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Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name [was] Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
Ver. 1. There was a man ] A notable man, a man by an excellency, and with an accent (as it were), a man of high degree ( Animo virili praeditus ), as the word Ish signifieth, Psalms 49:2 ; Psalms 62:9 (where it is opposed to Adam, utpote quem ex meliore luto finxit Titan ), a manly man, every way excellent and eximious: Magnus et admirabilis vir, &c. A great and marvellous man, if it be fit to call him by the name of a man, as Chrysostom speaketh of Babylas the martyr. Basil, in his sermon of the forty martyrs, calleth them the stars of the world, and the flowers of the Churches, αστερας της οικουμενης, ανθη των εκκλησιων . Chrysostom, speaking of those that were praying for Peter, Acts 12:12 , saith that Puriores caelo afflictione facti sunt, by their afflictions they were become clearer than the azured sky; and elsewhere, falling into speech of some religious men of his time, he doubteth not, for their holy and heavenly conversation, to style them Aγγελους , angels. That Job deserved this high title, as well as the best of them, we have here, and otherwise, God’s own testimony of him, and this whole Book, whereof he is the principal object, doth abundantly prove him a hero, Daemonium hominis et miraculum naturae, ut de Scaligero non nemo dixit, a supernatural man and of miraculous nature so that anyone said concerning Scaliger. τρισμακαρες τε κασιγνητοι τε, κασιγνηται τε (Hem. Odys.).
In the land of Uz ] Which, what it was, and where situated, though our maps show us not, yet, by the consent of all, it was a country bordering upon Idumea in part, and part upon Arabia. See Lam 4:21 Jeremiah 25:20 . Chrysostom testifieth that Job’s sepulchre hath been showed in Arabia; which might well have been called happy, if but for having such an inhabitant. Ptolemy placeth the Hussites in Arabia.
Whose name was Job ] It is, then, a true and real history that we here have of him, and not a fiction or a moral parable, as some have believed. See a double testimony for this, the one prophetical, Ezekiel 14:14 , the other apostolical, James 5:11 , and such a well twined cord is not easily broken. What if Josephus make no mention in his history of such a man? it was beside his purpose to write anything but what concerned the Jews. Aristeus in his History of the Jews maketh Job to be descended of Esau, and to dwell in Idumea. The Jewish doctors and some of the fathers of the Church make him to be that Jobab mentioned Genesis 36:33 . True it is that the words differ much in the Hebrew writing; but for that, while he prospered, he might be called Jobab; when in distress (which lasted twelve months, say the Hebrews, seven years, saith Suidas) contracted into Job. See the like Rth 1:20 Genesis 17:5 . Some make him to be much more ancient, viz. the same with that Jobab who was the son of Joktan, the nephew of Eber, 1 Chronicles 1:25-26 , and that himself was penman of this Book. He doth indeed wish that his words were written in a book; and haply he and his friends, laying their heads together, might write this history; and that in hexameters for most part, as Jerome thinketh. But that it was by inspiration of God is testified not only by the divine grandeur and majesty of the style, together with the intrinsical excellency and efficacy of the matter, but also by the concurrent testimony of not a few other Scriptures, sufficiently asserting the authenticity and authority of this Book. The common opinion is that it was written by Moses, while he abode as a stranger among the Midianites, for the comfort of his poor countrymen, groaning under the Egyptian servitude; or else, that this history, written at first by Job and his friends in prose, was afterwards by Moses put into verse, and embellished with the most rich ornaments, and the most glittering figures of poetry. Sure it is, saith Senault (Preface to his Paraphrase), that there is no book in the world where the manner of speaking is more noble, the conceits more generous, the descriptions more rich, and the comparisons more natural. Sometimes the author reasoneth like an excellent philosopher, oftentimes like a profound divine; but always like an orator, and his eloquence never leaveth him.
And that man was perfect ] That is, upright (as it followeth next) and sincere, without guile or gall, a pattern of patience, a standing rule to all ages; and therefore (in God’s acceptation and account) "perfect and entire, wanting nothing," James 1:4 , because in him patience had her perfect work, as much as mortality would afford, Tamim de victimis perfectis et immaculatis dicitur. The upright, it is said concerning perfect and spotless victim. It was but an unsavoury speech of him, who when he was persuaded to be patient as Job was, replied, What tell you me of Job? Job never had any suits in Chancery. No, but he had far sharper trials; and if he had been judge in that court (as he was in his own country, Job 29:12 ; Job 29:17 ) he would have made as good despatch there as ever Sir Thomas More did, who calling once for the next cause, was answered, that there Was none.
And upright ] More resembling Jacob, that plain hearted man, than Esau, his great grandfather. Of the word here used (Jesher) Israel was called Jeshurun, Deuteronomy 32:15 ; Deuteronomy 33:5 ; Deu 33:26 Isaiah 44:2 , because God requireth uprightness (which he calleth perfection, Deuteronomy 18:13 , and there is a great Tau in the word Tamim, Hebrew Text Note to show that an upright man keepeth the whole law from the first to the last letter thereof), and where he findeth it, reckoneth Jether, an Ishmaelite, 1 Chronicles 7:38 , to be a very good Israelite, 2 Samuel 17:25 , and Job, the Idumean, a very good Christian; such a one as Apelles was, Romans 16:10 , approved in Christ (Buxtorf).
And one that feared God ] With an amicable, not servile, fear, such as was that of those mongrels who feared him for his lions, and are therefore said not to have feared him, 2 Kings 17:32-34 . Job so lived with men as if God saw him, and so spake with God as if men overheard him Sic vive cum hominibus, tanquam Deus videat. Sic loquere cum Deo, &c. So live with men just as to see God. so to speak with God … ( Sen.). Thence it was that seldom or never did any man see him doing or hear him speaking but what was good and godly, as Xenophon saith of Socrates; thence it was that be never did well that he might appear to do so, sed quia aliter facere non potuit (as Velleius saith of Cato), but because, acting by this principle of God’s fear, he could not do otherwise: for the fear of the Lord is pure, Psalms 19:9 , and men do perfect holiness in the fear of God, 2 Corinthians 7:1 .
And eschewed evil ] He must needs do so that feareth God, the greatest good, since sin is the greatest evil, and stands in full opposition to him. Job, therefore, stands in awe, and sins not, he studiously declines evil, as he would do a serpent in his way, or poison in his food. And this he did, not in a land of uprightness, where the fear of God was in fashion; but among profane Esauites, in the midst of a crooked and corrupt generation, as Noah in the old world, Lot in Sodom, Joseph in Egypt, Elijah amidst the Baalites, or as an orient star shining with fulness of heavenly light, and fixed in the region of happiness, though seen sometimes in a well, in a puddle, in a stinking ditch.
Job 1:2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
Ver. 2. And there were born unto him seven sons ] This was a main part of his prosperity, to have such a numerous issue to build up his house and to heir his estate, though it proved to be luctuosa fecunditas, mournful fertility, as Jerome said Laeta’s was, who lived to see her children buried before her. Job’s children are spoken of before his wealth, because better valued; and yet after this fearing God and eschewing evil, to show (saith Fetus) that he was not like the men of these times, who, if they have many children, will take any evil course to get something for them, and think it a sufficient plea against works of piety or charity that they have many children to provide for. But such should know that not getting, but giving, is the way to thrive; neither can men better lay up for their children than by laying it out upon the backs and bellies of God’s poor, to whom he that giveth shall not lack, Proverbs 28:27 , that is a bargain of God’s own making; this the righteous knowing, "is merciful, and lendeth, and his seed is blessed," Psalms 37:26 , when the wicked wretch’s riches "perish by evil travail, and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand," Ecclesiastes 5:14 . I read of a graceless son who, after his father’s death, finding his hoard of money and evil gotten wealth, cried out, O faithful drudge! and he soon made a hand of it.
And three daughters ] Hopeful and towardly; not like those of Augustus Caesar, whom, for the evil courses they took, he was wont to term them three pussful abscesses and ulcerous sores, wishing that either he had lived a bachelor or died childless, Tres vomicas trio carcinomata (Sueton.); but rather like those of Charles the Great, who so pleased him, that he could not at any time be well without their company, nor find in his heart to part with them, though it were to be well married.
