Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 1:7

The Lord said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the Lord and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Satan;   The Topic Concordance - Blessings;   Defense;   Devil/devils;   Evil;   Fear;   Uprightness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Earth, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Satan;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Heaven, Heavens, Heavenlies;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Satan;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Devil;   Raven;   Satan;   Zechariah, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Affliction;   Job, the Book of;   Prophecy, Prophets;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Sin;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Demon, Demoniacal Possession, Demoniacs;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Satan;   Vagabond;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Devil;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Job, Book of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Angelology;   Gentile;   Judaism;   Satan;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

From going to and fro in the earth - The translation of the Septuagint is curious: Περιελθων την γην και εμπεριπατησας την ὑππ 'ουρανον, παρειμι ; "Having gone round the earth, and walked over all that is under heaven, I am come hither." The Chaldee says, "I am come from going round the earth to examine the works of the children of men; and from walking through it." Coverdale, who generally hits the sense, translates thus: I have gone aboute the londe ond walked thorow it. Mr. Good has it, from roaming round the earth, and walking about it.

St. Peter, as has been already stated, 1 Peter 5:8, refers to this: "Be sober, be vigilant; for your Adversary the Devil Goeth About, as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." I rather think, with Coverdale, that ארץ arets here signifies rather that land, than the habitable globe. The words are exceedingly emphatic; and the latter verb התהלך hithhallech being in the hithpael conjugation shows how earnest and determined the devil is in his work: he sets himself to walk; he is busily employed in it; he is seeking the destruction of men; and while they sleep, he wakes - while they are careless, he is alert. The spirit of this saying is often expressed by the simple inhabitants of the country: when they perceive a man plotting mischief, and frequent in transgression, they say, The devil is Busy with him.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 1:7". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? - This inquiry does not appear to have been made as if it was improper that Satan should have appeared there, for no blame seems to have been attached to him for this. He came as a spirit that was subject to the control of yahweh; he came with others, not to mingle in their society, and partake of their happiness, but to give an account of what he had done, and of what he had observed. The poetic idea is, that this was done periodically, and that “all” the spirits employed by yahweh to dispense blessings to mortals, to inflict punishment, or to observe their conduct, came and stood before him. Why the inquiry is directed particularly to “Satan,” is not specified. Perhaps it is not meant that there was any “special” inquiry made of him, but that, as he was to have so important an agency in the transactions which follow, the inquiry that was made of him only is recorded In respect to the others, nothing occurred pertaining to Job, and their examination is not adverted to. Or it may be, that, as Satan was known to be malignant, suspicious, and disposed to think evil of the servants of God, the design was to direct his attention particularly to Job as an illustrious and indisputable example of virtue and piety.

From going to and fro in the earth - Dr. Good renders this, “from roaming round.” Noyes, “from wandering over.” The word which is here used (שׁוּט shûṭ ) means properly,

(1.) to whip, to scourge, to lash;

(2.) to row, that is, to lash the sea with oars;

(3.) to run up and down, to go here and there, or to and fro, so as to lash the air with one‘s arms as with oars, and hence, to travel over a land, or to go through it in order to see it, 2 Samuel 24:2, 2 Samuel 24:8.

Dr. Good, in conformity with the interpretation proposed by Schultens, says that “the word imports, not so much the act of going forward and backward, as of making a circuit or circumference; of going round about. The Hebrew verb is still in use among the Arabic writers, and in every instance implies the same idea of gyration or circumambulation.” In Arabic, according to Castell, the word means “to heat, to burn, to cause to boil, to consume:” then to propel to weariness, as e. g. a horse, and then to make a circuit, to go about at full speed, to go with diligence and activity. Thus, in Carnuso, as quoted by Schultens, “a course made at one impulse to the goal is called שׁוט shôṭ In 2 Samuel 24:2, the word is used in the sense of passing around through different places for the purpose of taking a census. “Go now (Margin, “compass”) through all the tribes of Israel.” In Numbers 11:8, it is applied to the Israelites going about to collect manna, passing rapidly and busily in the places where it fell for the purpose of gathering it.

