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FIRST PART OF PROSE INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OR POEM
I. Job’s personality (Job 1:1). “There was a man,” &c.
1. His actual existence. Job a historic, not a fictitious character. Mentioned with Noah and Daniel (Ezekiel 14:14). Lived in the time of the patriarchs. Died about 200-years old; Abraham, 175; his father Terah, 205. No apparent allusion in the Book to the Exodus or the Giving of the Law. Worship, manners, and customs, those of patriarchal times. His existence a proof God never left Himself without a witness.
2. His residence. “In the land of Uz.” Uz, east or south-east of Palestine. Adjacent to the Edomites, who appear at one time to have occupied it (Lamentations 4:21). Probably in Arabia Deserta, between Palestine and the Euphrates. Uz the name of a son of Aram the son of Shem (Genesis 10:23); of the firstborn of Nahor, Abraham’s brother (Genesis 22:21); and of the grandson of Seir the Horite (Genesis 36:28). The country named from one of these. Job’s country, like Abraham’s, at that time tending to idolatry (ch. Job 31:26-28). Grace found flourishing in the most unfavourable situations. Job, like Abraham and Daniel, found “faithful among the faithless.” To be godly among the ungodly a high excellence and honour. So Obadiah in Ahab’s court and the saints in Cesar’s palace (1 Kings 18:12; Philippians 4:22).
3. His name. “Whose name was Job.” Denotes “the persecuted,” or “the penitent.” Names in the cast often significant,—descriptive of character or history. Sometimes given from events connected with the birth, as Jabez, Ichabod, &c. Sometimes changed for another in afterlife, as Jacob for Israel, Jedidiah for Solomon. Benoni, “son of my affliction,” changed by Jacob to Benjamin,—“son of my right hand” (Genesis 35:18). Job thought by some to be the same with Jobab (Genesis 10:29). “Job” also the name of one of the sons of Issachar (Genesis 46:13). Job’s name a memento of the possible or actual reverse to his prosperity (ch. Job 3:25-26). His afflictions to be remembered as waters that have passed away (ch. Job 11:16). Profitable, as well as pleasant, to remember past troubles (Psalms 42:6; Psalms 42:8).
II. His character. “That man was perfect,” &c. The question not so much what a man DOES as what he IS. Grace mentioned before greatness. A gracious character and spiritual blessings a man’s choicest possessions.
1. Completeness. Job complete in all the parts of his moral character (James 1:4). Like a human body with no member or organ wanting or imperfect. A man’s morality and religion to be characterized by symmetry and thoroughness. Attention not to be given to one class of duties to the neglect of another.—Job conscientious in the discharge of all the duties of life (Psalms 119:6). Kept, like Paul, a conscience void of offence both towards God and man (Acts 24:16). Believers to be sanctified wholly, throughout body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23.) Are actually sanctified in every part, though every part not wholly sanctified. A perfect man, in the New Testament sense, an advanced, mature, and fully instructed Christian (Philippians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Ephesians 4:13; James 3:2).
2. Sincerity. Job’s perfection rather that of purpose than performance. Aimed constantly at perfection. Not sinless but sincere. Without guile (John 11:57). Without hypocrisy towards God or double-dealing towards man. Sincerity the foundation of a gracious character. Gives religion all its worth and beauty. Godly sincerity is Gospel perfection. Sincere and sound-hearted believers in God’s sight “perfect.”
3 Blamelessness. The character of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:6). No fault found in Daniel, even by his enemies (Daniel 6:4). Moral integrity is Bible perfection. Paul lived in all good conscience (Acts 24:2). Job blameless though not sinless. Reproved by Jehovah (ch. Job 42:5-6). Noah said to be perfect (Genesis 6:9).—God’s testimony to Job’s blamelessness (ch. Job 2:3). His own (ch. 31 throughout).
A certain perfection belonging to saints both in Old and New Testaments. The holiness of believers on earth, partial and progressive. Christ the only absolutely righteous and perfect One. Believers perfect and complete in Him, now representatively, hereafter personally (Colossians 2:10). Have here a begun perfection in conformity to Christ’s image (Romans 8:9; Romans 8:29). That conformity to be in time absolute and complete (2 Corinthians 3:18). Christ made to those who are in Him both “wisdom” and “sanctification” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Believers only made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). Job’s case (ch. Job 29:11; Job 29:16; Job 31:16; Job 31:20). Love the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10). Perfection required by God in all his children (Matthew 5:48; Genesis 17:1; James 1:4). To be constantly pressed after by them (Philippians 3:12; Philippians 3:14). Desire and endeavour after it a test of sincerity. Not usually to be attained without afflictions (Hebrews 5:8; Hebrews 12:10-11). The Captain of our salvation himself made perfect through suffering (Hebrews 2:10). Job perfect and upright before his trials, humble and contrite after them (ch. Job 40:4; Job 42:6.
“Upright.” Refers to heart and life. Or, “perfect” internally, “upright” externally.—Job outwardly what he was inwardly, and vice versâ. Uprightness of life and conduct the best proof of inward sincerity. When the heart is sincere towards God, the actions will be just towards men. “Upright” = straight. Job held the straight path of rectitude. Sin’s ways crooked. Joshua not to turn to the right hand or to the left (Joshua 1:7). Like Daniel, Job did what was right, regardless of consequences (Daniel 6:10). “Perfect” and “upright” connected also in the Psalms (Psalms 37:37). The two complete the moral character of a man of God.
“One that feared God.” Another element in his character, and accounting for the preceding. Religion, or the fear of God, the true basis of morality. The first table of the law the foundation of and preparation for the second. A morality without religion is a body without a soul.—Job profoundly religious. The horizon of his soul filled with God (ch. Job 29:3-4; Job 31:23). Looked at all things in their relation to God and His will (ch. Job 31:2; Job 31:14-15; Job 31:28). Reverenced His majesty, regarded His authority, dreaded His wrath. Feared God, not the idols of his countrymen (ch. Job 31:26-27). So Cornelius (Acts 10:2.) Feared Him, not with a slavish but a filial fear—a fear coupled with confidence and love. The fear of the saints, rather the fear of offending than the dread of suffering. Believers fear God for His goodness as well as His greatness (Hosea 3:5). Saints fear God because He pardons, sinners because He punishes (Psalms 130:4). Filial fear the product of God’s free grace revealed in the Gospel (Jeremiah 32:39-40; Romans 8:15). The root of all true religion. Holiness perfected in it (2 Corinthians 7:1. Forgiveness through the blood of Jesus imparted with a view to it (Psalms 130:4). That fear required by God (Jeremiah 5:22). Due to Him (Psalms 89:7). Casts out the fear of man (Hebrews 11:27; Daniel 3:16-18).—The fear of God the secret of true courage and endurance.—Fabius Maximus, a Roman general, sought to impress his soldiers with reverence for the gods as the best means of confirming their valour [Plutarch].
“Eschewed evil.” Heb., “Departed from evil,” from its practice and presence. Hurried away from it as from the presence of a monster. Avoided it as offensive to God, and in itself loathsome and abominable. Sometimes more difficult to avoid evil than to practice good. Evil often fashionable. Followed by the multitude (Exodus 23:2; Matthew 7:13). To depart from evil the effect and evidence of the fear of God (Psalms 4:4; Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 16:6). Exhibits the spirituality and strength of holiness. The spirit active against evil in order to depart from it. Believers while on earth beset with temptations to evil. Job eschewed all evil. Every appearance of it to be abstained from (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Evil to be departed from in its pleasing as well as its repulsive forms. Not only evil itself to be eschewed, but its occasions, temptations, and incentives (Proverbs 4:14-15; Matthew 5:29-30). Job withdrew his eyes from evil as well as his hands and feet (ch. Job 31:1). To depart from evil necessary in order to persevere in good. Grace received to be carefully guarded and preserved. Job’s perfection not sinlessness, but a constant striving against sin.