Job 1:3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
Ver. 3. His substance also ] Heb. His possession or acquisition, that stock and store which he had gotten, and was rightly possessed of, consisting very much in cattle, great and small ( Possessio maxime pecuaria. Nomen dictum est ab acquirendo, Merc.), his possessions were mostly in sheep. His name was said from acquiring. for money in was not then in so great request as now, when it is become the monarch, and bears the mastery, Regina pecunia, Queen of money, as he saith; In precio precium nunc est, saith another. We read not of Job’s gold, silver, tapestry, rich furniture (saith Origen), and other accoutrements, now much used and valued, but not so of old. Heretofore in this island of ours (saith Hollingshed) in a good farmer’s house it was rare to find four pieces of pewter; and it was accounted a great matter that a farmer could show five shillings or a noble together in silver; and if the goodman of the house had a mattress or flock bed, and a sack of chaff to rest his head on, he thought himself as well lodged as the lord of the town, &c. Hollingshed further saith, that some old men he knew who told of such times in England, no longer ago.
Was seven thousand sheep ] He had most of that most profitable creature, good both ad esum and ad usum; for eating and using; therefore also in sacrifices was no creature so frequently offered.
And three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen ] sc. To carry his servants and his baggage, to export and import commodities; for
Nec vero terrae ferre omnes omnia possunt.
And truly, the lands are not able to bear all his possessions.
And five hundred she asses ] To plough his ground with, for great men were anciently much addicted to husbandry (as Uzziah, 2Ch 26:10 ), which Socrates called Amaltheae cornu, the horn of plenty; and the Romans reckoned, that grain was with them never so cheap as when men were fetched from the plough tail to govern the Commonwealth, quasi gauderet terra laureato vomere, et aratro triumphali (Plin.). But now the case is otherwise, as Beza upon this text complaineth; that husbandry and shepherdy are left for the basest and simplest men, and for such as all others might prey upon. And this bringeth into my mind, saith he, that which once I saw painted in a table, where the nobleman had this posy, By my sword I defend you all; the clergyman, By my prayers I preserve you all; the countryman, I feed you all, lastly, the lawyer, I devour you all. Pellican noteth here, that Job had no horses, because he lived lovingly with his neighbours, not warring upon any: the horse is a warlike creature, prepared for the day of battle. But Beza noteth, that in that country they had little use of horses, as using camels to bear burdens, and asses to ride on. See Judges 5:10 ; Judges 10:4 .
And a very great household ] Great store of servants he had about him, and himself was the greatest, according to that of the Greek poet (wherewith Luther was so taken, that he translated it in certain rhythms),
Eις εστι δουλος οικιας ο δεσποτης .
Some render it, He had very much husbandry; others, He had great doings in the world; the more was his trouble (it is not the great cage that maketh the bird sing; and abroad, she singeth not on the ground, but when got in the air, or on the top of trees; so is it with the saints), and the greater was his praise, that he could handle his thorns and not prick his fingers; have so much to do with the world, and yet not grow worldly-minded.
Difficile est opibus non tradere mores,
Et cum tot Croesos viceris, esse Numam.
It is difficult is not to surrender morals for wealth, and when so many Croesos’ excel, to be a Numa. (Second king of Rome who reformed their society and religion.)
So that this man was the greatest, &c. ] A king; some say, the first king of Edom, but that’s uncertain; he might be a private man, and yet a very rich man; such as was Pythias, who was once able to entertain Xerxes and his two millions of men for three days, and yet died a beggar, and was famished. He was impoverished by his own folly and prodigality; but Job, by the immediate hand and good pleasure of God, for his trial, and for exercise of his patience. This commendeth unto us Job’s constancy and magnanimity, which is so much the more wonderful, by how much this change was not only not self acquired, but altogether unexpected; his sun went down suddenly, at high noon; and when he doubted least he was made a mirror of misfortune; as if God and men, heaven and earth, were set against him. In him it appeared that mortality was but the stage of mutability, and that,
Omnia sunt hominum tenui pendentia filo;
Et subito casu, quae valuere, ruunt.
All things of men are hanging down on a feeble string; and suddenly overthrown, which to value is their ruin.
Job 1:4 And his sons went and feasted [in their] houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
Ver. 4. And his sons went and feasted in their houses ] They were of ripe years; and although unmarried, yet had they their several houses to dwell in. This declareth not only the wealthiness of the family, but also the good order and government thereof, as Beza observeth. Their orderly intercourse of friendly feasting one another shows their mutual love, concord, and agreement, by this means testified and increased. For wine hath (as one long since observed) ελκυστικον τι προς φιλιαν , an attractive power in it to make and keep friendship; and from the drinking of wine the word here used for a feast hath its denomination ( משׁחה .) We may not think that they did thus every day, as that glutton the Gospel; or that in their banquets they used any excess, as the manner is of riotous and intemperate persons; for they had been better bred, and they observed this order with great modesty and discretion. They went and feasted; that is, they did it readily and cheerfully, that brotherly love might continue; for - Fratrum quoque gratia rara est. Favour has been rare between bothers. The devil doth what he can to cast a bone between brethren, to make those that should love most dearly to hate one another most deadly. See this exemplified in Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, Joseph and his brethren, Joram and his, Romulus and Remus, Caracalla and Geta, Robert and Rufus, the two sons of William the Conqueror, Polynices and Eteocles, &c. And when such are once out, "A brother offended" (saith Solomon) "is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle," which, being strong, will neither bow nor yield, Proverbs 18:19 . All good means, therefore, must be used to prevent them, and to preserve that amity and unity which the psalmist doth so magnify, Psalms 133:1-3 , and concludeth, that there God commandeth the blessing, and life for evermore; that is, constant happiness perpetuated in and by a blessed posterity. The number of two hath been accounted accursed, because it was the first that departed from unity.
And sent and called for their three sisters ] That their number and amity might be complete. This was no small joy to Job, that his children were so kind one to another. It is reckoned as a piece of his happiness; that which was denied to Abraham and Isaac (though fathers only of two children), to Jacob also, and Samuel, and David, Constantine the Great, and many others; whose children, through ambition, pride, covetousness, envy, evil surmises, &c., have been at odds, nay, at deadly feud among themselves. Beza upon these words observeth, that the sisters kept not with their brethren, but had their dwelling apart from them; which was both more seemly and more safe, as also more agreeing with maidenly shamefacedness. Neither is it said, that Job’s sons sent for any other women; yea, the sisters came not over boldly to the banquets of their brethren, although they knew them to be men of a sober and honest disposition.
Job 1:5 And it was so, when the days of [their] feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings [according] to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
Ver. 5. And it was so, that when the days of their feasting were gone about ] Such was his holy care of them, and jealousy over them, that he would defer the work no longer; as knowing that sin will rankle in the conscience, and harden the heart, like poison in the body, it must be quickly cast up, ere it get to the vitals.
That Job sent and sanctified them ] Though they were grown up, yet he kept them in awe, as appears by his command to sanctify themselves against the sacrifice, Ut se parent et purgent. So he nourished and purified theme. So did not Eli, but honoured his untoward sons above God, even then when those lewd lowlies kicked at his sacrifice, and at his offering which he had commanded in his habitation, 1 Samuel 2:29 . Job knew that he was bound as well to the preservation, as to the observation, of God’s commandments, to see that others (those especially of his familiarity and family) keep them as well as himself. When, therefore, the circle of days and feasting was finished, he waited not till the eighth day came, but at the end of the seventh he summoneth all his children to come before the Lord in holy duties, with the best preparations they could make; to wash their hands in innocence before they compassed God’s altar, Psalms 26:6 ; to repent of their immoderations in mirth, or whatsoever other guilt they had any way contracted; lest he cast back their services as dirt upon their faces. The heathens, by the light of nature, saw that God was not to be served slightly and slubberingly. The Pythagoreans would not have men worship by the by, but make it their business, and prepare for it aforehand. And Numa Pompilius, second king of Rome, commanded that men should not worship God for fashion, carelessly, and as doing somewhat else; but freed from all other cares and cumbers, ουκ ες παραδω προσκυνειν, αλλα οικοθεν παρασκευασαμενοι. ουκ εν παρεργω και αμελως , &c. (Plut.). The Jews had their preparation and their forepreparation to the passover ( παρασκευη, προπαρασκευη ): and as any man measureth to God in preparation, God will measure to him again in blessing.
