Click here to join the effort!
Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Satan; Thompson Chain Reference - Adversary; Satan-Evil Spirits; Serpent; Tempter; The Topic Concordance - Blessings; Defense; Devil/devils; Evil; Fear; Uprightness; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Devil, the; Titles and Names of the Devil;
Verse Job 1:6. There was a day when the sons of God — All the versions, and indeed all the critics, are puzzled with the phrase sons of God ; בני האלהים beney haelohim, literally, sons of the God, or sons of the gods. The Vulgate has simply filii dei, sons of God. The Septuagint, οἱ αγγελοι του θεου, the angels of God. The Chaldee, כתי מלאכיא kittey malachaiya, troops of angels. The Syriac retains the Hebrew words and letters, only leaving out the demonstrative ה he in the word האלהים haelohim, thus, [Syriac] baney Elohim. The Arabic nearly copies the Hebrew also, [Arabic] banoa Iloheem; to which, if we give not the literal translation of the Hebrew, we may give what translation we please. Coverdale (1535) translates it, servauntes of God. The Targum supposes that this assembly took place on the day of the great atonement, which occurred once each year. And there was a day of judgment in the beginning of the year; and the troops of angels came, that they might stand in judgment before the Lord. But what are we to make of this whole account? Expositions are endless. That of Mr. Peters appears to me to be at once the most simple and the most judicious: "The Scripture speaks of God after the manner of men, for there is a necessity of condescending to our capacities, and of suiting the revelation to our apprehension. As kings, therefore, transact their most important affairs in a solemn council or assembly, so God is pleased to represent himself as having his council likewise; and as passing the decrees of his providence in an assembly of his holy angels. We have here, in the case of Job, the same grand assembly held, as was before in that of Ahab, 1 Kings 22:6-23; the same host of heaven, called here the sons of God, presenting themselves before Jehovah, as in the vision of Micaiah they are said to stand on his right hand and on his left. A wicked spirit appearing among them, here called Satan or the adversary, and there a lying spirit; both bent on mischief, and ready to do all the hurt they were permitted to do; for both were under the control of his power. The imagery is just the same; and the only difference is in the manner of the relation. That mentioned above, Micaiah, as a prophet, and in the actual exercise of his prophetic office, delivers, as he received it, in a vision. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the HOST of HEAVEN standing by him, on his right hand and on his left, and there came forth a LYING SPIRIT, and stood BEFORE the Lord, and said, 1 Kings 22:19-22. The other, as a historian, interweaves it with his history; and tells us, in his plain narrative style, There was a day when the sons of God came to PRESENT themselves BEFORE the Lord, and SATAN came also among them. And this he delivers in the same manner as he does, There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job.
"The things delivered to us by these two inspired writers are the same in substance, equally high, and above the reach of human sight and knowledge; but the manner of delivering them is different, each as suited best to his particular purpose. This, then is the prophetical way of representing things, as to the manner of doing them, which, whether done exactly in the same manner, concerns us not to know; but which are really done: and God would have them described as done in this manner, to make the more lively and lasting impression on us. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that representations of this kind are founded in a well-known and established truth, viz., the doctrine of good and bad angels, a point revealed from the beginning, and without a previous knowledge of which, the visions of the prophets could scarcely be intelligible." See Genesis 28:10-15.
And Satan came also — This word also is emphatic in the original, השטן hassatan, the Satan, or the adversary; translated by the Septuagint ὁ Διαβολος. The original word is preserved by the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic; indeed, in each of them the word signifies an adversary. St. Peter, 1 Peter 5:8, plainly refers to this place; and fully proves that השטן hassatan, which he literally translates ὁ αντιδικος, the ADVERSARY, is no other than ὁ Διαβολος, the DEVIL, or chief of bad demons, which he adds to others by way of explanation. There are many διαμονες, demons, mentioned in Scripture, but the word Satan or devil is never found in the originals of the Old and New Testaments in the plural number. Hence we reasonably infer, that all evil spirits are under the government of ONE chief, the DEVIL, who is more powerful and more wicked than the rest. From the GREEK Διαβολος comes the LATIN Diabolus, the SPANISH Diablo, the FRENCH Diable, the ITALIAN Diavolo, the German Teuffel, the DUTCH Duivel, the ANGLO-SAXON [A.S.], and the ENGLISH Devil, which some would derive from the compound THE-EVIL; ὁ πονηρος, the evil one, or wicked one.
It is now fashionable to deny the existence of this evil spirit; and this is one of what St. John (Revelation 2:24) calls ταβαθητου σατανα, the depths of Satan; as he well knows that they who deny his being will not be afraid of his power and influence; will not watch against his wiles and devices; will not pray to God for deliverance from the evil one; will not expect him to be trampled down under their feet, who has no existence; and, consequently, they will become an easy and unopposing prey to the enemy of their souls. By leading men to disbelieve and deny his existence, he throws them off their guard; and is then their complete master, and they are led captive by him at his will. It is well known that, among all those who make any profession of religion, those who deny the existence of the devil are they who pray little or none at all; and are, apparently, as careless about the existence of God as they are about the being of a devil. Piety to God is with them out of the question; for those who do not pray, especially in private, (and I never met with a devil-denier who did,) have no religion of any kind, whatsoever pretensions they may choose to make.
These files are public domain.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 1:6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-1.html. 1832.
1:1-2:13 SATAN TESTS JOB
From prosperity to ruin (1:1-22)
A popular belief in ancient times was that prosperity and well-being were proofs of godliness, but poverty and suffering were proofs of ungodliness. They were signs that God was either rewarding or punishing a person, according to whether that person’s life was good or bad. The book of Job contradicts this belief. Yet the prosperous and contented Job was indeed a godly person who was blameless in all that he did. He was concerned also for purity in the lives of all his children (1:1-5).
Meanwhile in heaven, God’s court of angelic beings had assembled before him. Among them was one, Satan, whose chief concern was to move around the world looking for human failings (6-7). (In Hebrew satan was a common word that meant ‘adversary’ or ‘opponent’.) Satan made the accusation to God that Job’s faith was not sincere. If Job suddenly lost his family and possessions, argued Satan, his apparent devotion to God would soon disappear (8-11). God allowed Satan to test Job by removing anything that belonged to him, but he was not to harm Job’s body (12).
In a series of calamities, Job lost first his working animals (13-15), then his sheep and shepherds (16), then his camels (17), and finally all his children (18-19). In spite of his overwhelming distress, Job’s devotion to God did not alter (20-22).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Job 1:6". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/job-1.html. 2005.
THAT CONVERSATION BETWEEN GOD AND SATAN
"Now it came to pass on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, that Satan also came among them. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? for there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil. Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Doth Job fear God for naught? Hast not thou made a 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. But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will renounce thee to thy face. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power: only upon himself put not forth thy hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah."
