Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 1:9

Then Satan answered the Lord , "Does Job fear God for nothing?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Accusation, False;   Falsehood;   Motive;   Persecution;   Satan;   Temptation;   Scofield Reference Index - Satan;   Thompson Chain Reference - Adversary;   Satan;   Satan's;   Satan-Evil Spirits;   Serpent;   Tempter;   Work, Satan's;   The Topic Concordance - Blessings;   Defense;   Evil;   Fear;   Uprightness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Devil, the;   Selfishness;   Temptation;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Job;   Poor;   Satan;   Suffering;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Fear;   Greatness of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Satan;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Devil;   Job;   Satan;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Affliction;   Job, the Book of;   Prophecy, Prophets;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Devil;   Sin;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Demon, Demoniacal Possession, Demoniacs;   Fall;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Satan;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Devil;   Sa'tan;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Job, Book of;   Slander;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Angelology;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Doth Job fear God for naught? - Thou hast made it his interest to be exemplary in his conduct: for this assertion Satan gives his reasons in what immediately follows.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Doth Job fear God for nought? - “Is his religion disinterested? Would not anyone be willing to worship God in such circumstances?” The idea is that there was nothing genuine about his piety; that religion could not be tried in prosperity; that Job had an abundant compensation for serving God, and that if the favors conferred on him were taken away, he would be like the rest of mankind. Much of the apparent virtue and religion of the world is the result of circumstances, and the question here proposed “may,” it is to be feared, be asked with great propriety of many professors of religion who are rich; it “should” be asked by every professed friend of the Most High, whether his religion is not selfish and mercenary. Is it because God has blessed us with great earthly advantages? Is it the result of mere gratitude? Is it because he has preserved us in peril, or restored us from sickness? Or is it merely because we hope for heaven, and serve God because we trust he will reward us in a future world? All this may be the result of mere selfishness; and of all such persons it may be appropriately asked, “Do they fear God for nought?” True religion is not mere gratitude, nor is it the result of circumstances. It is the love of religion for its own sake - not for reward; it is because the service of God is right in itself, and not merely because heaven is full of glory; it is because God is worthy of our affections and confidence, and not merely because he will bless us - and this religion will live through all external changes, and survive the destruction of the world. It will flourish in poverty as well as when surrounded by affluence; on a bed of pain as well as in vigorous health; when we are calumniated and despised for our attachment to it, as well as when the incense of flattery is burned around us, and the silvery tones of praise fall on our ear; in the cottage as well as the palace; on the pallet of straw as well as on the bed of down.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-1.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Job 1:9

Doth Job fear God for nought?

The devil’s sneer

There is very much distrust abroad, and unfortunately too much warrant for distrust, touching the sincerity of people in general. The devil has his fling at even one of the best of men here in this opening chapter of the drama of Job. As is readily seen, the implication in this question as to whether Job fears God for nought is that every mart has his price. It is assumed that the basis of all action is commercial. The law of the counting house or the market--so much for so much--it is taken for granted rules everywhere. If one is unusually patriotic or religious, or is enthusiastically devoted to any high ideal, it is for a consideration. Disinterestedness is a pretence or a dream. Deprive virtue of the reward which ordinarily waits on virtuous behaviour, and the reward which virtue is to itself, or which is found in being virtuous, will soon lose all its fascination and power. Investments made in the moral world, like investments made in the material world, are solely with a view to prospective dividends. This is the devil’s theory of human conduct. There it is,--the low, contemptuous estimate of virtue, the pessimistic view of human nature. One feels the chill there is in the tone of it. It is all a matter of cool calculation. The man may be everything that is claimed for him--devout, obedient, pure, true; but then--he is paid for it! This is the explanation of it all,--the man finds his account in this service or devotion. It is the yardstick view of things. It is the book balances which settle it. It is the ethics of the labour market--work so long as the remuneration is satisfactory--brought over into moral spheres--elevated into a standard with which to measure the sublime consecration to freedom and duty of men like William of Orange and Cromwell and Washington and Garibaldi. It is the matchless Livingstone, dying on his knees in the heart of Africa, reduced to the level of the tusk hunter or the man stealer who penetrates these same wilds for the material recompense he can find in the perilous adventure. Not so; verily, not so. There are other and higher motives in life than those which enter into the management of a peanut stand or a cotton factory or a railroad. Humanity has in it loftier capabilities, and these capabilities have frequent illustration in actual experience. Unquestionably a good many people are disposed to fall in with the devil’s estimate of the motives which govern conduct, and to consider even the worthiest of men incapable of rising above selfish considerations. The selfishness may be more refined in some instances than in others. It is still only a question of degree. It is selfishness all the same. It is this for that, so much for so much, doing things for what is in them. There are several explanations of this satanic tendency to look at all actions from the view point of selfish motives.

1. In the first place, with all that is dignified and commendable and noble in human nature, there is a disposition--possibly we might go further and say,--a predisposition--to judge the general conduct of our fellows in a spirit of detraction. From what we know of ourselves, from what we know of others in their confessed schemes, from envy, from jealousy, from a certain conceit of our own shrewdness in penetrating character, we easily drift into the habit of forming low estimates of the motives of men and women, and attributing their movements to influences and aims and desires which originate, not in the upper, but in the lower ranges of incitement. The multiplied warnings of Scripture against these harsh judgments and prejudgments and misjudgments show us what a bad aptitude there is in the heart for this kind of indulgence. We are prone to level down. In presence of a commendable action how fatal is the facility with which our nimble tongues fall to saying, “Certainly; but the thing was done just to catch votes, or to win the favour and patronage of the rich, or to please the populace.”

2. In the second place, there is, beyond all gainsaying, a vast amount of action among men whose secret spring is some sort of personal advantage or gain. Large numbers make unblushing confession of this. Of many who do not confess it, and only half realise it, perhaps, it is still true. Their only controlling thought is pleasure or profit or promotion. It runs through all they do. They choose their professions, they marry, they espouse causes, they join political parties, they enter clubs, they identify themselves with churches, all in a temper of self-interest--a self-interest which it is impossible to distinguish from selfishness. It is not a matter of injustice nor is it at all uncharitable to ascribe selfish and even sinister motives to this kind of folk.