III. His prosperity
In three particulars (Job 1:2).
1. His children. “There were born to him.” Children esteemed a great part of a man’s prosperity and happiness, especially in O. T. times. Viewed as a mark of the Divine favour and blessing (Psalms 127:3-5; Psalms 128:3-4). Mentioned first as the chief part of Job’s outward prosperity. His happiness, however, not merely in having children, but having them godly (Job 1:5). “Born to him.” His children comforts and blessings to him. Job eminent for holiness, yet not a hermit or recluse.
“Seven sons and three daughters.” In number and sex the ideal of a perfect family. Both numbers, as well as their sum, mystic and symbolical. “Seven,” indicative of perfection; “ten,” of multitude. The more children, if gracious, the greater blessing. More sons than daughters, an enhancement of his property. A large family no hindrance to piety, uprightness, and charity (ch. Job 29:11-17; Job 31:13-20; Job 31:32). So Enoch walked with God 300 years, and begat sons and daughters (Genesis 5:22).
2. His property. “His substance was seven thousand sheep,” &c. Job described as an Arab prince, emir or sheikh. His possession in cattle, though not a wandering Bedowin (ch. Job 29:7). No land or houses mentioned, though living in or near a city. Appears, like Isaac, to have cultivated land belonging to others (ch. Job 31:39). Wealth, in earliest times, reckoned not by extent of land but number of cattle (Genesis 12:6; Genesis 24:35; Genesis 30:43). Heavenly wisdom the only real “substance” (Proverbs 8:21; Proverbs 23:5). Piety and charity ordinarily the best way of thriving even in this world. Prayer whets the tools, oils the wheels, and brings a blessing. Riches an evil only in their abuse. In the hand a blessing, in the heart a curse. Riches not bad, therefore given to the good; not the best, therefore given also to the bad. Taken from the good for trial, from the bad for conviction or punishment. Not money, but the love of it, the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Job’s grace seen in his having riches without setting his heart on them (ch. Job 31:24-25; Psalms 62:10). One of the few examples in which the camel gets through the needle’s eye (Matthew 19:24). In the N.T., the poor of this world often chosen as heirs of the kingdom (James 2:5). The Master himself without a place on which to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). Enough for the servant that he be as his Lord (Matthew 10:25). Job pious, and his piety acting as a friend to his prosperity; prosperous, and his prosperity giving a lustre to his piety [Henry.]
“Household.” Body of servants or slaves required for cattle and agriculture. Job’s slaves or servants treated by him with justice and humanity (ch. Job 31:13). Regarded by him as in God’s sight on the same footing with himself (ch. Job 31:14). Could all bear honourable testimony to his conduct and character (ch. Job 31:31). Like Abraham, doubtless, had them trained for God’s service as well as his own (Genesis 14:14).
3. His dignity. “So that” (or, “and”) “he was the greatest,” &c. A new feature in his prosperity. Probably indicates his eminence and rank as a prince or magistrate. Job not only the richest but the most respected in the land (Genesis 24:35; Genesis 26:13; Ecclesiastes 2:9). A man of great authority, not only from his possessions but his character. His greatness not only that of wealth, but of intellectual and moral worth (ch. Job 29:11; Job 29:16; Job 31:16-20). Mentioned to show the greatness of his fall and his grace in bearing it. Job, like David and Daniel, an example of grace coupled with earthly nobility. Grace graces the highest position. Goodness, the fairest jewel in an earthly coronet. Grace found in every station. Not many noble are called, yet always some (1 Corinthians 1:26). Poor Lazarus reposes in rich Abraham’s bosom. Goodness appears the more excellent when associated with worldly greatness. Has then most to overcome and can most diffuse its influence.
“Men of the East.” “The East” applied to countries cast of Palestine, as the north of Arabia. Heb., “Sons of the East.” Noted for their riches, yet Job the richest of them all. Easy with God to make his children the greatest, yet in love often places them among the least in this world (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).
Job 1:5 : “Have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Various opinions as to the meaning, in this passage, of the Hebrew word here rendered “cursed.” בֵּרְכוּ (or bçrechoo) the Piel (transitive or intensive) form of the verb בָּרַךְ (bârach) to kneel, generally meaning to “bless;” i.e., to cause to kneel, such being the usual attitude in receiving a blessing. The word, however, is generally believed to have also the opposite meaning of “cursing.” So GESENIUS, who compares it with the Arabic إبْتَرَكَ (iblaraka), and the Ethiopic, bâraka, both having the opposite meanings of blessing and cursing. 1 Kings 21:10, where the same form of the verb occurs, is referred to as a clear case in which it is used with the meaning of cursing. The same word which is twice employed by Satan (chap. Job 1:11; and Job 2:5), and once by Job’s wife (chap. Job 2:9); where it is no doubt used in the same sense as in the verse before us. This use of the word in two opposite senses variously accounted for. LEIGH, in his “Critica Sacra,” connects these opposite meanings on the ground that the word expresses what a man ardently wishes or calls for, whether it may be good or evil, salvation or perdition. CAREY, in his “Notes on Job,” connects them by observing that both blessing and cursing are acts of religious worship represented by “kneeling,” the relation between them being like that of precor and imprecor in Latin. Others account for this use of the word on the principle of Euphemism; blasphemy having been so abhorred by the ancients that they avoided the very term, as the Latins used sacrum for execraudum. So VATABLUS, DRUSIUS, and COCCEIUS. Perhaps a better way of accounting for these opposite meanings of the word, is that adopted by CODURCUS, who classes it with those verbs in which the Piel form gives a privative meaning, and so makes it convey an idea the opposite of that originally implied in it. Thus הָטָא (khata) to “sin” has its Piel form, הִטֵּא (khitte), to “put away sin,” to expiate it or free from it; עֶצֶם (’elsem), a “bone,” gives a verb in the piel form עִצֵם (’ilsem) to “break the bones.” WEMYSS explains this double and opposite meaning on the ground of irony or antiphrasis; “thy may have blessed God,” i.e., “may have offended Him”(!) The most satisfactory way for the word being used in this sinister sense, and one very generally adopted by modern interpreters, is that of giving it the meaning of “bidding farewell to,” and so of “renouncing;” it being customary on parting with a friend, to wish him farewell. So valere in Latin and χαίρειν in Greek are known to be used (TERENCE, Andria iv. 14; EURIPIDES, Medea, 1044. This view of “renouncing” is adopted by SCHULTENS, J. H. MICHAELIS, LOWTH, DE WETTE, &c. HUFNAGEL renders the word “forgotten.” EWALD and HIRZEL: “forsaken.” ZOCKLER, in LANGE’S Bible-work, observes that it indicates a hostile farewell.
Many, however, prefer to retain the original meaning of blessing, but under various aspects. AMBROSE, JEROME, AQUINAS, MAYER: Have sinned, and blessed God for their good cheer. COCCEIUS: Have sinned, and blessed God for their success. SANCTIUS: Have sinned in the way they blessed God; viz., being puffed up by their riches and prosperity. BROUGHTON, CARYL, and POOLE: Have blessed God too little, or have lightly regarded Him; thus approaching to the sense of cursing. Some supply a negative particle, or give a negative meaning to the copula (vaw), as in Psalms 9:18; Proverbs 17:26; “have sinned and not blessed God.” So CALVIN, GOOD, and SANCTIUS. BOOTHROYD and YOUNG retain the idea of blessing by giving the copula the sense of “though;” “have sinned though they blessed God.” Others do the same by rendering אֱלֹהִים (elohim) not “God,” but “the gods;”—meaning the idols of the heathens or angelic beings; “have sinned and blessed the elohim or gods.” So ADAM CLARKE, PARKHURST, and Dr. LEE, who explains by: “Have inclined to idolatrous practices,” and refers to Isaiah 46:3, as giving the same expression. The word, however, being without the article, would seem to require to be rendered either “God” or simply “god;” and, as SCOTT the translator of Job has observed, no mention is made in the book of any other god or gods than the true one.