See our chapter introduction for the location of this scene, not in heaven, but upon earth when God's people were assembled for worship.
"Jehovah ... Jehovah ... Jehovah ... Jehovah ... Jehovah ... Jehovah ... Jehovah" (Job 1:6-12). Seven times in six verses, the covenant name of God appears in this passage, thundering the message that the "sons of God" here are those in covenant relationship with the Eternal. Note that [~'Elohiym] (God) is used twice in the preceding paragraph. Are the holy angels within any such covenant relationship? Absolutely, NO! How blind the critics are to this passage! Dummelow noted that the use of the Tetragrammaton here is thought by some, "To be a slip on the part of the author! How could anybody make "a slip" seven times in six verses? Our own opinion is that we have proof here, as Dummelow wrote, that, "The Tetragrammaton (Jehovah) may have been much older than Moses." This writer fully believes that the name Jehovah is indeed much older than Moses. (See my excursus on the Tetragrammaton (Y-H-W-H), beginning on p. 32 of my commentary on Exodus.)
"Satan here has ready access to heaven." See chapter introduction for many reasons why such a comment is erroneous.
"The sons of God ... are divine beings who shared in the nature of divinity." Rowley enunciated the same error, "Sons of God means superhuman, or celestial beings." "To interpret these words thus is to suppose that the very same words in Genesis 6:1-3 teach that angels intermarried with men producing a race of giants, despite the fact that the Christ himself declared that angels "Neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Matthew 22:30). The true meaning of Sons of God is found in Romans 8:14. How are they sons of God? "They are born of God, born of water and the Spirit". In short, they are followers and worshippers of God; and so were those mentioned in Genesis 6:1-3, and in this passage before us. To suppose that the Holy Spirit in this passage was speaking of angels is ridiculous. Did He not know the word angels? If that is what he meant, why did not the Holy Spirit write angels? This student of God's Word has had his fill, and more, of the speculations of commentators who presume to tell us what the Holy Spirit meant, instead of what he said.
Rawlinson, usually quite accurate, misses it here, stating that, " Job 1:7 teaches that Satan, therefore, is not, like most of his fallen angels, "reserved in chains under darkness to the judgment of the last day (Jude 1:1:6)." However, this very passage teaches that Satan is chained. (See more on the chaining of Satan under Job 1:12). He could not even touch Job, without God's permission; and, even after the Lord gave him permission to destroy Job's possessions, he was not allowed to touch the person of Job (Job 1:12).
"Doth Job fear God for naught?" (Job 1:9). Satan's implication here is that Job's motive for serving God was purely selfish. Atkinson raises the question, "Why do we serve God? Is it merely for what we can get out of it"? Some of the comments on this are quite inadequate. It is true that genuine faith does not serve God merely for the temporal blessings that most certainly do accompany it, and which Satan himself freely admitted in the next verse. But in spite of this, it is a profound fact that the ultimate reward in heaven, after the present life is ended, is a valid motive for serving God. Christ himself admonished righteousness, saying, "For great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:12). Yet, even the hope of heaven is not the highest motive. The Lord revealed that there are three basic motives for serving God, namely, (1) The love of God, (2) the hope of heaven, and (3) the fear of hell. Quite understandably, Satan was careful not to mention the other two motives! But we wonder why so many writers do not mention them.
"Hast thou not made a hedge about him?" (Job 1:10). Oh yes, even the devil admitted in this instance that serving God is certainly rewarded in this life also, at least, in the vast majority of instances; and it would doubtless be true invariably, if mankind had not chosen to become servants of the devil. In this verse, for once, the devil was speaking the truth. How mighty is God's protection and blessing of the faithful, even in this life; and even though Satan's interference brought great calamity and grief upon Job, read the rest of the story! "Job did not serve God for something he could gain by it." This is typical of the comments on Job which appear to us as totally inadequate. This comment would have been true if the author of it had said that, "Job did not serve God merely for what he can gain by it in this life." Job had the eye of faith upon the eternal world, confident in the resurrection of the dead and the appearance of the blessed Redeemer (Job 19:25). To leave this consideration out of the Book of Job is to miss the point of it completely.
"In Eden, Satan disparaged God to man; but here he disparages man to God."
"All that he hath is in thy power" (Job 1:12). Some scholars have even taken the position that it was really a very mean and inconsiderate old God who would thus have turned Job over to the devil. Such an attitude is merely the blindness of unbelief. It was not God who gave Satan dominion over Adam and his posterity, making him, in fact, "The god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4); but it was Adam himself. The human family in the person of their great progenitors rejected the benign and glorious government of heaven and willfully became the servants of Satan. Thus Satan's implied request for power to afflict Job was, in a sense, within his prerogative as mankind's chosen ruler.
Could not God have prevented it? Indeed, he could have. Why then, did he allow it? "God allowed it; because Job's sufferings, unknown to him, would stand forever before men and angels, as a trophy of the saving might of God, and an exhibition of that divine wisdom (and faithfulness) which is the archetype and foundation of human wisdom."
"Against himself put forth not thy hand" (Job 1:12). Note also that Satan could not even touch Job's property without God's permission. Yes, indeed, Satan is bound. That does not mean that Satan is inactive, but merely that his activity is limited to the earth, where he awaits the judgment; and, even upon earth, he is by no means free to act without God's permission.
REGARDING THE BINDING OF SATAN
(1) The proof that Satan is bound is resident in the fact of each and every person who is saved by obeying the gospel. "How can one enter into the house (the earth) of the strong man (Satan) and spoil his goods (save a sinner from hell), except he first bind the strong man (Satan)? and then he will spoil his goods" (Matthew 12:29). No person whomsoever would ever be saved if Satan were not bound.
(2) Satan cannot tempt even the weakest child of God beyond that which he is able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:12). This reveals a definite limitation (or binding) of Satan's activity.
(3) In this passage, Satan was definitely chained (a) to the extent that he had been unable to touch Job in all the days of his prosperity, (b) in the fact that he could never have destroyed Job's wealth without God's permission, (c) to the extent that in this first test, he was not permitted to touch the person of Job, and (d) to the extent that, even after God allowed him to afflict Job's body, in the second test, Satan was, even then, forbidden to take Job's life. The same limitation of Satan's hatred of any and all of God's children is indicated by the fact that Satan was not allowed to sift (test) the apostle Peter without Jesus' specific permission (Luke 22:31). What is the chain that restrains Satan? It is the Word of God.
(4) It is revealed in Revelation 20:1-3 that Satan is bound "for a thousand years," the same being only another designation of the current dispensation of the love of Christ. (See our extensive comments on this passage in Vol. 12 of my New Testament series, pp. 454-460.)
