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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Job 1

 

 

Verses 1-5

Job 1:1. There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

That was Job’s character before the trial which made him famous; perhaps, if it had not been for that trial, we should never have heard of him; now, as the apostle James wrote, “Ye have heard of the patience of Job.” God, by great; afflictions, gave to his servant that usefulness for which he had possibly prayed, without knowing how it would come to him. A long-continued life, of prosperity may not so truly glorify God as a life that is chequered by adversity; and God, who intended to put honour upon his servant, did as kings do when they confer the honour of knighthood, they strike with the, back or flat of the sword, so God smote the patriarch Job that he might raise him above his fellow men. The Lord intended to make him Job the patient, but to that end He must make him Job the sufferer. From this Book I learn what gospel perfection is. We are told that Job was perfect and upright, yet I am sure that he was not free from tendencies to evil, he was not absolutely perfect. As old Master Trapp says, “God’s people may be perfect, but they are not perfectly perfect;” and so it certainly was with Job. There were imperfections deep down in his character which his trials developed, and which the grace of God no doubt afterwards removed; but after the manner of speech that is used in Holy Scripture, Job was a “perfect” man; he was sincere, thorough-hearted, consecrated; and he was also “upright.” He leaned neither this way nor that way, he had no twist in him, he had no selfish ends to serve. He was “one that feared God.” Everybody could see that; and, consequently, he hated evil with all his heart.

Job 1:2. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.

It was a great privilege to have such a family as this, but it brought to Job great responsibilities and many anxieties.

Job 1:3. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

A man may be a good man and a rich man, but it is not usually the case. I am afraid that what Mr. Bunyan says is all too true,-“ Gold and the gospel seldom do agree; Religion always sides with poverty.” Yet it should not be so, for God can give a man grace enough to use all his substance to his Lord’s glory. I wish that it were oftener the case that we could see a holy Job as well as a godly Lazarus, a company of men who would prove their consecration to God by never allowing their wealth to become their master, but being master of all their substance, and realizing constantly that it is all the Lord’s. This, after all, is the noblest heritage a man has with the exception of his God. Job, in adversity, could possess his soul in patience because, in his prosperity, he had not let his riches possess him, but he had possessed them.

Job 1:4. And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.

This showed that it was not drunken riotousness, or they would not have wanted their sisters; the sweet, gentle, delicate influence of their sisters would tend to keep their feasting what it should be. Besides, they were the sons of a man of God, and so they would know how to keep their feasting within due bounds. Yet we are all mortal and fallible, and feasting times are dangerous times. The Puritans used to call fasting, soul-fattening fasting; but feasting, they might call soul-weakening feasting. Solomon truly said, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting.” There is always a risk about feasting, and Job was therefore a little afraid about how his sons might have behaved.

Job 1:5. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts, Thus did Job continually.

They might have spoken unadvisedly with their lips, they might have even taken God’s name in vain, there ,night have been something about their conduct which was not altogether proper; so their father desired to put the sin of it; away. Observe Job’s resort to burnt offerings. He lived before the Jewish law was given, yet he felt the instinct concerning the need of a sacrifice which every believing heart feels when it approaches the holy God. I pray you, never give up that idea of coming to God by means of a sacrifice, for there is no other way of access. We may think as we will, but there is nothing else that will ever quiet the conscience, and bring us near to God, but the divinely-appointed sacrifice. And Job knew this; he did not think that his sons could be cleansed by his prayers alone, but he must offer burnt sacrifices according to the number of them all, that they might, every one have a share in, the blessings which those sacrifices typified.


Verses 1-22

Job 1:1. There was a man in the land of Uz,

Job was a man indeed; a true man, a man of the highest type, for he was a man of God.

Job 1:1. Whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright,--

Job was thoroughly true and sincere, and in this sense he “was perfect and upright,”-

Job 1:1. And one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

He had both sides of a godly character, a love of God and a hatred of sin.

Job 1:2. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.

Job was highly favoured in having such a family of sons and daughters.

Job 1:3. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

Job was not a poor man, yet he was a man of God;-one of those “camels” that manage to go through “the eye of a needle.”