In Zechariah 4:10, it is applied to “the eyes of Yahweh,” which are said to “run to and fro through the earth,” that is, he surveys all things as one does whose eye passes rapidly from object to object. The same phrase occurs in 2 Chronicles 16:9. In Jeremiah 5:1, it is applied to the action of a man passing rapidly through the streets of a city. “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem “compare Jeremiah 49:3. From these passages it is clear that the idea is not that of going “in a circuit” or circle, but it is that of passing rapidly; of moving with alacrity and in a hurry; and it is not improbable that the “original” idea is that suggested in the Arabic of “heat” - and thence applied to a whip or scourge because it produces a sensation like burning, and also to a rapid journey or motion, because it produces heat or a glow. It means that Satan had been active and diligent in passing from place to place in the earth to survey it. The Chaldee adds to this, “to examine into the works of the sons of men.”

And from walking - That is, to investigate human affairs. On this verse it is observed by Rosenmullcr, that in the life of Zoroaster (see Zendavesta by John G. Kleukner, vol. 3: p. 11,) the prince of the evil demons, the angel of death, whose name is “Engremeniosch,” is said to go far and near through the world for the purpose of injuring and opposing good people.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 1:7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-1.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the Lord said unto Satan, whence comest thou?.... This question is put, not as ignorant of the place from whence he came; for the omniscient God knows all persons and things, men and angels, and these good and bad, where they are, from whence they come, and what they do, see Genesis 3:9 but it is put either as being angry with him, and resenting his coming among the sons of God, and chiding him for it, as having no proper business there, like the question in Matthew 22:12, or rather in order to lead on to another, and to bring out from him what he intended to have expressed by him, of what he had seen and taken notice of in the place from whence he came, and particularly concerning Job: how God and spirits converse together we are not able to say; but no doubt there is a way in which God talks with spirits, even with evil ones, as well as good ones, and in which they speak to him; and so this does not at all affect the reality of this narrative:

then Satan answered the Lord and said, from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it; this he said as swaggering and boasting, as if he was indeed the God of the whole world, the Prince and King of it, and had and exercised a sovereign dominion over it, and as such had been making a tour through it, and taking a survey of it, see Matthew 4:8, and as if he was at full liberty to go where he pleased, and was under no control, when he was in chains of darkness, and could go nowhere, nor do anything, without divine permission; could not touch Job, nor his substance, nor, as in the days of Christ, so much as enter into a herd of swine without leave: likewise this may denote the disquietude and restlessness of this evil spirit, who could not abide long in a place, but moving to and fro, seeking rest, but finding none, Matthew 12:43, as also his diligence and indefatigableness in doing and seeking to do mischief, going about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, taking all opportunities of doing injury, sowing his tares while men are asleep and off their guard, 1 Peter 5:8, and so the first word here used signifies a diligent search, and is rendered by some, and particularly by Mr. Broughton, "from searching about the earth"F15So Rambam and Ben Melech. , "and from walking in it"; and so the Targum,

from going about in the earth, to search the works of the children of men, and from walking in it; and it points at the place of Satan's abode, the earth, with the circumambient air, Ephesians 2:2 and the extent of his influence, which reaches not to heaven, and to the saints there, out of which he is cast, and can never reenter, but to the earth only, and men on it; and here no place is free from him; he and his angels are roving about everywhere, city and country; public and private places, men's own houses, or the house of God, are not exempt from them; and therefore all here need to watch and pray, lest they enter into temptation, Matthew 26:41. Schultens interprets the word of Satan going through the earth with great force and violence, whipping and scourging miserable mortals.

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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.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 1:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence n comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, o From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

(n) This question is asked for our infirmity: for God knew where he had come from.

(o) In this is described the nature of Satan, which is always seeking his prey, (1 Peter 5:8).