The ancient and later versions vary in their way of rendering the word. The SEPTUAGINT, according to the ordinary edition, has: “Have thought evil against God,” in which it has been followed by the COPTIC; while the COMPLUTENSION has: “Have blessed God.” In the ITALA, or older Latin version, it is: “Have cursed the Lord;” while the VULGATE has: “Have blessed God.” The SYRIAC has: “Have mocked.” The ARABIC: “Reproached.” The CHALDAIC: “Provoked to anger.” COVERDALE: “Have been unthankful to God.” LUTHER, like the Vulgate: “Have blessed God.” MARTIN’S French version: “Have blasphemed God.” DIODATI’S Italian: “Have spoken evil of God.”
SECOND PART OF PROSE INTRODUCTION
I. Job’s happiness In his children (Job 1:4).
“And his sons went,” &c. Their feasting the medium of social intercourse and of maintaining friendly relations with each other. Shows
(1) the social habits of his children;
(2) the love and harmony prevailing among them. An exemplification of Psalms 133:1. Contrasted with the family of Adam (Genesis 4:8); of Abraham (Genesis 21:9; of Isaac (Genesis 27:41); of Jacob (Genesis 37:4); of David (2 Samuel 13:28).
(3) in the fear of God;
(4) with thankful acknowledgment of his goodness;
(5) without offence to others;
(6) with charitable remembrance of the poor and needy (Luke 14:12-14; Ecclesiastes 3:4). The general rule of Christian feasting (1 Corinthians 10:31). Its limitation (Romans 14:20-21; 1 Corinthians 8:13; 1 Corinthians 10:32-33). Unseasonable times for feasting (Amos 6:4-6; Joel 2:16; Isaiah 22:12-13). Christ’s presence and miracle at Cana a sanction to special seasons of temperate festivity (John 2:1-11). The creature given not only for necessity but delight (Psalms 104:14-15).
Job’s sons feasted
(1) in their own houses; indicating their wealth, order, and harmony;—also, the maturity of their age. Enhances the calamity of their death.
(2) “Each on his own day,” i.e. his birthday, or the day on which it was his turn to entertain the rest. Birthdays in the East days of great rejoicing (Genesis 40:20; Matthew 14:6).
(3.) They sent and called for their “three sisters,” supposed, like women in the East, to be living with their mother, in their own tent or apartment (Genesis 24:67; Genesis 31:33-34; Esther 2:9-14). Beautiful picture of fraternal harmony and affection. Proof of how Job had trained up its family.
II. Job’s spiritual care over his children (Job 1:5).
“And it was so, when,” &c. At the conclusion of each feast Job offers special sacrifices for his children. Uncertain whether his sons were present, though probable. “He sent and sanctified them;”
(1) Doing what is immediately after related; or,
(2) Exhorting them to prepare themselves for the approaching solemnity. In O. T language, people often said to do that which they enjoin to be done. The members of the family usually present at the family sacrifice (1 Samuel 20:6; 1 Samuel 20:29).—Hence learn:—
1. Christians to see that their families observe God’s worship as well as themselves. Family worship an institution of God. An acknowledgment of God as the God of the family and the author of family blessings. A prayerless family an unblessed one. A family without worship, a garden without a fence. The presence of the children at daily family worship calculated to produce
(1) Reverential fear and filial confidence towards God;
(2) Dutiful regard, submission, and obedience towards their parents;
(3) Harmony, affection, and sympathy towards each other.
2. Preparation necessary for solemn services and approaches to God (Exodus 19:10; Exodus 19:14; Psalms 26:2). As men measure to God in preparation, God measures to men in blessing [Trapp]. God not to be worshipped carelessly and slovenly, but in the best manner possible (Ecclesiastes 5:1). Jews had their preparation and fore-preparation for the Passover. Before Christ, such preparation both moral and ceremonial (Genesis 35:2). After Christ, only moral (Psalms 26:2).
Job took measures to keep his children in a pure and pardoned state. Parents cannot make their children spiritual worshippers, but can bring them to spiritual ordinances. Cannot give converting grace, but can employ the means through which God may impart it.
Job recognized and sought to discharge his responsibilities as a father. Realized his children’s relation to God and eternity. Hence more concerned that they should have grace in their heart than gold in their house; should stand in the favour of God than enjoy the smiles of the world; should be sanctified for the next world than be accomplished for this. Job’s solicitude contrasted with Eli’s indifference (1 Samuel 2:29). A parent’s responsibility for his children does not cease with their childhood. Though no longer sheltered by the parent’s roof, they can and ought to be sheltered by the parent’s prayers.
“Rose up early.” His zeal and earnestness. Impatient till God was reconciled to his children. An early hour required by the largeness of the work as well as the solemnity of it. Sacrifices usually offered early in the morning (Exodus 32:6). Not safe to let sin be unrepented of and unforgiven. The Psalmist’s resolution (Psalms 63:1). Abraham’s practice (Genesis 22:3). That of Moses (Exodus 24:4; of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:35). Has special promise attached to it (Proverbs 8:17). What our hands find to do, to be done with our might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Well to begin the day with prayer and application of the Atonement. God, the author of every day, ought to have the first hour of it. The mind then freshest and freest from earthly cares and distractions. Early worship taught by the light of nature. Practised by the heathen (1 Samuel 5:3-4).
III. Job’s faith in the Atonement
“Offered burnt offerings,” as the head of the family. Patriarchal custom. So Abraham (Genesis 12:7-8); Isaac (Genesis 26:25); Jacob (Genesis 33:20; Genesis 35:6). The Law with a priestly family not yet instituted.
The “burnt-offering” a victim slain and burnt entire on the altar (Leviticus 1:9.) Under the law, might be either a bullock, a lamb, a goat, or turtle doves (Leviticus 1:2; Leviticus 1:10; Leviticus 1:14). Burnt-offerings the only sacrifices mentioned in Patriarchal times. Sacrifices offered from the earliest period. Found in Adam’s family (Genesis 4:4). Probably prescribed by God himself on the day man fell. The first sacrifices probably the beasts with whose skins God provided coats for our first parents (Genesis 3:21). The first express direction from God regarding sacrifice given to Abraham (Genesis 15:9.) Intended to keep in view the promised Seed, to be bruised in man’s stead (Genesis 3:15). Offered with every special approach to God. No worship without sacrifice. Without shedding of blood no remission, and without remission no acceptable approach to God. Sacrifices told
(1) Of guilt;
(2) Of punishment;
(3) Of substitution. Sometimes Eucharistic, or connected with thanksgiving. So Noah’s (Genesis 8:20), Sometimes Federative, or connected with a covenant (Exodus 24:4; Exodus 24:8). In Job’s case, simply Expiatory, or with a view to forgiveness of sin. Hence his faith (Hebrews 2:4). Sacrifice, as a substitute for the offender, a natural instinct. Hence, as well as from tradition, universal in the heathen world. There, sometimes human ones offered, as of more supposed value than dumb animals. Impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin (Hebrews 10:4). The insufficiency of all such sacrifices deeply felt in the conscience (Micah 6:6-7). Every bloody sacrifice a finger pointing to the only sufficient one on Calvary (John 1:29). Hence the cry on the cross, “It is finished,” and the rent veil (John 19:30; Matthew 27:51.)
“Die man, or justice must, unless for him
Some other able and as willing, pay
The rigid satisfaction, death for death.”
