The Book opens with an account of Job, his piety, riches, integrity, and religious care of his children. Next follows, an account of Satan's malice against Job, and his permission to tempt him. The Chapter closes with the melancholy relation of the death of his children, and the calmness of mind Job manifested under these afflictions.
(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.
The name of Job carries with it somewhat of signification, for, according to some writers, it is derived from an Hebrew root, implying love. And, no doubt, the character of Job made him eminently so. If the Reader be not much acquainted with the scripture relation of places, it may not be amiss to tell him, that Uz was situated to the East of Chaldea; and though it probably was not the same with Ur of the Chaldees, from whence Abram was called, yet it could not be far from it. So that, in the very opening of the book of Job, a sweet thought ariseth, both from his name, and the place of his birth; namely, in the gift of the Gentile church to the Lord Jesus by the Father, from the earliest ages souls were to be gathered from the heathen world, to form a numerous train in the throng of the redeemed. Psalms 2:8; Isaiah 49:6. By the expression of perfect and upright, is not meant sinless perfection, but a general sincerity of conduct.
(2) And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. (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.
Here follows an account of the blessings of the Lord upon Job: so that what with his children, substance, and servants, Job classed very high indeed. The introduction of this man's history in this matter is beautifully chosen, in order to prepare the mind for the several most interesting pages in his life, which are to follow.
(4) ¶ And his sons went and feasted in their houses, everyone his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
Though I am very ready to allow, that in those feasts of Job's children, there are certain amiable qualities worth remarking; such as the love which, as brethren, they lived in together, their affection for their sisters also, and their societies in their own houses, far preferable to public-houses, and the taverns of modern times, wherein the carnal indulge too often their lusts and pleasures; yet Job's children would have been more like their father, had they feasted less, and given more. Oh! thou heavenly Samaritan! what a feast would that be, if followed up by our great ones; and what a very different world would it make the present, from what it now is, if, when they made a feast, they called in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. The imagination is not competent to form the full blessedness of such a mind, who would thus spread the Lord's bounties for the Lord's poor; and while the table was surrounded with such guests, and the hungry bellies of the perishing supplied, the generous lord of the feast seasoned his entertainment for the body, with sweet and gracious discourse for the soul. Such was thy feast, dearest Jesus! and I hope there are still some of thine, following thy example. Luke 14:13. and Luke 15:2.
(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.
How truly amiable doth Job appear in this short, but most interesting account of him. Observe the piety manifested towards God in this religious act. And observe the tenderness of affection manifested towards his children. Parents cannot command grace for their children: but gracious parents will pray for ungracious children. And observe that this was a daily act of Job's. He presented them thus continually before the Lord. And observe, moreover, that the burnt offerings he presented for them had an eye to everyone of them, according to the number of them all. Oh! ye parents of ungodly children, how are ye here taught to make personal and particular supplication before the mercy-seat daily, hourly, that each child may have a separate remembrance at the throne; that, like another Hannah, at a future day, when a gracious God hath heard and answered prayer, ye might be able to say, it was for this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition. 1 Samuel 1:27. But, Reader, when you have paid due attention to this lovely part of Job's character, as the pious man and the tender father, I pray you to look at him in a still more exalted view, as a true believer in Christ Jesus. For, surely, Job's sacrifices were all with an eye to Jesus. Nay, doth not the Holy Ghost intend to represent Job himself as a type of the ever blessed Jesus, who thus acted as a Priest in his family, and presented them all with sacrifice? Oh! how blessed it is thus to trace thee, thou glorious great High Priest, typified and shadowed forth in those early ages of the world.
(6) ¶ Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
I cannot detain the Reader of this humble Commentary with a large and circumstantial account of what the scripture relates concerning the great enemy of souls, neither of the work and agency of the devil, as there set forth in his devices for the destruction of men. I take for granted that my Reader is too well established by grace, in the perfect conviction both of the reality of his person, and of the malice of his designs, to need any observation on these points. That he hath, from the first seduction of Adam in the garden to the present hour, had access to the hearts of men, is a truth too sad to be thought on, but with sorrow; and too true, but to be lamented with tears. It is his devilish work and delight to seduce sinners to their ruin. He filled the heart of Judas to betray Christ, and of Ananias to lie unto the Holy Ghost; and to lead poor sinners captive at his will. 2 Timothy 2:26; Acts 5:3. No doubt as he is a vanquished foe, all that he is permitted to exercise upon the minds of God's people, as the case of Job, is only to afford thereby a larger opportunity for the manifestation of God's sovereign grace, Jesus's victory, and his peoples happiness.
(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. (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? (9) Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? (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. (11) But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. (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.
The best light upon this scripture may be taken from other scriptures. And, indeed, we are so commanded to explain them comparing spiritual things with spiritual, 1 Corinthians 2:13. Zechariah was commissioned to relate to the church the particulars of a vision, in which be beheld Satan confronting Joshua the high priest before the Lord. Zechariah 3:1-2. And John had another commission to deliver to the church, in the close of the canon of scripture, where the final ruin of the arch fiend was celebrated in heaven by the song of the redeemed, in which particular mention was made, that the victory over hell was wholly obtained by the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 12:9-11. But what I particularly request the Reader to remark in the perusal of those verses, of the conference between the Lord and Satan concerning Job, as we may gather from the sequel of Job's life, is this, that the permission the Lord gave to Satan was only for the exercise of Job's faith and patience, the ruin of Satan, and the glory of God. This is the improvement the apostle James had it in commission to make of it to the church: Ye have seen the end of the Lord, (said he) that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. James 5:11. But, Reader, you will not need, I hope, from me, the smallest hint, while observing this exposure of Job, by divine appointment, to the malice of the devil, to have your mind led to an infinitely higher instance. Surely, it is hardly possible for a believer in Jesus not to recollect the situation of our dear Redeemer, who no sooner was filled with the Holy Ghost but was purposely led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. Oh! thou Holy One of God! how do all examples of suffering patience sink to nothing, in comparison of thine. Precious Jesus, suffer me never to lose sight both of thy temptations and the cause of them. Yes! thou dearest Lord, it did indeed behove thee to be made like unto thy brethren, that thou mightest be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people: for in that thou thyself hast suffered, being tempted, thou art able to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18.
