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Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible
Job 1

 

 

Verse 1

"There was a man in the land of Uz": The land of Uz is often identified with the territory of Edom, which was southeast of the Dead Sea (Lamentations 4:21). Some suggest that Uz was in Bashan, south of Damascus; others say Uz lay east of Edom, in northern Arabia. From this book we learn that Uz was located on the edge of the desert (1:19), and included an area where farming could be carried on (1:3,13; 42:12). "Whose name was Job": In Hebrew the name Job is spelled Iyyob, from a root word that might mean the hated one or aggressor. Other verses confirm the fact that Job was a real historical person (Ezekiel 14:14; James 5:11). "And that man was blameless": Without moral blemish and morally whole. The word does not mean "sinless" (1 John 1:8-10), but rather refers to a person"s spiritual maturity, and the integrity or purity of their inner being. On the inside, Job was pure. "Perhaps our English word integrity adequately expresses the connotation" (Strauss p. 3). "Upright": His life and behavior measured up to a standard. The term means "straight" or "right", his conduct was in line with God"s ways. "Straight" in the sense of not deviating from God"s law. Please note that being "straight" is a good thing and a high compliment from God! "Fearing God": His relationship with God was based on a reverent respect. He was aware that he was obligated to submit to God"s authority (Ecclesiastes 12:13; 2 Corinthians 7:1). Remember, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). "Awed by the power of God in creation, Job logically responds with fearful submission. Who would not want to be known as a complete and consistent person who fears God and shuns evil?"

"Turning away from evil": Job persistently chooses the good and shuns the evil, he has free will and is using it rightly (Romans ). This also means that "evil" and temptation existed in the culture that surrounded Job. Thus, when his friends accuse him having concealed a life of willful sin, the reader also knows that such an accusation is false. People who truly respect God, shun evil.


Verse 2

"Seven sons and three daughters were born to him": A family of this size was common in such times, and having "seven sons" was considered a mark of divine favor (Ruth 4:15; 1 Samuel 2:5). See also Psalm 127:3; 128:6.


Verse 3

"His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants": Here is a description of Job"s prosperity. Such a large estate of livestock obviously necessitated much land and many servants. This is the property that a semi-nomadic potentate would possess. The sheep would provide clothing and good, the camels and donkeys would provide transportation, and the oxen provided food and the power for plowing. "And that man was the greatest of all the men of the east": He was the wealthiest of a group of very prosperous men in the east, possibly men from northern Arabia. Compare with Jeremiah 49:28. Job was both extremely rich and godly, a combination that is at times rare (Luke 12:16ff). Yet men like Abraham and Job demonstrate that prosperity and piety are not necessarily mutually exclusive, yet wealth can be a great danger to the unspiritual (Matthew 19:23-24; 1 Timothy 6:6-10,17; Proverbs 30:8).

From the rest of the book we will also learn that Job was highly respected (); a fair and honest judge (29:7, 12-17); a wise counselor (29:21-24); a honest employer (31:13-15, 38-39); hospitable and generous (31:16-21,32), and a farmer of crops (31:38-40).


Verse 4

"His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day": That is, on his birthday. "And they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them": Job had a very close-knit family. We are not told if the sons were married, and if the sisters were still single they would have still lived at home.


Verse 5

"When the days of feasting had completed their cycle": At the end of each cycle of birthdays? "Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually": Here is a genuine concern for the spiritual condition of his children. Apparently Job would summon all the sons and daughters to a feast and offer such sacrifices, in doing so, like Abraham, he served as the priest for the entire family. Note that Job understood that cursing God in one"s heart was wrong; that sinful thoughts are just as bad as sinful actions (Matthew 5:28). Be impressed that wealth has not torn this family apart. "Brothers invite brothers to each other"s home, once together, in witness to the healthy religion of their father, they celebrate without sin. Many modern youth from wealthy families fall victim to the dread disease affluenza. Rather than finding happiness in affluence, they suffer the symptoms of being lost, lonely, and loveless. When asked to explain their problems, children of the rich and famous wistfully recall the absence of their parents from the home and the attempt to fill in the vacuum of love with money, and things" (McKenna p. 33). I am also impressed that Job has tremendous self-discipline, but his relationship with God is not joyless. As fathers, are we truly the spiritual leaders in our homes, as Job was?


Verse 6

"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord": The "sons of God" in this verse are angels (38:7), and the term "present" means literally to "station" themselves, that is to report on their activities. Clearly God governs the universe and in this council session, the agenda includes a reporting session in which the angels give an accounting for their delegated roles as watchers (Deuteronomy 4:13,17,23) and protectors (Zechariah 1:10ff; 6:5ff). "Deists, who contend that God created the universe, wound it like a watch, and left it running, are refuted. God pays infinite attention to His universe and guarantees its moral order" (McKenna p. 37).

