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Bible Commentaries
Job 1

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Shall we turn now to the book of Job, chapter 1.

As we come to the book of Job, we actually enter into a new section of the Old Testament. As you know, the Old Testament is divided into different divisions. The first five books comprising what is often called the Pentateuch, the books of the law. The next several books are historic as they deal with the history of the nation of Israel from the time that they have come out of Egypt and they begin as a nation in the land. And it covers that period of history while they are in the land of Israel through the Babylonian captivity and through the repatriation and the regathering again to Israel. And the books of history take us up to about 400 B.C.

Now we are entering into a third part of the Old Testament, the books that are known as the books of poetry. And these include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. And they are Hebrew poetry. And in Hebrew poetry, it is unlike our English poetry in that Hebrew poetry does not rhyme words, but actually gives sort of parallel thoughts or contrasting thoughts. And their sense of literature and poetry is found not in the rhyming of a word or not in a meter, but in the thoughts themselves. The paralleling thoughts are the rhyming thoughts. The words don't necessarily rhyme, but there is a rhyme or parallelism within the thoughts or a contrast: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. For the righteous shall flourish, but the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous, the wicked. And so you have the contrast between the thoughts, or you have the parallel thoughts where they are building: the way of the Lord is right; the way of the Lord is true; the way of the Lord is just. And so you are giving parallel thought concepts.

So Job is the first of the books of poetry. It has been considered perhaps older than the book of Genesis. Though Genesis, of course, deals with history that predates Job, yet there is a Jobab mentioned in Genesis that is very possibly the Job of this book who lived contemporarily with Abraham. So it is possible that Job dates back as far as does Abraham, just a couple of generations away from Noah and the flood. Thus, in the book of Job, which is one of the oldest books of man's literature, the expression of the thoughts of some of the earliest men, once writing was developed and thoughts could be recorded. We find that men from the beginning have been pretty much the same. Though our cultures have changed and times have changed from Job, yet basically the same things that were a problem to Job are the same things that become a problem to us. The same needs that Job expressed are the same needs that still exists in man today.

In Job we have the picture of a man who was reduced perhaps more than any other man has ever been reduced, to just the bare essence of existence. With Job it's just raw existence. Everything that we think as necessary for life, everything that we consider to be important for our lives was stripped away from Job. His possessions, his family, his friends, his health, lost everything. He even lost the consciousness of the sense of his own worth as he began to curse the day that he was born and cry out for death.

Now, when you have lost everything, then is when is exposed the deepest longings and quest of man. You see, you're not worried about, "Where shall we go to eat after church tonight?" And this doesn't become a real major issue, a point of argument and debate. Or, "What are we going to do tomorrow on the holiday?" You see, we crowd and fill our minds with a lot of things that really aren't essential to life, because we have friends and we have many interests. And these things can become very important to us. And unfortunately, people can spend their whole lives in things that really don't matter. A whole life can be wasted in non-essentials. It isn't, "What shall we eat?" or, "Shall we eat or not?" or, "Can we eat or not?" but it becomes then the argument is, "What is the choice of what we are going to eat?" "Well, I have a taste for Mexican food." "Well, I have a taste for Italian food." "Well, I want Mexican food. I want the chips with the sauce." "Well, I want lasagna." And you call the attorney to get a divorce. Oh, how tragic that man can spend his life majoring in minors and never, never come to the real issues of life.

Now with Job, man, it was just existence. Everything was stripped away. Now just the raw person. What are the things that are expressed? What are the cries? What are the needs? They are the basic needs of man and the basic needs of life that are expressed at this point. And thus, Job becomes a very interesting book to us as we listen to the cries of Job as they deal with the deepest issues of life.

The story of Job is an interesting story, and it is one that surely does confirm what God has declared in Isaiah and Job expressed himself, and that is that the ways of God are beyond our finding out. God said through Isaiah the prophet, "My ways are not your ways, saith the Lord, My ways are beyond your finding out" ( Isaiah 55:8 ). I do not pretend to understand everything about God. In fact, I must confess that I understand very little about God. That's why I worship Him. If I could understand Him completely then He would be on my level and what would I have to worship? But because He is so much greater, vaster in wisdom and understanding and knowledge than I am, I stand in awe and reverence and I worship Him.

Now, He doesn't always do things my way. Nor does He always stop to explain to me why He did it His way. Though I sometimes demand that He does. He doesn't always even pay attention to my demands. He just seems to go ahead and do what He wants to anyhow, in spite of my objections. But I appreciate that, because I have found a long time ago that I don't know very much. I fit in the category of which Shakespeare wrote when he said, "Man, poor man, so ignorant in that which he knows best." And I find I'm so ignorant in the things I know best. And thus, I am glad to submit my life, my will to God and to His wisdom. And I am thankful that I can pray, "Lord, I don't understand what You're doing. I don't like what You're doing, but I know that what You're doing is best so just keep doing it. Not my will, Your will, Lord, be done."