3. In the third place, there is the consideration which Satan and those who coincide with him in his view of things may bring forward in support of the position taken by them on this question, and which admits of no successful disputing, namely, that fearing God--fearing God in the way of love and reverent loyalty--always does secure to one something worth having. Satan was right in his intimation that Job was getting a good deal--a good deal that was substantial and abiding--out of his fidelity. God never permits a man to do this thing: serve Him for naught. Never yet did a man come into the faith of God, and maintain the integrity of his soul before God and the world, without receiving something rich and rare in return for it. As the event proved, Job was getting something out of his serene and unfaltering trust and his upright conduct besides wife and children and houses and barns and cattle and servants and renown among his fellows--something which stood by him, and to which he could cling in all the darkness and under all the bitter bruising of the after days. We say often that virtue is its own reward. It is. It is often an unutterable satisfaction just to have the consciousness in one that he is sincere and clean and upright, and means to stand square on the truth and do his duty, come what will. But virtue has other rewards. It has rewards outside itself. Early and late, at home and abroad, at the hearthstone, in social circles, in business operations, in politics, honesty is the best policy. It pays to be pure. In the long run nothing else does pay. It is Gerizim and Ebal over again. On the side of righteousness are the blessings. On the side of unrighteousness are the curses. Hence it comes to pass that it is a nice psychological question, and one requiring not a little analytical skill, to run the knife in and turn it about in a way to distinguish between the stress of motives which look to the doing of right solely because it is right, and the doing of right out of consideration for what follows. One with as much dialectic cunning as Satan has can confuse almost anybody at this point. There is the fact of the waiting of the reward upon the conduct. Who shall say the conduct is not with an eye to the reward? At least the suggestion can always be made to seem plausible. Still, in spite of all in evidence to the contrary, and in spite of all appearances to the contrary, there is disinterestedness in the world. (F. A. Noble, D. D.)

Religious selfishness

This is the question which the infidelity of hell asks the fidelity of heaven. With the same underlying current of thought, not a few reason in our day. The only theory of life which some will recognise as at all philosophic is that which is based upon purely utilitarian principles. But the world, all that is best and noblest in the world, does not act from purely selfish motives. Not only humanity, but the very physical world itself protests against this dreary doctrine. God does not seem to have created the earth and visible heavens on those exalted “purely utilitarian principles” which commend themselves to some superfine intellects in the present dry. A certain class of thinkers charge the religious life with being based on the same principle. Religion is not objected to, it is only patronisingly relegated to a department of political economy. The question--the selfishness of religion--which I propose now to speak of, I shall deal with as a difficulty in an earnest Christian soul, which longs to get rid of it, rather than as the hostile idea of an avowed opponent. “Doth Job fear God for nought?” The answer expected is, of course, “No.” Therefore religion is selfish. Is this true of our Christian faith? There are some forms in which certain of its doctrines have been presented and enforced which would seem to sustain the charge. Has there not sometimes been too great a tendency to make our individual salvation the sole and exclusive object of the Christian life? In many manuals of devotion, e.g., Kempis’ “De Imitatione Christi,” and in books which treat systematically of the religious life, this is painfully apparent. And we have a lurking suspicion that such is what the Bible and the Church alike teach us. First let me speak of rewards and punishments. There is no doubt that Scripture and the Church lay stress upon the glorious life which the righteous shall inherit, and the unutterable woe which shall befall the wicked. Such teaching has still, and ever will have, its due place and power in the work of the ministry of Christ. It is, however, a small part of Christian teaching. If the exhortations and motives to Christian life were to begin and end here, there might be some colour of selfishness about it. But this is only a first step. It is, if you will, an appeal to men’s self-interest for a moment,--but only for a moment,--to lead them up afterwards to something infinitely purer and higher. A Christian lives on through such childish feelings to the full unselfish manhood in Christ Jesus. When we remember that self is the very root and essence of sin, it is not surprising that in the first stage of dealing with such a nature as man’s there should be an adaptation of the means employed to such a condition. To represent the hope of reward or fear of pain as the continually abiding and sole motive of the Christian life all through, is to ignore nine-tenths of the exhortations of the New Testament--is utterly to misrepresent and pervert the teaching of our Lord--is to deny the truth of countless Christian lives which we have read of or have seen. There is another thing of still more practical importance. There is no word which we use more frequently in religious phraseology than the word “salvation.” Is there not too great a tendency in many of us to always speak and think of that salvation as solely an escape from some future punishment? If we regard the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God as merely a means by which we are to escape some future pain, I do not know whether there may not be a strong tinge of selfishness in our faith. But there is a more awful thing than pain or punishment, there is sin It is to save us from sin that Christ died. If then the salvation be deliverance from sin, and if self be sin (for sin is ever the assertion of “I” against the all-good, all-loving God)--is it selfish to conquer self through the power of Christ--is it selfish to become so one with Christ as to have self crucified with Him, so that we no longer live unto self, but unto Him who died and rose again? There can be no real spiritual life until we learn to loathe sin--not merely the results of sin. Let us tell men, sin is your enemy; sin, here in your hearts; sin, which is robbing your life of all its joy and sweetness; sin, which is grinding like a hot chain into your very flesh. From that Christ died to save you. Is not this a pure, unselfish Gospel? “The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” That power has actually been felt by many. Then there dawns on us gradually the new life; self is nailed to the Cross--to Christ’s Cross with Him--and henceforth it is not I that live, “but Christ that liveth in me”; not a calm, indifferent life, but a life of constant struggle against all sin and evil,--and yet a life in which self-sacrifice itself becomes easy, for I am “dead to sin, and living unto righteousness “ (T. Teignmouth Shore, M. A.)