“According to the number of them all.” A victim for each of the seven sons. Job no niggard in God’s service. Children to be prayed for individually and specifically. Each has his particular temper and circumstances, trials and temptations, sins and wants. Christ’s one offering sufficient for all and for all time (Hebrews 10:12-14). Particular application of the atonement to be made by and for each. Each sinner needs a substitute for himself or a personal interest in the great universal one. “He gave Himself a ransom for all,” to be followed by—“He gave Himself for me” (1 Timothy 2:6; Galatians 2:20).
“For Job said,” within himself or to others. Special reason why Job now sacrificed. Religions duties to be grounded on intelligent reasons. God requires a reasonable service (Romans 12:1. Not ignorance, but intelligence, the mother of true devotion. “Call him wise whose actions, words, and steps are all a clear because to a clear why” [Lavater].
“It may be my sons have sinned,”—during their festivities. A bloody sacrifice rendered necessary by sin, which can only be washed out by blood (Hebrews 9:22). Sin such an outrage on God’s universe that only blood can atone for it [Talmage]. “It may be.” Suspicion of sin, much more the consciousness of it, ought to send us at once to Christ’s blood. A blessing to have a tender conscience. To be without allowed sin, the holiness of earth; to be without sin at all, the holiness of heaven. Sin easily committed in the tumult and rush of pleasure. The time of security the time for greatest apprehension. Job’s sons usually devout. Their sinning now only a contingency; but a very possible one. Their danger that of—
(1) Vain thoughts;
(2) Excited feelings;
(3) Unguarded words. Cause for Job’s concern—
(1) In the depravity of the heart;
(2) In the frailty and folly of youth;
(3) in the temptations incident to a feast. Wine a mocker; sin easily committed under its influence (Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:29-35). A double guard needed in the social use of it.—“Cursed God in their hearts;”—reproached or renounced Him for the moment. Same word usually rendered “bless.” Sometimes also the opposite, as 1 Kings 21:10. Blessing in the East customary on parting as well as meeting (Genesis 47:7-10; 1 Kings 8:66). Hence, or from a peculiar Hebrew usage, the probable double meaning of the word here as well as in chap. Job 2:9. Allowed sin a temporary renouncement of God. Sin itself an element of separation between God and the soul. Great danger of such renouncement in festivity and worldly pleasure. “In their hearts;”—
(1) thinking lightly of God’s favour in comparison with present enjoyment: the contrast of Psalms 4:6-7;
(2) forgetting and not acknowledging God as the author of all their mercies. Heart or secret sins not to be lightly thought of (Psalms 19:12; 1 Corinthians 4:4). Such sins are
(2) Deserving condemnation;
(3) Need atoning blood. The morality of Job’s children. Job apprehensive only of heart sins.
IV. The habit and continuance of Job’s piety
“Thus did Job continually.” Marg.: “All the days;” either, while the feast lasted; or rather, at the conclusion of every such feast. Job’s piety habitual and constant. Mark of his sincerity. He who serves God uprightly will serve Him continually [M. Henry]. The same occasions always liable to bring the same sins. Same corrupt nature always present. Fresh sins require fresh pardon. Renewed pardon requires renewed application to the atoning blood. The blood of Jesus a fountain ever full and ever free. Prayer and care to follow the godly through life. Constant washing of the feet needed (John 13:10).
Job 1:11. “And he will curse thee to thy face.” (Margin: “If he curse thee not.”) The clause susceptible of a variety of interpretations. The two particles at the commencement אִם לֹא (im lo) “if not,” variously rendered and understood. By most they are regarded as expressive of an oath; with the rest of the form of imprecation understood; as, “may I perish,” or such like; i.e., “if he will not curse thee,” &c. So VATABLUS, PISCATOR, HUFNAGEL, and ZOCKLER, who makes the expression equivalent to “verily.” DATHE supplies, “Let me be accounted a liar,” i.e., “if he do not curse thee,” &c. SCHULTENS thus views the words as expressive of Satan’s impudence and contumacy. Others supply “see;” i.e., “if he will not,” &c. So CAREY. Some who retain the sense of “blessing” in the verb, render the particles, “if not;” i.e., “if thou do no smite him, then, no doubt, he will bless thee to thy face, or in thy presense.” So Dr. LEE, COLEMAN, YOUNG, &c. SANCTIUS, following the Vulgate, renders the verb in the past tense, as expressive of habit,—“[See] if he hath not [mercly] blessed thee to thy face.” i.e., hypocritically. ADAM CLARKE: “He will bless thee (or be pious) according to thy appearances for him.” GOOD and BOOTHROYD interrogatively: “Will he still bless thee?” TOWNSEND: “Then he will bless thee in thy presence,” as he has hitherto done. Job thus to be proved a mercenary worshipper according to either sense of the verb: If thou smite him he will curse thee to thy face; if not, he will still bless thee, but only to thy face. The same meaning of “renouncing,” however, probably attached to בֵּרֵךְ (bçrçch) here as in Job 1:5; only, as has been remarked by NOYES and others, the phrase is stronger here, as importing an utter and public renunciation of religion as a vain thing. So SCHULTENS, DATHE, UMBREIT, ROSENMÜLLER, STICKEL, &c. BARTH, in his “Bible Manual,” has: “He will renounce or even blaspheme thee to thy face.” MERCER: “He will curse thee,” i.e., deny thy providence, and say it is vain to serve thee. Similarly POOLE: “He will reproach thy providence.” It is well known that the heathen frequently reproach their gods in misfortune: “Deos atque astra crudelia vocat.”
THIRD PART OF PROSE INTRODUCTION
I. The celestial council (Job 1:6). “There was a day.” What God decrees in eternity has its day of accomplishment in time. “Everything has its hour” [Hebrew Proverb].
“The sons of God came.” Representation of God’s court and administration. So 1 Kings 22:19. The veil separating the visible from the invisible drawn aside. Reveals an assembly of God’s angelic ministers and Himself among them. All Job’s trials the result of transactions in heaven. The same true of the sufferings and death of Job’s great Antitype (Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27-28); and of the trials of the least of His suffering members (Romans 8:28-30).
“Sons of God,” i.e., angels, celestial spirits. So Job 38:7. All ministering spirits employed in Jehovah’s service (Psalms 103:21; Hebrews 1:14) Perhaps including the spirits of departed believers (Revelation 7:13; Revelation 22:8-9; Acts 12:14-15). “Sons of God,” from their nature; “angels,” or messengers, from their office. “Sons of God,” by creation; “angels,” by Divine appointment. “Sons of God,” as resembling God,—
(1) in spirituality of substance;
(2) in intellectual, moral, and physical qualities (Psalms 103:20). Of various ranks and orders, and invested with various powers and charges (Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16; 2 Peter 2:11; Revelation 14:18; Revelation 16:5; Revelation 19:17).—“Present themselves before the Lord,” as His ministers or attendants (Proverbs 22:29; Zechariah 6:5; Luke 1:19). Ready to receive and execute His orders and to render their account. “Thousands at His bidding speed, and post o’er land and ocean.” As supreme Governor, God takes cognizance of all that is done in this and other worlds. Mighty spirits, the ministers and executioners of His behests. Such employed in the destruction of the cities of the plain (Genesis 19:1; Genesis 19:12-13); in the promulgation of the law on Mount Sinai (Galatians 3:19; Acts 7:53; Psalms 68:17); in the destruction of the Assyrian army and deliverance of Jerusalem (Isaiah 37:36); in the restoration of the Jewish church and state after the captivity (Daniel 2:20-21; Zechariah 1:10-11; Zechariah 1:20-21; Zechariah 6:1-3); in the establishment and spread of the Gospel (Luke 2:9-12; John 1:51); in the destruction of the kingdom of Antichrist (Revelation 19:14); in the transactions of the last day (Matthew 13:41; Matthew 13:49-50); in the service of individual believers (Hebrews 1:14; Acts 12:7); preeminently in that of their incarnate Head (Psalms 91:11-12; Matthew 4:11).