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 1:6". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/job-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Now there was a day - Dr. Good renders this, “And the day came.” Tindal.” Now upon a time.” The Chaldee paraphrasist has presumed to specify the time, and renders it, “Now it happened in the day of judgment (or scrutiny, דדינא ביומא), “in the beginning of the year,” that hosts of angels came to stand in judgment before yahweh, and Satan came.” According to this, the judgment occurred once a year, and a solemn investigation was had of the conduct even of the angels. In the Hebrew there is no intimation of the frequency with which this occurred, nor of the time of the year when it happened. The only idea is, that “the sons of God” on a set or appointed day came to stand before God to give an account of what they had done, and to receive further orders in regard to what they were to do. - This is evidently designed to introduce the subsequent events relating to Job. It is language taken from the proceedings of a monarch who had sent forth messengers or ambassadors on important errands through the different provinces of his empire, who now returned to give an account of what they had observed, and of the general state of the kingdom. Such a return would, of course, be made on a fixed day when, in the language of the law, their report would be “returnable,” and when they would be required to give in an account of the state of the kingdom. If it be said that it is inconsistent with the supposition that this book was inspired to suppose such a poetic fiction, I reply,
(1) That it is no more so than the parables of the Savior, who often supposes cases, and states them as real occurrences, in order to illustrate some important truth. Yet no one was ever led into error by this.
(2) It is in accordance with the language in the Scripture everywhere to describe God as a monarch seated on his throne, surrounded by his ministers, and sending them forth to accomplish important purposes in different parts of his vast empire.
It is not absolutely necessary, therefore, to regard this as designed to represent an actual occurrence. It is one of the admissible ornaments of poetry; - as admissible as any other poetic ornament. To represent God as a king is not improper; and if so, it is not improper to represent him with the usual accompaniments of royalty, - surrounded by ministers, and employing angels and messengers for important purposes in his kingdom. This supposition being admitted, all that follows is merely in “keeping,” and is designed to preserve the verisimilitude of the conception. - This idea, however, by no means militates against the supposition that angels are in fact really employed by God in important purposes in the government of his kingdom, nor that Satan has a real existence, and is permitted by God to employ an important agency in the accomplishment of his purposes toward his people. On this verse, however, see the Introduction, Section 1, (4).
The sons of God - Angels; compare Job 38:7. The whole narrative supposes that they were celestial beings.
Came to present themselves - As having returned from their embassy, and to give an account of what they had observed and done.
Before the Lord - Before יהוה yehovâh. On the meaning of this word, see the notes at Isaiah 1:2. A scene remarkably similar to this is described in 1 Kings 22:19-23. Yahweh is there represented as “sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.” He inquires who would go and persuade Ahab that he might go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? “And there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him.” This he promised to do by being “a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.”
And Satan came also among them - Margin, “The adversary” came “in the midst of them.” On the general meaning of this passage, and the reasons why Satan is introduced here, and the argument thence derived respecting the age and authorship of the book of Job, see the Introduction, Section 4, (4). The Vulgate renders this by the name “Satan.” The Septuagint: ὁ διάβολος ho diabolos - the devil, or the accuser. The Chaldee, סטנא saṭenā', “Satan.” So the Syriac. Theodotion, ὁ ἀντικείμενος ho antikeimenos - “the adversary.” The word rendered “Satan” שׂטן śâṭân is derived from שׂטן śâṭan “Satan,” to lie in wait, to be an adversary, and hence, it means properly an adversary, an accuser. It is used to denote one who “opposes,” as in war 1 Kings 11:14, 1Ki 11:23, 1 Kings 11:25; 1 Samuel 29:4; onc who is an adversary or an accuser in a court of justice Psalms 109:6, and one who stands in the way of another; Numbers 22:22, “And the angel of yahweh stood in the way for an adversary against him” לה לשׂטן leśâṭân lôh, “to oppose him.”
It is then used by way of eminence, to denote the “adversary,” and assumes the form of a proper name, and is applied to the great foe of God and man - the malignant spirit who seduces people to evil, and who accuses them before God. Thus, in Zechariah 3:1-2, “And he showed me Joshua the priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Loan said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan;” compare Revelation 12:10, “Now is come salvation - for the accuser ὁ κατηγορῶν ho katēgorōn - that is, Satan, see Revelation 12:9) of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” - The word does not often occur in the Old Testament. It is found in the various forms of a verb and a noun in only the following places. As a verb, in the sense of being an adversary, Psalms 71:13; Psalms 109:4, Psalms 109:20, Psalms 109:29; Zechariah 3:1; Psalms 38:20; as a noun, rendered “adversary” and “adversaries,” 1 Kings 5:4; 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23, 1 Kings 11:25; Numbers 22:22, Numbers 22:32; 1Sa 29:4; 2 Samuel 19:22; rendered “Satan,” 1 Chronicles 21:1; Psalms 109:6; Job 1:6-9, Job 1:12; Job 2:1-4, Job 2:6-7; Zechariah 3:2; and once rendered “an accusation,” Ezra 4:6.
It was a word, therefore, early used in the sense of an adversary or accuser, and was applied to anyone who sustained this character, until it finally came to be used as a proper name, to denote, by way of eminence, the prince of evil spirits, as the adversary or accuser of people. An opinion has been adopted in modern times by Herder, Eichhorn, Dathe, Ilgen, and some others, that the being here referred to by the name of Satan is not the malignant spirit, the enemy of God, the Devil, but is one of the sons of God, “a faithful, but too suspicious servant of yahweh.” According to this, God is represented as holding a council to determine the state of his dominions. In this council, Satan, a zealous servant of yahweh, to whom had been assigned the honorable office of visiting different parts of the earth, for the purpose of observing the conduct of the subjects of yahweh, makes his appearance on his return with others.
Such was the piety of Job, that it had attracted the special attention of yahweh, and he puts the question to Satan, whether in his journey be had remarked this illustrious example of virtue. Satan, who, from what he has observed on earth, is supposed to have lost all confidence in the reality and genuineness of the virtue which man may exhibit, suggests that he doubts whether even Job serves God from a disinterested motive; that God had encompassed him with blessings, and that his virtue is the mere result of circumstances; and that if his comforts were removed he would be found as destitute of principle as any other man. Satan, according to this, is a suspicious minister of yahweh, not a malignant spirit; he inflicts on Job only what he is ordered to by God, and nothing because he is himself malignant. Of this opinion Gesenius remarks (Lexicon), that it “is now universally exploded.”