Is man entirely selfish

Satan insinuates that the man who professes to serve God is, after all, only serving himself, and is making God nothing more than a convenience, a purveyor to his own selfish profit and pleasure. One object of the Book of Job is to prove that there is something genuine in man, especially when the grace of God has entered his heart. Satan puts his calumny into the form of a question. It is evident how he intended it to be answered. God has held up Job as a proof of His power to put true goodness into human nature; and the reply is that this seeming goodness is only self-interest. The man is religious because he makes a good thing out of religion. The accuser has a belief in the philosophy of selfishness. It is a faith not uncommon in our day. There are some who seek a foundation for it in argument, and wish to prove that all virtue is merely self-interest largely and wisely interpreted, which is true in this respect, that goodness and self-interest will, in the end, coincide, but very false if it is meant that goodness has its origin in taking this end into account. The Bible itself is quoted as sanctioning the idea that self-interest is, and ought to be, the spring of human action. Sin, it is said, is only self-interest unenlightened and wrongly directed, and true religion is a proper and wise regard to our own happiness.

I. Selfishness is not the essence of human nature as presented in the Bible. Satan denies that there is unselfishness in Job. He would imply that it is not in God’s power to create a disinterested love of Himself, even in a regenerate creature--that self-interest is the hidden worm at the root of everything, good or bad. Think--

1. Of the regenerate man, and see whether God’s plan of forming him proceeds on the principle of appealing to selfishness. It is granted that the Bible, all through, presses men with threatenings of punishment, and holds out to them promises of happiness to lead them to a new life. But this is to be remembered, that it begins its work with men who are sunk in sin, and that the essence of sin is selfishness. It must arrest and raise them by motives adapted to their condition, provided that these motives are not wrong, and enlightened self-interest, that is, self-interest which is consistent with the good of others is not wrong. The Bible is too bread and human not to bring all fair motives into exercise. So before the Gospel, and even with it, we must have Sinai’s word, “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” But to affirm that this is the final, or even the prevailing motive of the new life, is to mistake or misrepresent the Bible, which is constantly advancing from the domain of threatening and outward promise to that of free and unselfish love. Its strength of appeal from the very beginning lies in the mercy of God pardoning unconditionally. As a man rises into the knowledge of the Divine plan he seeks and serves God, not from the hope of what he is to receive from Him, but from the delight which he finds in Him--in the true, the pure, the loving, that dwell in the Father of Lights. If they still charge us with selfishness in seeking this, because it is our happiness, we confess we know not what is meant by the charge. We do not seek Him for the joy, we find the joy in seeking. God acts towards man on the principle of free, undeserved love, that He may form in him the spirit and image of His own action, creating a spring of self-sacrifice which flows back to God, and overflows to men. The Son of God, who knows what is in man, believed this possible. He made a John, a Paul, a Peter, a Stephen--hearts that drank of the cup of His self-sacrifice, and forgot themselves, and laboured, and suffered, and died, like Him, for the world’s good. It is certain that the Bible proceeds on the principle of creating unselfish action in the regenerate heart.

2. Even in the case of unregenerate men, the Bible does not affirm that the only law at work is one of utter selfishness. Though man is fallen, the elements of human nature are still there. They are not annihilated, neither are they demonised. The deep radical defect is Godward, that man has ceased to retain Him in his knowledge, and has expelled His love from his heart. There yet shines many a fair tint on human nature. Whatever unrenewed men may be to God, they perform to their fellow men, oftentimes, the most unselfish acts. They give, hoping to receive nothing again. Let us not think that we discredit the Gospel, by seeming to leave these fair features of humanity outside its regenerating circle, but let us rather widen that circle to embrace them, and believe that if there is anything glorious upon earth, or beautiful in humanity, we owe it to the power of Christ’s death, and the breadth of His intercession.

II. The results of belief in unmitigated selfishness. The first evident consequence in him who holds it is a want of due regard for his fellow creatures. With no belief in principle or goodness, he can cherish no reverence, and feel no pity. The next consequence is the want of any centre of rest within itself. Another effect is the failure of any real hold of God. The spirit, Satan, here, had no just views of a God of truth and purity and goodness.

III. Some means that may be adopted as a remedy by those who are in danger of falling into this faith. We should seek to bring our own life into close contact with what is genuine in our fellow men. Next to the cultivation of society and friendships among living men, we may mention the choice of books. Then, in judging humanity, we must beware of taking a part for the whole. The last means for removing the view that man is incapable of rising above self is to apprehend the Divine care of human nature. He who has studied the person of Christ, and laid his hand, however feebly, on the throbbings of that heart, will not be in danger of the view that self-love, utter and eternal, is part of the nature of man. (John Ker, D. D.)

Doth Job fear God for nought

I. The import of this insinuated sneer. It is chiefly interesting to us because the words are not yet dead. Satan’s agents imitate their master, and use the same arguments and the same sophistries. It is still a common device of the world to attribute good actions to evil motives. Sometimes men are said to be pious to obtain influence. If a person gives largely to church building, the world will hint that he wants to “get his name up.” If a handsome subscription is sent to any particular object, the donor “desires to see his name in print.” Sometimes men are said to be pious because of a far-seeing expediency. They are said to go to this or that church on account of the patronage they expect to receive. Tradesmen are accused of attaching themselves to the particular sect from which they hope to derive the greatest profit. How many a poor person exclaims, “Oh, if the squire had only to fight with hunger, he could not afford to be religious.”

II. The influence of this insinuated sneer. What a power there is in a covert insult! Even the devil’s speech was not without a terrific influence. It appealed even to the Almighty. He granted the arch-fiend the opportunity to try his theory and to prove his assertion. And all this bitter experiment recoiled upon poor Job. For weeks and months and years he was as molten gold in the devil’s crucible. He lost all he had. Do not let us run away with the idea that the wicked have no influence now. They are lords of the present world, and they can make the life of the righteous man very bitter for him, whether he be rich or whether he be poor. And God permits those influences to continue, in order that He may vindicate His people and manifest His own power and glory.

III. The unintentional truth of this insinuated sneer. Satan overreached himself after all. No man does serve God for nought. There is no such thing as entire self-abnegation in this world. Job proved in the end that his principles were sound. But what are religious principles after all? A determination to serve God because we are convinced that to serve Him is the best policy. We cannot divest religion of selfishness. The Scriptures teach us that we love Him because “He first loved us,” and because He has redeemed us, and promised us eternal life. An ideal, uninterested religion may be the attainment of heaven and the angels, but it cannot be of men. (Homilist.)