(13) ¶ And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: (14) And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: (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. (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. (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. (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: (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.
Here begin the trials and temptations of Jobadiah And observe how by a climax from smaller to greater, they arise, step by step, to a finished point of the most distressing circumstances. First, the slaughter of his servants, next the loss of his cattle, then the capture of his substance, and the death of his people; and, lastly, the total destruction of his family, in the death of all his children. Here we behold the poor man bowed down under the pressure of the affliction. And to aggravate all, Satan tempting him to horrid rebellion against God. Reader! do not fail to discover the hand of God upholding his servant under all these trials; for, otherwise, it would have been totally impossible for the vessel of flesh and blood to have rid the storm. Mark it down, I beseech you, as a truth perfectly unquestionable, that according to the nature and degree of the strength imparted, the faith of God's tried ones will be great or small. Let the trial be ever so great, ever so heavy, yet, if the eternal God be our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms, the believer is made more than conqueror, through his grace supporting us. But if the arm of God's power be withdrawn, the strongest believer falls with the removal. How precious Jesus is seen in his unequalled conflicts, with the powers of darkness! Luke 22:39-53.
(20) ¶ Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, (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.
Job's renting his mantle and shaving his head, were becoming signs that he was humbled, under the reverse of circumstances come upon him. And his worshipping God upon the ground, a like token that he viewed the Lord's hand in the affliction. Nature gives vent to the bursting within, with those signs of real grief. No doubt the agony of his soul was beheld in his looks. And indeed had he not felt, it would have argued a hard insensible heart. Jesus himself grieved at the tomb of Lazarus. John 11:35. But while nature wept, grace triumphed. What, but grace indeed, could have induced the sentiment, which Job here uttered? Whether God gave blessings, or recalled them when he had given them, still his love was the same, and Job could and did bless him. Reader! look within. Have your lesser trials this blessed effect? Do you eye Jesus in all? Do you justify him in all? Do you approve of him in all? Do you cleave to him in all? Oh! how sweet is it, to have Job's grace under Job's exercises; and when the providences of the Lord frown, still to rest upon the love that is in the Lord's heart. Though he slay me (said Job), yet will I trust in him. Job 13:15.
(22) In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
See what a seal God the Holy Ghost hath put to the faith of Jobadiah Oh! who would not with Job rejoice in tribulations, if the issue of every trial had this blessed earnest of the Spirit?
BEHOLD, Reader! that a reverse of circumstances the relation of one short period, in the life of Job, hath produced! how quick the transition from the house of feasting, to the house of mourning. And what, but a well-grounded interest in Jesus, can prepare the heart for such changes, which an hour may induce? Depend upon it, faith in Jesus is the only adequate resource under every situation of trial. For this cause (saith Paul) we faint not. This is the cause and the only cause. While we look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. As long as we eye Jesus directing all things, ordering all things, and directing and ordering them for our sure welfare; while this is beheld, and believed, and depended upon, the soul will never faint. Then the whole world of losses, and bereaving providences, are still seen by the believer, as working out some certain, however at present it may be an hidden, good. The humble follower of Jesus like Job, will then be able to bless a taking God, as well as a giving God. The Lord hath only recalled what was lent it was his own while given: it was still his whenever he to take it away. And convinced at the same time, that the Lord's love is not lessened, the soul can and will rejoice, under the heaviest afflictions. And Reader! mark this down as exemplified in Job's instance, and as it is equally so in the instance of all the Lord's people. Whatever the Lord recalls, he never can or will take away his Christ. This once given is given forever. The charter of grace so runs, that his righteousness shall be forever, and his salvation that which shall not be abolished. Here Job found an hiding place from the storm. And here every faithful soul, may take confidence also.
While I pray God the Holy Ghost to impress upon the mind, both of the Writer and Reader, these and all other suitable reflections of a practical nature, which arise out of the view of Job's strong faith, and confidence in Jesus; I wish, if possible, yet more particularly to interest the Reader's attention with my own, in the view of Jesus in his High Priest's office, in the presentation of himself for his people, which Job so sweetly typified, when sanctifying his children and household, in the daily burnt-offerings. Who but God himself, could have brought this man of Uz, acquainted with the knowledge of sacrifices? And what but divine teaching could have led the patriarch to the belief, that there was efficacy in them, when offered with an eye to Jesus? Oh! for the lively actings of faith, upon the person, work, and salvation of the Lord Jesus, when we behold the grand sacrifice, thus uniformly shadowed forth through so many generations! Dearest Jesus! give me to rest with full confidence on thee, and thy finished redemption, and most cordially and heartily to believe the record, which God hath given of his dear Son. May it be my earnest desire to have my own soul, and all my household sanctified, with the precious offering of thy body once for all, by which thou hast forever perfected redemption; and hast fully manifested, that thou art the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany