Job: God’s Sovereignty in Suffering - A Review
Reformed Free Publishing Association
What follows is a review by Rev. Matt DeBoer of Job: God's Sovereignty in Suffering, written by Ronald Hanko.
What does God say about the suffering of His people? Men say things about suffering, but what God says really matters. In his commentary entitled Job: God’s Sovereignty in Suffering, Ronald Hanko explains what God says in the book of Job about the trials we face and how we must respond to them.
The book of Job is long and sometimes difficult to understand, but Hanko’s approach to the book helps the reader grasp the main ideas and themes. The author does not give a verse-by-verse explanation believing that this “would require too much space, would almost certainly be repetitious, and would obscure the main purpose of the book” (xi). Instead, he divides the book into six sections, “The History of Job,” “The First Round of Speeches,” “The Second Round of Speeches,” “The Third Round of Speeches,” “Elihu’s Entry,” and “God and Job,” and in each section he identifies and describes the main ideas and key verses. Hanko also makes many fitting applications to us. He explains Job’s reactions to trials and what we can learn from these reactions. When describing the speeches of Job’s friends, he exposes what we often do incorrectly when called to comfort our suffering neighbors and identifies what we must do differently.
Reading Hanko’s commentary would be of great benefit to anyone tasked with explaining this book, such as a minister or Bible study leader. The division of the material, the explanation of how the speeches build on each other, and the identification of key verses would help a pastor plan which passages to preach in a series on the book and avoid repetition. Besides showing a Bible study leader how the material of the book might be divided and what the main ideas are, the commentary also provides the leader with a Study Guide at the end that contains thoughtful questions for a society to consider. In addition, the introduction to the commentary contains valuable information about the setting of Job which will assist the Bible study group in understanding the book.
The author states in the Preface his desire that the commentary be used for the comfort of God’s people, and it certainly served to comfort me. From the book of Job, Hanko makes plain that God is in control of all the trials we face, that He is the Redeemer of His people in Christ, and that He is faithful to His own. The author reminds the suffering saint not to ask “Why?” but instead to remember, “God is God and God is my Redeemer” (69). Knowing that, we have true rest.
After putting the book down, I certainly am comforted, and I especially stand in awe of who Jehovah is. He is shown forth as the Almighty one who is sovereign in salvation and in all of life. Particularly in the last few chapters which explain God’s speech to Job, Hanko leads God’s child to feel small in comparison to God and to see that he has no right to ask the Lord, “Why did you send me this?” The author writes in his explanation of Job 38:25-33, “Science gives us the means to learn about the stars and other wonders of the universe, but God knows their names and number. Man gives his weather reports but can do nothing to change what God has decreed” (126). A book that leads you to grow in fear of the Lord is a good book to read.