February 1.—Morning. [Or March 3.]
“We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices.”
IT is the general opinion that Job flourished at some time between the age of Abraham and the time of Moses. It is probable that Moses wrote the sacred poem which records the discussion between Job and his friends. We shall therefore, in this place, consider his history, and gather a few gems from the remarkable book which bears his name.
1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; (he was but a plain “man” and not a noble, yet was he more noble than the nobles of his time.) And that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. (His character is given him by infallible inspiration, and surely no man could win a better. His life was well balanced and displayed all the virtues, both towards God and towards man.)
2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
So that a rich man may be a good man, and though “gold and the gospel seldom do agree,” yet it may happen that a man of substance may also have substance in heaven. Job was gracious in prosperity, and therefore was sustained in adversity.
4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. (Probably they celebrated their birthdays in this happy and united manner. It is a great happiness to see brothers and sisters knit together in love.)
5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. (He did not forbid their festivals, for they were not in themselves sinful, but knowing how prone men are to forget their God, if not themselves, when in the house of feasting, he was anxious to remove any spot which might remain. It is to be feared that few parents are as careful as Job was in his matter.)
6 ¶ Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
To do this he need not be in heaven. God’s assembly room includes all space. What impudence it was on Satan’s part to come before God! What equal impudence when hypocrites pretend to worship the Most High.
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.
He is a busy itinerant. He is never idle.
8 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
Satan reflects carefully and acts craftily. He had “considered” Job, and watched him narrowly.
9 Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. (And why not? If Job had been poor and wretched, Satan would have said that the Lord paid his servants wretched wages.)
11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. (A cruel insinuation, but Satan was measuring Job’s corn with his own bushel.)
12 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.
The Lord intended to glorify himself, to further perfect the character of Job, and to furnish his church with a grand example. Hence his challenge to the arch-enemy. Satan went off upon his errand willingly enough, but lie little dreamed of the defeat which awaited him.
Hast Thou protected me thus far,
To leave me in this dangerous hour?
Shall Satan be allow’d to mar
Thy work, or to resist Thy power?
Oh never wilt Thou leave the soul
That flies for refuge to Thy breast!
Thy love, which once hath made me whole,
Shall guide me to eternal rest.
February 1.—Evening. [Or March 4.]
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous.”
AND there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
Satan was crafty in his selection of the time. When troubles come upon us at seasons of rejoicing they have a double bitterness. The brightness of the morning of that memorable day made the darkness of the night all the darker.
14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Job did not lose his property through neglect of business, the oxen were plowing, and the asses were not left to go astray: this proves that all our care and diligence cannot preserve our substance to us unless the Lord is the keeper thereof. To lose the oxen which plowed his fields, and the asses which carried his burdens was no small calamity, yet we do not find the man of God uttering one word of complaint. Some would have been in a sad way if but one ox had died.
16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
The trial increased in intensity, for the hand of God was more directly to be seen in it, and this would keenly wound the holy soul of Job. Moreover, an eastern’s wealth lies mainly in his flocks, and therefore the bulk of Job’s property was gone at a blow; yet he murmured not. Some professors of religion would have grievously fretted, if but one lamb had perished.
17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
How dolefully each messenger finishes his tidings. Satan knows how to drum a mournful truth into a man’s ears, and weary his heart with the reiteration. Three companies of servants had thus been destroyed, and the last relics of his live stock, yet not a word did he say. His heart was so fixed in God, that he was not afraid of evil tidings. What an example for us!
18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. (This was a home-thrust indeed. This would stir the man if anything would. Great reasoners make the lesser arguments lead up to the greater, so here the arch-enemy weakens Job with the lesser afflictions, and then comes to his heaviest assaults. To lose his whole family at once, was heart-breaking work, yet did not his faith fail.)
20, 21 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. (Now indeed was Job great. Surely no man, besides the Son of Man in Gethsemane, ever rose to a greater height of resignation. Instead of cursing God, as Satan said he would, he blesses the Lord with all his heart. How thoroughly beaten the evil spirit must have felt. May the Holy Spirit help each one of us to triumph over him in like manner. Neither in his heart, nor in his speech did he offend. He was taught the sacred wisdom of resignation, and in nothing was he displeased with his God.)
22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. (Grace made him more than a conqueror over Satan.)
’Tis God that lifts our comforts high,
Or sinks them in the grave,
He gives, and (blessed be his name!)
He takes but what he gave.
Peace, all our angry passions then,
Let each rebellious sigh
Be silent at his sov’reign will,
And every murmur die.