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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Job 1

 

 

Verses 1-22

JOB, HIS FAMILY AND HIS PROMINENCE

(vv.1-5)

Uz is considered to have been in the area between Syria and Babylon. There Job lived with his wife, seven sons and three daughters. He is first spoken of as "blameless and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil." Thus there is no doubt he was born again, though, as with many believers, he needed to know the heart of God as he did not know it (vv.1-2).

His possessions are recorded as being remarkably great, 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 pair of oxen, 500 female donkeys and a very large household, that is, many servants. In fact, he enjoyed the reputation of being the greatest of all the people of the east (v.3). It is frequently the case that when one is seeking to honour God by walking honourably, he will increase in wealth, in spite of the fact that he is not making wealth his object. There is no reason to doubt what Job said in chapter 29:11-17 as regards his genuine care for the poor, the fatherless, those perishing, the widow and the lame, etc. So that he was definitely not greedy of gain, but used his wealth in kindness toward those in need.

His sons made a practice of feasting, each on a special day and inviting their sisters to eat and drink with them (v.4). This does not necessarily imply that they were given up to a fife of self-indulgence and pleasure, but when each season of feasting was finished, Job considered that the danger of such pleasure might be to lead them into sin and disregard for God. Therefore Job would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings for all of his children, thus sanctifying them, that is, setting them apart from the world of the ungodly. This is another evidence that he lived in the time of Genesis, in which book burnt offerings only are mentioned. In the nation Israel sin offerings, trespass offerings and peace offerings were later introduced in Exodus and Leviticus.

A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES

(vv.6-12)

Only God could reveal what is written in this section, and faith recognises it must be seriously considered. The sons of God presented themselves before God. These sons of God are angels, though the designation can be true of men also, as in Genesis 6:2 which evidently refers to the line of Seth in contrast to the line of Cain; and in Galatians 3:26, where all believers today are said to be sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. In all of these cases the son's place is to represent the Father, though in Genesis 6:2 they failed to do so. The sons of God here in Job 1:6 appear to be unfallen angels, for fallen angels are not sons of God. Satan came among them, though not one of them.

In answer to the Lord's question as to where he had come from, Satan replied, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth in it" (v.7). This establishes the fact that Satan is not omnipresent, as God is. Satan can be only in one place at a time, however quickly he may travel. Yet he has many agents, evil spirits, who carry on his wicked work throughout the world, and we know that work is prospering dreadfully. Some have questioned too whether Satan knows our thoughts. Absolutely not! Only God knows the hearts and the thoughts of mankind. He only is omniscient.

When Satan came among the sons of God, God questioned Satan as to whether he had considered God's servant Job, concerning whom there was none like him in all the earth, a blameless, upright man who feared God and shunned evil (v.8). Satan's reply showed how void of respect he was toward God. He imputed to Job the same self-centred motives that animate Satan. He said that God had so greatly blessed Job that it was this profitable existence that caused Job to fear God. He forgot to consider that Job's wealth had been only gradually accumulating, as we are sure was the case, for his increase was the result of his faithfulness to God, - not the other way around. In fact, Satan admitted that Job's possessions had "increased in the land" (v.19), so he had not always had such possessions.

Satan boldly asserted that if God would "touch" all that Job had, in other words, take his possessions from him, Job would curse God to His face! (v.11). It seems almost amazing that Satan would dare to speak this way to the Creator of heaven and earth, but "a lying tongue hateth those who are injured by it" (Proverbs 26:28 - JND trans.). When one lies against another, hatred moves him to do so, and Satan's ties against God are prompted by hatred. Also, one moved by hatred does not stop to consider how foolish his words or actions are.

A matter of great importance is made clearly manifest here. Satan realised that he could do nothing to Job without God's permission. But God did give Satan permission to do as he pleased with Job's possessions, though not to touch his person. Did God allow this only to prove that Satan was speaking falsely? No, for God had work to do with Job himself, to accomplish greater blessing for him than he could have imagined was possible. God would use the enmity of Satan to this end, just as later He used Job's three friends for this purpose.

JOB LOSES HIS POSSESSIONS AND HIS CHILDREN

(vv.13-22)

Satan marshalled his forces concertedly against Job, so that Job had news of four sudden calamities that deprived him of all his possessions and all of his children on the same day. The first messenger told him that a marauding band of enemies (the Sabeans) had killed Job's servants who were in charge of his oxen and donkeys, and had stolen the animals (vv.14-15). Satan had allowed one man to live, who carried this message to Job. But while he was still speaking, another messenger came to tell Job that fire had fallen from heaven and burned up Job's sheep and servants, only sparing this one man to bear the message (v.16). It was of course Satan who had power to bring this fire, whatever the source may have been, but the servant called it "the fire of God."

While this messenger was still speaking, another came with the message that three bands of Chaldeans had raided the habitat of the camels, stealing the camels and killing the servants; though Satan had allowed this one man to escape and bring the message to Job (v.17).

But the most crushing blow of all followed immediately. While this man was speaking, another came to inform Job that while his sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother's house, a great wind (perhaps a tornado) struck the house, destroying it utterly and killing all of Job's ten children (vv.18-19). The messenger said he alone had escaped to bring the report to Job. He may have been one of the servants of Job's son. But Satan allowed these four messengers to remain alive so that Job would receive the news rapidly, blow upon blow. Satan designed these things with the object of totally devastating Job, so that he would curse God.

What must Satan have thought when he found himself completely defeated? Job arose and tore his robe (a sign of repentance), shaved his head, a picture of his being exposed before God in a condition of weakness, then fell to the ground in humble prostration before his Creator. All of these are negatives, implying denial of self. But lastly, and most important of all, he worshiped, giving God the place of highest honour and dignity (v.20). To those who have no faith in the living God, worship is one thing they would not think of considering. It is natural rather to bitterly complain that they do not deserve the treatment they are receiving. Thus the majority of men would be willing to be deceived by the same selfish motives that energise Satan, rather than to be moved by a true response of faith to all the bitter experiences of life. Job's words then should deeply impress themselves on every person who hears them, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" (v.21). A complaining attitude will never change matters for the better, while a thankful heart will be more greatly blessed in the end.

Therefore, what an answer is Job's attitude to those who claim that their hard circumstances are an excuse for sinning! "In all this Job did not sin nor charge God foolishly" (v.22). Many since Job's time have proven this though enduring terrible afflictions and trouble. Rather than alienating them from God, their troubles have driven them into His presence to find comfort and joyful communion with the Lord. Job still had much to learn, as we oft do, yet his response to trouble shows the reality of his faith in the Lord.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 1:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/job-1.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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