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 1:7". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

going to and fro — rather, “hurrying rapidly to and fro.” The original idea in Arabic is the heat of haste (Matthew 12:43; 1 Peter 5:8). Satan seems to have had some peculiar connection with this earth. Perhaps he was formerly its ruler under God. Man succeeded to the vice royalty (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:6). Man then lost it and Satan became prince of this world. The Son of man (Psalm 8:4) - the representative man, regains the forfeited inheritance (Revelation 11:15). Satan‘s replies are characteristically curt and short. When the angels appear before God, Satan is among them, even as there was a Judas among the apostles.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 1:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-1.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

7 Then Jehovah said to Satan, Whence comest thou? Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

The fut. follows מאין in the signification of the praes., Whence comest thou? the perf. would signify, Whence hast thou come? (Ges. §127, 2). Cocceius subtly observes: Notatur Satanas velut Deo nescio h.e. non adprobante res suas agere . It is implied in the question that his business is selfish, arbitrary, and has no connection with God. In his answer, בּ שׁוּט, as 2 Samuel 24:2, signifies rapid passing from one end to the other; התלּך, an observant roaming forth. Peter also says of Satan, περιπατεῖ (1 Peter 5:8.).

(Note: Among the Arabs the devil is called 'l - ḥârt, el - hharith - the active, busy, industrious one.)

He answers at first generally, as expecting a more particular question, which Jehovah now puts to him.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Job 1:7". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/job-1.html. 1854-1889.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 1:7 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.

Ver. 7. And the Lord said unto Satan] Either by forming and creating a voice in the air, as Matthew 3:17, Job 12:25, or by an inward word, after an unspeakable manner; manifesting his will, as he willed, to Satan. The schoolmen have great disputes about the speech of spirits, but this they agree in, that the intention of one spirit is as plain an expression of his mind by another spirit (when he hath a will that the other should understand it) as the voice of one man is to another.

Whence comest thou?] This the Lord asketh not as if he were ignorant; for he knows all things, and that from eternity, neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and open before his eyes, Hebrews 4:13; yea, in him all things subsist, Colossians 1:17, so that there can be no motion of the creature without his privity: God, therefore, thus interrogateth Satan, that he might show himself to be his judge, and that he might exact a confession out of his own mouth.

Then Satan answered the Lord] The word signifieth to speak in witness bearing, Exodus 20:16.

From going to and fro in the earth] He saith not, from instigating men to all manner of wickedness, from ranging up and down as a roaring lion, to devour souls, from sinning that sin against the Holy Ghost every moment, &c. All this he cunningly dissembleth, and saith, in effect, as once Gehazi did, Thy servant was nowhere, or for no hurt to any, when as he is never but doing mischief; as Pliny saith of the scorpion, that there is not one minute wherein it doth not put forth the sting. Is not the hand of Joab in this business? So, is not Satan in all the sins of the wicked, and in most of the troubles of the godly? Heu quam furit Satan, et impellit securos homines ad horrenda flagitia! &c., saith Luther. Oh how doth Satan range and rage, that he may glut himself with the blood of souls! In prosperity he makes men lay their hearts too near it, in adversity to lay it too near their hearts. Upon Job he tried both these stratagems.

And from walking up and down in it] A great peripatetic he is, and he walks the rounds; for he is yet a prisoner at large, only he hath his fetters upon his heels, 1:6, and in them he frisketh up and down, and fetcheth a circuit to spy faults, and to take advantages. Mr Broughton rendereth it, from searching to and fro in the earth, &c. Non dormitat semper vigil ille synagogae suae Episcopus, saith one, he is vigilant and diligent, restless and unquiet, as Cain (whom Amama calleth the devil’s patriarch) could settle nowhere, but ran up and down as a fugitive and a vagabond, Genesis 4:12. It is said, Matthew 12:45, that this unclean spirit walketh in dry places seeking rest and finding none. Not but that dry and wet are all one with him, but it importeth his restlessness. See the like Jeremiah 17:5, to run to and fro is the condition and curse of those that are once departed from God. "Take heed, brethren," saith the apostle, "lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God," and wandering after worldly vanities, Hebrews 3:12. Take heed of giving, way to wilful distractions in holy duties. Men’s hearts are oft so divided and dissipated, that if after any duty they should put this question that God doth here to Satan, Whence comest thou? the answer should be, From compassing the earth, &c.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 1:7". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-1.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

God being here represented as Judge, rightly begins with an inquiry, as the ground of his further proceedings, as he did Genesis 3:9 4:9.