Disinterestedness

“Doth Job fear God for nought?” There is one Taskmaster for whom no labourer ever works in vain, whose wages are always punctually and fully paid, and with whom a faithful servant never feels even a passing shade of dissatisfaction. We always know that obedience to God never fails of its reward; that all work done for God ends in fit and full result; that to live with and for God is to live the noblest, the happiest, the peacefullest life possible to us. The text draws our attention to man’s motives. The Book of Job asks, in every variety of form, this question, Is there any connection to be traced between a man’s character and his earthly fate? Satan refers the indisputable obedience and piety of Job to God’s kindly and generous dealing with him. The question before us is this, Are disinterested love and service of God things impossible? The great contention of ethical principle is whether any human action is ever or can be performed without the more or less subtle impulse of self-interest. Some say that we serve God as we do our duty, as we love our children, as we sacrifice ourselves for our country, for the sake of what we can get by it. But this doctrine takes the light and the nobleness out of human life. We feel instinctively that it answers only to our meaner and commoner part: this thought cuts away our moral ideal leaves us nothing to aspire to, imprisons us forever in the baseness of what we are. We are reduced to this dilemma, that our noblest actions and affections can only exist when the mind is, as it were, hoodwinked and wilfully ignorant of their real character. But we make appeal to conscience. Is not your whole notion of moral life based upon the thought that the noblest actions are those from which the recollection of self is completely eradicated? A human life is acknowledged to rise in nobleness in proportion as the part of it which is occupied with self-regarding labours and interests grows less, and the part which we are accustomed to look upon as disinterested grows larger. In the quality of our less interested actions, we rise from the lower to the higher just in proportion as we painfully purge away from them the clinging taint of self. The purity and depth of love are measured precisely by this--whether the thought of self becomes more frequent and more prevailing, or silently and completely fades away. When there is undue anticipation of what is to be obtained in a future life, Christianity becomes nothing more or higher than the utilitarian philosophy upon an extended scale, and with coarser issues. St. Theresa saw in a vision a strange and awful woman, bearing in the one hand water, in the other fire. Asking her whither she went, she replied, “I go to burn up heaven, and to quench hell, that henceforth men may love God for Himself alone.” Is there nothing here which finds a ready echo in our noblest instincts? Do we not to a large extent create the difficulty which afterwards we try to resolve, by making the ideas of reward and punishment co-extensive with that of a future life? If heaven be a reward, we know that we have not earned it. To the common imagination heaven is nothing better or higher than a kind of Mahometan paradise, full of enjoyments less markedly sensual, yet which whoever is fortunate enough to pass its gates can enjoy without further preparation. If heaven be something loftier; if its central idea be a closer communion with God, a larger knowledge of His purposes, a fuller cooperation with His will, it assumes quite another aspect to the enlightened conscience. It is the better part of our present life indefinitely strengthened and purified and brightened. Heaven is purer love, larger trust, more perfect service. We do not “serve God for nought,” and yet just as little do we serve Him for what we can get by it. We are like little children with their mother. We loved her when we received everything from her, and assuredly loved her no less when she had no more to give and asked much from us. From the bounty of God we can never escape. He wins us first by His goodness; happy are we if at last we turn to Him for Himself. (C. Beard, B. A.)

Disinterested goodness

The Satan puts at once into words a view of human springs of action, not confined to a single age. There is no such thing, he says, as “disinterested goodness.” Such a question, such a view, is not confined to evil spirits, or to the story of the man of Uz. The question had been raised when this book was written. It is one of the main questions, some have said, the main question of all, with which this book is meant to deal. But the view embodied in (the) Satan’s words is one which you may have heard whispered, or loudly spoken, now and here, as there and then. There is no such thing, you may be told, as a love of goodness for its own sake. There is always some ulterior aim, some selfish motive. Even religion, you will hear, even the religion of Christ, is a mere matter of selfish interest. It is nothing more, even when sincere, than a selfish device to escape from pain, and enjoy happiness hereafter. “Doth Job fear God for nought?” You see how far the words extend. They cover a wider range than that of the character of one child of Adam. They go down to the very springs of human nature; down to the very essence, and even the existence of goodness itself. “Can men and women care for goodness and mercy, or for truth, or for righteousness, for their own sake?” Nay, the arrow launched at Job flies farther, it is really pointed at God Himself. If (the) Satan is right., it is not only that there is no such thing as disinterested goodness, but God Himself is robbed of His highest and noblest attribute. If He can no longer win the hearts, and retain in joy and sorrow the reverential affection of those on whom He showers His benefits; if He can no longer inspire anything but a mercenary love, He may be all-powerful still, but there are surely those among our fellow creatures, whom some of us know, or have known, who must come before Him in our homage. Heaven and earth are no longer full of His glory. You see how vital the question which the challenge stirs, and how rightly it has been said, that in the coming contest, Job is the champion, not of his own character only, but of all who care for goodness, and of God Himself. The challenge is given and accepted; and power is granted to (the) Satan to test the good man, the “perfect and upright” Job, with the loss of that on the possession of which the accuser believes all his goodness to be based. Satan is not represented in this book as the suggester of evil to the human soul, nor as the fallen angel, his Maker’s foe. He is depicted as simply a malicious spirit, whose power for evil is rigidly limited by his Master, and the Master of the world. And such as he is, he goes forth to work His will. And once more the scene shifts to the land of Uz. (Dean Bradley.)

Satanic selfishness

He himself has sunk into an evil condition, for he delights in making even good men seem bad, in fitting good deeds with evil motives. Self is his centre, not God; and he suspects all the world of a selfishness like his own. He cannot, or will not, believe in an unselfish, a disinterested goodness. (S. Cox, D. D.)

