Job 29: Lessons from Job’s Description of His Life Before His Trials Regarding the Signs of a Faithful Believer

Introduction: Job 29 describes the blessings that Job enjoyed from his faithful service. This chapter provides a contrast to Job’s description in the next chapter of his many struggles after his trials began. Through the example of Job’s life before his trials, God reveals seven signs of a faithful believer. These include: (1) faithfully seeking after God, (2) gratitude, (3) discipleship, (4) giving, (5) seeking God’s renewal and peace, (6) justice, and (7) God’s honor and respect.

First, despite losing his family, his health, and his wealth, Job lamented most his perceived loss of God’s fellowship. Faithful believers also value their relationship with God. Second, Job praised God for his abundant blessings. Faithful believers also praise God for all their provision and blessings. Third, Job lamented how he could no longer share God’s wisdom to help those in need. Faithful believers also seek to mentor and discipline others through God’s Word. Fourth, Job missed how he used to be able to help the poor and those in need with his God-given resources. Faithful believers also show love and charity to those in need. Fifth, Job previously used his power and influence to be a source of God’s justice to protect the oppressed. Faithful believers should also be a source of God’s justice in the world. Sixth, Job lamented how he could always turn to God in the past for renewal and peace after any trial. Faithful believers also seek out God’s renewal and peace after any trial. Finally, as a result of his faithful service, God blessed Job with honor and respect. Faithful believers will also receive God’s honor and respect. If that honor and respect does not come on Earth, God will pour out these rewards in heaven.

Faith: Faithful Believers Value Most Their Relationship With God. Job 29:1-5.

  • Job’s greatest lament was his perceived loss of God’s fellowship. After Job’s description of the value of God’s wisdom, he lamented his perceived loss of God’s fellowship. Although Job was mistaken, he grieved more about this than anything else: “1 Job again took up his discourse and said, ‘Oh that I were as in months gone by, as in the days when God watched over me; when His lamp shone over my head, and by His light I walked through darkness; just as I was in the days of my youth, when the protection of God was over my tent; when the Almighty was still with me, and my children were around me;”’ (Job 29:1-5). A normal person might have ranked the loss of their children as their greatest loss. Others might have complained more about their lost heath, income, or status. Job’s ranking of what he missed most showed one of the reasons why he is considered a hero of the faith. Job “especially longed for the days before he lost his sense of God’s closeness. There was a time when he felt that God watched over him; and those days were gone. . . . Job fondly remembered the days when it seemed that God was for him rather than against him. It reminds us of the fact that Job’s great crisis after his catastrophic losses was primarily spiritual, in that he did not sense the support and succor of God in the aftermath of his loss.” (David Guzik on Job 29).1

Job lamented his perceived loss of fellowship with God2

  • God blesses and watches over those who put their faith in Him. Although God had never left Job, Job correctly stated that God had “watched over me;” (Job 29:2). Even Satan complained that God had protected Job with a hedge of protection: “Have You not made a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.” (Job 1:10). The psalmist also praised God for placing “measuring lines” around him where God had poured out His many blessings: “The measuring lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, my inheritance is beautiful to me.” (Ps. 16:6). If God withholds a blessing from a person of faith like Job, He will only do so because of some greater good (Ro. 8:28). Unless an exception applies, God promises to pour out His blessings upon you when you walk in faith-led obedience. This is one of many reasons to praise Him.

  • God is a light to the righteous. As part of the blessings that Job enjoyed for his faith, he praised God because “His lamp shone over my head, and by His light I walked through darkness;” (Job 29:3). God repeatedly promises to light the path of those who walk in faith-led obedience: “The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked goes out.” (Prov. 13:9). “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Prov. 4:18). His light is inside every believer: “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14a). “so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” (Phil. 2:15). Even when you are in the midst of a trial, you can praise God for guiding you with His light.

  • God is with those who put their trust in Him. Job also praised God for protecting him “just as I was in the days of my youth, when the protection of God was over my tent;” (Job 29:4). And he praised God for the blessings of His fellowship: “when the Almighty was still with me, and my children were around me;”’ (Job 29:5). God is spiritually “intimate” with those who walk in faith-led obedience: “For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; but He is intimate with the upright.” (Prov. 3:32). “The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD, but the blameless in their walk are His delight.” (Prov. 11:20). “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the Law of the LORD.” (Ps. 119:1). Are you praising God for His blessing of fellowship?