“The LORD.” Heb., “Jehovah.” Always with this meaning when printed in capitals. Indicates
(1) The self-existing, eternal, unchangeable Being (Exodus 3:14);
(2) The faithful fulfiller of covenant relations and engagements. Not practically known to the patriarchs before Moses by this name (Exodus 6:3). Appeared only at the Burning Bush as the promise-fulfilling God. The name applied to and appropriated by Jesus (Romans 13:10-12; Revelation 1:8). Given specifically to the One True God who adopted the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for His people, when the world was apostatizing into idolatry. The name never applied to a false God or to any mere creature. Given however to an angel who is called “the angel of the Lord” or the “angel Jehovah,” being the second person in the Godhead; the Messenger of the Covenant and Mediator between God and men, who afterwards became incarnate.
II. Satan’s Presence
“And Satan came also among them.”
Here first introduced under this name.
1. His name. Denotes “the adversary.” The devil so called (1 Peter 5:8). The name without the article applied to an adversary in a court of justice (Psalms 109:6). Other names—the Devil or Slanderer; the Old Serpent; the Great Dragon; the Tempter; the Wicked One; Beelzebub; Apollyon; the Prince and god of this world.
2. His personality. His personal existence is
(1.) In accordance with reason. (i) Existences may be above as well as below man. (ii.) These existences may fall and become unholy as truly as man. (iii.) Fallen intelligent beings usually the tempters of others.
(2) Testified by the whole of Scripture. The truth regarding him gradually developed in the Old Testament. Marked out as a serpent in the temptation of our first parents. Probably the lying spirit in the mouth of the false prophets (1 Kings 22:21). The name itself given, 1 Chronicles 21:1; Zechariah 3:1. His personality pre-eminently taught by the Lord Jesus Himself in the Gospels.
(3) Confirmed by universal belief. The belief in the existence of such a spirit common to all nations.
3. His nature and character. A created spirit; probably one of the highest. A son of God by creation, like the other angels, and originally holy; but fell, apparently through pride (1 Timothy 3:6; Jude 1:6). Has become the tempter and accuser of men, especially of the good (Revelation 12:10). The most finished specimen of unsanctified intelligence. His nature,—great intellect employed for selfish and wicked purposes. Designated by Christ a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). Christ’s whole life a conflict with him, according to the promise (Genesis 3:15). The life of every believer a similar conflict (Ephesians 6:11-17; 1 Peter 5:8), Believers made the theatre of Christ’s continued victory over him. Already overcome by Christ on their behalf (Colossians 2:15). To be bruised under their feet shortly (Romans 16:20). Meantime to be steadfastly resisted (1 Peter 5:9). Times of signal victory over him indicated in Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:10. Seeks every advantage over us (2 Corinthians 2:11). Transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Is overcome by the word of God and faith in the blood of Christ (Revelation 12:11). Law and justice, through sin, on Satan’s side against man; (Hebrews 2:14); but through Christ’s death, once more on man’s side against Satan (Isaiah 42:21; Isaiah 51:8; Romans 8:32-34). Believers to reckon on his repeated and sometimes sudden assaults. The more faithful and walking in the light, the more exposed to them.
4. His works. The agent in Adam’s fall (2 Corinthians 2:3)—a wide-spread tradition. Sought to overthrow Christ and to draw Him into sin (Matthew 4:0). He blinds men’s minds against the light of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). Seeks to catch away the seed of the word from the hearts of the hearers (Matthew 13:19). Aims at beguiling men’s minds from the simplicity of Christ’s doctrine (2 Corinthians 2:3). Affects men’s bodies with diseases and infirmities (Luke 13:16). Endeavours to thwart the preachers of the Gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Employs his messengers to buffet Christ’s servants (2 Corinthians 12:7). Probably much of the unsteadfastness and discomfort of believers due to his agency [Homilist]. In regard to Satan, the book of Job in close analogy with the whole Bible. Job’s happiness the object of his envy, like that of Adam in Eden. Lying spirits, as well as ministering angels, sent forth from God’s presence (also in 1 Kings 22:19). The thorn in the flesh from Satan, alike in the case of Job and Paul.—“Came also.” Satan not less than other spirits subject to God’s authority. Like them also employed in executing the divine purposes. An intruder into all sacred places (1 Kings 22:19, &c.; Luke 4:31). His punishment only gradually inflicted. Still allowed to move at large.—“Among them.” As Judas among the Apostles. Still found in the assemblies of God’s children. No place on earth too holy for his intrusion. Public ordinances special occasions for the exertion of his power. Present to distract the thoughts, defile the imagination, and harden the heart.
III. Jehovah’s challenge regarding Job (Job 1:7).
“The Lord said unto Satan, whence comest thou?” The highest fallen spirit amenable to Jehovah. No creature able to outgrow his responsibility. That responsibility not diminished by a course of sin. God’s questions not for information to the questioner but conviction to the questioned. Similar questions to Adam (Genesis 3:2); and to Cain (Genesis 4:9). The question intended to open the way to Job’s desired trial. At the same time lays bare Satan’s character and doings. The most secret malice open to the eye of Omniscience.
“From going to and fro.” Marks
(1) Satan’s present circumstances. Allowed still to roam at large, though ever in chains. Only reserved to the judgment of eternal fire (Jude 1:6; Matthew 25:31).
(2) His terrible activity. Satan no laggard. Ever on the wing. In constant quest of opportunities of mischief (1 Peter 5:8). A true Apollyon; assiduous in his endeavours to destroy.
(8) His homelessness and unrest. Like Cain, a vagabond in the earth. Seeks rest and finds none (Matthew 12:45). No rest for a depraved spirit (Isaiah 57:20-21).
(4) His constant increase of knowledge. Same word implies “Search” (Numbers 11:8; 2 Samuel 24:2). Satan ever prying into the ways and circumstances of men. Constantly increasing his knowledge with a view to destroy.—“In the earth.” This earth now the permitted sphere of his activity. No place therefore secure from his attacks. Good to remember we are in a world where Satan is, and is ever active.—“Going up and down in it.” Intensifies his activity and restlessness. Satan’s name among the Arabs, El Harith, “The Active,” or “The Zealous.” Seems to glory in his work. Knows he has but a short time (Revelation 12:12). Goes up and down in the earth but finds no home in it. Satan and all his children homeless wanderers in the universe. His answer in keeping with his character. Tells only part of the truth. Says nothing of the evil he does and seeks to do. Unable to report any good deed, and unwilling to own to any evil one. His work had been to draw men away from their allegiance to God and to destroy their souls.—“Hast thou considered?” &c. Satan questioned as no unconcerned spectator. Allusion to his character as a spy, enemy, and accuser of good men.—“My servant Job.” God never ashamed to own his faithful servants. An interested spectator of a good man’s ways and actions. A faithful servant of God the most considerable object in the world to God and angels. “A servant of God” the most honourable and distinguishing title. May be mean and contemptible without, but all glorious within (Psalms 45:13). Job God’s servant consciously and by choice; Nabuchadnezzar God’s servant unconsciously and by constraint (Jeremiah 25:9). God’s people proved by living as His servants, not as their own masters. “My servant Job,” a stinging word to Satan. A true saint is Satan’s eye-sore. A good man the special object of his attention and malice. Job mentioned by name. Implies intimate knowledge and special regard (Exodus 33:12; Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 13:11; John 10:3).—“That there is,” &c. God dwells on Job’s character. Delights in contemplating his saints (Zephaniah 3:17.—“None like him,” in the degree of his piety and fidelity. Degrees of excellence. Job not only the greatest but the holiest. Eminence in goodness to be aimed at. Paul gloried in being “not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5). His motto, “Forward” (Philippians 3:11-14). “On to perfection” (Hebrews 6:1). God notices not only a man’s piety but the degree of it. Gives to each his just meed of praise.—“A perfect and an upright man.” Job’s good character endorsed by God. Good to have man’s testimony in our favour,—better still to have God’s. God more observant of the good than the evil in his people (Numbers 23:21).
