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In which Job being further affiticted in his person, his wife tempis him ;
and his three friends visit him. 1 A GAIN there was a day when the sons of God came to
11 present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD, desirous to get 2 his commission against Job enlarged. And the LORD said unto
Satan, From whence comest thou ? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from
walking up and down in it, to find opportunity to exercise my 3 power. And the LORD. said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job ? upon trial, art thou not convinced that there is) none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil ? and still he boldeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to
destroy him without cause ; notwithstanding his sore trials, he 4 continues still as dutiful to me, and as fearful of sin as ever. And
Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, that is, one skinz of his cattle after another, (in which a great deal of their wealth con. sisted) yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life ; he will
submit to any loss or evil to save his life ; Job is not yet touched in 5 the tenderesi part; while in health, he is still easy and happy. But
put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, afflict
him severely in his body, and he will curse thee to thy face; he 6 will renounce his allegiance to thee, and deny thy providence. And
the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he [is] in thine hand; but,
or only, save his life. 7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote
Job with sore boils, or fiery blisters, from the sole of his foot 8 unto his crown, all over him. And he took him a potsherd, or
broken pitcher, to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among 9. the ashes, as an expression of his sorrow and humiliation.* Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity ? As if she had said, thy religion is certainly vain; what folly is in to persist in God's service, when thou will get nothing by it, but
thus miserably perish ? curse God, and die ; bid farewell to him, 10 though thou die for it.t. But he, instead of refining against God,
gave her a very severe and just rebuke, and said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh, like one of na religion, like an infidel or an idolater. What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? not take afflictions patiently, yea, thankfully, considering all that frosperity
* We meet with a similar instance to this in Homer; and the custom is still retained among the eastern nations.
+ This perhaps was his greatest affliction; his wife, who should have been a comfort to him, being exasperated at her own share in this calamity, behaved in such a waspish and furions manner, that Chrysostom, one of the fathers, very complaisantly supposes, thar it was impossible any woman could behave so, and that it was the Devil himself in the shape of Job's wife.
we have so long enjoyed together? In all this did not Job sin with
his lips, but spake like a wise and good man. 11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was
come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eli. phaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite :* for they had made an appointment together to
come to mourn with him and to comfort him, notwithstanding 12 the poverty to which he was reduced. And when they lifted up
their eyes afar off, and knew him not till they were told who he was, (so much was he transformed by his sorrow they lifted up their voice, and wept, cried aloud for astonishment and grief; and they rent every one his mantle ; and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven ; sprinkled dust toward heaven, which
fell upon their heads; an usual token of mourning and sympathy 13 with the afflicted; So they sat down with him upon the ground
Beven days and seven nights till his grief was a little assuaged, and none spake a word unto him, by way of argument or dispute : for they saw that [his) grief was very great ; this showed their affecting sense of his afflictions.
1. T ET us reflect on the malice of Satan. What attempts he
U makes to destroy the comfort and peace of God's people : how desirous he is to have a further commission. What methods did he use to torment this holy man ! he leaves him indeed his tongue, in hope that he would blaspheme God with it. Though this story is a parable, yet we have the greatest reason to believe that Satan is restless and busy to tempt and hurt us. St. Peter intimates this, and grounds upon it that important advice, Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
2. The principle of self preservation is very strong in the human mind ; and those evils which afflict our persons are most grievous and intolerable. This needs not to be enlarged upon, only observe, that when visited with pain and sickness, we have great need, with peculiar care and earnestness, to watch and pray, that we enter noz into temptation,
3. How unhappy is their case whose nearest relations aggravate their afflictions, and are their counsellors to do evil. Job's termagant wife used him very unkindly ; and not only so, but she advised him to renounce his religion. It is too common for husbands and wives to charge the calamities of the family upon one another. None are greater objects of pity than they who are thus unequally yoked. Satan's policy is to tempt us by those who are dearest to us ; but let us all be upon our guard, and never be led by the persuasions and entreaties, much less the violence and passions, of our nearest relations, to do or say that which is evil, or give up any branch of
These were persons of note in neighbouring provinces, and descendants of Abralastan fron Tamah and Shuah, who were his grandchildren.
religion. If those who are dearest to us speak wickedly, or attempt to weaken our regard to religion, let us faithfully reprove them, as Job did his wife, and not suffer sin upon them.
4. A sense of the divine goodness in the many mercies we have enjoyed, and do enjoy, should make us patient and contented under affliction. It was a noble sentiment and a just expostulation of Job ; What! shall we receive so much good from the hand of God ; good that we never deserved, and have often forfeited ; and shall we not receive evil ? evil that bears so small a proportion to our mercies, and is so much less than our iniquities deserve ? It is very ungrate. ful and base to forget the goodness and mercy we have enjoyed, and murmer under afflictions. Let us be willing to receive evil as well as good ; since both come from the hand of a Being of perfect justice, power, wisdom, and goodness, who intends all for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holine88.
5. To visit and comfort the afflicted is a necessary part of friend. ship and religion. Job's friends came to mourn with him, and to comfort bim ; this was particularly commendable, because he needed their assistance, and was poor, and could not reward it. They made an appointment to come, which shewed great respect. It was peculiarly agreeable, because the rest of his friends forsook him ; and he met with ill treatment from others. Let us cultivate a tender, compassionate spirit ; esteem it better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting ; and weep with those that weep. Thus only can we be esteemed true friends. Nay, without this tenderness and sympathy, we are strangers to that pure and undefiled religion, of which James speaks, and which consists in visiting the afficted, the widow, and the fatherless : but by imitating this example, we serve our friends, we satisfy conscience, and we please our great Master, who will make this a part of his commendation of the righteous in the great day, I was sick, and ye visited me,
IVe are now entering on the poetical part of this book. It is to be
remembered that these words were not actually spoken by Job and his friends ; he uttered some mournful complaints, and his friends argued with him on the topics here insisted upon ; but they are dressed up in poetical language, which is sometimes difficult to be explained ; the anguish of Joo's spirit increased to such a degree, that in this chapter he breaks out into passionate complaints.