And rose up early in the morning ] Sanctificat, sanat, ditat quoque surgere mane. Sanctify, heal, enrich also to rise in the morning. The morning is the best time for holy duties. God should have the first of everything; then, also, men are freshest and freest from worldly businesses. The Philistines arose early to do sacrifice to their Dagon, or Tritan, as other heathens called him. They generally took the top of the morning ( utpote quod παν εργον οφελλει ) to offer to their dung hill deities, as holding that then they sat in their temples, and took notice of morning salutations. Homer brings in Nestor sacrificing in the morning; so do the Roman historians their Potitii and Pinarii, offering to Hercules upon their greatest altar of all. Argonauts do the like in Apollonius; and the Persian magi were wont to worship the rising sun with their early hymns.
And offered burnt offerings ] Whole burnt offerings, not sacrifice only (as the Greek interpreter hath it), nor peace offerings, whereof himself might have had part; but burnt offerings, that were offered in fire unto God, and that according to the number of his sons; not one general family sacrifice only, but for every one, one. It appeareth, then, that Job was no penny father, no niggard in God’s service, but lavished money out of the bag, and thought all too little that way. So did Solomon in that greatest sacrifice that ever we read of, 1 Kings 8:63 , and his father David, when, out of his poverty, as he calleth it, he had prepared for the house of the Lord a hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver, &c., which Sir Walter Raleigh casteth up to be more than any king in the world is worth; this is check to our tenacity and baseness (Hist. of the World, Part II., cap. 17, sect. 9).
For Job said ] viz. In his heart, for God understandeth the language of the heart also, Psa 139:1 Genesis 20:11 .
It may be that my sons have sinned ] Or, lest haply. He well knew the corruption of man’s nature, wherein there is a πανσπερμια , seed place of all sins. He knew also how easily we overshoot ourselves at merry meetings, and give too much liberty to our tongues and appetites to run riot. He, therefore, seeks pardon for his children’s suspected sins; he knew, besides unavoidable and involuntary infirmities (such as none are free from), they might be called to an account by a just and jealous God for their other men’s sins, which they had not bewailed, 1 Corinthians 5:2 , or not rebuked, at least by their countenance, as God doth, Psalms 80:16 . Job was a man of a tender conscience, and therefore propounds to himself the worst; neither was it against charity in him to suspect ill of his children, while he intended their good, and turned his suspicion into a supplication. That his children were godly is put out of question, by his being at a question whether they had sinned. But how then doth it follow?
And cursed God in their hearts ] And not blessed God, so Calvin rendereth it; not done him right, and therefore wrong, so Sanctius; they have not high and honourable conceptions of him, answerable to his excellent greatness; but, by base and bald thoughts, cast him, as it were, into a dishonourable mould, and not giving him the glory due to his name, that holy and reverend name, Psalms 111:9 ; great and dreadful among the heathen, Malachi 1:14 . In the Hebrew it is, And blessed God, for cursed, by an euphemismus or antiphrasis; as when a harlot is called Kedesha, a holy woman, by contraries. So auri sacra (i.e. execranda) fames. sacrifice of gold (i.e. a curse) famine, The Hebrews so abhorred blasphemy against God, as they would not have the sound of it to be joined to the name of God, whom they commonly call Baruc-hu, the blessed one. So they would not take the name of leaven (that prohibited ware) into their mouths all the time of the feast of the passover (Elias Thisb.). So in their common talk they call a sow dabhar achar, another thing, because they were forbidden to eat swine’s flesh.
Thus did Job continually ] Heb. all the days; that is, in the renewed seasons, he was not weary of well doing, but steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, always renewing his repentance, and faith in Christ, figured by those sacrifices; for the ceremonial law was their gospel.
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
Ver. 6. Now there was a day ] Haply that day wherein Job’s children were feasting their last. The Rabbis say the first day of the year, and some say the Sabbath day; but who told them so? This is to intrude into things which they have not seen, Colossians 2:18 , and whereof there is neither proof nor profit. Certain it is, that as God hath before all beginnings decreed all things, so he hath set and assigned the times or seasons which he hath put in his own power, Acts 1:7 , when everything shall come to pass as himself hath appointed. Now then, saith Beza, the time being come which he prefixed for the actual accomplishing of that he had decreed concerning Job, he revealed the same to Satan (being before altogether ignorant thereof), as whom he had appointed to be the chief instrument in executing his will and purpose.
The sons of God ] i.e. The elect angels, called the sons of God here and elsewhere; not because they are so by eternal generation, as Christ alone; nor by adoption and regeneration, as the saints, John 1:12 ; but by creation (as Adam is called the son of God, Luk 3:38 ) and resemblance: for they are made in God’s image, and are like him as his children, both in their substance, which is incorporeal, and in their excellent properties, which are life and immortality, blessedness and glory; wherein we shall one day be their equals, Luke 20:36 .
Came to present themselves ] This is spoken in a low language, for our better apprehension, by allusion to the custom of earthly princes, and their attendants and officers coming to give an account, or receive directions. The angels are never absent from God, Luke 1:19 , but yet employed by him in governing the world, Ezekiel 1:1-28 ., and guarding the saints, Hebrews 1:14 . This the heathens hammered at, for both Plutarch and Proculus, the Platonist, say, that the angels do πορθμευειν , travel between heaven and earth, carrying the commands of God to men, and the desires of men to God, Iussa divina ferentes ad homines, et hominum vota ad deos.
And Satan came also among them ] That old man slayer (envying Job’s holiness and happiness, as much as the good angels rejoiced in it and promoted it; for he was seen of angels of both sorts) would needs make one among those sons of God, not without God’s overruling power; although he regarded not so much God’s authority as wanted an opportunity and licence to do mischief. In reference to this history, George Marsh, martyr, in a certain letter of his, writeth thus to his friend: The servants of God cannot at any time come and stand before God, that is, lead a godly life, and walk innocently, but Satan comes also among them; that is, he daily accuseth, findeth fault, vexeth, persecuteth, and troubleth the godly, &c. Yet unless God do permit him, he can do nothing at all, not so much as enter into a filthy hog. But we are more of price than many hogs before God (Acts and Mon. fol. 1423).
Before the Lord ] Or by, or near, the Lord. But can Satan come into the presence of God? Surely no otherwise (saith Mr Caryl, a grave divine) than a blind man can come into the sun: he cometh into the sun, and the sun shineth upon him, but he sees not the sun. Satan comes so into the presence of God, that he is always seen of God; he is never so in the presence of God as to see God.
Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
Ver. 7. And the Lord said unto Satan ] Either by forming and creating a voice in the air, as Mat 3:17 Job 12:25 , or by an inward word, after an unspeakable manner; manifesting his will, as he willed, to Satan. The schoolmen have great disputes about the speech of spirits, but this they agree in, that the intention of one spirit is as plain an expression of his mind by another spirit (when he hath a will that the other should understand it) as the voice of one man is to another.
Whence comest thou? ] This the Lord asketh not as if he were ignorant; for he knows all things, and that from eternity, neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and open before his eyes, Hebrews 4:13 ; yea, in him all things subsist, Colossians 1:17 , so that there can be no motion of the creature without his privity: God, therefore, thus interrogateth Satan, that he might show himself to be his judge, and that he might exact a confession out of his own mouth.
Then Satan answered the Lord ] The word signifieth to speak in witness bearing, Exodus 20:16 .
From going to and fro in the earth ] He saith not, from instigating men to all manner of wickedness, from ranging up and down as a roaring lion, to devour souls, from sinning that sin against the Holy Ghost every moment, &c. All this he cunningly dissembleth, and saith, in effect, as once Gehazi did, Thy servant was nowhere, or for no hurt to any, when as he is never but doing mischief; as Pliny saith of the scorpion, that there is not one minute wherein it doth not put forth the sting. Is not the hand of Joab in this business? So, is not Satan in all the sins of the wicked, and in most of the troubles of the godly? Heu quam furit Satan, et impellit securos homines ad horrenda flagitia! &c., saith Luther. Oh how doth Satan range and rage, that he may glut himself with the blood of souls! In prosperity he makes men lay their hearts too near it, in adversity to lay it too near their hearts. Upon Job he tried both these stratagems.