"And Satan also came among them": The term "Satan" means "the accuser" and he will certainly play that role in this chapter. "This portion of the story is a stumbling block to scholars and readers alike. What is Satan doing in heaven? Does God take bets on His people? Is He party to human suffering?" (McKenna p. 36). Yet such questions should not cause anyone to stumble, for the book will reveal the answers. First, God is not threatened by Satan"s presence. Satan is permitted to enter and permitted to speak, yet Satan is clearly under God"s ultimate authority, his power is limited (1:12). Please note that Satan is allowed to object and argue with God-yet only in this life (Matthew 25:41).


Verse 7

"The Lord said to Satan, "From where do you come?"": This is not ignorance on God"s part, but rather "it becomes a point of encounter (Exodus 4:2)" (Strauss p. 6). "Then Satan answered the Lord and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it"": "Apparently looking for those whom he could accuse and dominate (1 Peter 5:8). Satan"s going on the earth may also suggest his exercising dominion over it and its people (Ephesians 2:2; 1 John 5:19)" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 719). In answering God"s question, Satan tips his hand concerning the nature of his character. This verse is "the confession of a vagabond spirit, pacing the earth with the frustration of a caged lion and preying upon unsuspecting victims. In stark contrast to the orderly and meaningful nature of God at work in heaven"s council, Satan epitomizes the ultimate of evil, when alienation, aimlessness, and anxiety-the essence of hell-obsess the soul" (McKenna p. 38).


Verse 8

"The Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job?"" That is, considered him as an object of your temptations? Please note, God is not placing a bet on Job or using his as a worthless pawn. God is setting forth Job as a rebuke to Satan"s rebellion. Satan could not dominate this man! Could God use any of us as an example of righteousness? "For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God, and turning away from evil": The exact opposite of Satan. What a rebuke! Here is a mere mortal who has far more wisdom and sense than a spiritual being like Satan. Here is a man who is not fooled by all the tricks of the evil one.


Verse 9

"Then Satan answered the Lord, "Does Job fear God for nothing?"


Verse 10

"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"


Verse 11

"But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face"

"Cynicism is a natural result of Satan"s inner character. In contrast to God"s enthusiastic recommendation of Job, Satan scoffs" (McKenna p. 38). Are we cynical? People who argue that all Christians are secretly hypocrites or that every Christian is in error on some point, are the devil"s advocates. People who argue that we can"t follow everything in the Bible, that no man is truly serving God, and we all have impure motives, do not share God"s enthusiasm for man"s ability to obey and love Him purely. To Satan, every human act can be explained by a selfish motive. The accusation is, "There is no such thing as disinterested piety; men do right only when it is profitable. God is not worthy of service on the basis of His nature alone" (Jackson p. 20). In fact, the above is also an accusation against God. "God has bribed the profane Job to act pious" (p. 20). "Both God"s character and Job"s character are called into question. By inference, God needs Job to love Him and so protects and prospers him to assure his love" (McKenna p. 38). Satan could not deny that Job was faithful, but he questions Job"s motivation. "It"s all a front. He serves You only because of what he gets out of it. Take the pay away and he"ll quit the job" (Zuck p. 15).

One of the basic questions answered in this book is "Will a man serve God for nothing?" "Will Job be seen as one who will serve God even if he gets nothing in return? Will anyone serve God for no personal gain? Does man serve God to get blessings, fearing that failure to worship will bring punishment?" (Zuck p. 15). Why do we serve God? Would we still serve Him if there were no earthly rewards?


Verse 12

"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"

Some stumble over this verse and wonder, "Doesn"t God already know the motives of His children? Why does He need to find them out?" Yet, the purpose for this test is far more than revealing true motivation. God accepts Satan"s challenge (in fact, God was the one who introduced the challenge), "not on a whimsical dare or because His character is threatened" (McKenna p. 38). The reader needs to understand that God is not being set up and neither is Job, Satan is the one being set up. From this trial, the faith of Job will be refined and he will reach a deeper level of spiritual maturity (chapter 42). In addition, until the end of time, millions and billions of people on the earth will have access to this book and the loser in the whole story is Satan.

"Only do not put forth your hand on him": Note that Satan, though in rebellion, is still under God"s authority. Even Satan cannot do anything he wants to do! He is restricted by divine decree, he can touch anything except Job"s person.