The beginning of Job. It tells us a little background of him.

Job lived in the land of Uz ( Job 1:1 );

Wherever that is. But then concerning him, it said he was,

a perfect [man] and upright, and one that feared God [or reverenced God], and hated evil ( Job 1:1 ).

Job was a good man. Loving, reverencing God, hating evil.

Now he had seven sons and three daughters. Plus seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east ( Job 1:2-3 ).

A good man. A wealthy man. A man who loved God and hated evil.

And his sons ( Job 1:4 )

Seem to be partiers. So in his concern for his sons, daily he would offer sacrifices for them and say, "Lord, forgive them if in their partying they say something that is contrary or against Thee, Lord, grant them forgiveness." And he was constantly praying for his children. The background of the man.

Now we turn from this man and now we are ushered into the heavenly scenes. We are now at the throne of God and the angels are coming and presenting themselves to God. And along with the angels, here comes Satan. Now, even after Satan's fall, it seems that he had access, and thus have access to the throne of God. Why does God allow him access there? I told you I don't know everything about God and I don't know. It's a question in my mind. The Bible says he's the accuser of the brethren and he accuses them before God day and night. Now we find him in that position right here. He is accusing Job after God brings up the subject of Job. But first of all, when Satan comes in to present himself before God, God says, "Oh, where have you been?" He says, "I've been cruising around the world. Going to and fro throughout it, walking up and down." God said, "Oh?"

Have you considered my servant Job ( Job 1:8 ),

God's doing a little bragging now. He's got one down there who really loves Him. He's a perfect man. He hates evil. Praying for his children.

The word considered is the word that I'm interested in, though, because it is actually a military term. It is the term that is used of a general who is studying a city before he attacks it in order that he might develop his strategy whereby he can destroy the city. So he's watching when they open the gates, the method of which they open the gates. How do the people come out? What gates are the most easily attacked? And he's developing his whole strategy in order that he might attack and destroy the city. That's the Hebrew word, the background of the word. It's a military term. "Have you been studying Job? Seeking to develop the strategy whereby you might destroy him? Have you considered my servant Job?"

Now God's witness of Job, perfect man and upright. He loves Me; he hates evil. And Satan frighteningly declares, "Yes, I have seen that fellow. I've studied him." And not only had Satan been studying Job, but he had developed a whole philosophy concerning Job. He said, "Job has been blessed of You. Look, he's the wealthiest man in the east. He has everything anybody could ever desire or want. Job is just serving You because You've blessed him so much. Who wouldn't serve You if You blessed them like that? And You've put a hedge around him and I can't get to him." This interests me, the hedge that God puts around His children. "He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. To bear thee up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone" ( Psalms 91:11-12 ). And God has a hedge around us. Satan is complaining about that hedge. "Let me get at it. Let me at it. Let me take away his wealth and he's going to curse you to your face. Job only serves You because it pays such big dividends." So God said to Satan, "All right, I will let you at him. Only don't touch him. You can touch his possessions; don't touch him."

So it came to pass in a certain day while his children were feasting and drinking in his oldest son's house: there came a messenger to Job, and he said, Your oxen were plowing, and the asses were feeding beside them: and the Sabaeans fell upon them, and took them away; and they killed all of your servants; and I'm the only one that is left and I have come to tell you. And before he could finish his message of despair, a second servant came, and he said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and it has consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. And while he was still talking, there came another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, they fell upon your camels, and have carried them away, and they've killed all of your servants with the edge of the sword; and I'm the only one that has escaped and I've come to tell you. While he was yet speaking, another came and said, Your sons and daughters while they were having this big banquet, a wind came out to the east, and it blew down the house, and they were all of them crushed to death; and their servants with them ( Job 1:13-18 ).

Wipe out. In a moment's time your wealth, your possessions, and even all of your children are taken away. What do you do? Job fell on his face there in the dirt and he blessed God.

He said, Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked I'm going to return: the LORD has given, the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all of these things Job did not curse God, neither did he charge God foolishly ( Job 1:21-22 ).

I would like to say that I have heard many people charge God foolishly. Maybe they didn't curse God, but they've made foolish charges against God. I've heard people say, "I don't think God cares about me at all. I don't think God loves me." Those are foolish charges against God. Sometimes because of our circumstances we are prone to make foolish charges against God. But Job didn't do that. He passed test one.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Job 1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/job-1.html. 2014.
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