An insuperable objection to this view is, that it does not accord with the character usually ascribed to Satan in the Bible, and especially that the disposition attributed to him in the narrative before us is wholly inconsistent with this view. He is a malignant being; an accuser; one delighting in the opportunity of charging a holy man with hypocrisy, and in the permission to inflict tortures on him, and who goes as far in producing misery as he is allowed - restrained from destroying him only by the express command of God. - In Arabic the word Satan is often applied to a serpent. Thus, Gjauhari, as quoted by Schultens, says, “The Arabs call a serpent Satan, especially one that is conspicuous by its crest, head, and odious appearance.” It is applied also to any object or being that is evil. Thus, the Scholiast on Hariri, as quoted by Schultens also, says, “Everything that is obstinately rebellious, opposed, and removed from good, of genii, human beings, and beasts, is called Satan.” - The general notion of an adversary and an opponent is found everywhere in the meaning of the word. - Dr. Good remarks on this verse, “We have here another proof that, in the system of patriarchal theology, the evil spirits, as well as the good, were equally amenable to the Almighty, and were equally cited, at definite periods, to answer for their conduct at his bar.”
Rosenmuller remarks well on this verse, “It is to be observed, that Satan, no less than the other celestial spirits, is subject to the government of God, and dependent on his commands (compare Job 2:1) where Satan equally with the sons of God (אלהים בן bên 'ĕlohı̂ym) is said to present himself before God (לחהיצב lehı̂tyatsēb; that is, λειτουργεῖν leitourgein), to minister. Yahweh uses the ministry of this demon (hujus daemonis) to execute punishment, or when from any other cause it seemed good to him to send evil upon men. But he, although incensed against the race of mortals, and desirous of injuring, is yet described as bound with a chain, and never dares to touch the pious unless God relaxes the reins. Satan, in walking round the earth, could certainly attentively consider Job, but to injure him he could not, unless permission had been given him.”
These files are public domain.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 1:6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-1.html. 1870.
Shall we turn now to the book of Job, chapter 1.
As we come to the book of Job, we actually enter into a new section of the Old Testament. As you know, the Old Testament is divided into different divisions. The first five books comprising what is often called the Pentateuch, the books of the law. The next several books are historic as they deal with the history of the nation of Israel from the time that they have come out of Egypt and they begin as a nation in the land. And it covers that period of history while they are in the land of Israel through the Babylonian captivity and through the repatriation and the regathering again to Israel. And the books of history take us up to about 400 B.C.
Now we are entering into a third part of the Old Testament, the books that are known as the books of poetry. And these include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. And they are Hebrew poetry. And in Hebrew poetry, it is unlike our English poetry in that Hebrew poetry does not rhyme words, but actually gives sort of parallel thoughts or contrasting thoughts. And their sense of literature and poetry is found not in the rhyming of a word or not in a meter, but in the thoughts themselves. The paralleling thoughts are the rhyming thoughts. The words don't necessarily rhyme, but there is a rhyme or parallelism within the thoughts or a contrast: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. For the righteous shall flourish, but the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous, the wicked. And so you have the contrast between the thoughts, or you have the parallel thoughts where they are building: the way of the Lord is right; the way of the Lord is true; the way of the Lord is just. And so you are giving parallel thought concepts.
So Job is the first of the books of poetry. It has been considered perhaps older than the book of Genesis. Though Genesis, of course, deals with history that predates Job, yet there is a Jobab mentioned in Genesis that is very possibly the Job of this book who lived contemporarily with Abraham. So it is possible that Job dates back as far as does Abraham, just a couple of generations away from Noah and the flood. Thus, in the book of Job, which is one of the oldest books of man's literature, the expression of the thoughts of some of the earliest men, once writing was developed and thoughts could be recorded. We find that men from the beginning have been pretty much the same. Though our cultures have changed and times have changed from Job, yet basically the same things that were a problem to Job are the same things that become a problem to us. The same needs that Job expressed are the same needs that still exists in man today.
In Job we have the picture of a man who was reduced perhaps more than any other man has ever been reduced, to just the bare essence of existence. With Job it's just raw existence. Everything that we think as necessary for life, everything that we consider to be important for our lives was stripped away from Job. His possessions, his family, his friends, his health, lost everything. He even lost the consciousness of the sense of his own worth as he began to curse the day that he was born and cry out for death.
Now, when you have lost everything, then is when is exposed the deepest longings and quest of man. You see, you're not worried about, "Where shall we go to eat after church tonight?" And this doesn't become a real major issue, a point of argument and debate. Or, "What are we going to do tomorrow on the holiday?" You see, we crowd and fill our minds with a lot of things that really aren't essential to life, because we have friends and we have many interests. And these things can become very important to us. And unfortunately, people can spend their whole lives in things that really don't matter. A whole life can be wasted in non-essentials. It isn't, "What shall we eat?" or, "Shall we eat or not?" or, "Can we eat or not?" but it becomes then the argument is, "What is the choice of what we are going to eat?" "Well, I have a taste for Mexican food." "Well, I have a taste for Italian food." "Well, I want Mexican food. I want the chips with the sauce." "Well, I want lasagna." And you call the attorney to get a divorce. Oh, how tragic that man can spend his life majoring in minors and never, never come to the real issues of life.
Now with Job, man, it was just existence. Everything was stripped away. Now just the raw person. What are the things that are expressed? What are the cries? What are the needs? They are the basic needs of man and the basic needs of life that are expressed at this point. And thus, Job becomes a very interesting book to us as we listen to the cries of Job as they deal with the deepest issues of life.
The story of Job is an interesting story, and it is one that surely does confirm what God has declared in Isaiah and Job expressed himself, and that is that the ways of God are beyond our finding out. God said through Isaiah the prophet, "My ways are not your ways, saith the Lord, My ways are beyond your finding out" ( Isaiah 55:8 ). I do not pretend to understand everything about God. In fact, I must confess that I understand very little about God. That's why I worship Him. If I could understand Him completely then He would be on my level and what would I have to worship? But because He is so much greater, vaster in wisdom and understanding and knowledge than I am, I stand in awe and reverence and I worship Him.
Now, He doesn't always do things my way. Nor does He always stop to explain to me why He did it His way. Though I sometimes demand that He does. He doesn't always even pay attention to my demands. He just seems to go ahead and do what He wants to anyhow, in spite of my objections. But I appreciate that, because I have found a long time ago that I don't know very much. I fit in the category of which Shakespeare wrote when he said, "Man, poor man, so ignorant in that which he knows best." And I find I'm so ignorant in the things I know best. And thus, I am glad to submit my life, my will to God and to His wisdom. And I am thankful that I can pray, "Lord, I don't understand what You're doing. I don't like what You're doing, but I know that what You're doing is best so just keep doing it. Not my will, Your will, Lord, be done."
The beginning of Job. It tells us a little background of him.
Job lived in the land of Uz ( Job 1:1 );
Wherever that is. But then concerning him, it said he was,
a perfect [man] and upright, and one that feared God [or reverenced God], and hated evil ( Job 1:1 ).