Is it selfish to be religious

Satan employs a base insinuation against the servant of the Lord. “Doth Job fear God for nought?” He cannot find room to accuse Job. There is no foothold for him in Job’s character; he cannot bring a railing accusation against him. So he imputes bad motives. He says that Job fears God for what he can get out of it. It is not to be wondered at that Satan employs such a weapon. What is true of Satan is true of all his sons. “Marvel not if the world hate you.” A treacherous heart accuses all of treachery. Job signally refutes the slander. Carey was offered by the government £1000 per annum if he would turn interpreter. He had nobler work than that. They raised the bribe--£5000 in the service of your country. No, he had nobler work than that. Yet Satan might have insinuated, “Doth Carey serve God for nought?” Although this was a base insinuation, Satan really made assertion of a blessed fact. He himself confesses, “Hast Thou not made a hedge about him?” etc. Godliness with contentment is great gain. We do not serve God for nought. He is not a Master who forgets to care for His servants, or treats His children ill. The poorest and meanest of God’s saints would bear glad testimony to the unmistakable fact that it is good to serve God; it has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (Thomas Spurgeon.)

The satanic insinuation

God’s challenge calls forth this reply from Satan. It is an insolent reply, in character with the speaker; but one which nevertheless reveals a great deal of keen insight.

1. Satan’s reply discloses his conception of Divine providence. “Hast Thou not made a hedge about him?” There are two ways of looking at the hedges, or limitations of life. Those who know of what use they are in protecting and guarding men, accept them gratefully. Those who know little of the uses of such limitations are often found to be impatient of them. Satan’s desire concerning every life is that there shall be no hedge about it.

2. Satan’s reply supplies his estimate of piety, that it is selfish. A literal translation would be, “Doth Job fear God gratis?” He suspects that there is no such thing as disinterested goodness. If Job’s piety had turned out to be selfish, the probability is that the piety of the best of us would prove equally selfish.

3. Satan’s reply expresses his estimate of Job. The mission of Satan, according to his own showing, had been that of a peripatetic critic. He had failed to tempt Job, so all he could do was, suggest a false and unworthy motive. When we deal with human motive, we deal with one of the most mysterious things in God’s world. Now, I do not expect a better theory of goodness from the devil than that at best it is selfish. No one can rise to a higher altitude than he himself occupies, and when anyone tells me that Christian motive is necessarily a selfish motive I know where he is living. I know the altitude he has reached. It is a law of life that the man who is incapable of an unselfish act is the greatest sceptic on God’s earth about the unselfishness of others. He can only grasp the possibility of being unselfish by being partaker of that exalted quality himself. On that principle, when Satan speaks about piety, I do not expect that he should see anything higher or nobler than selfishness in it. I know of nothing so satanic in life as to impute impious motives to godly men. That scepticism as to the possibility of disinterested piety gives me a glimpse into the depths of depravity in the heart of the being who is capable of uttering it. The denial of the possibility of disinterested piety reveals the saddest degradation on the part of the man who is capable of such a denial. There is no power that can save him except that which shall renew his whole nature; for there is no power that can redeem a man save as it makes him unselfish. After all, down deep in the heart of man, there is a profound belief in and admiration of unselfishness. Who are the great men of the past, even in the world’s estimation? The men who denied themselves for the sake of their fellows; great reformers, who suffered in order to uplift their fellows. We all instinctively feel keenly the charge of selfishness. We are all ashamed of being considered selfish. In this even those who profess to cling to the philosophy of selfishness are nobler than their creed. Let me remind you of the fact, that as long as we gather round the Cross, and recognise there the highest expression of a surrendering love for us, so long shall we believe in the possibility of self-denial and disinterested services, and our highest desire and aim shall be that the mind which was also in Christ Jesus may be in us. (David Davies.)

Is piety mercenary

I shall give you Satan’s sense in three notable falsities, which he twists up together in this one speech, ”Doth Job fear God for nought?”

1. That riches will make any man serve God; that it is no great matter to be holy when we have abundance; a man that prospers in the world cannot choose but be good. This Satan implies in these words, and this is an extreme lie (Deuteronomy 28:47). Abundance doth not draw the heart unto God. Yet Satan would infer that it doth. This might well be retorted upon Satan himself. Satan, why didst not thou serve God then? thou didst once receive more outward blessings from God than ever Job did, the blessedness of an angel.

2. There is this in it: “Doth Job fear God for nought?” Satan intimates that God could have no servants for love, none unless He did pay them extremely; that God is such a Master, and His work such as none would meddle with, unless allured by benefits. Here is another lie Satan windeth up closely in this speech; for the truth is, God’s servants follow Him for Himself: the very excellences of God, and sweetness of His ways, are the argument and the wages by which His people are chiefly moved to His service. God indeed makes many promises to those that serve Him, but He never makes any bargains with them: His obey Him freely. Satan makes bargains to hire men to his service (Matthew 4:9).

3. Then there is a third sense full of falsehood, which Satan casteth upon Job, “Doth Job fear God for nought?” that is, Job hath a bias in all that he doth, he is carried by the gain of godliness, not by any delight in godliness, thus to serve God. Job is mercenary; Job doth not seek the glory of God, but he seeks his own advantage.

Thus in brief you see the sense, I shall give you some observations from it.

1. It is an argument of a most malignant spirit, when a man’s actions are fair, then to accuse his intentions. The devil hath nothing to say against the actions of Job, but goes down into his heart and accuseth his intentions. Malice misinterprets the fairest actions, but love puts the fairest interpretation it can upon foul actions.

2. That it is an argument of a base and an unworthy spirit to serve God for ends. Had this been true of Job in Satan’s sense, it had indeed blemished all that he had done. Those that come unto God upon such terms, they are not holy, but crafty. As sin is punishment enough unto itself; though there were no other punishment: so to do good is reward enough unto itself. But here a question will arise, May we not have respect to our own good, or unto the benefit we shall receive from God? Must we serve God for nought in that strict sense, or else will God account nothing of all our services?

I shall clear that in five brief conclusions.

1. The first is this, There is no man doth, or possibly can serve God for nought. God hath by benefits already bestowed, and by benefits promised, outvied and outbid all the endeavours of the creature. If a man had a thousand pair of hands, a thousand tongues, and a thousand heads, and should set them all on work for God, he were never able to answer the obligations which God hath already put upon him. Therefore this is a truth, that no man can in a strict sense serve God for nought. God is not beholden to any creature for any work or service that is done unto Him.

2. Again, this is further to be considered. The more outward blessings anyone doth receive, the more he ought to serve God, and the more service God looks for at his hands.

