们的三个姊妹来,与他们一同吃喝。
[1:5] 筵宴的日子过了,约伯打发人去叫他们自洁。他清早起来,按着他们众人的数目献燔祭;因为他说:「恐怕我儿子犯了罪,心中弃掉神。」约伯常常这样行。
[1:6] 有一天,神的众子来侍立在耶和华面前,撒但也来在其中。
[1:7] 耶和华问撒但说:「你从哪里来?」撒但回答说:「我从地上走来走去,往返而来。」
[1:8] 耶和华问撒但说:「你曾用心察看我的仆人约伯没有?地上再没有人像他完全正直,敬畏神,远离恶事。」
[1:9] 撒但回答耶和华说:「约伯敬畏神岂是无故呢?
[1:10] 你岂不是四面圈上篱笆围护他和他的家,并他一切所有的吗?他手所作的都蒙你赐福;他的家产也在地上增多。
[1:11] 你且伸手毁他一切所有的,他必当面弃掉你。」
[1:12] 耶和华对撒但说:「凡他所有的都在你手中,只是不可伸手加害于他。」于是撒但从耶和华面前退去。
## 约伯受试炼
[1:13] 有一天,约伯的儿女正在他们长兄的家里吃饭喝酒,
[1:14] 有报信的来见约伯说:「牛正耕地,驴在旁边吃草,
[1:15] 示巴人忽然闯来,把牲畜掳去,并用刀杀了仆人;惟有我一人逃脱,来报信给你。」
[1:16] 他还说话的时候,又有人来说:「神从天上降下火来,将群羊,和仆人都烧灭了;惟有我一人逃脱,来报信给你。」
[1:17] 他还说话的时候,又有人来说:「迦勒底人分作三队,忽然闯来,把骆驼掳去,并用刀杀了仆人;惟有我一人逃脱,来报信给你。」
[1:18] 他还说话的时候,又有人来说:「你的儿女正在他们长兄的家里吃饭喝酒,
[1:19] 不料有狂风从旷野刮来,击打房屋的四角,房屋倒塌在少年人身上,他们就都死了;惟有我一人逃脱,来报信给你。」
## 约伯之忍耐
[1:20] 约伯便起来,撕裂外袍,剃了头,伏在地上下拜,
[1:21] 说:「我赤身出于母胎,也必赤身归回。赏赐的是耶和华,收取的也是耶和华。耶和华的名是应当称颂的。」
[1:22] 在这一切的事上,约伯并不犯罪,也不以神为愚妄。
# 约伯记(JOB)
## 约伯之三友
[2:1] 又有一天,神的众子来侍立在耶和华面前,撒但也来在其中。
[2:2] 耶和华问撒但说:「你从哪里来?」撒但回答说:「我从地上走来走去,往返而来。」
[2:3] 耶和华问撒但说:「你曾用心察看我的仆人约伯没有?地上再没有人像他完全正直,敬畏神,远离恶事。你虽激动我攻击他,无故的毁灭他,他仍然持守他的纯正。」
[2:4] 撒但回答耶和华说:「人以皮代皮,情愿舍去一切所有的,保全性命。
[2:5] 你且伸手伤他的骨头,和他的肉,他必当面弃掉你。」
[2:6] 耶和华对撒但说:「他在你手中,只要存留他的性命。」
[2:7] 于是撒但从耶和华面前退去,击打约伯,使他从脚掌到头顶长毒疮。
[2:8] 约伯就坐在炉灰中,拿瓦片刮身体。
[2:9] 他的妻子对他说:「你仍然持守你的纯正吗?你弃掉神,死了吧!」
[2:10] 约伯却对他说:「你说话像愚顽的妇人一样。嗳!难道我们从神手里得福,不也受祸吗?」在这一切的事上,约伯并不以口犯罪。
[2:11] 约伯的三个朋友,提幔人以利法、书亚人比勒达、拿玛人琐法,听说有这一切的灾祸临到他身上,各人就从本处约会同来,为他悲伤,安慰他。
[2:12] 他们远远的举目观看,认不出他来,就放声大哭。各人撕裂外袍,把尘土向天扬起来,落在自己的头上。
[2:13] 他们就同他七天七夜坐在地上,一个人也不向他说句话,因为他极其痛苦。
# 约伯记(JOB)
## 约伯自诅其诞辰
[3:1] 此后,约伯开口咒诅自己的生日,
[3:2] 说:
[3:3] 「愿我生的那日,和说怀了男胎的那夜都灭没。
[3:4] 愿那日变为黑暗;愿神不从上面寻找它,愿亮光不照于其上。
[3:5] 愿黑暗和死荫索取那日,愿密云停在其上;愿日蚀恐吓它。
[3:6] 愿那夜被幽暗夺取,不在年中的日子同乐,也不入月中的数目。
[3:7] 愿那夜没有生育,其间也没有欢乐的声音。
[3:8] 愿那咒诅日子且能惹动鳄鱼的,咒诅那夜。
[3:9] 愿那夜黎明的星宿变为黑暗,盼亮却不亮,也不见早晨的光线。
[3:10] 因没有把怀我胎的门关闭,也没有将患难对我的眼隐藏。
[3:11] 我为何不出母胎而死?为何不出母腹绝气?
[3:12] 为何有膝接收我?为何有奶哺养我?
[3:13] 不然,我就早已躺卧安睡,
[3:14] 和地上为自己重造荒邱的君王、谋士,
[3:15] 或与有金子、将银子装满了房屋的王子一同安息;
[3:16] 或像隐而未现,不到期而落的胎,归于无有,如同未见光的婴孩。
[3:17] 在那里恶人止息搅扰,困乏人得享安息,
[3:18] 被囚的人同得安逸,不听见督工的声音。
[3:19] 大小都在那里;奴仆脱离主人的辖制。
## 约伯自言死为美
[3:20] 受患难的人为何有光赐给他呢?心中愁苦的人为何有生命赐给他呢?
[3:21] 他们切望死,却不得死;求死,胜于求隐藏的珍宝。
[3:22] 他们寻见坟墓就快乐,极其欢喜。
[3:23] 人的道路既然遮隐,神又把他四面围困,为何有光赐给他呢?
[3:24] 我未曾吃饭,就发出叹息;我唉哼的声音涌出如水。
[3:25] 因我所恐惧的临到我身;我所惧怕的迎我而来。
[3:26] 我不得安逸,不得平静,也不得安息,却有患难来到。」

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