And from walking up and down in it ] A great peripatetic he is, and he walks the rounds; for he is yet a prisoner at large, only he hath his fetters upon his heels, Judges 1:6 , and in them he frisketh up and down, and fetcheth a circuit to spy faults, and to take advantages. Mr Broughton rendereth it, from searching to and fro in the earth, &c. Non dormitat semper vigil ille synagogae suae Episcopus, saith one, he is vigilant and diligent, restless and unquiet, as Cain (whom Amama calleth the devil’s patriarch) could settle nowhere, but ran up and down as a fugitive and a vagabond, Genesis 4:12 . It is said, Matthew 12:45 , that this unclean spirit walketh in dry places seeking rest and finding none. Not but that dry and wet are all one with him, but it importeth his restlessness. See the like Jeremiah 17:5 , to run to and fro is the condition and curse of those that are once departed from God. "Take heed, brethren," saith the apostle, "lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God," and wandering after worldly vanities, Hebrews 3:12 . Take heed of giving, way to wilful distractions in holy duties. Men’s hearts are oft so divided and dissipated, that if after any duty they should put this question that God doth here to Satan, Whence comest thou? the answer should be, From compassing the earth, &c.
Job 1:8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [there is] none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
Ver. 8. Hast thou considered my servant Job ] Job then was in God’s account a considerable person, and such a one as whose praise was not of men, but of God. Such are all godly people, but especially those that are eminent tall Christians; full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, as those Romans, Job 15:14 , men of choice spirits as Caleb, that walk up and down the world as so many conquerors, 1 John 5:4 , that are clothed with the sun, and tread upon the moon, Revelation 12:1 . These are men of mark, et undique spectabiles, worthy looking after. A man would have gone as far to have seen Luther as he in the story did to see Livy; or as the queen of Sheba did to see Solomon. A man would fetch such golden sentences as those he uttered upon his knees from Rome or Jerusalem, saith Mr Sam. Clark, that writeth his Life. "The tongue of the just is as choice silver: but the heart of the wicked is little worth," Proverbs 10:20 . Hence Antiochus is called a vile person, Daniel 11:21 , though a great potentate. And the prophet tells Joram, that wicked king of Israel, that but for Jehoshaphat’s sake (a better man) he would not have looked toward him, nor have seen him, 2 Kings 3:14 . Job was a man of weight, and great worth, as were those precious sons of Zion, Lamentations 4:2 . Didst thou not therefore make a stand at his door, saith God? seest thou not how he stands as a standard bearer? shines as a great light? shows forth in his whole practice such a power of godliness, as is sufficient either to draw hearts, or to daunt them? hast thou met with such a man in all thy circuit, that can quit himself so well and wisely in all estates, like as gold is purged in the fire, shineth in the water? seest thou not how all his principles, practices, and aims, are supernal and supernatural?
That there is none like him in the earth ] This was a high praise indeed; and yet no hyperbole; he was a giant to other good people, who were but dwarfs and zanies to him, for growth of grace and height of holiness. He was the paragon of his time; and of unparalleled piety. As Ahab was a very nonsuch for wickedness, 1 Kings 21:25 , so was Job for goodness. As Hezekiah outstripped all the kings of Judah for his trusting in the Lord, 2 Kings 18:5 , and Josiah for his integrity, 2 Kings 23:25 , and the centurion for his heroic faith, Matt. viii., and Paul for his plus ultra, more in addition, Philippians 3:1-21 , and Ambrose, that, in Theodosius’s account, he was the only bishop ( Aμβροσιον οιδα μονον επισκοπον αξιως καλουμενον ); so it was here, Job was above others, as Saul was above the people by the head and shoulders. As he was the greatest, so the best man of all the children of the East, not a man came near him, and yet they might be dear to God nevertheless. But it is with good people as with Jonathan’s signal arrows; two fell short, and but one beyond the mark, &c. God hath his servants of all sorts and sizes; and est aliquid prodire tenus, &c.
A perfect and an upright man, &c. ] A tough piece thou findest him, I suppose, and not easily malleable. Thou hast been doing at him, I doubt not, but canst do no good on it. Thou hast set thine heart upon him, and tried thine utmost skill to overturn him, but hast met with thy match, and been sent away without thine errand; thou hast but beat upon cold iron; thou hast struck fire, but without tinder; thou hast knocked at the door, but there was none within to open to thee. Thus God speaketh, to sting Satan; and (as it were) triumphing over his and Job’s adversary.
Job 1:9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
Ver. 9. Then Satan answered and said ] Satan and his imps will ever have somewhat to say against the clear truth; their wits will better serve them to elude or withstand it, than their pride and malice will suffer them once to yield and acknowledge it. But what said Austin of the heretics of his time? Garriant illi, nos credamus, Let them chatter, let us belive. Let them talk their fill, and think it a great matter to have the last word; let us hold to our principles, and count it enough, that, with Demetrius, we have good report of all men, (or if not so, yet) of the truth itself, 3 John 1:12 .
Doth Job fear God for nought? ] q.d. No such matter. Is there not a cause? as they said once; hath he not wages of the best? and are not thy retributions more than bouutiful? He may serve thee well enough for such price and pay, as he daily receiveth; he may swim well enough, when so held up by the chin. But the truth is, Job is a mere mercenary, and serveth God for hire; he serveth not God, but himself upon God; in a word, he is an arrant hypocrite, and a self seeker, such a one as doth in parabola ovis capras suas quaerere, to seek among his comparative sheep his nanny-goat, pretend piety to his own worldly respects, and serves God merely out of interest. A hypocrite indeed doth so, being therein like the eagle, which soareth aloft, not for any love of heaven; her eye is all the while upon the prey, which by this means she spieth sooner, and seizeth upon better. But how will Satan prove that Job is a hypocrite, since he cannot possibly know his heart? and did not the searcher of hearts acquit Job of this foul sin in Satan’s hearing, when he pronounced him perfect and upright, &c.? How impudent then is this accuser of the brethren! The best is, that we have an advocate with the Father, who puts by and non-suits all Satan’s accusations in the court of heaven, 1 John 2:2 . Yea, though Satan sometimes stand at the right hand of Joshua, Zechariah 3:1 , and may seem to have the better of him; yet here is the comfort, Jesus Christ our Advocate is also a propitiation for our sins, as it is in the same text. Who then shall lay anything to the charge of God’s children? Or if any do, what need we care, when it is God that justifieth, and the saints as vanquishers shall come off as Job did, with great glory to themselves, and shame to the assailer.
Job 1:10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
Ver. 10. Hast not thou made an hedge about him? ] Or, hast thou not trenched him in, and secured him with thine own bare hand, as in a town of war, or tower of brass? thou thyself either art the hedge, or makest it; and that not only about his person, but about his people, children, servants, &c., yea, about his whole estate, so that there is no coming at him: and this Satan seems to speak very angrily. See Trapp on " Zec 2:5 "
On every side ] Per circuitum, circumcirca. The devil could find never a gap, make never a breach. Oh the safety of a saint, that goes always under a double guard, the power of God without him, and the peace of God within him! The Lord himself is his keeper, the Lord his defence upon his right hand, Psa 121:5 Psalms 91:1-16 ; How miraculously hath Geneva been upheld, a small city environed with enemies, and barred out from help of other Churches! How well may we sit and sing, If the Lord had not been on our side, now may England say, if the Lord had not been on our side, when men (or rather devils in the shape of men) rose up against us, then had they swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us, Psalms 124:1-2 . They were not our wooden walls that saved us, &c., but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto us, Psalms 44:3 . This was a better wall than that about China or Babylon, or that which David so soon leaped over by the help of his God, Psalms 18:1-50 , who is sic omnibus attentus ut non detentus a singulis, so helpful to the whole community of his people, as that he neglecteth not any one that pertaineth unto him.
Thou hast blessed the work of his hands ] So that he hath good success in all his business, all things thrive well under his hand; this the devil stomached; and, because he could not come at Job’s heart, fed upon his own. Malice drinketh up the most part of its own venom. It pleaseth the Lord well that his people prosper, but the devil cannot endure it. Well might Austin say, Invidia est vitium diabolicum, envy is a devilish sin, for it transformeth men into so many breathing devils.