3. In the third place, it is lawful to have some respect to benefits both received and promised by way of motive and encouragement to stir us up and quicken us, either in doing or in suffering for God (Hebrews 11:26; Hebrews 12:2).

4. Then reference unto benefit is sinful, when we make it either the sole and only cause, or the chief cause of our obedience. This makes anything we do smell so of ourselves that God abides it not.

5. Lastly, we may look upon them as fruits and consequences of holiness, yea, as encouragements unto holiness, but not as causes of our holiness; or we may eye these as media, through which to see the bounty and goodness of God, not as objects on which to fix and terminate our desires. (J. Caryl.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Job 1:9". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/job-1.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, doth Job fear God for nought. Satan does not deny any part of Job's character, nor directly charge him with anyone sin; which shows what a holy man Job was, how exact in his life and conversation, that the devil could not allege any one thing against him; nor does he deny that he feared the Lord; nay, he owns it, only suggests there was a private reason for it; and this he dares not affirm, only puts it by way of question, giving an innuendo, which is a wretched way of slander many of his children have learnt from him: he insinuates that Job's fear of God, and serving him, was not "for nought", or "freely"F19חנם "gratis", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius Piscator, Schmidt, Schultens. , it was not out of love to him, or with any regard to his will, or his honour and glory, but from selfish principles, with mercenary views, and for worldly ends and purposes: indeed no man fears and serves the Lord for nought and in vain, he is well paid for it; and godliness has a great gain along with it, the Lord bestows everything, both in a temporal and spiritual way, on them that fear him; so that eventually, and in the issue, they are great gainers by it; and they may lawfully look to these things, in order to encourage them in the service and worship of God, even as Moses had respect to the recompence of reward; when they do not make these, but the will and glory of God, the sole and chief cause and end thereof: but the intimation of Satan is, that Job's fear was merely outward and hypocritical, nor cordial, hearty, and disinterested, but was entirely for his own sake, and for what he got by it; and this he said as if he knew better than God himself, the searcher of hearts, who had before given such an honourable character of him. Sephorno observes, that he supposes that his fear was not a fear of the greatness of God, a reverence of his divine Majesty, but a fear of punishment; or what we call a servile fear, and not a filial one.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for p nought?

(p) He fears you not for your own sake, but for the blessing that he received from you.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

fear God for naught — It is a mark of the children of Satan to sneer and not give credit to any for disinterested piety. Not so much God‘s gifts, as God Himself is “the reward” of His people (Genesis 15:1).

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Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

For nought — Out of pure love and respect to thee? No. It is policy, not piety, that makes him good; he doth not serve thee, but serveth himself of thee, serving thee for his own ends.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-1.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

fear

(See Scofield "Psalms 19:9").

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Job 1:9". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/job-1.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 9. Then Satan answered and said] Satan and his imps will ever have somewhat to say against the clear truth; their wits will better serve them to elude or withstand it, than their pride and malice will suffer them once to yield and acknowledge it. But what said Austin of the heretics of his time? Garriant illi, nos credamus, Let them chatter, let us belive. Let them talk their fill, and think it a great matter to have the last word; let us hold to our principles, and count it enough, that, with Demetrius, we have good report of all men, (or if not so, yet) of the truth itself, 3 John 1:12.

Doth Job fear God for nought?] q.d. No such matter. Is there not a cause? as they said once; hath he not wages of the best? and are not thy retributions more than bouutiful? He may serve thee well enough for such price and pay, as he daily receiveth; he may swim well enough, when so held up by the chin. But the truth is, Job is a mere mercenary, and serveth God for hire; he serveth not God, but himself upon God; in a word, he is an arrant hypocrite, and a self seeker, such a one as doth in parabola ovis capras suas quaerere, to seek among his comparative sheep his nanny-goat, pretend piety to his own worldly respects, and serves God merely out of interest. A hypocrite indeed doth so, being therein like the eagle, which soareth aloft, not for any love of heaven; her eye is all the while upon the prey, which by this means she spieth sooner, and seizeth upon better. But how will Satan prove that Job is a hypocrite, since he cannot possibly know his heart? and did not the searcher of hearts acquit Job of this foul sin in Satan’s hearing, when he pronounced him perfect and upright, &c.? How impudent then is this accuser of the brethren! The best is, that we have an advocate with the Father, who puts by and non-suits all Satan’s accusations in the court of heaven, 1 John 2:2. Yea, though Satan sometimes stand at the right hand of Joshua, Zechariah 3:1, and may seem to have the better of him; yet here is the comfort, Jesus Christ our Advocate is also a propitiation for our sins, as it is in the same text. Who then shall lay anything to the charge of God’s children? Or if any do, what need we care, when it is God that justifieth, and the saints as vanquishers shall come off as Job did, with great glory to themselves, and shame to the assailer.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 1:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-1.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Job 1:9

I. Selfishness is not the essence of human nature as presented in the Bible. Satan denies that there is unselfishness in Job, who is described as a "righteous man, who feared God and eschewed evil." He would imply that it is not in God's power to create a disinterested love of Himself even in a regenerate creature; that self-interest is the hidden worm at the root of everything, good or bad. (1) Think, first, of the regenerate man, and see whether God's plan of forming him proceeds on the principle of appealing to selfishness. It is granted that the Bible all through presses men with threatenings of punishment and holds out to them promises of happiness to lead them to a new life. But this is to be remembered, that it begins its work with men who are sunk in sin, and that the essence of sin is selfishness. The Bible is constantly advancing from the domain of threatening and outward promise to that of free and unselfish love. As a man rises into the knowledge of the Divine plan he seeks and serves God, not from the hope of what he is to receive from Him, but from the delight which he finds in Him. (2) Even in the case of unregenerate men, the Bible does not affirm that the only law at work is one of utter selfishness.

The elements of human nature are still there. They are not annihilated, neither are they demonised. Whatever unrenewed men may be to God, they perform to their fellow-men oftentimes the most unselfish acts. The Bible delights to recognise this, and records the genuine and the kindly in unrenewed men. Let us thank God that He has not left human nature without gleams of His own kindness still reflected from it.

