How to Read Job

The Book of Job


Planting a garden requires the right tools. And so does interpreting the Bible. But instead of shovels, rakes, and weeders, we use observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application. 

Job recounts the story of a righteous man's suffering and his dialogue with God. This video from The Bible Project provides an overview of the book.The goal of this post is not to replace your personal study of the Bible. Rather, it is to help you navigate the story of Job, discover what it teaches us, dive into how it fits into the rest of the Bible, and look at how it applies to your life. Use the questions below as a guide as you watch this video.




Observation asks the basic question: who, what, where, and when. It examines the book at a surface level—the characters, events, themes, culture, and genre. Observations may seem obvious at first, but they open the door to the meaning of any part of the Bible. Be careful to not jump ahead to interpreting the observations, or assigning them meaning. Just list them. 

Example: God allowed Job to suffer.


Observe: As you watched the video, what observations did you make about Job? (Consider the major characters, plot points, locations, cities, landmarks, time period, background information, cultural aspects, genre, themes, and actions of the characters.)
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Where an observation determines what the book says, interpretation takes the next step to find out what the book means. We’ve asked what the book says about God and humanity, and now we ask what that means. Look at the themes and ask what they mean as well.

Example: (Observation) God allowed Job to suffer. (Interpretation) God allows His people to suffer.


Interpret: What is significant about each of the observations you made above? What is the main message of Job? (Think about what this book teaches about God and humanity and what that teaching means, as well as the meaning of the themes.)
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Contextualization looks at how the book fits into the story of the Bible. It connects the themes that pop up throughout the story of Scripture and sees how the book fills in the biblical narrative. 

Example: The Israelites suffered through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land and when they lived in exile. The prophets suffered torment and ridicule. Jesus endured the worst agony on the Cross and the early Christians suffered torture and death under Roman persecution.


Contextualize: What themes does Job seem to establish? What themes would you say have potential to carry forward into other books of the Bible? What themes connect back to the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) or the historical books (Judges through 2 Kings)?
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Application asks, “So what?” It considers how the meaning of this book applies to our day-to-day lives. The point of reading Scripture isn’t to become puffed up with knowledge, but to be transformed. Ask God to show you how you can specifically put the truths from this book into practice. Brainstorm ways you can live out what you learned throughout your day.

Example: Even in the darkest of times, in the deepest pain, I can trust in God’s goodness and presence in my life. When I battle a terminal illness, or when people tear down my reputation, or when I lose a child, God is with me and I can put my trust in Him. He allows suffering, which means He controls the situation and stays with me through it all.


Apply: How does the truth from Job affect you and your relationship with God and others? What are some specific actions you could take to live out the truths found in this book this week?
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The last step in reading the Bible helps wrap everything up. We take the time to summarize the main message and implications of the book. As you summarize what you learned, it solidifies what God taught you through this video.  

Share: Now that you’ve spent time learning about Job, how would you explain the main points of this book to a friend? If you were going to explain what you learned to a friend, what would you say? What would you be sure to include? Why?
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Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be like weeding a garden. You can find great joy in learning about God through His Word. Read through Job this week. As you study, use observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application as a guide. Take the next step and put what you learn into practice.



To learn more about The Bible Project, click here.