Job was a good man. Loving, reverencing God, hating evil.
Now he had seven sons and three daughters. Plus 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 1:2-3 ).
A good man. A wealthy man. A man who loved God and hated evil.
And his sons ( Job 1:4 )
Seem to be partiers. So in his concern for his sons, daily he would offer sacrifices for them and say, "Lord, forgive them if in their partying they say something that is contrary or against Thee, Lord, grant them forgiveness." And he was constantly praying for his children. The background of the man.
Now we turn from this man and now we are ushered into the heavenly scenes. We are now at the throne of God and the angels are coming and presenting themselves to God. And along with the angels, here comes Satan. Now, even after Satan's fall, it seems that he had access, and thus have access to the throne of God. Why does God allow him access there? I told you I don't know everything about God and I don't know. It's a question in my mind. The Bible says he's the accuser of the brethren and he accuses them before God day and night. Now we find him in that position right here. He is accusing Job after God brings up the subject of Job. But first of all, when Satan comes in to present himself before God, God says, "Oh, where have you been?" He says, "I've been cruising around the world. Going to and fro throughout it, walking up and down." God said, "Oh?"
Have you considered my servant Job ( Job 1:8 ),
God's doing a little bragging now. He's got one down there who really loves Him. He's a perfect man. He hates evil. Praying for his children.
The word considered is the word that I'm interested in, though, because it is actually a military term. It is the term that is used of a general who is studying a city before he attacks it in order that he might develop his strategy whereby he can destroy the city. So he's watching when they open the gates, the method of which they open the gates. How do the people come out? What gates are the most easily attacked? And he's developing his whole strategy in order that he might attack and destroy the city. That's the Hebrew word, the background of the word. It's a military term. "Have you been studying Job? Seeking to develop the strategy whereby you might destroy him? Have you considered my servant Job?"
Now God's witness of Job, perfect man and upright. He loves Me; he hates evil. And Satan frighteningly declares, "Yes, I have seen that fellow. I've studied him." And not only had Satan been studying Job, but he had developed a whole philosophy concerning Job. He said, "Job has been blessed of You. Look, he's the wealthiest man in the east. He has everything anybody could ever desire or want. Job is just serving You because You've blessed him so much. Who wouldn't serve You if You blessed them like that? And You've put a hedge around him and I can't get to him." This interests me, the hedge that God puts around His children. "He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. To bear thee up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone" ( Psalms 91:11-12 ). And God has a hedge around us. Satan is complaining about that hedge. "Let me get at it. Let me at it. Let me take away his wealth and he's going to curse you to your face. Job only serves You because it pays such big dividends." So God said to Satan, "All right, I will let you at him. Only don't touch him. You can touch his possessions; don't touch him."
So it came to pass in a certain day while his children were feasting and drinking in his oldest son's house: there came a messenger to Job, and he said, Your oxen were plowing, and the asses were feeding beside them: and the Sabaeans fell upon them, and took them away; and they killed all of your servants; and I'm the only one that is left and I have come to tell you. And before he could finish his message of despair, a second servant came, and he said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and it has consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. And while he was still talking, there came another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, they fell upon your camels, and have carried them away, and they've killed all of your servants with the edge of the sword; and I'm the only one that has escaped and I've come to tell you. While he was yet speaking, another came and said, Your sons and daughters while they were having this big banquet, a wind came out to the east, and it blew down the house, and they were all of them crushed to death; and their servants with them ( Job 1:13-18 ).
Wipe out. In a moment's time your wealth, your possessions, and even all of your children are taken away. What do you do? Job fell on his face there in the dirt and he blessed God.
He said, Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked I'm going to return: the LORD has given, the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all of these things Job did not curse God, neither did he charge God foolishly ( Job 1:21-22 ).
I would like to say that I have heard many people charge God foolishly. Maybe they didn't curse God, but they've made foolish charges against God. I've heard people say, "I don't think God cares about me at all. I don't think God loves me." Those are foolish charges against God. Sometimes because of our circumstances we are prone to make foolish charges against God. But Job didn't do that. He passed test one.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Job 1:6". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/job-1.html. 2014.
1. The first test 1:6-22
These verses reveal that angels ("sons of God," Job 1:6), including Satan, periodically report to God on their activities. Satan was doing then what he did in the Garden of Eden and still does today, namely, "seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). [Note: For a summary of what the Book of Job teaches about angels, see ibid., p. 232. See too Sydney H. T. Page, "Satan: God’s Servant," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50:3 (September 2007):449-65.] In Eden, Satan disparaged God to Eve. Here he disparaged Job to God. [Note: Kline, p. 462.]
Satan accused God of bribing Job so he would act piously (Job 1:9-11). This charge articulates one of the main questions of this book: Why do righteous people such as Job live upright lives? Satan said Job did so because Job had learned that there is an inevitable connection between deed and state of being (i.e., godliness results in prosperity). This idea, that the relationship between God and man rests on retribution-we always reap in kind during our lifetime what we sow-is one that Job held. However, his fear (reverential trust) of God ran deeper than Satan realized.
Satan determined to prove that Job would not obey God if he got no blessing in return. He believed selfishness prompted Job’s obedience rather than love. Satan also believed that God would not get worship from Job if He stopped blessing him.
"Cynicism is the essence of the satanic. The Satan believes nothing to be genuinely good-neither Job in his disinterested piety nor God in His disinterested generosity." [Note: Andersen, p. 84. ]
Since the English word "satan" is a transliteration of the Hebrew satan, meaning adversary, it is not uncommon for writers to refer to Satan as "the Satan," namely, the ultimate adversary. Why does God allow Satan to test believers? He allowed Satan to test Job to silence Satan and to strengthen Job’s character (cf. James 1:2-18).
"The primary purpose of Job’s suffering, unknown to him, was that he should stand before men and angels as a trophy of the saving might of God . . ." [Note: Kline, p. 461.]
"From the outset, the writer reminds us that, no matter what happens in this world and in our lives, God is on the throne and has everything under control." [Note: Warren W. Wiersbe, "Job," in The Bible Exposition Commentary/Wisdom and Poetry, p. 11.]
The fact that the oxen were plowing (Job 1:14) indicates that these events probably happened in the winter. The Sabeans (Job 1:15) may have come from a region in southwest Arabia called Sheba or from the town of Sheba located in upper Arabia (cf. Genesis 10:7; Genesis 25:3). The Chaldeans (Job 1:17) came from Mesopotamia to the north and were at this time nomadic marauders, assuming a patriarchal period setting of the events. [Note: Kline, p. 462.]