And his substance is increased in the land ] Heb. Is broken forth; so that his house is too little to hold the precious and pleasant riches that are therein; his grounds cannot contain the increase of his cattle; ruperunt herrea messes. his barns overflow at harvest time. In fine, there is no end of his wealth.
Job 1:11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Ver. 11. But put forth thy hand ] Make Job feel the weight of it, as good people usually do more than others; yet not ad exitium, to destruction but ad exercitium, to their training, their crosses are not penal, but probational, and medicinal. The same holy hand of God that was put forth to protect and bless Job shall be put forth to afflict him. It must needs be therefore done in measure, and in mercy. If he smite Job, it shall be in the branches only, and not at the root, Isaiah 27:8 , for there is a blessing in it; his hand shall not be further put forth to smite than to save, Isaiah 59:1 Act 4:31 Psalms 144:7 . If Satan or his instruments over do, and offer to exceed their commission, he will never endure it, Zechariah 1:15 . This Satan knew very well, and therefore motioneth that God would put forth his hand and touch him; or, Put forth thy hand, I pray thee; or, Put forth thy hand a little (so some render it) and touch him; that is, lightly afflict him. Confer Genesis 26:11 ; Gen 26:19 Psalms 105:15 .
And touch all that he hath ] Or, touch anything that he hath; so the word Col is used, Job 8:12 Proverbs 1:17 . And it is as if he should say, Lay but some light loss upon him, and he will show his unsoundness; as if but light weights be hanged on rotten boughs, they will soon break; and as if wooden or earthen vessels be set empty to the fire, they will quickly crack.
And he will curse thee to thy face ] Heb. If he do not curse thee, q.d. then I shall much marvel; or then say, I have no skill in him, if he will not thereupon bluster and blaspheme thee, and that openly, impudently, boldly, to thy very face, avowedly, as Caligula did; when he dared his Jove to a duel, with that hemistich in Homer, η μ αναειρ η εγω σε ; as Mahomet, the Grand Seignior, greatly grieved with the dishonour and loss he had at Scodra, most horribly brake out into blasphemous words not fit to be related; as that black mouthed pope with his al despito di Dio. They set their mouths against heaven, saith the psalmist, and let fly at God himself; they howl upwards with the wolf when hunger bit; they utter their own harsh voice, as the parrot when beaten; and like birds of prey that have been long kept in the dark, are out of measure fierce and furious when once they come abroad, so are ignorant and graceless persons: but Job was none such, whatever the devil deemed and averred of him. Pompey, when he had lost the field, might, for want of grace, say that there was a mist over the eye of Providence. Brutus, when overcome by his enemy, Antony, may say in a rage, that all things are carried by blind fortune, by hap hazard (Dio.). Atque deos, atque astra vocat crudelia. The gods as well as the starts he called crude. Those miscreants in Malachi may say, it is but lost labour to serve the Lord, Malachi 3:14 ; but Satan, suggesting that Job would do any such thing if crossed, did (as one speaketh) either lie knowingly, or at least guess ignorantly.
Job 1:12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath [is] in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
Ver. 12. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power ] Here God in appearance condescendeth to the devil’s desires. But we must know, that God’s end in this large grant was not to gratify the devil, but to glorify himself, by making Satan an instrument of his own shame and infamy, when, by all that he could do, Job would not be drawn to think or speak amiss of God; though Satan left him his wife (who was within his commission) to tempt him to it; and afterwards left him his tongue untouched (when all his body besides was smitten with sore boils), as hoping haply he would have cursed God therewith.
only upon himself put not forth, thy hand ] Meddle not with his outward or reward man. He would fain have been doing with both, and had done it now, but for this merciful restriction, which to the devil was (no doubt) a very great vexation. But how could he help it, otherwise than as horses digest their choler by biting on the bridle? The will of the Lord must stand; and Job, though he shall have his back burden of crosses of all kinds, yet they shall not be laid upon him all at once, but piece meal, and at several times. Fidelis est Deus, God is faithful, saith the apostle (and father Latimer died in the flames with those sweet words in his mouth), God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, &c., but will surely proportion the burden to the back, and the stroke to the strength of them that shall bear it. See his gracious dealings with the apostles at their first setting forth into the world; and how by degrees he inured them to bear the cross of Christ, Acts 2:1-13 ; Acts 4:5-22 ; Acts 5:17-42 ; Acts 12:1-19 .
So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord ] As thinking every hour two till he had sped his commission; the devil descended like lightning upon the earth, to search occasions to ruin Job, aud to triumph over his patience, to touch all that he had, and to touch him to the very quick. This diligence of the devil in evil doing, how happy were it, saith Mr Beza, if we could imitate in doing well? But, behold, while Christ’s enemies watch, and in the night set themselves in readiness to take him, his chief disciples do not only snort and sleep, but cannot so much as be awaked in the garden.
Job 1:13 And there was a day when his sons and his daughters [were] eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
Ver. 13. And there was a day ] A dismal day it proved to Job, "a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness," as Zephaniah 1:15 . That subtle serpent set upon mischief, purposely picketh out such a time to do it as wherein such a sad and sudden change was least of all looked for; and then lays on amain (as if he were wood) with the hail shot, hell shot of sharpest afflictions. He knows well, that as mercies and deliverances, the more unexpected they are the more welcome, as Abraham’s receiving his son Isaac after a sort from the dead; Israel’s eduction out of Egypt, when they were forsaken by their hopes; Jonah’s being drawn out of the belly of hell (as he phraseth it, Jon 2:2 ); so crosses, the more suddenly they befall men the more they amate them; and finding weak minds secure, they make them miserable, leave them desperate.
When his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine ] Wherewith, if their hearts were overcharged (and what more easy? the devil foiled our first parents by inordinate appetite, and finding it then so successful a weapon, he maketh use of it still), that day might come upon them unawares, Luke 21:34 . That was Satan’s drift surely, however it happened; and so to destroy body and soul together. But it is to be hoped that he was disappointed in his aim; and that death was sent in haste to Job’s children, as an invitant to a better feast; and that they might do as our Saviour did, who being at a feast at Bethany, fell into a meditation and discourse of his death and burial, John 12:7-8 . Sure it is, that although the wicked may die sinning, and shall die in their sins, John 5:21 , and so be killed with death, as Jezebel’s children were, Revelation 2:23 ; yet God’s children shall not die before their time, Ecclesiastes 7:17 , or till the best time, till their work is done, Revelation 11:7 . No malice of man or devil can antedate my end a minute (saith one), while my Master hath work for me to do. It is the happiness of a saint, that he is sure not to die till that time, when as, if he were but rightly informed, he would even desire to die. Happy is he, that after due preparation is passed through the gates of death ere he be aware, as Job’s children were.
Job 1:14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
Ver. 14. And there came a messenger ] A sad relater, not a devil in the shape of a man, as the Rabbis would have it (let that pass for a Jewish fable), but one of Job’s own servants, or some other eye witness, to make Job believe, belike, that, as an evil man, he only sought rebellion, since such cruel messengers were sent against him, Proverbs 17:11 .
The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding, &c. ] i.e. We were none of us either idle, or ill-occupied; but taking pains, and tending our cattle, when this disaster befell us. "Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted," Psalms 107:17 ; they create themselves crosses, such as must therefore needs come with a sting in them, see Genesis 42:21 . But Job’s servants were honestly employed when plundered and assassinated; which showeth that his losses were not penal, but probational.
And the asses feeding beside them ] Peter Martyr, upon the First of Samuel, wittily applieth this text to prelates and non-residents; who, when put in mind of their duty, would usually answer, that they had substitutes and curates to do their business for them, Ita labor aliorum est, et proventus ipsorum; so that others took the pains, and they the profit, saith he, and as it is in the Book of Job, The oxen plow, and the asses feed beside them.