From going to and fro in the earth; where by thy permission I range about, observing with great diligence all the dispositions and actions of men, and working in them and among them as far as I have liberty and opportunity.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 1:7". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-1.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

7.Whence comest thou — According to the tenor of the Scriptures it is not unworthy of God to hold converse with any of his intelligent creatures, even though they be fallen; as is illustrated in the scenes subsequent to the sin of Adam, the murder of Abel, and in the conversation of Christ with the tempter.

From going to and fro — The Chaldee paraphrase here adds, “to examine into the works of the sons of men.” The word שׁושׂ is best translated, as by Dr. Good, “roaming around,” which accords with Ewald and Dillmann. His course has been, not on paths divinely ordered, but here and there, as has been pleasing to himself. In like manner Peter: “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about [περιπατει peripatetic,] seeking whom he may devour.” The rendering of Umbreit, “to whip through,” “as if Satan sped along in storm like a destructive wind,” may be in part accepted. See Job 5:21. It is apparently the law of all sinful beings severed from “the Lord of peace” to be unceasingly restless. The reply is curt and tart, that of a ruined spirit who has nothing to hope — not unlike that of Cain when arraigned. Among the Arabs the devil is called el-hharith — the active, busy, industrious one. The olden Greeks represented Ate, who had been hurled from heaven, as a malicious deity traveling to and fro over the earth with great rapidity, always intent on doing injury to mankind.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 1:7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-1.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 1:7. The Lord said unto Satan, &c. — As we are not to suppose from the preceding verse that Satan entered into heaven among the angels of God, uncalled; so, neither are we so to understand what is here said, as if the Great and Holy One really entered into a conversation with that apostate spirit. But, as we have stated above, the whole is parabolical and emblematical. Whence comest thou? — God, being here represented as Judge, begins with an inquiry as the ground of his further proceedings, as he did with our first parents, Genesis 3:9, and with Cain, Genesis 4:9. Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro in the earth — Where, by thy permission, I range about, observing, with great diligence, all the dispositions and actions of men, and working in them and among them, as far as I have liberty and opportunity. The Targum, after the words, from going to and fro in the earth, very significantly adds, to try the works of the children of men. From which it appears, that the ancient Jews understood this account of the temptation of Job in a literal sense. This representation teaches us, that Satan, the great apostate spirit, is entirely under the dominion of the sovereign Lord of all things, and not suffered to act without control; and that he is chiefly confined to the limits of this earth; agreeably to which he is called, in the New Testament, the Prince of this world, John 12:31. And from this and many other passages in Scripture, we may learn that it is his employment to seek for all opportunities to delude the human race. The New Testament frequently mentions the temptations, wiles, and snares of the devil. And St. Peter describes him as doing the same thing which he is here said to do, namely, walking about as an adversary to man, seeking whom he may devour; roving to and fro with an evil intention, and a determined resolution of doing mischief.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 1:7". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-1.html. 1857.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"The Lord said to Satan, "From where do you come?"": This is not ignorance on God"s part, but rather "it becomes a point of encounter (Exodus 4:2)" (Strauss p. 6). "Then Satan answered the Lord and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it"": "Apparently looking for those whom he could accuse and dominate (1 Peter 5:8). Satan"s going on the earth may also suggest his exercising dominion over it and its people (Ephesians 2:2; 1 John 5:19)" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 719). In answering God"s question, Satan tips his hand concerning the nature of his character. This verse is "the confession of a vagabond spirit, pacing the earth with the frustration of a caged lion and preying upon unsuspecting victims. In stark contrast to the orderly and meaningful nature of God at work in heaven"s council, Satan epitomizes the ultimate of evil, when alienation, aimlessness, and anxiety-the essence of hell-obsess the soul" (McKenna p. 38).