Job 1:4. And his sons went and feasted in their houses every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters-

Who were very modest and retiring, and would not have gone to the feast if they had not been sent for, but their brothers were kind and thoughtful, as all good brothers will be.

Job 1:4-5. To eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them,

Job did not go to the feast, perhaps he felt too old, his character was too staid for such a gathering, and he had higher joys, that were nearer his heart than any earthly feast could be.

Job 1:5. 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 heart. Thus did Job continually.

He thought, “Perhaps, in their rejoicing, unholy thoughts may have intruded; they may have been unguarded and lax in their conduct. They may not have fallen into my cross sin; but, in their feasting, they may have sinned against God, therefore I will offer sacrifices for them.” “Thus did Job continually.” Not only occasionally, but every day, he sacrificed upon his altar unto God, and so sought to keep his household right before Jehovah.

Job 1:6. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

Into heaven? Oh, no! The presence of God is very widespread, and there was no need to admit the evil spirit again into heaven in order that he might be present before God.

Job 1:7. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?

God is Satan’s Master, so he asks him where he has been. I wonder whether, if the Lord were to put that question to everybody here, “Whence comest thou?” each of us could give a satisfactory answer to it.

Job 1:7. Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Uneasy, restless, ever active, like a roaring lion “seeking whom he may devour.” Ah! we little know how near Satan is to us now; and even in our hours of prayer, when we are nearest to God, he may come and assail us.

Job 1:8. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job,-

“He is an example to you, he may well chide you, he is so obedient, and you are so rebellious: ‘Hast thou considered my servant Job,’”-

Job 1:8-9. That there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said,-

We may be certain that, if there had been anything bad in Job, Satan would have found it out, and brought it against him. However excellent a man is, though there are none like him on earth, you can find fault with him if you want to do so. Satan found fault with Job because he had prospered, and his friends afterwards found fault with him because he did not prosper; so you can make anything into a blot on the character of men if you have a mind to do so. “Satan answered the Lord, and said,”-

Job 1:9-10. Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?

The black dog of hell had been prowling around to see where he could get in, so he knew that there was a hedge right round Job, and round his house and all that he had. Notice how the devil insinuates that Job feared God for what he could get out of him. “His love is cupboard love,” says Satan; “he is well paid by providence for his reverence to God.”

Job 1:10. Thou hast blessed the work of his hands,-

Even the devil dared not deny that Job was a working man, or say that he had come by his estate by oppression or plunder. No; he said to God, “Thou hast blessed the work of his hands,”-

Job 1:10-11. And his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Oh, what mischief Satan can imagine against the righteous! The mercy is that, although he is mighty, he is not almighty; he is very malicious, but there is One who is far wiser and stronger than he is, who can always circumvent and overpower him.

Job 1:12-15. 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. And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: and there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: 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.

Job had not wronged these Sabeans, they were plunderers on the lookout for spoil; and when Satan moved them, they came and stole the patriarch’s oxen and asses, and slew his servants.

Job 1:16. While he was yet speaking,-

As if to give Job no time to rally his faith and encourage his heart,-

Job 1:16. 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.

This calamity must have distressed Job all the more because “the fire of God” had burnt up the sheep that he was accustomed to offer in sacrifice to Jehovah, and the blow had seemed to come directly from God himself, as it was lightning that had destroyed both sheep and shepherds too. Poor Job had not time to recover from that shock ere the next blow fell upon him;-

Job 1:17. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

He had not time to think before the heaviest stroke of all came:-

Job 1:18-19. 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: 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.

Satan had arranged to bring on the patriarch’s troubles so quickly one after another as to utterly overwhelm the good man; at least, so the devil hoped it would prove; yet it did not.

Job 1:20. Then Job arose,-

With all his burden on him, he arose,-

Job 1:20. And rent his mantle, and shaved his head,-

He did not pull his hair out as a Pagan, or a maniac, or a person delirious through trouble might have done; but he deliberately “rent his mantle, and shaved his head,”-

Job 1:20. And fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,-

Grand old man, how bravely does he play the man here! He “fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,”-

Job 1:21. And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither:

That is, to the womb of Mother Earth.

Job 1:21. The LORD gave and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

I think these are the grandest words in the whole record of human speech. Considering the circumstances of the man at the time, that he should thus speak was, I think, a miracle of grace.