Job 1:15 And the Sabeans fell [upon them], and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Ver. 15. And the Sabeans fell upon them ] i.e. The Arabians, a thievish people, that lived by rapine and robbery, Sabaei apud poetas molles vocantur; With the poets, the Sabeans were called effeminate, but Satan set them awork. They are at this day called Saracens, of Sarac, to rob; for they keep up their old trade, and are not all out so good as those Circassians, a kind of mongrel Christians who are said to divide their life between sin and devotion; dedicating their youth to rapine, and their old age to repentance.
Yea, they have slain the servants ] Heb. The young men; for εργα νεων , &c., Iuniores ad labores, junior men to work. It was happy, howsoever, that they were taken away when in their lawful calling, and about their honest employments. Elijah chose to be taken in such a posture; for he knew the very time; and yet when the chariots of heaven came to fetch him up he was going and talking to his scholar Elisha. The busy attendance on our holy vocation is no less pleasing to God, or safe for us to die upon, than an immediate devotion. Happy is that servant whom the Master, when he cometh, shall find so doing.
And I only am escaped alone to tell thee ] For no other cause escaped this one, this single one, but to add to Job’s affliction. There was no mercy in such a sparing; it was that Job might have the ill news brought him suddenly and certainly. That old manslayer had so contrived it for the greater mischief.
Job 1:16 While he [was] yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Ver. 16. Whiles he was yet speaking ] See here, we may, that miseries many times stay not for a mannerly succession to each other, but, in a rude importunity, throng ill at once: Fluctus fluctum trudit, one deep calleth to another; and as one shower is unburdened, another is brewed, Ecclesiastes 12:2 . It must not seem strange, but be joyous, to saints when they fall, or be precipitated, plunged, into divers temptations, James 1:2 . For crosses seldom come single, Aliud ex alio malum (Terent.), πονος πονω πονον φερει (Aristoph.).
Then came also another, and said ] Before Job could recollect and recover himself, or take breath: this was a sore trial. It is a mercy that we have some lucida intervalla, bright periods, that the rod of the wicked doth not always rest on the lot of the righteous; that there are any interspiria, periods of life any halcyons; since here they must have it, or nowhere, Revelation 21:4 .
The fire of God ] This was more terrible than the former; because God seemed to fight against Job with his own bare hand, by fire from heaven, as once he did against Sodom. Be not thou a terror unto me, O Lord, saith Jeremiah, Jeremiah 17:17 , and then I care not though all the world set against me. If mariners in a tempest have sea room enough, there is no fear; so, if men in afflictions can see and say, Yet God is good to Israel. To the pure in heart, there is comfort; and, on the contrary, it is fearful to fall into the hands of the living God! Hebrews 10:31 .
And hath burned up thy sheep ] Wherewith Job was wont to offer sacrifice. It was great joy to those in Joel, that God, after a sore and long famine, would yet leave a blessing behind him; "even a meat offering and a drink offering," &c., Joel 2:14 .
And thy servants ] Those souls of men, as they, are called, Revelation 18:13 . This was a worse loss than that of his sheep.
And I only, &c. ] See Trapp on " Job 1:15 "
Job 1:17 While he [was] yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Ver. 17. While he was yet speaking ] See on Job 1:16 .
The Chaldeans ] A base and obscure people from the beginning, subject to the Assyrians, but yet more potent than the Sabeans, as appeareth by the three bands they made out. The Sabeans are noted by Strabo to be an idle and effeminate people. The Chaldeans are set forth in the Scripture to be a bitter and hasty nation, terrible and dreadful, fiercer than the evening wolves, &c., Habakkuk 1:6-8 . Satan proceeds by degrees to afflict Job, that he may at length overturn him; but beyond expectation, he held out all assaults, Instar rupia quae in mari vadoso horridi Iovis, et irati, ut ita dicam, Neptuni fervidis assultibus undique verberata non cedit aut minuitur, sed obtendit assuetum fluctibus latus, et firma duritie tumentis undae impetum sustinet ac frangit (Joan. Wower Polymath).
Made out three bands ] Which were marshalled and set in array by the devil, who was their commander-in-chief. Sic saepe loricatus incedit Satan, et cataphractus, as Luther speaketh; he hath his legions among men also, who (like those vulturine eagles, Job 39:30 ) do glut-glut blood, as the Hebrew word there soundeth and signifieth.
And fell upon the camels ] Heb. Spread themselves over them, rushed and ran violently, making an impression upon the camels.
And have carried them away ] Heb. Have taken them to themselves, though Job had never dealt discourteously with these Chaldeans, nor had his camels trespassed them, but were carefully kept by the servants. Innocence is no target against injury; neither doth victory always argue a just cause.
Yea, and slain the servants, &c. ] See Trapp on " Job 1:15 "
Job 1:18 While he [was] yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters [were] eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
Ver. 18. While he was yet speaking ] See Job 1:16 .
Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine ] This was the last, but not the least, of Satan’s assaults, reserved purposely to the last, to crush him quite, when he was now spent and spiritless, as he hoped. Let us look for like dealing, for a tough bout, at death howsoever; and be always ready prepared for another and a worse encounter. It is said of Caesar, that he sometimes put up, but seldom or never put off, his sword (Seneca). It is said of Queen Elizabeth, that, in the greatest calm, she provided for a storm. It is said of the bird onocrotalus, that she is so well practised to expect the hawk to grapple with her, that even when she shutteth her eyes she sleepeth with her beak exalted, as if she would contend with her adversary. Should not we stand constantly upon our guard, who have so restless and pitiless an enemy?
Thy sons and thy daughters, &c. ] Men may die, then, with the meat in their mouths, and in the midst of their mirth and jollity; as did Amnon, Elah, Belshazzar. Whether, therefore, we eat or drink, &c., do all to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31 . Let there be "holiness to the Lord" written upon our pots, Zechariah 14:21 . Let us eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life, as a reverend Scotch divine was said to do. Job’s good heart ached and quaked, likely, at the hearing of this sad news, of so sudden a death of his children, amidst their merriments; for he used to say, when there was no such danger, It may be my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Methinks I hear him saying, or rather sighing, out those sorrowful words of Cratisilea, in Plutarch, when she saw her dear children slain before her, Quo pueri estis profecti? Poor souls, what is become of you? See Trapp on " Job 1:13 "
Job 1:19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Ver. 19. And behold, there came a great wind ] The devil, doubtless, was in this wind (as he is, by Divine permission, "the prince of the power of the air," Ephesians 2:2 , and can thereby do much mischief); what wonder, then, though it were a great wind, since spirited by him, and came ( ventus a veniendo ), came on amain, and with a force, as being driven on by the devil. It was a wonderful wind (belike a whirlwind), and hath, therefore, a "behold" set upon it; such a wind as the relater had never known before; the Rabbis say, that he was so frightened with it, that no sooner had he made an end of his report of it to Job, but he fell down dead at his feet. Sure it is, that he relateth the matter punctually and graphically, with singular diligence, and without that moderation and making the best of things at first, as in such cases is usual, when parents are first made acquainted with the sudden death of their children, or other sad accidents that have befallen them. This messenger cluttereth out all at once, being thereunto set on and induced by Satan (as Lavater thinketh) to stir up Job’s stomach, and to make him break off that so well twisted thread of his patience.
From the wilderness ] Of Idumea, or Arabia, called Deserta. The devil, who haunteth dry and desert places, was the Aeolus that sent it. Let us bless that God (the maker and master of these meteors, and of all things else) who bindeth up such an enemy and boundeth such a power.
And smote the four corners of the house ] This was extraordinary, and, therefore, the more dreadful; God seeming to fulfil upon Job and his children what he threateneth in the law, Deuteronomy 28:59 , I will make their plagues wonderful. But what saith Solomon, and that after long debate with himself about occurrents of this nature? "For all this I considered in mine heart, even to declare all this, that the righteous and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them," Ecc 9:1-2 by externals we cannot judge aright of eternals. Let it be our care to "lay hold on eternal life"; and then sudden death can do us no hurt; no guest cometh unawares to him who keeps a constant table.