Tearing one’s robe (Job 1:20) typically expressed great grief in the ancient Near East. It symbolized the rending of one’s heart (cf. Joel 2:13). Shaving the head (Job 1:20) evidently symbolized the loss of personal glory. When a person mourned, he or she put off all personal adornments, including what nature provided (cf. Jeremiah 7:29; Micah 1:16). Hair in the ancient world was a symbol of one’s glory (cf. 2 Samuel 14:26). Job apparently fell to the ground to worship God (Job 1:20). A mother’s womb is a figure used elsewhere to describe the earth (Job 1:21; cf. Psalms 139:15; Ecclesiastes 5:15; Ecclesiastes 12:7).
Job’s recognition of Yahweh’s sovereignty (Job 1:21) was a key to his passing his test (cf. 1 Timothy 6:7). In some respects he regarded God as an equal (cf. Job 9:33), but underneath he knew God was his sovereign. This conception of God is one that Job never lost, though many people who go through trials do.
"Job’s exclamation is the noblest expression to be found anywhere of a man’s joyful acceptance of the will of God as his only good. A man may stand before God stripped of everything that life has given him, and still lack nothing." [Note: Andersen, p. 88.]
"Anybody can say, ’The Lord gave’ or ’The Lord hath taken away’; but it takes real faith to say in the midst of sorrow and suffering, ’Blessed be the name of the Lord.’" [Note: Wiersbe, p. 12.]
Job grieved but worshipped. These two activities are not incompatible. He saw God’s hand in the events of his life. Moreover he had a proper perspective on his possessions. His faith did not relieve his agony; it caused it. Many people believe that if one has enough faith, he or she will always be happy. Job’s experience does not bear this out. We should have a deep-seated joy no matter what happens to us, knowing that we are in the Lord’s hands and that He has permitted whatever happens to us (Philippians 4:4). But we may not always be happy, namely, enjoying our circumstances.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 1:6". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/job-1.html. 2012.
sons of God . . This expression here refers to all the holy angels who imitate God’s purity and holiness.
sons of . . The Jewish mind often spoke metaphorically of a "characteristic" dwelling in a person, and sometimes calling him the "son of ... " that characteristic. Thus, of Barnabas as "son of consolation" Acts 4:36, and James and John as "sons of thunder" Mark 3:17; and the term "son of perdition" in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
See ISBE "Son; Sons" (3)
(3) The word “son” is used with a following genitive of quality to indicate some characteristic of the person or persons described.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Job 1:6". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gbc/job-1.html. 2021.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord,.... This is generally understood of the angels, as in Job 38:7 who may be thought to be so called, because of their creation by the father of spirits, and their likeness to God in holiness, knowledge, and wisdom, and being affectionate and obedient to him; as also on account of the grace of election, and confirmation in Christ bestowed upon them, as well as because, in their embassies and messages to men, they represent God, and so may be called gods, and children of the Most High, for a like reason the civil magistrates are,
Psalms 82:6 to which may be added, their constituting with the saints the family of God in heaven and earth: these, as they stand before God, and at his right hand and left, as the host of heaven, in which posture Micaiah saw them in vision, 1 Kings 22:19, so they may be said to go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth into the several parts of all the world, to do the will and work of God assigned them, Zechariah 6:5 and then, having done their work, return again, and present themselves before the Lord, to give an account of what they have done, and to receive fresh orders from him, being ready to do his pleasure in everything he shall command them, which is what is here supposed; though some think these were only the company or band of angels which were set as a guard about Job, his person, family, and substance, who now appeared before the Lord, to give an account of him, his affairs, and circumstances, as required of them:
and Satan came also among them; which word signifies an "adversary", as in 1 Kings 11:14 but does not design here a man adversary, as there, or one that envied Job's prosperity, as Saadiah Gaon thinks, but an evil spirit, the old serpent, the devil, as in Revelation 12:9 who is an implacable and bitter enemy to men, especially to Christ and his people; and so has this name from his hatred of them, and opposition to them: Origen k observes, that this word, translated into the Greek language, is
αντικειμενος, an "adversary"; but R. Levi l derives it from שטה, "to decline" or "turn aside"; and so Suidas says m, Satan, in the Hebrew language, is an apostate; and Theodoret n mentions both, that it signifies either an adversary or an apostate; the first derivation is best: knowing the end of the above meeting, that it was with respect to Job, and therefore he came with an intent to contradict what they should say of him, and to accuse him before God; he came among them as one of them, transforming himself into an angel of light, as he sometimes does; or he came, being sent for, and obliged to come to give an account of himself, and of what he had been doing in the world, in order to be reproved and punished: but though the stream of interpreters run this way, I cannot say I am satisfied with it; for, setting aside the passages in this book in question, angels are nowhere called "the sons of God"; for besides, this being denied of them in the sense that Christ is, they are represented as servants, yea, as servants to the sons of God, ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation; they call themselves the fellow servants of the saints, and of their brethren, but do not say that they are sons of the same family, or fellow heirs, or their brethren, Hebrews 1:5, moreover, they always stand in the presence of God, and behold his face, be they where they will, Matthew 18:10 nor is there any particular day assigned them for the service of God; for though they are under the moral law, so far as it is suitable to their nature, yet not under the ceremonial law, to which the observance of days belonged; and besides, they have no rest night nor day, but continually serve God, and glorify him, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty: and if this presentation of themselves to God is supposed to be in heaven, as where else should it be? it is not possible that Satan could come among them; he is fallen from heaven, being cast down from thence, nor can he, nor ever will he, be able to find a place any more there, see
Luke 10:18 it seems better therefore to understand this of the people of God, of professors of religion, who, earlier than the times of Job, were distinguished from the men of the world by this character, "the sons of God", Genesis 6:2, such that were truly godly being so by adopting grace, and which was made manifest by their regeneration by the Spirit of God, and by their faith in Christ, and all were so by profession: now these assembled themselves together, to present themselves, their bodies and souls, before the Lord, which was but their reasonable service; as to pray unto him, and praise him, to offer sacrifice, and perform every religious exercise enjoined in those times; the apostle uses the like phrase of the saints' social worship,
Romans 12:1 now for this there was a "day"; though I very much question whether any sabbath, or much less a seventh day sabbath, was as yet instituted; but inasmuch as men agreed together to call on the name of the Lord, or to worship him in a social way, Genesis 4:26 as it was necessary that a place should be appointed to meet at, so a time fixed by consent and agreement; even as now, the seventh day sabbath being abrogated, Christians agree to meet on the first day of the week, called the Lord's day, in imitation of the apostles of Christ; and on one of these days thus fixed and agreed on was the above meeting, at which Satan came among them, as he frequently does in the assembly of the saints, to do what mischief he can; by snatching away the word from inattentive hearers, and by directing the eye to such objects, and putting such things into the mind, as divert from the service of God; or by suggesting to the saints themselves, that what is attended to does not belong to them, with many other things of the like kind: the Targum interprets this day of the day of judgment, at the beginning of the year, and the sons of God of angels, as do other Jewish writers.
k Contr. Cels. l. 6. l In Ioc. m In voce σατανας. n In 2 Reg. Quaest. 37.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 1:6". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-1.html. 1999.
|Satan before God; Satan Permitted to Afflict Job.||B. C. 1520.|
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. 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 a 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.