II. We have to show from the context the results of a belief in unmitigated selfishness. We shall take the character of the accusing spirit here for an illustration of these results. (1) The first evident consequence in him who holds it is a want of due regard for his fellow-creatures. All may be treated remorselessly where all are so contemptible. (2) The next consequence to the spirit which has no belief in unselfishness is the want of any centre of rest within itself. Incessant wandering, "going about," "seeking rest and finding none," is the view given of Satan in Scripture. (3) Another effect is the failure of any real hold on a God. It was so with the great spirit of evil. He could not deny God's existence; this was too plainly forced upon him and felt by him; but he had no just views of a God of truth, and purity, and goodness, else he had never continued so to resist Him.

III. Consider some means that may be adopted as a remedy by those who are in danger of falling into this faith. (1) We should seek as much as possible to bring our own life into close contact with what is genuine in our fellow-men. (2) In judging of humanity, we must beware of taking a part for the whole. (3) We must learn to apprehend the Divine care for human nature.

J. Ker, Sermons, p. 98.


References: Job 1:9.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 22; T. T. Shore, Some Difficulties of Belief, p. 211.

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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 450

UNCHARITABLE JUDGMENT REPROVED

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

WELL has it been asked, “Who can stand before envy?” This vile principle is as ingenious as it is malignant. Never is it at a loss for an occasion to display its hateful propensities. The very favour of God himself shall call it forth, and cause it to pierce the most innocent of men with its envenomed darts. Especially, if any person be made an object of approbation and applause, its odious qualities will instantly appear in an endeavour, if not to destroy the character of the person applauded, yet at least to reduce it to the standard of ordinary attainments. In the chapter before us, Satan is represented as coming on a particular occasion into the presence of the Most High, and as being asked of God, whether he had considered what an eminently holy character Job was, insomuch “that there was not one like him upon earth, so perfect, so upright,” so altogether conformed to the mind and will of God [Note: ver. 6.–8]. And what was the answer of this malignant fiend? It was in direct opposition to the divine testimony: “Doth Job fear God for nought?” No: he is a selfish hypocrite, that serves his God only because of the temporal advantages he gains by it: and, if those advantages were withdrawn, he would shew he has no more regard for God than the vilest of mankind; yea, he would even “curse his God to his very face [Note: ver. 9–11.].”

Now, it is in this very way that envy operates, in reference to the saints, in all ages: they are represented as actuated by far different principles from those which they profess, and as possessing in reality no more of true sanctity than the world around them: “Do they fear God for nought?” No: they have some selfish end in view: and, if they be disappointed in attaining that, they will prove themselves as destitute of any religious principle as those who make no profession of religion.

It was in this sense that Satan put his challenge: and, therefore, we shall first direct our attention to it in that view. But we may take the words without any particular reference to the context; and then they will afford occasion for some observations of a very different nature. In both these views, it is my intention to consider them, and to notice them,

I. As a base accusation, indignantly to be repelled—

How false the accusation was, in reference to Job, the event proved: nor is it a whit more just as thrown out against the people of God in all ages. I grant there are, and ever have been, some, who are not upright before God. A Judas was amongst the immediate disciples of our Lord; and a Simon Magus amongst the early converts of his Apostles. But if there be some like Orpah, who cleaved to Naomi in her prosperity, but abandoned her when her name was changed to Marah, (when, from being “pleasant” her very existence became “bitter,”) so are there many who, under all circumstances, “cleave unto the Lord,” and adopt the resolution of pious Ruth: “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me [Note: Ruth 1:14-17.].”

And why should their motives be called in question?

[Is earthly prosperity so generally the portion of the godly, that hypocrites should be induced by the prospect of it to profess themselves the people of the Lord? For one, that is led by a hope of honour or emolument to embrace the religion of Christ, there are ten, at the least, who are deterred from professing it, by a fear of injuring their respectability or interests. Indeed, we are taught, by our blessed Lord, that “we must forsake all to follow him;” and, consequently, a desire after the loaves and fishes cannot reasonably be imputed to the general mass of Christians as their motive for professing godliness. We must look for other motives: and other motives there are, abundantly sufficient to produce the effects which we ascribe to them.

Are we not immortal beings, and accountable to Almighty God for the whole of our conduct? And is not the thought of this sufficient to impress the mind with awe, and to stimulate us to the utmost efforts, if, by any means, we may escape death, and lay hold on eternal life? Has not God also, in tender merey to our souls, sent unto us his only-begotten Son, to effect our reconciliation with him by the death of the cross? And is not this sufficient to shew us at once the value of our souls, and the necessity of fleeing from the wrath to come? May not such love on the part of our offended God be well expected to operate on our hearts, and to constrain us to devote ourselves altogether unto him? And, whilst our lives accord with our profession, has any one a right to sit in judgment upon our motives? and, when no fault can be found with our actions, is any one at liberty to criminate our intentions?]

If multitudes of God’s people were upright in former ages, why should all who profess themselves his be accounted hypocrites now?

[Were Noah, Daniel, Paul, induced by any sinister motives to serve their God? Did not their whole lives bear testimony to them that they were sincere? And is not the grace of God as sufficient for us as it was for them; so far at least as to inspire us with a holy fear of God, and a desire to serve him with our whole hearts? I may go further, and ask, Whether there be not many, even at this present day, evincing a superiority to all earthly good, and a determination to serve their God, though with the loss of all things? I repel, then, and with indignation too, the base accusations that are so generally brought against the people of God: and I declare, without fear of contradiction, that at this day there are many who, though far inferior to Job in respect of spiritual attainments, resemble him fully in the integrity of their hearts; and many, of whom it may be justly said, They are “Israelites indeed, and without guile.”]

But, as detached from the context, the words may be regarded,

II. As an unanswerable truth, most gladly to be conceded—

Selfishness is doubtless an evil, when it leads us to postpone spiritual things to those which are temporal: but, if understood as implying a supreme regard to our eternal interests, it is good and commendable; for it is that very disposition which was exercised by Mary, when she dismissed from her mind all inferior considerations, and chose that good part, which should never be taken away from her. In this sense Christians are selfish; and it may justly be said of them, that “they do not serve God for nought.” For,

1. They desire, above all things, the salvation of their souls—

[They know what they have done to offend their God, and what God has done to save them, and what promises of mercy he has given to all who repent and believe his Gospel. And, knowing these things, they desire to avail themselves of the opportunity afforded them, and to secure to themselves the proffered benefits. And is this wrong? If so, what can all the invitations and promises of the Gospel mean? Why did Peter say, “Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out?” or why did our blessed Lord say, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink; and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water?”]

