Question: "What does it mean that Job was blameless and upright?"
Answer: Job 1:1 includes the statement that Job was “blameless and upright.” This cannot mean that Job was sinless (Romans 3:23), so what does it mean?
The Hebrew word translated “blameless” is tam and can be translated as “blameless,” “perfect,” or “upright.” The same word is used in Proverbs 29:10, which states, “The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity / and seek to kill the upright.” A blameless person is someone whose life exhibits integrity.
“Upright” in Job 1:1 is a translation of the Hebrew yashar, meaning “upright” or “just.” This word is used in parallel in this verse with blameless. In Psalm 37:37 the same word is used in parallel with “those who seek peace”: “Consider the blameless, observe the upright; / a future awaits those who seek peace.”
The fuller context in Job 1:1 is, “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” So, the description of Job being “blameless and upright” is linked to the fear of God and the avoidance of evil. The parallelism can be seen like this:
God-fearer/one who turns from evil
In short, Job was “blameless and upright” in that he was a man of integrity who trusted in God as his redeemer (see Job 19:25), sincerely worshiped the Lord, loved his family, and was consistent in his walk with God.
Following a description of Job’s riches and his children, the text mentions the feasts held by Job’s sons. A specific example of Job’s blameless and upright nature is then given: “When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them [his children] to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job’s regular custom.” (Job 1:5).
Verse 5 contains some significant details: 1) Job offered sacrifices to God, 2) he was concerned for the spiritual welfare of his children, 3) he feared the Lord (since he was concerned about his sons’ cursing God), 4) he was sensitive even toward unknown sin, and 5) he lived with this attitude continually.
All of these factors serve as examples of Job’s blameless and upright life, and they set the stage for the challenge Satan brings before God (Job 1:6–12). Further, these character traits of Job stand out to the reader of the rest of the book of Job containing the details of Job’s suffering. According to conventional wisdom, those who live like Job should be blessed, not cursed. In fact, Job’s three friends thought he must have done something wrong, and they were adamant that Job somehow deserved his suffering.
God uses the example of Job to show that He will sometimes allow people to suffer even when they have done nothing specifically wrong to “deserve” the suffering. Sometimes, suffering is part of God’s plan to purify and mature us. James 5:11 uses Job’s life as an example of how to endure suffering patiently: “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”