Job was not only so rich and great, but withal so wise and good, and had such an interest both in heaven and earth, that one would think the mountain of his prosperity stood so strong that it could not be moved; but here we have a thick cloud gathering over his head, pregnant with a horrible tempest. We must never think ourselves secure from storms while we are in this lower region. Before we are told how his troubles surprised and seized him here in this visible world, we are here told how they were concerted in the world of spirits, that the devil, having a great enmity to Job for his eminent piety, begged and obtained leave to torment him. It does not at all derogate from the credibility of Job's story in general to allow that this discourse between God and Satan, in these verses, is parabolical, like that of Micaiah (1 Kings 22:19-29, c.), and an allegory designed to represent the malice of the devil against good men and the divine check and restraint which that malice is under only thus much further is intimated, that the affairs of this earth are very much the subject of the counsels of the unseen world. That world is dark to us, but we lie very open to it. Now here we have,
I. Satan among the sons of God (Job 1:6; Job 1:6), an adversary (so Satan signifies) to God, to men, to all good: he thrust himself into an assembly of the sons of God that came to present themselves before the Lord. This means either, 1. A meeting of the saints on earth. Professors of religion, in the patriarchal age, were called sons of God (Genesis 6:2); they had then religious assemblies and stated times for them. The King came in to see his guests; the eye of God was on all present. But there was a serpent in paradise, a Satan among the sons of God; when they come together he is among them, to distract and disturb them, stands at their right hand to resist them. The Lord rebuke thee, Satan! Or, 2. A meeting of the angels in heaven. They are the sons of God,Job 38:7; Job 38:7. They came to give an account of their negotiations on earth and to receive new instructions. Satan was one of them originally; but how hast thou fallen, O Lucifer! He shall no more stand in that congregation, yet he is here represented, as coming among them, either summoned to appear as a criminal or connived at, for the present, though an intruder.
II. His examination, how he came thither (Job 1:7; Job 1:7): The Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? He knew very well whence he came, and with what design he came thither, that as the good angels came to do good he came for a permission to do hurt; but he would, by calling him to an account, show him that he was under check and control. Whence comest thou? He asks this, 1. As wondering what brought him thither. Is Saul among the prophets? Satan among the sons of God? Yes, for he transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Corinthians 11:14), and would seem one of them. Note, It is possible that a man may be a child of the devil and yet be found in the assemblies of the sons of God in this world, and there may pass undiscovered by men, and yet be challenged by the all-seeing God. Friend, how camest thou in hither? Or, 2. As enquiring what he had been doing before he came thither. The same question was perhaps put to the rest of those that presented themselves before the Lord, "Whence came you?" We are accountable to God for all our haunts and all the ways we traverse.
III. The account he gives of himself and of the tour he had made. I come (says he) from going to and fro on the earth. 1. He could not pretend he had been doing any good, could give no such account of himself as the sons of God could, who presented themselves before the Lord, who came from executing his orders, serving the interest of his kingdom, and ministering to the heirs of salvation. 2. He would not own he had been doing any hurt, that he had been drawing men from the allegiance to God, deceiving and destroying souls; no. I have done no wickedness,Proverbs 30:20. Thy servant went nowhere. In saying that he had walked to and fro through the earth, he intimates that he had kept himself within the bounds allotted him, and had not transgressed his bounds; for the dragon is cast out into the earth (Revelation 12:9) and not yet confined to his place of torment. While we are on this earth we are within his reach, and with so much subtlety, swiftness, and industry, does he penetrate into all the corners of it, that we cannot be in any place secure from his temptations. 3. He yet seems to give some representation of his own character. (1.) Perhaps it is spoken proudly, and with an air of haughtiness, as if he were indeed the prince of this world, as if the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them were his (Luke 4:6), and he had now been walking in circuit through his own territories. (2.) Perhaps it is spoken fretfully, and with discontent. He had been walking to and fro, and could find no rest, but was as much a fugitive and a vagabond as Cain in the land of Nod. (3.) Perhaps it is spoken carefully: "I have been hard at work, going to and fro," or (as some read it) "searching about in the earth," really in quest of an opportunity to do mischief. He walks abut seeking whom he may devour. It concerns us therefore to be sober and vigilant.
IV. The question God puts to him concerning Job (Job 1:8; Job 1:8): Hast thou considered my servant Job? As when we meet with one that has been in a distant place, where we have a friend we dearly love, we are ready to ask, "You have been in such a place; pray did you see my friend there?" Observe, 1. How honourably God speaks of Job: He is my servant. Good men are God's servants, and he is pleased to reckon himself honoured in their services, and they are to him for a name and a praise (Jeremiah 13:11) and a crown of glory,Isaiah 62:3. "Yonder is my servant Job; there is none like him, none I value like him, of all the princes and potentates of the earth; one such saint as he is worth them all: none like him for uprightness and serious piety; many do well, but he excelleth them all; there is not to be found such great faith, no, not in Israel." Thus Christ, long after, commended the centurion and the woman of Canaan, who were both of them, like Job, strangers to that commonwealth. The saints glory in God--Who is like thee among the gods? and he is pleased to glory in them--Who is like Israel among the people? So here, none like Job, none in earth, that state of imperfection. Those in heaven do indeed far outshine him; those who are least in that kingdom are greater than he; but on earth there is not his like. There is none like him in that land; so some good men are the glory of their country. 2. How closely he gives to Satan this good character of Job: Hast thou set thy heart to my servant Job? designing hereby, (1.) To aggravate the apostasy and misery of that wicked spirit: "How unlike him are thou!" Note, The holiness and happiness of the saints are the shame and torment of the devil and the devil's children. (2.) To answer the devil's seeming boast of the interest he had in this earth. "I have been walking to and fro in it," says he, "and it is all my own; all flesh have corrupted their way; they all sit still, and are at rest in their sins," Zechariah 1:10; Zechariah 1:11. "Nay, hold," saith God, "Job is my faithful servant." Satan may boast, but he shall not triumph. (3.) To anticipate his accusations, as if he had said, "Satan, I know thy errand; thou hast come to inform against Job; but hast thou considered him? Does not his unquestionable character give thee the lie?" Note, God knows all the malice of the devil and his instruments against his servants; and we have an advocate ready to appear for us, even before we are accused.