  • Jesus offers His fellowship to you if you seek Him in faith. God promises His fellowship to anyone who earnestly seeks Him in faith: “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Dt. 4:29). Jesus made this same offer to believers at Laodicea. They were saved. But they were not walking in fellowship with Him: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). Are you seeking out Jesus’ fellowship?

2. Gratitude: Faithful Believers Praise God for All Their Provision and Blessings. Job 29:6.

  • Job gave God the credit for his abundance. Job then praised God for His many blessings, including his ten children and his great wealth: ‘“6 when my steps were bathed in cream, and the rock poured out streams of oil for me!”’ (Job 29:6). Job never took credit for these blessings: “Job never forgets to refer his prosperity to God, or to be grateful to him for it (see Job 1:21Job 2:10Job 10:8-12, etc.).” (Pulpit Commentary on Job 29).3

Job was grateful for his chance to use God’s blessings to serve others4

  • The physical things that God gives you are temporary blessings. Job described his children and wealth as a luxury that he knew he could only enjoy for a season: “He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21). This theme is repeated throughout the Bible: “As he came naked from his mother’s womb, so he will return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand.” (Ecc. 5:15). “For when he dies, he will take nothing with him; His wealth will not descend after him.” (Ps. 49:17). “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it, either.” (1 Tim. 6:7). Are you treating the physical blessings in your life as temporary blessings from God?

  • Praise God for whatever blessings you receive. In Moses’ final song of praise before his death, he praised God for God’s abundant provision: “He had him ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the field; and He had him suck honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock, curds of the herd, and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs and rams, the breed of Bashan, and of goats, with the best of the wheat; and you drank wine of the blood of grapes.” (Dt. 32:13-14). The psalmist also prayed that he never forget to praise God for His blessings: “May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.” (Ps. 137:6). You should always find a reason to praise God: “19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father;” (Eph. 5:19-20). Are you praising God for His many blessings?

3. Discipleship: Faithful Believers Seek to Mentor and Disciple Others. Job 29:7-11.

  • Job was blessed when he was able to share his God-given wisdom with others. Job also praised God for the honor to be able to share his God-given wisdom with others in need: ‘“When I went out to the gate of the city, when I took my seat in the public square, the young men saw me and hid themselves, and the old men arose and stood. The leaders stopped talking and put their hands on their mouths; 10 the voices of the prominent people were hushed, and their tongues stuck to their palates. 11 For when an ear heard, it called me blessed, and when an eye saw, it testified in support of me,”’ (Job 29:7-11). It might appear that Job was merely lamenting his lost respect. But the context explains otherwise. His “seat in the public square” (Job 29:7) meant that he helped to judge or resolve public disputes. He was blessed to share God’s wisdom with those in need. The reaction that Job describes means that God gave others ears to hear his God-given words.

Job was once able to share his God-given wisdom and wealth with others5

  • You are blessed with the opportunity to teach and mentor with God’s Word. In Moses’ final song of praise before his death, he also praised God for letting God use him to bless others by teaching God’s law to others: “May my teaching drip as the rain, my speech trickle as the dew, as droplets on the fresh grass, and as the showers on the vegetation.” (Dt. 32:2). “For I give you good teaching; do not abandon my instruction.” (Prov. 4:2). “My son, do not forget my teaching, but have your heart comply with my commandments;” (Prov. 3:1). “You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.” (Dt. 16:18). When you bless others by teaching God’s Word and sharing His wisdom, those with faith will rejoice: “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked person rules, people groan.” (Prov. 29:2). For example, the people of Persia rejoiced when Mordecai was able to use his position of influence to govern with the wisdom of God’s Word: “Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in a royal robe of violet and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced.” (Esther 8:15). The people of Egypt were also blessed with Joseph’s wise administration. They had food during seven long years of drought (Gen. 41:54). Are you using God’s Word to bless others who are struggling in darkness or despair?

  • Disciple one another in God’s Word. The commandment to disciple others with God’s Word is one of the greatest callings for any believer: “19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19–20). “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”’ (Mk. 16:15). “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). When you disciple others, you bless them, instruct them, and convict them (2 Tim. 3:16). Are you blessing others by teaching and mentoring with the Word?

4. Giving: Faithful Believers Show Love and Charity to Those in Need. Job 29:12-13.

  • Job was blessed when he was able to share love and charity with others. Job also praised God because he had the opportunity to use his tremendous wealth to help others in need: ‘“12 because I saved the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper. 13 The blessing of the one who was about to perish came upon me, and I made the widow’s heart sing for joy.”’ (Job 29:12-13). Job was not boasting of his works. Instead, as a man of God, he understood his role in blessing others. Wealth is not unholy. It is the love of wealth, covetousness, and hoarding that are against God’s intended use of wealth (1 Tim. 6:10). God may therefore withhold this blessing if it causes you to sin.