1 AFTER this opened Job his mouth and cursed his day,
II his birth day. It had used to be a day of joy, but now he 2 3 wished he had never been born. And Job spake and said, Let
the day perish wherein I was born, and the night (in which] it was said, There is a man child conceived; he wishes it might be forgotten, as if it never had been. Let that day be darkness, 6
thick horrible darkness ; let not God regard it from above, neither 5 let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of
death stain it, claim it as their own, let a cloud dwell upon it ; let 6 the blackness of the day terrify it, render it terrible to men. [As
for) that night, let darkness seize upon it; an extraordinary darkness without the least glimmering of light ; let it not be joined
unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of 7 the months ; let it be blotted out of the calendar. Lo, let that
night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein ; let none ever 8 meci to feast or make merry in it. Let them curse it that curse
the day, those whose business it is to say the most pathetic things against an unfortunate day, let them dart out all their arrows against that day ; who are ready to raise up their mourning, that is, who raise up against a man the most terrible evils, which,
like that destructive animal leviathan, or the crocodile as in the mar9 gin, are ready to swallow him up. Let the stars of the twilight
thereof be dark ; let it look for light, but (have) none ; neither
let it see the dawning of the day ; let not one star appear, nor 10 the smallest gleam of light : Because it shut not up the doors of
my (mother's] womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes ; because 11 it did not keep me from feeling this bitter sorrow. Why died I
not from the womb ? why was I not buried in the womb ? or
(why) did I (not) give up the ghost when I came out of the 12 belly ? Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts
that I should suck? Why was any care taken, or sustenance given, 13 to support a life that would be so miserable ? For now should I
have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept ; then had I 14 been at rest, and felt none of these iniseries ; With kings and
counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for them
selves ; I should have been buried among noble and princely an. 15 cestors ; Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses
with silver ; who had chains and crowns buried with them, and 16 who lay in pomp and quiet : Or as an hidden untimely birth I
had not been ; as infants (which] never saw light ; as a still17 born child, not numbered among men. There the wicked cease
(from) troubling; and there the weary be at rest : in the grave
cruel oppressors cannot trouble, nor the oppressed be troubled. 18 (There) the prisoners rest together ; the captive and slave . have rest there, though they had none on earth ; they hear not the
voice of the oppressor, 10 check and threaten and torment them, 19 The small and great are there ; and the servant [is] free from 20 his master; there all distinctions cease. Wherefore is light
given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter [in] soul; 21 Which long for death exceedingly, but it (cometh] not; and dig
for it more than for hid treasures ; who would be glad to dig their
own graves, and be better pleased to find a grave than to find a 22 mine of gold; Which rejoice exceedingly, [and] are glad when
they can find the grave and as it were dance in their own funeral 23 procession ? (Why is light given) to a man whose way is hid,
and whom God hath hedged in ? who knows not which way to 24 turn himself, and finde no comfort but in the grave? For my sigh. ing cometh before I eat, before my meat ; I dread to take that which will support such a wretched life ; or, it brings to mind the happy hours when my children were feasting around me ; and
then my roarings are poured out like the waters, in the greatest 25 abundance. For the thing which I greatly feared is come
upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me ; I
was always afraid of a change in my circumstances, and of being 26 censured as an hypocrite, and, lo, it is come to pass. I was not in
safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet ; yet trouble came ; in my greatest prosperity I did not live secure, as wicked men do, nor promise myself the continuance of it, but rather was in continual expectation of trouble. *
REFLECTIONS. 1. T HE absurdity and folly of a fretful, complaining tempers · 1 is beautifully exposed in this chapter, by the words which the poet puts in to Job's mouth. Those wishes, strictly speaking, were senseless. Yet something like this is too often the language of many who, when they meet with trouble, are perpetually complaining and wishing those things had never been, which are, and that things were which never will be. All this arises from igno. rance, pride, and impatience ; it is quarrelling with the supreme Governor of the world, dishonouring human nature, teazing them. selves, and making their own wounds wider and deeper. Yea, many utter such complaints under afflictions which they have brought on themselves, and wish eagerly for death, when they above all others, would be shocked at its approach, and most willing to have it delayed.
2. We may reflect on the providence of God in the helpless state in which children are born ; and the care of them which he has put into the hearts of parents. Did not the knees prevent them from falling, and the breasts give them suck, how soon would the spark of life be quenched. Human creatures are brought forth and continue long in helpless circumstances, to strengthen their parents' affections to them, by the services they are obliged to do them, to give them an opportunity of forming their minds as reason opens, and to promote the gratitude and duty of children. The care of Providence in preserving us through the helpless state of infancy should be thankfully acknowledged ; and next to God, gratitude is due to our parents, whom we ought with all tenderness and affecotion to requite.
3. The thoughts of a perfect repose in the grave, is some com. fort to those in affliction. There the body rests, free from pain, sickness, and sorrow, from hardships and sufferings, from oppres. sion and persecution. And the thought will indeed be comfortable, if we take care to secure the happiness of the soul, that it may en. ter into peace, and enjoy the rest that remaineth for the people of God.
• Some understand it, that he could not recollect and settle his spirits after one calam, ity, but was terrified with the report of another; he had not time to pause and consider, before a new shock came. This is mentioned as an aggravation of his distress, wd the reason of bis complaints.