V. The devil's base insinuation against Job, in answer to God's encomium of him. He could not deny but that Job feared God, but suggested that he was a mercenary in his religion, and therefore a hypocrite (Job 1:9; Job 1:9): Doth Job fear God for nought? Observe, 1. How impatient the devil was of hearing Job praised, though it was God himself that praised him. Those are like the devil who cannot endure that any body should be praised but themselves, but grudge the just share of reputation others have, as Saul (1 Samuel 18:5-16, c.) and the Pharisees, Matthew 21:15. 2. How much at a loss he was for something to object against him he could not accuse him of any thing that was bad, and therefore charged him with by-ends in doing good. Had the one half of that been true which his angry friends, in the heat of dispute, charged him with (Job 15:4; Job 22:5), Satan would no doubt have brought against him now; but no such thing could be alleged, and therefore, 3. See how slyly he censured him as a hypocrite, not asserting that he was so, but only asking, "Is he not so?" This is the common way of slanderers, whisperers, backbiters, to suggest that by way of query which yet they have no reason to think is true. Note, It is not strange if those that are approved and accepted of God be unjustly censured by the devil and his instruments; if they are otherwise unexceptionable, it is easy to charge them with hypocrisy, as Satan charged Job, and they have no way to clear themselves, but patiently to wait for the judgment of God. As there is nothing we should dread more than being hypocrites, so there is nothing we need dread less that being called and counted so without cause. 4. How unjustly he accused him as mercenary, to prove him a hypocrite. It was a great truth that Job did not fear God for nought; he got much by it, for godliness is great gain: but it was a falsehood that he would not have feared God if he had not got this by it, as the event proved. Job's friends charged him with hypocrisy because he was greatly afflicted, Satan because he greatly prospered. It is no hard matter for those to calumniate that seek an occasion. It is not mercenary to look at the eternal recompence in our obedience; but to aim at temporal advantages in our religion, and to make it subservient to them, is spiritual idolatry, worshipping the creature more than the Creator, and is likely to end in a fatal apostasy. Men cannot long serve God and mammon.
VI. The complaint Satan made of Job's prosperity, Job 1:10; Job 1:10. Observe, 1. What God had done for Job. He had protected him, made a hedge about him, for the defence of his person, his family, and all his possessions. Note, God's peculiar people are taken under his special protection, they and all that belong to them; divine grace makes a hedge about their spiritual life, and divine providence about their natural life, so they are safe and easy. He had prospered him, not in idleness or injustice (the devil could not accuse him of them), but in the way of honest diligence: Thou hast blessed the work of his hands. Without that blessing, be the hands ever so strong, ever so skilful, the work will not prosper; but, with that, his substance has wonderfully increased in the land. The blessing of the Lord makes rich: Satan himself owns it. 2. What notice the devil took of it, and how he improved it against him. The devil speaks of it with vexation. "I see thou hast made a hedge about him, round about;" as if he had walked it round, to see if he could spy a single gap in it, for him to enter in at, to do him a mischief; but he was disappointed: it was a complete hedge. The wicked one saw it and was grieved, and argued against Job that the only reason why he served God was because God prospered him. "No thanks to him to be true to the government that prefers him, and to serve a Master that pays him so well."
VII. The proof Satan undertakes to give of the hypocrisy and mercenariness of Job's religion, if he might but have leave to strip him of his wealth. "Let it be put to this issue," says he (Job 1:11; Job 1:11); "make him poor, frown upon him, turn thy hand against him, and then see where his religion will be; touch what he has and it will appear what he is. If he curse thee not to thy face, let me never be believed, but posted for a liar and false accuser. Let me perish if he curse thee not;" so some supply the imprecation, which the devil himself modestly concealed, but the profane swearers of our age impudently and daringly speak out. Observe, 1. How slightly he speaks of the affliction he desired that Job might be tried with: "Do but touch all that he has, do but begin with him, do but threaten to make him poor; a little cross will change his tone." 2. How spitefully he speaks of the impression it would make upon Job: "He will not only let fall his devotion, but turn it into an open defiance--not only think hardly of thee, but even curse thee to thy face." The word translated curse is barac, the same that ordinarily, and originally, signifies to bless; but cursing God is so impious a thing that the holy language would not admit the name: but that where the sense requires it it must be so understood is plain form 1 Kings 21:10-13, where the word is used concerning the crime charged on Naboth, that he did blaspheme God and the king. Now, (1.) It is likely that Satan did think that Job, if impoverished, would renounce his religion and so disprove his profession, and if so (as a learned gentleman has observed in his Mount of Spirits) Satan would have made out his own universal empire among the children of men. God declared Job the best man then living: now, if Satan can prove him a hypocrite, it will follow that God had not one faithful servant among men and that there was no such thing as true and sincere piety in the world, but religion was all a sham, and Satan was king de facto--in fact, over all mankind. But it appeared that the Lord knows those that are his and is not deceived in any. (2.) However, if Job should retain his religion, Satan would have the satisfaction to see him sorely afflicted. He hates good men, and delights in their griefs, as God has pleasure in their prosperity.
VIII. The permission God gave to Satan to afflict Job for the trial of his sincerity. Satan desired God to do it: Put forth thy hand now. God allowed him to do it (Job 1:12; Job 1:12): "All that he has is in thy hand; make the trial as sharp as thou canst; do thy worst at him." Now, 1. It is a matter of wonder that God should give Satan such a permission as this, should deliver the soul of his turtle-dove into the hand of the adversary, such a lamb to such a lion; but he did it for his own glory, the honour of Job, the explanation of Providence, and the encouragement of his afflicted people in all ages, to make a case which, being adjudged, might be a useful precedent. He suffered Job to be tried, as he suffered Peter to be sifted, but took care that his faith should not fail (Luke 22:32) and then the trial of it was found unto praise, and honour, and glory,1 Peter 1:7. But, 2. It is a matter of comfort that God has the devil in a chain, in a great chain, Revelation 20:1. He could not afflict Job without leave from God first asked and obtained, and then no further than he had leave: "Only upon himself put not forth thy hand; meddle not with his body, but only with his estate." It is a limited power that the devil has; he has no power to debauch men but what they give him themselves, nor power to afflict men but what is given him from above.
IX. Satan's departure from this meeting of the sons of God. Before they broke up, Satan went forth (as Cain, Genesis 4:16) from the presence of the Lord; no longer detained before him (as Doeg was, 1 Samuel 21:7) than till he had accomplished his malicious purpose. He went forth, 1. Glad that he had gained his point, proud of the permission he had to do mischief to a good man; and, 2. Resolved to lose no time, but speedily to put his project in execution. He went forth now, not to go to and fro, rambling through the earth, but with a direct course, to fall upon poor Job, who is carefully going on in the way of his duty, and knows nothing of the matter. What passes between good and bad spirits concerning us we are not aware of.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Job 1:6". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/job-1.html. 1706.
the Third Week after Epiphany