  • God promises to bless those who give to those in need with the right motives. If you give to help others in need, God promises to bless you either spiritually or financially: “A generous person will be prosperous, and one who gives others plenty of water will himself be given plenty.” (Prov. 11:25). “One who is gracious to a poor person lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.” (Prov. 19:17). “For the music director. A Psalm of David. Blessed is one who considers the helpless; the LORD will save him on a day of trouble.” (Ps. 41:1). “You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work, and in all your undertakings.” (Dt. 15:10). Giving is the only area where God invites you to test Him. When you give with the right motives and without seeking your own material gain, He promises to pour out His blessings: ‘“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and put Me to the test now in this,’ says the LORD of armies, ‘if I do not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”’ (Ma. 3:10).

  • A gift to the poor is a gift to Jesus. Jesus also reveals that you bless Him when you help those who are in need: “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me, either.’” (Matt. 25:45). “And whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” (Matt. 10:42). Are you giving Jesus many reasons to bless you for your love and charity?

  • Your blessing is frequently in proportion to your giving. As was the case with Job, God can withhold a blessing for a number of reasons. Yet, when an exception does not apply and you give with the right motives, God promises to bless you in proportion to your giving: “Now I say this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows generously will also reap generously. Each one must do just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:6-7). Are you sowing blessings and rewards through your service to those in need?

5. Justice: Faithful Believers Are a Source of God’s Justice in the World. Job 29:14-17.

  • Job was blessed when he was able to stop injustice and oppression. Job also praised God because he was able to use his status to be God’s instrument of justice to the oppressed: ‘“14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a headband. 15 I was eyes to those who were blind, and feet to those who could not walk. 16 I was a father to the poor, and I investigated the case which I did not know. 17 I broke the jaws of the wicked and rescued the prey from his teeth.”’ (Job 29:14-17). Job was not a monk who ignored evil in the world. Nor did he believe in separating God from the world. He instead used his power to protect the oppressed and to right the wrongs in his society.

Job previously used his influence to help stop injustice, oppression, and conflict6

  • Be a source of God’s justice in the world. Many believers have sadly accepted the notion that the Church has no place in addressing the needs of society. Yet, God calls upon believers to be His source of justice to the oppressed: “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, obtain justice for the orphan, plead for the widow’s case.” (Is. 1:17). “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.” (Ps. 82:3). “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do justice and righteousness, and save one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. And do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”’ (Jer. 22:3). “May he vindicate the afflicted of the people, save the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor.” (Ps. 72:4). “The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern.” (Prov. 29:7). “Arise, LORD; save me, my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.” (Ps. 3:7). Are you advocating for the oppressed and those in need?

  • Put on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Job stated that he “put on righteousness.” (Job 29:14). This was not self-righteousness. It was instead the righteousness of God. Jesus also wants you to put on the “breastplate of righteousness” as you serve Him: “Stand firm therefore, having belted your waist with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,” (Eph. 6:14). “Also righteousness will be the belt around His hips, and faithfulness the belt around His waist.” (Is. 11:5). “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Is. 13:14). “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Gal. 3:27). To fight the schemes of the devil and to help the oppressed, are you putting on the armor of God?

6. Renewal / Peace: Faithful Believers Seek God’s Renewal and Peace. Job 29:18-20.

  • Job hoped to be renewed and die in peace. Job also celebrated that God gave him and his family peace and security and renewed him like a deep-rooted tree with plenty of water: “18 Then I thought, ‘I will die with my family, and I will multiply my days as the sand. 19 My root is spread out to the waters, and dew lies on my branch all night. 20 My glory is ever new with me, and my bow is renewed in my hand.’” (Job 29:18-20). Some of Job’s words hold a hidden meaning for believers: “Verse 18 is clear that Job expected to live a long life and enjoy a peaceful death. The figures in vv. 19-20 are quite foreign to modern Western ways of describing those desirable dreams . . . ‘Roots’ and ‘branches’ form a merism. For a desert dweller water was all important. In the absence of rain, plants gained moisture through roots that tapped underground water and from nightly dew (Ps. 1:3; Jer. 17:8; Gen. 27:28, 39; 1 Kgs. 17:1; Zech. 8:12), Job had hoped to be similarly nourished and healthy. In 19:9 Job complained that God had stripped him of his ‘honor/glory.’ Here he said how he hoped it would be ‘ever fresh.’ ‘The bow’ represents strength and resilience and is parallel to ‘strong arms’ in Gen. 49:24 (cf. 1 Sam. 2:4). Job expected to be energetic and youthful until the day of his death.”’ (Robert Alden, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 284-85).

