It's a tale familiar to most Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The life and story of a man named Job who lived in patriarchal days - neither Christian, Jewish, nor Muslim as these three religions had yet to exist - in the land of Uz, exact location unknown. Job was a man who lived an upright life and who was held as exemplary, even by God's standards.
He was also a blessed man: seven sons, three daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 donkeys, a large number of servants and - glory of glories - one wife.
One day, the Bible tells us, the "sons of God" with Satan among them, same to the throne of God. God looked at Satan and said, "Where have you come from?"
In other words, "Where have you been?"
Satan tells God he's been roaming back and forth throughout the earth. God wonders if Satan has taken particular notice of Job, a man of whom he is particularly proud.
"Why of course I have," Satan answers. Satan pushes the issue one step further. Why wouldn't Job be a man whose ways please God? After all, God has given him much and then protected it with his hand. "Take all that away and see if he is so quick to praise you," Satan challenges.
"Okay," God says. "You take it away, but leave him alone."
Test one of two ensues. The sons and daughters die. The livestock is destroyed and the servants are killed. All Job has left in this world is his foolish-speaking wife (see Job 2: 9-10) and - we later learn - three friends.
Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:
"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD." (Job 1:21; emphasis, mine)
What does it mean, exactly? Blessed be the name of the Lord? We have several versions of the Bible, which translate "blessed" to "praise." They are not altogether incorrect. In Job 1: 21, the word blessed is barak (Heb), one of about five words we have translated to "blessed."
Barak's definition is "to kneel" and this, of course, would express praise. But it also expresses trust. Honor. Faith. Admiration.
Strong's Concordance reads like this: to kneel, by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration) and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit). We know from verse 20 that this is, indeed, what Job did. He fell on his face (kneeled) before God.
Let's look at this verse a little more closely. The Scriptures say that Job declared the name of the LORD should be blessed. A look further into Hebrew scripture defines Job's words as: I will kneel before the individuality - that which sets one apart as a memorial -of Jehovah, the one true God.
In 2002, singer/songwriter matt redman released an album titled where angels fear to tread (Worship Together). Its second track, blessed be the name of the lord, quickly became a favorite both on the airwaves and in worship services. Through the power of song, Redman lyrically retells the story of Job, of his treasures, of his losses, and of his unwavering faith, trust, and adoration of God.
As we sing this song, we are reminded of our need (yes, I wrote "need") of falling at the feet of God whether days be filled with God's provisions of much or little. Even in our modern times, when our stock market is falling (much as Job's stock market was taken away), we are to fall at the feet of the One who gives and take away.
Some people say it is easier to worship God in times of plenty, harder to worship in times of want. Not always, I say. There are those who - when "God is in his heaven and all is right with the world" - skip about the path of life forgetting to say "thank you." These are the ones who - when dark clouds gather - run to God and fall facedown.
The point of the story of Job - and the song of Redman - is that we are to praise him, to kneel before him in all adoration and trust, no matter the season of life.
Where do you fit in the equation? In plenty or when the entire world has fallen around you, do you kneel before God and praise?
1 Thessalonians 1:18 says: give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
What circumstances are you experiencing right now? Provision? Losing it all? Are you living between a rock and a hard place or The Rock and a hard place? Where are you, right now?
Will you kneel? Will you sing, "Blessed be the name of the Lord?" I challenge you, that as you next sing this modern hymn, you call to mind all that you are going through and that you choose to bless God anyway.
Then watch as - according to the meaning of the Hebrew word - God blesses you, too.
Eva Marie Everson is both a national and international speaker, a writer of both nonfiction (reflections of god's holy land) and fiction (things left unspoken; the potluck club). For more information, go to www.evamarieeverson.com.
Original publication date: March 17, 2010