Job 1:22. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.


Verses 6-22

Job 1:6. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

Angels and all kinds of intelligent spirits had, as it were, a special, solemn, general assembly, — a great field-day, or levee. Perhaps, in stars far remote, in various parts of the universe, there was celebrated that day a high festival of honour unto Jehovah, but since sin has come into the world, since even amongst the twelve apostles there was a Judas, so in every assembly, even though it be an assembly of the sons of God, there is sure to be a devil: “Satan came also among them.” If he is not anywhere else, he is sure to be where the sons of God are gathered together. Yet what impudence this is on his part, that he dares to come even into the assemblies of the saints! And what hardness of heart he must have, for he comes in as a devil, and he goes out as a devil! The sons of God offer their spiritual prayers inspired by the Holy Ghost, but the devil offers diabolical petitions suggested by his own malice.

Job 1:7. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?

He is obliged to give an account of himself, he cannot go a yard from his door without divine permission.

Job 1:7. Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Satan is always busy, never quiet; he cannot be still.

Job 1:8. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, —

You see, Job is a man whom God calls his servant even in speaking to the devil, “Hast thou considered my servant Job?”

Job 1:8. That there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

God himself gives Job that high character. He is a non-such, he stands alone amongst mankind: “There is none like him in the earth.” “Hast thou reckoned him up? Hast thou taken his measure, O thou accuser of the brethren?”

Job 1:9. Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

Even the devil could not bring a charge against Job’s conduct; so he insinuated that his motives were not pure.

Job 1:10. Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?

“He finds that it pays, it answers his purpose to be devout.”

Job 1:10-11. Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

See, the devil measures Job’s cow in his own bushel; but, happily, it was the measurement of a liar, so he measured amiss. There are still some who say, “Yes, it is a fine thing to be good when you are rich; it is a very easy thing to behave yourself aright when all goes smoothly with you. Would the man, who is such a devout servant of God now, be like that if he were in poverty, or if he were cruelly slandered, or if he were tested with contempt? Would the grace of God carry him over those rough bridges? His religion is a fine thing, no doubt; but if he were tried and tested we should see what he would do.” Now, the Lord delights in proving the graces of his people, for it brings great glory to his name when experiments are made upon them, to test them and try them, and to let even their greatest adversary know how true they are, and what a divine work it is which God has wrought upon them.

Job 1:12. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.

Satan could go so far, but no farther, there is an “only” in the permission granted to him: “Only upon himself put not forth thine hand.”

Job 1:12-13. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house:

That was a bad day for trouble to come. Satan selected that day because it was a joyful day, and therefore it would make the trials of Job the more startling. Moreover if Job could have had his choice, he would have preferred that his trouble should come when his sons and his daughters were praying, not when they were feasting.

Job 1:14-15. And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: 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.

The bad news comes to him all of a sudden, just when he is thinking of something very different. There is only one servant left to tell the tale, he was spared that Job might know that the news was true. If that one other servant had been killed, the tidings could only have reached Job as a rumor, that might or might not be true, but now, one of his own servants tells him the sad story, so there is no mistake about it. Ah! the devil knows how and where to strike when he does strike; yet this was only the first blow for poor Job, and there were heavier ones to follow.

Job 1:16. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Now, if that lightning had fallen on the Sabeans while they were robbing and plundering, one might not have wondered; but to fall on the flocks of a man of God who had clothed the naked with the fleeces of his sheep, and had presented many of the fat of the flock unto God in sacrifice, — that did seem strange. This trial, too, comes right upon the back of the other, and this one would appear to be more severe than the former one because it seemed to come distinctly from God. “The fire of God” — the lightning, “is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep.”

Job 1:17. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the word; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Three such heavy blows will surely be enough to test the patriarch, but a fourth messenger came with the direst news of all.

Job 1:18-19. 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: 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.

Did any other man ever have to endure such a complication of trouble, such agonies piled one upon another with no respite? Job must have felt well-nigh stunned and choked by these consecutive griefs.

Job 1:20-22. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 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. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Oh, the triumphs of almighty grace! May God grant us such patience, if he sends us such trials, and unto him shall be the glory evermore!

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Job 1:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/job-1.html. 2011.

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