IV. Satan’s accusation and proposal (Job 1:9).
“Doth Job serve God for nought?” Satan true to his name, the Devil, or Slanderer. Accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). A good man’s praise the reproach and torment of the bad. Satan exalts a man’s piety to make him proud, denies it to make him sad. Cannot deny Job’s religion, but challenges the ground and reality of it. A mark of Satan’s children to be a detractor of true godliness. Satan’s method to begin by questioning. Insinuates, then directly charges. Always a liar. In Eden, called evil good, now calls good evil. Satan’s insinuation the immediate occasion of Job’s trial.—“For nought.” Either
(1) Without sufficient cause (John 15:25); or,
(2) Without regard to his own interest (Genesis 20:15). Job’s religion charged with mercenary motives—his piety mere selfishness. Bad men judge of others by themselves. With carnal men piety is policy. A truth at the bottom of Satan’s insinuation, though false in regard to Job. Everything lies in the motive. A selfish piety no piety. Common with Satan’s children to call God’s saints hypocrites. An evil conscience makes men suspicious of others’ sincerity. Satan’s charge against Job implicitly one against God himself and the plan of Redemption. If Job’s religion is hollow, all religion is, and Redemption is a failure.—Satan’s words true as a fact, though false as motive. No man serves God for nought. Godliness profitable unto all things (1 Timothy 4:8; 1 Timothy 6:6). In keeping God’s commandments is great reward (Psalms 19:11). God himself the exceeding great reward of His servants (Genesis 15:1). True godliness consistent with “respect to the recompense of the reward” (Hebrews 11:26). Past and present mercies also not excluded from the motives to godliness (Romans 12:1). Yet true religion more than gratitude for past or regard to future good (Psalms 119:129; Psalms 119:140). Satan well acquainted with mankind, but ignorant of the nature of true grace. Not only a deceiver but, like all unregenerate men, deceived (Titus 3:3)—“Hast thou not made a hedge about him” (Job 1:10). Satan speaks truth when it serves his purpose. The saint’s happiness and enjoyment of the divine favour the object of his hatred and envy. God’s protection of his servants a blessed truth. (Psalms 91:0; Psalms 121:0). His angels and still more Himself the hedge of His people (Psalms 34:7; Psalms 121:3; Zach. Job 2:5). Either is Himself the hedge or makes one. Satan would leap the hedge, but dare not, and cannot without permission.—“And about His house.” Not only the godly but their belongings the object of divine care. Horses and chariots of fire around Elisha’s residence (2 Kings 6:17).—“On every side.” Satan a wolf prowling round the fold and vexed to find no means of entrance.—“Hast blessed the work of His hands.” Satan well aware of the source of Job’s prosperity (Proverbs 10:22). Satan no atheist. Practical atheism makes men deny what Satan admits. “The work of his hands,”—his undertakings and engagements, as a man, a master, and a magistrate. Job diligent in business as well as fervent in spirit (Romans 12:11. God’s blesssing not with the idle but with the industrious. All toil bootless which is unblest by God (Psalms 126:1-2). Peter toils all night but catches nothing till Christ enters the boat (Luke 5:5-6).—“But put forth thine hand now” (Job 1:11). Satan’s impudence equal to his malice. Gives God the lie and challenges Him to a trial. Asserts Job’s hypocrisy and offers to prove it. Adopts the language of a suppliant. Satan prays, but in malice. Eager to see Job a sufferer and proved to be a hypocrite. Unable to put forth his own hand without permission.—“Touch all that he hath,”—children and possessions. The touch intended to be a destructive one (Psalms 105:15). Satan’s mercies cruel. Earthly possessions subject to God’s disposal. Prosperity vanishes at his touch, (Psalms 104:32).—“He will curse thee,”—reproach or renounce thee, as in Job 1:5. The natural result, on the principle of selfishness. Common with unrenewed nature. Heathens in misfortune vilify their gods. Pompey, after a defeat, said there had been a mist on the eyes of Providence. Margin, “If he curse thee not.” Probably an oath or imprecation, but partly suppressed. Profanity the devil’s language; yet in God’s presence keeps back from fear what men fear not to utter.—“To thy face,”—boldly and openly. Job’s fear for his sons that they might have done it in their hearts. Boldness and openness an aggravation of sin. Charity thinketh no evil; malice thinks all evil.
V. The Permission (Job 1:12).
(1) the strangeness of the thing;
(2) the impudence of the demand;
(3) the purpose of God to make the whole conspicuous. God’s thoughts and ways above man’s. His judgments a great deep. Makes the wrath of man and devil to praise Him. Glory to God and blessing to man by the permission now given to Satan.—“All that be bath is in thy power.” Satan’s prayer granted, and himself to be the instrument. A double gratification, but to issue in his own confusion. Not always a mercy for a man to have his prayer answered (Psalms 106:15; Hosea 13:10-11). Job now, like the disciples, to be for a time in Satan’s sieve (Luke 22:31). To be cast into the furnace, not to be consumed, but proved and purified. Not understood at the time, though sometimes for a moment apprehended (Job 23:10). His ignorance of the fact the cause of his disquietude and perplexity. Believers often ignorant of the cause and object of their trials (John 13:7). God’s heart always towards his people even when his hand seems against them. His dearest saints sometimes apparently for a time abandoned by Him (Psalms 22:1; 2 Chronicles 32:31). The most crushing trials neither inconsistent with His grace in us nor His love to us. The cup drunk by the Head often tasted by the members, though for a different object (Matthew 20:23; Matthew 26:39). Satan God’s scullion for scouring the vessels of His household [Trapp].—“On himself put not forth thine hand.” Satan a chained lion, and the chain in our Father’s hand. Believers tried no farther than is necessary.—“So Satan went forth.” Gladly and eagerly as a wolf with permission to enter the fold. Thought every hour two till he had sped his commission [Trapp]. His diligence in doing evil to be emulated by us in doing good.—“From the Presence of the Lord,”—having been, like Doeg, detained against his will (1 Samuel 21:7). God’s presence no place for an unholy nature. To “see God,” the happiness only of the “pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 3:3; Revelation 22:4).
FOURTH PART OF INTRODUCTION.—INFLICTION OF THE TRIAL
I. Occasion of the trial (Job 1:13).
“There was a day.” Satan watches for the time best suited for his designs. The occasion chosen that the trial might fall the more grievous (Isaiah 21:4). Diabolical wisdom in doing mischief. Satan’s terrible malignity.—“His sons and his daughters were eating, and drinking wine.” The children’s hilarity to be an aggravation of the father’s calamity. The more unexpected and unprepared for, the heavier the stroke. Satan likes to make his stroke tell. Turns mirth into mourning. Job’s children to die when most likely to be sinning (Job 1:5). Satan’s object to destroy both body and soul at one stroke. Satan as well as Job knew the dangers incident to wine. God’s judgments often come when men are most secure (Luke 12:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:2). Good to rejoice as though we rejoiced not (1 Corinthians 7:30). The Saviour’s caution (Luke 21:3-4). Changes in circumstances to be prepared for (Proverbs 27:1). A day may have a fair beginning and a foul ending. ‘In the greatest calm provide for a storm’ [Queen Elizabeth],—“In their elder brother’s house.” Hence no ordinary feast. The celebration of the eldest son’s birthday chosen with characteristic malignity.
