Bible Question:

In Job 2:3, God is speaking to Satan, and He says; “ . . . though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” Doesn't this seem like Satan talked God into doing something that He did not want to do? I thought that God does not negotiate and that He is in complete control. It appears that Satan had the upper hand here. I hope that I am wrong. Thank you.

Bible Answer:

Since God is sovereign, can God be persuaded to do things against His will? The passage you refer to reads as follows:

The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” (NASB) Job 2:3

The Context

This is the second time that Satan has talked with God about Job. In order to understand what has occurred here, it is important to see the big picture by looking at the first time that God and Satan had talked about Job. This occurred in Job 1. The key passage is as follows,

The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? “Have You not made a hedge about 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. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD. (NASB) Job 1:8-12

Here we discover that God actually had called Satan’s attention to Job. Satan had been wandering about the earth looking for someone to test. So God suggested Job. Why did God do this? Apparently, He wanted to show Satan someone who was a very righteous man. Satan countered by challenging God that Job was righteous only because things were going well for him. Therefore God allowed Satan to test him with difficulties. How did Job respond? Job did not sin (Job 2:3)!

“Incite”

God was not forced into something that He did not want to do. In fact, God appears to have baited Satan into testing Job. Yet Job 2:3 indicates that God was “incited” to do something. The Hebrew form of the English word for “incite” is SUT. It has the idea of being “stirred to a course of action that one would not normally take.” What did God do that He does not normally do? He dropped the hedge around Job and allowed Satan to attack him. This was God’s choice. He was not forced to do this. He was in complete control the entire time. Satan was in submission.

God is always doing something that He did not plan. Some teach that God has planned every detail of our life. But that is not true. James 4:2 tells us that we do not have because we do not ask. That implies that our prayers can cause some things to happen that would not occur otherwise. Prayer makes a difference. This implies that God can and will respond differently. I believe that God has determined certain things in our life but not everything. His will allows for dynamic events to occur in our lives.

Conclusion:

The story of Job demonstrates that Satan wants to hurt even those who do not deserve any pain and suffering. He wants to hurt the righteous because the righteous believe and follow God. Job did nothing wrong and therefore did not deserve what happened to him! It appears that God wanted to increase Job’s spiritual maturity. The rest of the book of Job is all about Job’s relationship with God. In the end Job finally understands that he is nothing and God is awesome. God asks Job questions that he cannot answer, and Job finally shuts his mouth. Job had a lesson in humility. He was the creature and God was God. What a great lesson in submission!