God granted Satan permission to afflict Job for a time as a test, leading many later to find encouragement from how Job handled the situation. Job’s friends incorrectly interpreted Job’s affliction as a sign of his guilt, and applied their wisdom and knowledge to make their case against Job. While their views were flawed, we can learn about their views compared to revealed truths elsewhere in scripture to help us correct similarly mistaken perspectives that are often assumed without carefully consulting God’s word. The question ‘Can a man be profitable to God?’ is asked with an implied answer of ‘No’. Should the implied answer be Yes? God’s word is profitable. God’s people play a critical participative role in spreading God’s word. God’s word is good for teaching, reproof, correction, and righteousness. Scriptures show many prophets like Elijah and Elisha, leaders like David and Moses, and disciples & apostles like Peter & Paul who are profitable to God’s mission. People are profitable to God through furthering God’s purposes, spreading God’s word to reach the lost through the gospel, and helping God to bring people from error to righteousness according to God’s plans. When Job’s friend says ‘Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself’, there is an implied ‘only’ at the end of the sentence suggesting an individual’s wisdom only benefits the individual and not God and not others. It is true that if you are wise, it benefits yourself, and the lack of wisdom similarly harms oneself. Wisdom also has the power to benefit others and God’s purposes too. God is willing to give more wisdom to followers who ask in faith without doubting. Why? Reason suggests the increased wisdom enables believers to be more helpful and profitable inline with God’s purposes.
Job 22:2 (ESV):
2 “Can a man be profitable to God?
Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself.
2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV):
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Titus 3:8 (ESV):
8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
Proverbs 8:35-36 (ESV):
35 For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, 36 but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.”
James 1:5-6 (ESV):
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.