And it fell upon the young men, and they are dead ] No doubt but they were miserably mauled and dismembered by the fall, so that they were pulled forth piece-meal, and it could hardly be known which was which, as we say. The like death befell Scopas, a rich and noble man of Thessaly, together with his guests, all crushed and killed together by the ruin of that room where they were feasting, and fearing no such danger, as Cicero telleth us: Simonides was at that feast, but was at that instant happily called out by two young men that came to speak with him (Cic. lib. 2, de Orator). Luther had the like deliverance, by a special providence, as Mr Fox relateth. But so had not those Londoners, in the reign of King William II, who perished by a terrible tempest, which blew down suddenly six hundred and six houses in that chief city (Acts and Mon. fol. 787. Stowe’s Chron.). No more had those that died by the fall of part of a house in Blackfriars, where and while Drury, a Popish priest, was preaching, who, together with a hundred more Papists, his hearers, had there their passport: this happened in the year 1623. And the like we had lately at Witney, in Oxfordshire, where a scurrilous, blasphemous comedy was, by the fall of the room wherein it was noted, Feb. 3, 1652, turned into a tragedy, as ending with the deaths of six, and injuries of about sixty, who were bruised and maimed, and some, as it were, half dead, carried away by their friends. The narrative whereof, together with what was preached there in three sermons on that occasion from Romans 1:18 , is set forth by Mr John Rowe, lecturer in that town, in his book called Tragicomedia.
Job 1:20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
Ver. 20. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle ] He stirred not at the three first doleful tidings, but this fourth startleth him; for he was neither a Stoic nor a stock. His strength was not the strength of stones, nor his flesh of brass, Job 6:12 , that he should bear blows, and never feel pain, or make moan; that he should be silent in darkness, 1 Samuel 2:9 , and not cry when God bound him, Job 36:11 . This Stoical apathy or indolency (condemning all affections in that their wise man, who, as Cicero very well saith, as yet was never found) Jeremiah justly complaineth of, Jeremiah 5:3 , and the Peripatetics utterly disliked; teaching, that wisdom doth not remove affections, but only reduce them to a mediocrity. Job kept the mean between despising the chastening of the Lord, and fainting when rebuked by him, Hebrews 12:5 . See my Love Tokens, pp. 37, 38, &c.
And shaved his head ] In token of his very great sorrow. See Jer 7:29 Micah 1:16 , "Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle." See Trapp on " Mic 1:16 " When Germanicus died, divers foreign princes shaved their beards, to show their grief (Sueton.). Plutarch telleth us that Alexander the Great, at the funeral of Hephestion, his favourite, not only shaved himself, but clipped his horses’ and mules’ hair; yea, he plucked down also the battlements of the walls of the city, that they might seem to mourn too; but this savoured of too much sullenness. How much better his Macedonians, who, being once sensible of his displeasure, laid by their arms, put on their mourning attire, came trooping to his tent, where for almost three days they remained, with loud cries, and abundance of tears, testifying their remorse for offending him, beseeching his pardon, which at last they gained. God calleth to baldness for sin, Isaiah 22:12 , which, in other cases, was forbidden, Leviticus 19:27 ; Lev 21:5 Deuteronomy 14:1 . This Job performed here; for he knew that although God afflicteth sometimes for his own glory, John 9:3 , sometimes for trial or exercise of his people’s graces, yet sin is ever at the bottom, as the meritorious cause of what they suffer; and if he did not duly consider it before, Zophar gave him to understand that God exacted of him less than his iniquity had deserved, Job 11:6 .
And fell down upon the ground ] This shows that Job arose not before to this end, that, with a stout and stubborn gesture of the body, he might withstand God; but rather, that he might, with greater lowliness and humility, submit to his justice, and implore his mercy: he fell down upon the ground and worshipped, saith the text; that is, he fell upon the ground to worship. He fell not all along on the earth, as Saul did, out of despondency and despair, after that he had heard the devil preaching his funeral; he lay like an ox on the earth, in the fulness of his stature, as the original hath it, 1 Samuel 28:20 ; but, as humbling himself under the mighty hand of God, who would raise him up in due season, 1 Peter 5:6 , and as reverently and religiously submitting to his will. And it is probably observed, saith a late expositor, Mr Caryl, out of another, that the ancient prophets and holy men were called Nephalim procidentes, or prostrantes, that is, prostrates, or railers-down, because in their worship they usually fell down upon the earth, to humble themselves before the Lord.
Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
Ver. 21. And said ] He lay not on the ground dumb as a stone, as it is said of Nabal, 1 Samuel 25:37 , and feigned of Niobe. He rageth not as Xerxes did, when he beat the sea, by way of revenge; neither vexeth himself without measure, as Achilles, at the death of his friend Patroclus. He curseth not God to his face (as Satan, that old liar, said he would do), nor so much as the Sabeans and Chaldees, or the devil, the chief engineer of his present sufferings; but, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer," Romans 12:12 , he said, in the words of truth and soberness,
Naked came I out of my mother’s womb] Hence the proverb, Nudus tanquam ex matre, not having a rag to my back, but stark naked, as ever I was born. Hither I came a pitiful, poor, destitute, shiftless, and forlorn creature, not having a cross to bless myself with, as they say; much less sheep and oxen, children and servants, &c.; howbeit God provided for me then; and as he took me out of the womb, so he made me to hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts, Psalms 22:9-10 . I was cast upon him from the womb, &c. And shall I now cast away my confidence, which hath so great recompense of reward? No, though he hath stripped me stark naked, and left me with as little as he first found me, yet I will trust in him. It is he that maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up again, 1 Samuel 2:7 . The will of the Lord be done. Here I am, let the Lord do with me that which is right in his own eyes, 2 Samuel 15:26 . He is Lord paramount, the true proprietary and owner of all; I have been only his steward, his tenant at will.
Iamque meos dedo Domino tibi iure penates:
Tu mihi ius dederas, posse vocare Meos.
And naked shall I return thither ] sc. To the womb of my Magna Parens, Great mother, the earth, Magna parens terra est The great mother is the earth, (Ovid.), fitly called a mother, because, as thence we came in Adam, so there hence shall we be born again, as it were, at the resurrection; called, therefore, the regeneration, Matthew 19:28 , for so some read the words there, Ye which have followed me, shall in the regeneration (when the Son of man shall sit in his glory) sit upon twelve thrones, &c. See Psalms 2:7 Acts 13:33 . This Plato hammered at in his παλιγγεννεσια , or great Revolution. To the grave, therefore, that womb of the earth, that congregation house of all living, as Job elsewhere calleth it, Job 30:23 , shall I return, saith he, implying that our life is nothing but a coming and a returning, Repatriasse erit hoc, saith Bernard, concerning death. It is but a coming and a going, saith a divine, it is but a flood and an ebb, and then we are carried into the ocean of eternity. I read of one who, being asked what life was? made an answer answerless; for he presently turned his back, and went his way. The truth is, we fetch here but a turn, and God saith, Return again, Psalms 90:3 . To live is but to lie a dying; the earth receiveth us like a kind mother into her entrails; when we have a while trodden her underfoot, we haste to our long home, Ecclesiastes 12:5 ; Heb. to our old home, sc. to the dust, from whence at first we were taken. Tremellius rendereth it, in domum saeculi, to the house of our generation, where we and all our contemporaries shall meet. Cajetan, in domum mundi, the house which the world provided for us; and to this house (much in Job’s mind, and, therefore, he here saith, thither), this house of the grave, as the Chaldee paraphraseth, men must return naked. "As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came," saith Solomon, "and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand," Ecclesiastes 5:15 . Death, as a porter, stands at the gate, and strips men of all their worldly wealth, leaving them ne obolum quidem unde naulum solvant.
Haud ullas portabis opes Acherontis ad undas,
Nudus ab inferna stulte vehere rate (Propert.).