"A note of high truth rings through God"s response to Satan"s cynical challenge. God does not accept Satan"s terms that He stretch His hand over Job and touch all he has. God does not do evil. Rather, He draws the boundaries within which evil may work in the world. God permits evil within limits (because he gave man freewill), until the great and terrible day of judgment. This is good news, even for those of us who live with the reality of sin and its consequences" (McKenna pp. 38-39).


Verse 13

Satan begins his assaults on the very day when Job"s 10 children were feasting. The Sabeans (suh BEE uhnz), may have been from the region of Sheba in southwest Arabia, or from the town called Sheba, near Dedan, in upper Arabia (Genesis 10:7; 25:3). "The speed with which God allows Satan to afflict Job is surely evidence of God"s complete trust in Job"s integrity and piety" (Strauss p. 8). Notice that when given latitude, Satan is ruthless and can coordinate a very effective assault. He is ruthless and has no concern for innocent human life. Thank God that there is a God to curb this tyrant! The lone remaining witness in verse 15 is often found a number of times in the Old Testament (1 Kings 18:22; Genesis 44:20; 2 Samuel 13:32). This verse refers that evil men become the willing tools of Satan. "Noteworthy is the fact that Satan has no source of evil within Job with which to act. More often than not, our suffering is self-inflicted by our own sin. If Satan had found sin in Job as a weapon to be used, there would have been no Book of Job" (McKenna pp. 40-41).


Verse 16

"The fire of God": This is not a reference to Divine wrath, but probably refers to lightening. In this section we learn that Satan, when given latitude, can move both men and nature to serve his purposes.


Verse 17

"The Chaldeans": "Were fierce, marauding inhabitants from Mesopotamia" (Zuck p. 16). At this point in history the Chaldeans are a marauding tribe. "From the ninth century B.C.., when they first appear in the Assyrian records, to the period when they provided the rulers of the neo-Babylonian empire of Nebuchadnezzar the Old Testament is aware of the presence of the Chaldeans" (Strauss p. 11). "Formed three bands and made a raid": That is made a three-pronged attack. The raids by two of the groups might have been a surprise attack.


Verse 18

"While he was still speaking": Notice the rapid-fire presentation of one tragedy after another.


Verse 19

"A great wind": Suggests something like a tornado or whirling wind that gained in momentum as it came across the desert. "It fell on the young people and they died": Job"s children are grown and yet they are still young. "A man"s children are dearer than any earthly treasure. Ten funerals! How can he bear it? Surely Job will break under such a weight of grief-so Satan hoped" (Jackson p. 21). Yes, Satan knows what will cause many men to break, yet he cannot break one determined to be faithful. The way that we can really get under Satan"s skin is to remain calm, confident, joyful, and faithful even during times of trouble. Notice the contrast. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (John 3:16), Satan will destroy everything we have in the attempt to break us, he will even kill our children-given the chance!


Verse 20

"Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head": Both of these gestures are not the product of sinful anger, but they are expressions of grief and shock (Genesis 37:29; 44:13; Judges 11:35; Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:27). "And he fell to the ground": Not in despair, but in worship! "In a few minutes, Job had plummeted from wealth and prosperity to grief and pauperism. Would he also plummet from love for God to imprecation of Him?" (Zuck p. 17).


Verse 21

"He said, "Naked I came from my mother"s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord""

How a man responds to tragedy does reveal the inner spirit of a man. On the day that Job lost everything, he worshipped! He thanked God for all his blessings. "Job worships in the same spirit. In his prosperity, he does not forget to praise God for his blessings. Thus, when the temporary is taken away, the permanent still remains" (McKenna pp. 41-42). Is this how we handle adversity? Unfortunately some feel that adversity gives them the right not to worship.

Job recognizes that God has the right to remove blessings as well as give them. Adversity is followed by adoration and woe by worship. He did not give into bitterness or resentment and neither does he blame God.

Think how Satan must have responded when, instead of rage, he heard praise coming from Job"s mouth! Think how proud God was of Job! Job finds plenty of reasons to bless God even in this moment of sorrow. "Unlike William E. Henley who, in his infamous poem, "Invictus", boasted that his head was "bloody, but unbowed", Job could praise God for all circumstances" (Jackson p. 21).

"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away": Let us remember as well that God is the true source of all our blessings (James 1:17). None of them have we truly earned or merited. All physical blessings we must let go of one day (at death), thus any loss prior to death should not be viewed as the end of the world. We are simply stewards of such things and they are temporary.


Verse 22

"Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God": Yes, devotion is possible without any physical favors and there are people like Job that will serve God simply because they love Him. Is this our level of devotion is this truly our motivation? Or do we complain when the littlest thing goes wrong? Do we feel that God has blessed us more than we deserve or that we haven"t been blessed enough?

Note that Job did not even sin mentally!

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 1:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-1.html. 1999-2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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