  • God frequently renews and sustains those made righteous through faith. God would eventually renew Job and bring him peace. Although the Book of Job shows that God may temporarily withhold a blessing from the faithful to serve some greater purpose (Ro. 8:28), He normally seeks to bless a faithful believer with renewal and peace during or after times of tribulation or trials: “The righteous person will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” (Ps. 92:12). “But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the faithfulness of God forever and ever.” (Ps. 52:8). “He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Ps. 1:3). “One who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.” (Prov. 11:28). “For he will be like a tree planted by the water that extends its roots by a stream, and does not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit.” (Jer. 17:8). If you are feeling defeated, depleted, or exhausted from your trials, turn to Jesus for renewal and peace.

7. Honor / Respect: Faithful Believers Receive God’s Honor and Respect. Job 29:21-25.

  • Job was blessed when his counsel was respected. Finally, Job’s faithful obedience previously resulted in him receiving God-given honor and respect from those around him: ‘“21 To me they listened and waited, and they kept silent for my advice. 22 After my words they did not speak again, and my speech dropped on them. 23 They waited for me as for the rain, and opened their mouths as for the late rain. 24 I smiled at them when they did not believe, and they did not look at my kindness ungraciously. 25 I chose a way for them and sat as chief, and lived as a king among the troops, as one who comforted the mourners.”’ (Job 29:21-25). God did not bless Job to glorify him. Instead, from his intellect to his wealth, Job used his many gifts to bless others. This in turn caused others to respect and honor him: “Job’s effect on others was charismatic. Men waited expectantly to drink in his words (v. 23). Even his smile carried a blessing. The terminology of v. 24 is not unlike the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-25 and the words of Psalm 4:6: ‘Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.’ So in this way Job again was godlike, so much so that his counsel was valued (vv. 21-23), his approval sought (v. 24), and his leadership accepted with gratitude.” (Frank Gaebelein, Elmer Smick, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 982-3).

Job was once blessed and respected in all that he did7

  • God frequently blesses those who faithfully serve Him with honor and respect. There are exceptions to every rule. Job’s testing shows how God may withhold the blessing of respect for a time period. Yet, God normally seeks to exalt a humble believer who serves with faith-led obedience: “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.” (Dt. 28:3). “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Jam. 4:10). Even as a slave, Joseph’s faith caused him to be obedient. As a result, God blessed Joseph and the entire Egyptian household that he managed: “It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD’S blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field.” (Gen. 39:5). Joseph showed that he was faithful and obedient in the face of the temptations of Potiphar’s wife. He was again faithful and obedient to God, even when he was thrown in jail on false charges and then forgotten. Because he showed that he was obedient and faithful in small things, God blessed him by elevating him to have power second only to Pharaoh (Gen. 41:40-41). If you are humble and faithfully serve God He will bless you with honor and respect. If He does not bless you with this on Earth, He will reward you in heaven.

  • God can also bless an obedient nation by causing its enemies to fear it. The blessings that God lays out in the Bible apply to both individuals and nations. Unless God has a greater plan, God also promises to bless an obedient nation with the fear or respect from its enemies: “10 So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you.” (Dt. 28:10). When God was protecting His people, we see many examples of where other nations feared them. For example, Pharaoh feared God’s wrath when he almost took Abraham’s wife Sarah as his wife (Gen. 12:17-20). As another example, as the Jews prepared to invade the Promised Land, Rahab told Joshua’s two spies that the Canaanites feared the Jews and their God because God defeated Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea and the armies of two different Amorite kings in Jordan (Josh. 2:10-11). After defeating the Amorites, the Jews traveled back to the plains of Moab where they stayed until God gave the word for Joshua to take them into the Promised Land (Nu. 22:1). There, the Moabites feared the Jews (Nu. 22:3-4). Their fear caused the Moabite King Balak to hire the sorcerer Balaam in an unsuccessful attempt to cast a spell on Israel (Nu. 22:7). The kings of Canaan again feared the Jews and their God when they invaded. The Canaanites “heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.” (Josh. 5:1). The Edomites and the Moabites also feared God’s power (Ex. 15:15-16). All who oppose Israel are subject to the curse that God promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:3). Are you praying for your leaders to turn to God and repent so that the nation can be blessed?