Some have had great store of gold and silver buried with them, but to small purpose more than to proclaim their own folly. Some wiser than some: if I must leave all the rest, yet this I will take with me, said a silly fellow, when, giving up the ghost, he clapped a twenty shillings piece of gold into his mouth. Athenaeus telleth of one, that at the hour of his death devoured many pieces of gold, and sewed the rest in his coat, commanding that they should be all buried with him. Hermocrates being loth that any man should enjoy his goods after him, made himself, by will, heir of his own goods. These muck worms, like those ten men, Jeremiah 41:8 , having treasures in the field, of wheat, barley, oil, &c., are full loth to part with them; and having much cattle, as those Reubenites and Gadites, Numbers 32:5 , they would fain live still on this side Jordan; having made their gold their god, they cannot think of parting with it; they would, if possible, carry the world with them out of the world. But what saith the apostle? We brought nothing with us into this world, and it is certain (see how he assevereth and assureth it, as if some rich wretches made question of it) we can carry nothing out, nothing but a winding sheet, 1 Timothy 6:7 ; as Sultan Saladin’s shirt, which he commanded to be hung up at his burial; a bare priest going before the bier and proclaiming, Saladin, the mighty monarch of the East, is gone, and taketh no more with him than what you here see. And to the same sense the poet speaking of Hannibal, saith,
- modo quem fortuna fovendo
Congestis opibus donisque refersit opimis,
Nudum tartarca portarit navita cymba (Sil. Ital.).
The Lord gave ] It is his blessing upon the diligent hand, that maketh rich, Proverbs 10:22 , as without that all pains and policies are but arena sine calce, sand without lime, they will not hold together. Not only every perfect (that is, spiritual blessings in heavenly things), but every good gift, that is, temporal blessings in creature comforts, come from above, from the Father of lights, James 1:17 , as pledges of his love to those that are his, and as an earnest of better things hereafter, Psa 23:5-6 Gen 27:28 God give thee the dew of heaven, saith Isaac to Jacob. Esau likewise hath the like, but not with a God give thee; he profanely sacrificed to his own net, not having God in all his thoughts. He said with that Assyrian, Isaiah 10:13 , By the strength of my hand have I done this: my power and the might of my hand hath gotten me all this wealth, &c., Deuteronomy 8:10-11 . Is not this great Babel that I have built? &c. Job uttereth no such bubbles of words; he arrogateth nothing to himself, but ascribeth all to God, whom the heathens also acknowledge Dωπηρα εαων , The giver of all good (Hom.).
And the Lord hath fallen away ] As well he might, for though I had the possession, yet he hath the property; neither can he possibly do me wrong, since he is Lord of all, and may dispose of me and mine as he pleaseth. Jerome teacheth his friend Julian to say, Tulisti liberos quos ipse dederas: non contristor quod recepisti, ago gratias quod dedisti, Thou hast taken away the children which thou hadst given me. I grieve not that thou hast taken them, but give thee thanks for giving them. Julian, that vile apostate, said at his death, I gladly render up my life to Nature requiring it; as a thankful and faithful debtor, Vitam reposcenti naturae tanquam debitor bonae fidei redditurus exulto (Ammian. 1. 25). This was, sure, but a copy of his countenance, and merely for a name. And what shall we think of Quintus Fabius Maximus? who, when he heard that his mother and wife, whom he loved dearly, were slain by the fall of a house, and that his younger son, a brave hopeful young man, died the same time in Umbria, he never changed his countenance (though his friends lamented the loss with many tears), but went on with the business of the commonwealth, as if no such calamity had befallen him: was this patience or stupidity, whether? Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22 , so that Aquinas needed not to have questioned, whether a man can have patience sine auxilio gratiae, without the help of God’s grace. A natural man may, for sinister ends, bite in his pain, as Marius did, when his leg was cut off by the surgeon; he may conceal his grief, as Mithridates did for a time; but all the while he was in a kind of fever (Epialis the physicians call it) wherein men be cold without, but hot as fire within. And the like we may judge of Philip II, king of Spain, who is said to have borne the loss of his invincible Armada that had been three years a rigging, with much patience, giving, and commanding to be given all over Spain, thanks to God and the saints, that it was no more grievous. This was but a feigned and a forced patience; it was rather pertinacy than patience, it was an obstinate stiffness of mind, &c. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and what was the ground of it? he beheld God in all, the Lord hath taken away, saith he: not a word of the Chaldean and Sabean plunderers, not a tittle against the devil who had employed them; and why? Job easily discerned God’s arrows in Satan’s hand, and God’s hand on the arms of those that had robbed him, and wronged him; hence Taceo, Fero, Spero, I am silent, I endure, I hope. was his motto. It is the Lord, said Eli, when threatened with the loss of all. I was dumb, saith David, because it was thy doing, 1Sa 3:18 Psalms 39:9 . So was Jacob for the same reason, in the rape of Dinah, his only daughter, afterwards married to Job, say the Jewish doctors, Genesis 34:5 . So was Aaron in the untimely end of his untowardly children, Leviticus 10:3 . So was Mauricius, the good emperor, when he saw his wife and children slain before his eyes by the traitor Phocas. And so was, lastly, that noble lord of Plessis, who when he had lost his only son (a gentleman of marvellous great hope) in the Low Countries, and shortly after, his lady died of that grief, he took up those words of David, I was silent, and said no word, because thou, Lord, hadst done it.
Blessed be the name of the Lord ] As well for taking away as for giving. This was a rare bird that would thus sing in winter. It is easy to swim in a warm bath, and every bird can sing in a warm sunshine; but to bless God heartily when afflicted most heavily, this, this is the breathing of an excellent spirit. In everything to give thanks, O quam hoc non est omnium! O then is this not all things! In this theme of blessing God for afflictions, also Basil spendeth all his sermon which he entitleth, Giving of thanks in all things. Christianorum propria virtus est, Courage is peculiar to Christians, saith Jerome, it is a virtue proper to true Christians, heartily, and not hollowly, to give God thanks for crosses, for it proceeds from the joy of faith, and some taste of God’s fatherly care of us in our corrections. If good things befall thee, bless God, and they shall be increased; if evil things, bless God, and they shall be removed, saith Austin; of whom also it is reported, that he had always in his mouth Deo gratias, Thanks be to God, for whatsoever befalleth us; Si bona dederit Deus, gratias agito, et augebuntur, &c. If God gives good things I will be thankful, and if he increases … &c The prophet, Psalms 89:38-52 , lamentably complaineth of the Church’s miseries, and yet concludeth, Blessed be the Lord for evermore; and this he doth, not formally and slightly, but earnestly, and with much affection. Lo, this is the guise of those that be gracious. But how blank (think we) was the devil, when, hoping to hear Job blaspheme God, he heareth him blessing God’s name in this sort, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord! The Greek and Latin translations insert here another sentence that is not found in the Hebrew verity; viz. even as it pleaseth the Lord, so come things to pass, ως τω κυριω εδοξεν, ουτω εγενετο (Sept.). Our late common prayer book also hath the same words in the form for burial of the dead.
Job 1:22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
Ver. 22. In all this Job sinned not ] The Greek and Latin versions add here, with his lips; but I could rather be of Mercer’s judgment, who referreth the former part of this verse to the mind, and the latter to the mouth (Beza.); showing that Job neither thought in his heart, nor uttered with his mouth, anything unsuitable and unworthy of God, insomuch, that both within and without he carried away the victory and conquest over Satan, and so better deserved to be sainted than our Henry VI, of whom the chronicler writeth thus: The king in both estates so demeaned himself, that he modestly carried the one, and moderately underwent the other; yea, such was his deportment, that the inconstancy of his state could not alter the constancy of his mind; insomuch that one of his successors, King Henry VII, laboured for that only virtue, to have him canonized for a saint; and had obtained to have done it, had not the charges thereof so far exceeded mediocrity, as to cause him to leave it undone (Dan. Hist. contin. by Trussel). God himself hath here canonized, crowned, and chronicled holy Job, for his many good properties before, and here for his humility and patience. The trial of his faith, being much more precious than that of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, is found to praise and honour and glory, 1 Peter 1:7 . It was a saying of Philostratus, that one Jupiter set out by Homer, the poet, was worth ten set out by Phydias, the carver; because the former flew abroad through all the world; whereas the other never stirred from his pedestal at Athens: so one Job, thus renowned by God’s own pen, is far beyond all that have been memorized in human histories for their equanimity and constancy. In all this that Job suffered, acted, and uttered, he sinned not, sc. sinningly; he was not transformed into sin’s image; he sinned not by cursing God, as Satan hoped, and would have had it; or charged God foolishly, or with folly; with anything insolent, insulse, unsavoury; he charged him not in the least, to have dealt unwisely or unworthily with him; and this is here mentioned, as grace, almost to a miracle, as patience having her perfect work, and proving Job to be perfect and entire, wanting nothing, James 1:4 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29