II. The trial itself in its four particulars
1. Attack of the Sabeans on the oxen and asses (Job 1:14-15). “There came a messenger,”—spared in Satan’s malice to carry the news. A “cruel messenger” to be sent to Job, as if a “rebellions man” (Proverbs 17:11).—“The oxen.” Satan begins with the cattle. The trial must rise in a climax.—“Were ploughing,” preparing for the next year’s crop, thus also to be lost.—“Asses feeding beside them,” so arranged that both might share the same fate. The picture of security and repose heightens by contrast the calamity of the attack.—“Sabeans.” A warlike marauding people in the north parts of Arabia Deserta. Those in South Arabia, or Arabia Felix, merchants, not marauders (Job 6:19; 1 Kings 10:1). Bedoween incursions able to reduce a rich man to poverty in a few days. Satan at no loss for instruments to do his work. Possesses a mysterious power to influence men’s minds to evil. The ungodly already prepared for that influence. Satan’s temptations suited to men’s natural inclinations. Bad men often used by God for the trial and chastening of his children.—“Fell on them,”—rushed on them with a view to spoil. An unprovoked attack. Exceptions to the general rule in Proverbs 16:7.—“Slain the servants.” Preparation for death to be taken into daily duties. Blessed to be ready when the Master calls. Sudden death then sudden glory.—“I only am escaped,” by God’s special Providence and Satan’s malice. Some escape from danger as “brands plucked out of the burning” (Amos 4:11).
 Oriental ploughing, as in the south of Europe, done by oxen. Plough of wood, consisting of a share, two handles, and a pole or beam. Drawn by two oxen yoked together, and guided by a ploughman using a goad.
2. Destruction of the sheep by lightning (Job 1:16). “While he was yet speaking.” Fiendish rapidity of Satan’s work. Aims at stunning and overwhelming the sufferer. Trials often like rapidly succeeding billows. Deep calleth unto deep (Psalms 62:7). Troubles seldom single. “Welcome misfortune, if you come alone” [Basque Proverb].—“Fire of God.”—Marg., “a great fire,” (likePsalms 104:16; Psalms 104:16). “Hot thunderbolts” (Psalms 78:48). Rapid lightnings, apparently sent by God though really by Satan. A cut in the words put into the mouth of the shepherds. Act of an angry God. The object to represent God as cruel and unjust, and so bring Job to curse Him. A limited mysterious power given to Satan over the elements of nature (Ephesians 2:2).—“From heaven.” From the upper regions of the air, but apparently from God. The air or lower heavens the place of Satan’s special presence and operations (Luke 10:8; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12).—“Sheep.” The greatest part of Job’s wealth (Job 1:3.) Most frequently used in sacrifice. Smitten, though sanctified by frequent offerings. God’s ways often dark and mysterious.
3. Capture of the camels (Job 1:17). “Chaldæans,” Heb. “Chasdim.” The name related to that of Chesed, Abraham’s nephew (Genesis 22:22). Two such peoples mentioned in Genesis:—
(1) The old Semitic Chaldæans of the mountains, in the north of Assyria and Mesopotamia (Genesis 10:22; Genesis 11:28; Genesis 11:31); Abraham himself of these (Genesis 11:28).
(2) The later Chaldæans of Mesopotamia, descended from Nahor, Abraham’s brother (Genesis 22:22). Called by Jeremiah an “ancient nation” (Jeremiah 5:15). A fierce and warlike people (Hebrews 1:6; Hebrews 1:11). First subdued by the Assyrians. In time overcame their masters, and formed the Chaldæan or Babylonian Empire under Nabopolassar, a viceroy in Babylon, about 600 B.C. Their empire overthrown by Cyrus, who took Babylon, 583 B.C. In Job’s time a body of hardy monntaineers. Always strong enough to make such a raid. More fierce and powerful than the Sabeans. Strokes increase in severity. Satan inflames his instruments with his own. murderous passions.—“Three bands.” To attack in various directions and let nothing escape. (So Genesis 14:15). Three bands under so many captains, Satan really commander-in-chief.—“Fell upon the camels.” Marg. “rushed.” Made a raid upon them, as 1 Samuel 23:27; 1 Samuel 30:14. Arabs sometimes make a raid twenty or thirty days’ march from their tents.—“Carried them away.” Three thousand camels no slight loss. Satan goes the full length of his cord. More grevious to be stripped of riches than to be always poor.
4. Loss of all his children (Job 1:18-19). “While he was yet speaking.” Satan never at rest till he has done all the mischief he is permitted. Good to be always ready for another and a worse encounter. Seneca says, ‘Cæsar sometimes put up his sword, but never put it off.’—“Thy sons.” The trial reaches its climax. His sons the object of his greatest solicitude. The subjects of so many prayers might have been expected to be spared, or at least some of them. The mystery increases.—“Were eating and drinking.” When Job feared most they might be sinning (Job 1:5). Possible to be taken from the festive board to the Judgment-seat. Festivity unsafe without God and His blessing in it. Well to be prepared to pass from earthly joys to heavenly ones.—“Behold.” Marks the greatness of the calamity. Seven sons and three daughters,—the whole of Job’s children,—all arrived at maturity,—all prosperous and happy,—cut off at one stroke,—suddenly and unexpectedly,—amid the hilarity of a feast!—“A great wind.” A tornado, cyclone, or whirlwind. Common in the East. Mysterious power of Satan to excite the atmosphere into a storm. ‘Prince of the power of the air.’ Wind in God’s hand, but now for His own purpose, partially and for a time, transferred to Satan’s” (Proverbs 30:4).—“From the wilderness.” Whence the fiercest winds came (Jeremiah 4:11; Jeremiah 13:24). From the south part of the great North Arabian Desert (Isaiah 21:1; Hosea 13:15).—“Smote the four corners of the house.” At once or successively; coming with force and steady aim as under Satan’s direction. All the appearance of the work of an angry God.—“And it fell.” The object for which Satan raised the storm. Such catastrophes not uncommon in the East. Houses of comparatively frail construction (Matthew 7:27). Well-known violence of tornadoes. One in England, in 1811, tore up plantations and levelled houses with the ground, carried large trees, torn up by the roots, to the distance of twenty or thirty yards; lifted cows from one field to another; and carried haystacks to a considerable distance. Camels sometimes lifted off their legs by Eastern whirlwinds. God able to make our plagues wonderful (Deuteronomy 28:59).—“Upon the young men.” Mentioned as more likely to overwhelm the father; sisters included.—“And they are dead.” Crashing tidings for a father’s ears. All dead,—dead all at once,—dead prematurely,—dead by a sudden, unusual, and miserable death,—dead as if by the hand of God Himself, as Bildad regarded them,—dead at the time that Job had most need of their comfort under his other calamities. Job reduced, in one short day, from being one of the happiest of fathers to a state of childlessness and misery. Our heaviest trials often through our sweetest comforts. The sharpest thorns on the same tree with the loveliest flowers. The beauty of all earthly blessings quickly blasted (Isaiah 60:6; Isaiah 60:8). Too much not to be expected from God, nor too little from the creature.