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 1:7". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-1.html. 1999-2014.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

Going to and fro - rather, hurrying rapidly to and fro. The original idea in Arabic is the heat of haste (1 Peter 5:8; Matthew 12:43). Satan seems to have had some special connection with this earth. Perhaps he was formerly its ruler under God. Man succeeded to the vice-royalty (Genesis 1:26; Psalms 8:6). Man lost it, and Satan became Prince of this world. The Son of Man (Psalms 8:4 ) - the representative man, regains the forfeited inheritance (Revelation 11:15).

Satan's replies are characteristically curt and short. Perpetual hurry and restlessness characterize himself and his followers. The Hebrew [ shuwT (Hebrew #7751)] means to run to and fro (cf. Hebrew, Jeremiah 5:1; Amos 8:12). Umbreit translates, 'from a flight over the earth.' When the angels appear before God Satan is among them, even as there was a Judas among the apostles.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 1:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-1.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(7) From going to and fro . . .—Compare our Lord’s words in Matthew 13:25 : “and went his way.” St. Peter evidently had this passage in mind (1 Peter 5:8, “walketh about”).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 1:7". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
Whence
2:2; 2 Kings 5:25
From going
Zechariah 1:10,11; 6:7; Matthew 12:43; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:9,12-17; 20:8
Reciprocal: Judges 9:9 - to be promoted over the trees;  1 Kings 22:21 - GeneralLuke 11:24 - he walketh;  Ephesians 2:2 - of the air;  Revelation 20:2 - the dragon

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 1:7". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-1.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"Whence contest thou?"Job 1:7

This, indeed, is the great puzzle of metaphysical and spiritual life.—There is a certain degree of comfort in the fact that it was the Lord himself who put the question to our great enemy: "Satan, whence comest thou?"—We know that it was not because he was ignorant of the origin and purposes of the enemy, but we may accommodate the question to express our own feeling and wonder in relation thereto.—Who has not dwelt upon the origin of evil? How the question has taxed the resources of the philosopher and the theologian!—The enemy himself refers to locality and action upon the surface of the earth, and thus even in his reply to God he would seem to evade the profoundest relations of the inquiry.—We do not ask, Whence comest thou? as inquiring into the last place of visitation or the last instance of assault or seduction: we ask concerning the very origin of evil, the root and core, the very beginning, the genesis of all that is false, impure, corrupt.—Let us be on our guard lest we press this inquiry too far.—Undoubtedly it is an inquiry of profoundest interest, and may therefore profitably occupy reverential attention for a time.—There Isaiah, however, a still greater question—namely, how to get rid of evil.—As a matter of mournful fact, evil is in the world, Satan is a great, dark, overshadowing figure in all our personal and social life: the question, therefore, is not so much whence he came as how to get rid of his personality and influence and destructive ministry.—It is possible to be more anxious about the origin of evil than about its extinction. Practical men must direct attention to the means which have been set up according to revelation for the extirpation of the enemy and all his works.—When he comes he does not necessarily come as a conqueror; we must not suppose that there is no answer to his seductions and no escape from his wiles: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you;" "Take unto you the whole armour of God."—The question may be treated metaphysically, and dealt with on the broad grounds of human history and general experience; but let every man attack the question as related to his own heart: there the devil often sits: there he revels in triumph; there he seems to have everything his own way.—Whatever may be said of demoniacal possession as revealed in the New Testament, there can be no doubt of it as to the fact of evil influences operating directly and disastrously in every human heart.—Here we need all the resources of Revelation, all the helps of pastoral encouragement and friendly sympathy, all that can be done by mutual Christian love.—To dispossess one"s soul of the devil is to bring that soul into light and liberty and prospect of eternal blessedness.

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 1:7". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/job-1.html. 1885-95.