2. They actually obtain from God many present benefits—

[By “coming to Christ, they find rest unto their souls,” and are “filled with peace and joy in believing:” and in this way they are encouraged to “fight the good fight of faith,” and to “run with patience the race that is set before them.” And is there any thing evil in this? Does it not accord with the experience of the saints in all ages? Yea, does it not constitute a very strong argument in favour of godliness, that “it bath the promise of the life that now is, as well at of that which is to come [Note: 1 Timothy 4:8.]?”]

3. They look forward to infinitely richer benefits in the world that is to come—

[To those who seek after glory and honour and immortality, God has promised eternal life: and the saints, under their most afflictive trials, are pronounced blessed, because of the recompence that awaits them in the eternal world [Note: Matthew 5:3-12.]. Can it be wrong, then, to have respect to that reward, and to run with a view to obtain the prize? Look at Moses: was not he actuated by this hope, when he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt?” Yes, we are expressly told that “he had respect unto the recompence of the reward [Note: Hebrews 11:24-26.].” By the same hope were the ancient martyrs also actuated, when “they refused to accept deliverance from their tortures, in the assured expectation of obtaining a better resurrection [Note: Hebrews 11:35.].” And even of our blessed Lord himself is it said, that “for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross and despised the shame, till at last he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [Note: Hebrews 12:2.].”

Then I confess the truth contained in my text, that we are selfish: and my only complaint is, that we are not sufficiently impressed with these hopes and expectations: for, if we were, we should, like the holy Apostle. “forget all that is behind, and reach forward to that which is before, and press on with continually increasing ardour for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”]

To all the calumniated servants of God, then, would I say,

1. Regard not the uncharitable censures of ungodly men—

[Do what you will, they will be sure to find fault with you. Satan accused Job to God as a hypocrite, because of his prosperity: and, when he had prevailed to involve him in utter ruin, he stirred up Job’s friends to condemn him as an hypocrite, because of his adversity. So, when “John the Baptist came neither eating nor drinking,” Satan’s agents said “he had a devil:” and, when “Jesus came eating and drinking,” they accused him as “a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” Thus, “whether you pipe or mourn,” they will find occasion against you, even as they did against David, who, “when he put on sackcloth, and fasted,” to bring down blessings on his enemies, had even “that turned to his reproach.” Only be careful to give no just occasion of offence. Let your enemies be able to “find no fault in you, except concerning the Law of your God.” Let it be the one labour of your life to “be blameless and harmless, as sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, shining amongst them as lights in a dark world, and holding forth, in the whole of your life and conversation, the word of life.”]

2. Endeavour in all things to approve yourselves to God—

[A contempt of man’s censures should ever be attended with a determination of heart to “keep a conscience void of offence towards both God and man.” You have seen what a testimony the heart-searching God bare to Job: seek that he may testify respecting you also, that you are “perfect and upright, fearing God, and eschewing evil.” Be men of principle: and then you will be independent of outward things, and serve God as well in one state of life as another. Neither prosperity nor adversity will influence you in this respect; but, “whether God give or take away, you will bless his holy name.” Then, if condemned by men, you may look forward with confidence to the future judgment, when “your righteousness shall shine forth as the noon-day,” and “every tongue that has spoken against you shall be condemned.”]

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Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

i.e. Sincerely and freely, and out of pure love and respect to thee? No. It is policy, not piety, that makes him good; he doth not serve thee, but serveth himself of thee, and is a mere mercenary, serving thee for his own ends.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 1:9". 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

9.Doth Job fear God for nought — The praise of piety implies its counterpart, the condemnation of evil. Smarting under the implied reproof, Satan retorts that Job’s virtue consists solely of selfish fear. Of the four graces mentioned, he craftily elects the most assailable — the fear of God — to which even diabolical nature might lay some claim. James 2:19.

For nought — “Without good reason,” or “gratuitously?”

This question starts the problem of the book. Is Job not a hireling with whom pay is the only consideration? The first words from the lips of Satan of which man has record, (Genesis 3:1,) were a malicious reflection upon divine love. True to his nature as “accuser,” he can see in the best of human virtue only mercenary motives; and this, his first onset against Job, becomes a “reflection that sheds its poisonous venom” on a whole race. It is natural for fallen beings to depreciate that in others of which they are conscious that they themselves are deficient. “It is not amiss for every one, for his mere watchfulness, to mark that Satan knows Job as soon as ever God speaks of him.” — Lightfoot.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "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 1:9. Doth Job serve God for naught? — That is, sincerely and freely, and out of pure love and respect to thee? No: it is policy, not piety, that makes him good: he doth not serve thee, but serves himself of thee; and is a mere mercenary creature, serving thee for his own ends.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 1:9". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-1.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

In vain, without recompense. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-1.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"Then Satan answered the Lord, "Does Job fear God for nothing?"

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-1.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Doth Job . . . ? Figure of speech Erotesis. App-6.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

Fear God for nought? It is a mark of the children of Satan to sneer and not give credit to any for disinterested piety. Selfishness, say they, is at the bottom of even the best men's religion. But not so much God's gifts, as God Himself is "the reward" of His people (Genesis 15:1).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "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

(9) Doth Job fear God for nought?—Manifesting the worst kind of scepticism, a disbelief in human goodness. Satan knows that the motive of an action is its only value, and by incrimination calumniates the motives of Job. The object of the book is thus introduced, which is to exhibit the integrity of human conduct under the worst possible trial, and to show man a victor over Satan.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
Doth Job
21; 2:10; 21:14,15; Malachi 1:10; Matthew 16:26; 1 Timothy 4:8; 6:6
Reciprocal: 2 Chronicles 32:29 - possessions;  Job 4:6 - thy fear;  Jonah 1:9 - and I;  Matthew 4:3 - the tempter;  Romans 8:33 - Who;  Revelation 12:10 - the accuser

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 1:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-1.html.