FIFTH PART OF INTRODUCTION—THE RESULT OF SATAN’S ATTEMPTS
I. Job’s grief (Job 1:20). “Then Job arose.” Probably found by the tidings in the usual posture of Orientals. Aroused from wonted calmness. His nature now stirred to its depths. Deeply moved, but not prostrated by his calamities.—“Rent his mantle,” or robe; long outer garment worn by men of rank (1 Samuel 15:27; 1 Samuel 18:4), and by priests (1 Samuel 28:14; Exodus 28:13); still worn by wealthy Arabs. Rent it in token of sorrow and humiliation (Genesis 37:34). Job neither too insensible to feel grief, nor too proud to acknowledge it. Piety not stoicism; sharpens rather than blunts sensibility. As little virtue in not feeling sorrow as in being overcome by it. Not to feel is to be either more or less than a man. Jesus wept. Insensibility under chastening reproved as a sin (Jeremiah 5:3; Hosea 7:9). When God afflicts us we should afflict ourselves (Jeremiah 31:18). Grace teaches us, not to be without sorrow, but to moderate it, and to connect with it penitence and submission, faith and hope (2 Corinthians 7:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13).—“Shaved his head.” Another token of mourning (Ezra 9:3; Isaiah 15:2; Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 7:29; Jeremiah 41:5). Forbidden by the law only in certain cases and in certain forms (Leviticus 19:27; Lev. 31:5; Deuteronomy 14:1). Nature demands some external sign of grief, and religion does not forbid it.—“Fell down upon the ground.”
(1) In grief; so Joshua (Joshua 7:6);
(2) In humiliation;
(3) In adoration. Trouble a blessing when it leads to self-abasement before God. Satan expected to see Job standing on his feet and cursing the author of his troubles.
II. His piety (Job 1:20-21). “And worshipped.” Praised God and acknowleged his sovereignty. Bowed submissivly to His will and dispensations. Instead of cursing God Job adores His justice, goodness, and holiness. Afflictions draw a godly man nearer to God instead of driving him from Him. A sign of a gracious state to be worshipping when God is chastising. The best way to bear and be benefited by trials is to take them to God. That trouble cannot but be blest which brings us to our knees. Faith calms the crushed spirit by conducting it to a God in Christ.—“And said.” Job opens his mouth, but not as Satan expected. Serious and suitable considerations to be employed under trouble. Truths suggested by religion to quiet the spirit and preserve it in patience.—“Naked came I forth,” &c. Job’s first consideration. Nothing originally ours. Man by nature destitute even of clothes for his body. The truth in the text the apostle’s argument for contentment (1 Timothy 6:7).—“Naked shall I return thither.” Second consideration. Earth not our home. We return to our parent dust. Reference to Genesis 3:19. These words probably copied or referred to in Ecclesiastes 5:14; Ecclesiastes 12:7. Our condition in this world of less consequence as we are so soon to leave it.—Third consideration. We must leave the world naked as we entered it (1 Timothy 6:7). Death strips Dives of his fine linen and Lazarus of his filthy rags. Grace the only riches we can carry out of the world with us. To be stripped of earthly possessions only a question of time. “Thither,”—unto my mother’s womb, used figuratively for the earth. So the “lower parts of the earth” used for the womb (Psalms 139:15). The same term sometimes used both literally and figuratively in the same sentence. So Matthew 8:22.—“The Lord gave.” The language of truth and piety. Contrasted with that of pride and atheism,—“My own hand hath gotten me this wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17). Heathens by the light of nature called God the “Giver of good things.” Power to get wealth the gift of God (Deuteronomy 8:18; Proverbs 10:22). “Gave,” and therefore has the right to withdraw at his pleasure. What we possess we hold only as stewards of mother’s goods (Luke 16:1-12; 1 Peter 4:10.)—“The Lord hath taken away.” God’s hand in our losses as well as our gains. Divine philosophy. So Joseph Genesis 45:5-8; David, Psalms 39:9; Eli, 1 Samuel 3:18. “The Lord,”—not the Sabeans and Chaldæans, the lightning or the whirlwinds. The philosophy that rests on second causes or natural laws a philosophy falsely so called. Satan only the author of Job’s calamities as he received permission from God. The arrows God’s, whoever shoots them. Evil as well as good from God either directly or permissively (Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6). Man’s and Satan’s sin overruled by God for good; not therefore the less sinful (Acts 2:23). God’s hand in trouble seen by the eye of faith, an alleviation; otherwise an aggravation.
III. The Victory
1. Positive side. Job blesses God instead of cursing Him (Job 1:21). “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” The word chosen with reference to Satan’s charge. The same word used, but in its opposite and proper sense. Satan thus entirely defeated. Every word of Job gives the lie to his slander. Power of grace that teaches us to bless God in troubles and adversities (2 Samuel 15:26). No ground, even in the worst times, to murmur against God, much to bless Him. Such grounds are:
(1) Often greater love and richer blessing when He takes away than when He gives. Our greatest trials and losses often our richest mercies. “For all I bless Thee, most for the severe” [Young].—
2. In the greatest sufferings and losses the believer’s main interests are secure. The pieces of silver may be lost, the casket of jewels remains safe.
(3.) The sufferings of believers are seeds to bear precious fruit both here and hereafter (Romans 8:24; Hebrews 12:10-11). Believers therefore strengthened “unto all patience and long sufferings with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11). True Christian piety the purest heroism. Widely different from stoical insensibility and pride. Believers weep, but bless God through their tears. Job’s blessing God must have sent an echo through the heaven of heavens. Unprecedented trials, heightened by the contrast of unprecedented prosperity, meet not merely with submission, but with blessing on the Author of both. To bless God in prosperity is only natural; to bless Him in adversity and trouble is music that fills heaven and earth with gladness. Job’s calamities appeared only to argue God against him. Mighty faith that blesses God while smiting our comforts to the ground. The grace enjoined on N. T. believers, exemplified in this O. T. saint (1 Thessalonians 5:18). To bless God in our comforts the way to have them increased; to bless Him in our afflictions the way to have them removed [Augustine]. A thankful and pious spirit the true philosopher’s stone—turns all things into gold. Faith gilds our crosses and sees a silver lining in the darkest cloud.—Matter for praise under the most trying dispensations:—
(1) The past enjoyment of undeserved mercies so long continued;
(2) The present enjoyment of some mercies however few;
(3) The possession of God Himself as in Christ our God and portion;
(4) The assurance that the heaviest trials work together for our good;
(5) The hope of a better and enduring inheritance reserved for us in heaven.—“The name of the Lord,”—the Lord Himself as revealed to us in the Word. Here “Jehovah,” the everliving faithful covenant God of His people. The name here thrice repeated. Perhaps not without a mystery, like Numbers 7:24-27, compared with Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 5:7. The name fondly dwelt upon by the afflicted patriarch. The name of the Lord the tried believer’s sweetest consolation and strongest support. A strong tower into which the righteous runs and is sale (Proverbs 18:10.)
2. Negative side of victory. In all these trials Job kept from sinning (Job 1:22.) “Sinned not,” as Satan desired and declared he would. Glorious triumph of grace to keep from sinning in such circumstances. Sinned not, either by impatience or passion. Reference to the case in hand. Grace given to keep us from sin, not absolutely, but relatively and comparatively. Sin more or less in all a believer’s actions, though all his actions not sinful. Scripture written that the believer sin not (1 John 2:1). Looking to Christ, Peter walked on the water; looking to the wind, he began to sink in it (Matthew 14:28-31). The flesh or old nature in a believer must sin; the spirit or new nature in him cannot. (1 John 3:9). A constant struggle between the spirit and the flesh (Galatians 5:17). A believer’s duty and privilege to walk in the spirit, and so be kept from fulfilling the desire of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). I feel and grieve, but by the grace of God I fret at nothing [John Wesley].—“Nor charged God foolishly.”
(1) Imputed no folly, injustice, or impropriety to God;
(2) Vented no foolish and impious murmurs against Him. Ascribed nothing to God unworthy of His justice, goodness, and wisdom. Entertained no dishonourable thought, uttered no murmuring word against Him. Impiety the greatest folly. To murmur against God’s dealings is as foolish as it is wicked. To misconstrue God’s character and conduct, the great sin to be guarded against under heavy trials.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Job 1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter