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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Job 23

 

 

Verses 1-17

Job Challenged by Satan

Job 1:1 -Job 23:1-17

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

We begin today a series of studies on one of the most interesting characters of the Bible. He is Job, the man of patience.

We remember the comment which the Holy Ghost made concerning Job, and which is recorded for us in the fifth chapter of James.

"Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."

Job was probably a contemporary of Abraham. One thing which we think worthy of mention is this fact: In the old days, far back before Christ, and even before the days of national Israel and her Prophets, God had good and great men upon the earth; men who trusted Him and served Him.

According to the Word of God, the heathen world of today is dwelling in darkness and superstition, simply because the world of old in its wisdom, knew not God. It was for this cause that God gave them over to a reprobate mind.

Returning to Job as a theme for study, we assure the readers that they will find, before we have completed our consideration, that there is much of faith, much of spiritual wisdom, and even much of prophetic vision bound up in the marvelous Book that relates the story of Job.

The answer to many questions, which puzzle minds today, will be found in the Book of Job.

The demands of God as He calls upon Job to stand up like a man, reveal visions of God in His creative power and inherent glory which are hardly surpassed in the Bible.

Let none deceive themselves by imagining that the Book of Job is an ancient story which crept into the Bible. The Book of Job portrays with historical accuracy a God-given record of a man who lived in the land of Uz.

His testings at the hand of Satan were real. The speeches of his three friends, who became more accusers than helpers, are real. Job's responses, where the sunshine and glory of undaunted faith is mixed with the darkness and despair of temporary doubt, are real.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. Let us begin our study of this man asking the Lord to illumine our minds to the message which He has for us.

I. JOB'S MORAL AND SPIRITUAL INTEGRITY (Job 1:1 )

1. Job was perfect and upright. This is saying a good deal, but God said it. Let us not think for one moment that Job was sinless. He was not that, but God said of him "that there is none like him in the earth" (Job 23:8 ).

Other men beside Job have been spoken of as perfect and upright. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-6 ), was one of these. Here is the record concerning Zacharias and his wife, "They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."

Some people would have us to believe that all young men and young women in our day are corrupt. We do not accept this for a moment. Because we are living in a world dominated by sin does not mean that God does not have His true and tried ones, who are unsmirched by the filth of the flesh.

The unsaved may, like Cornelius, be full of prayers and of alms deeds. However, it is in the realm of the redeemed and of those empowered by the Holy Ghost, that we find large numbers of men who are living with a conscience void of offence toward God and men.

2. Spiritually Job feared God. Job's "fear of God," was the reason that he was perfect and upright. We know that the fruit of the Spirit includes all the beauties of moral perfection and uprightness.

The extent to which Job feared God, and followed Him, will be brought out as we proceed in our studies. Suffice it now to say that Job's fear encompassed a wide margin of spiritual vision and faith.

II. JOB'S FAMILY LIFE (Job 1:2 ; Job 1:4-5 )

Job was the father of seven sons, and of three daughters. Family life may have its temptations and testings, but there is nothing in the life of father or mother that makes it impossible to live acceptable to God.

We read concerning Enoch that he walked with God, after he begat Methuselah, for three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. Mark you, that it was during the period of Enoch's family life that he walked with God.

A godly home is the nearest place to Heaven of anything we know. Job had such a home.

In Deuteronomy we are taught that the father shall teach all of God's statutes to his children. He shall talk of them when he sits in his house, and when he walks by the way. He shall bind them for a sign upon his hands, and they shall be as frontlets between his eyes. He shall write them upon the posts of his house, and upon his gates.

Along this line it is interesting to note that when Job's sons feasted in their houses, and called in their sisters to the feast, that Job afterward sent for his sons and sanctified them. He rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. Thus did Job continually.

Would that we had more fathers today who kept up the family altar, more who watched diligently over their children, bringing them up in the nurture and fear of the Lord.

III. JOB'S WEALTH (Job 1:3 )

Job was the greatest of all the men of the east. His substance was seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household.

Job was rich. In another chapter we read something of his spirit of philanthropy, and of his love to the poor. He delivered the poor when they cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. He caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. He was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. He was a father to the needy.

The curse of riches is displayed by Christ in the parable of the rich man who had much goods laid up for many days, and who said unto his soul, "Eat, drink, and be merry." To this rich man God said, "Thou fool" Then He said, "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself , and is not rich toward God ."

The rich young ruler is another example of riches kept to one's hurt. Jesus loved the man, even though he was rich, but the rich man was unwilling to leave all and follow Christ, for he was wedded to his wealth.

With Job it was altogether different. In a succeeding study, we will learn that Job counted God more than money, and he could say, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."

IV. SATAN, THE ACCUSER OF THE SAINTS (Job 1:6-10 )

There came a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said unto Satan, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth?" Satan quickly replied, "Doth Job fear God for nought?" Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Then Satan said to God, "Put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face."

1. We have before us a loose devil, going about seeking whom he may devour. Satan is not chained as some would aver. He is the Prince of the power of the air. He is seeking to entangle every possible child of God, and to lead them into sin and disobedience.

2. Satan's complaint. When the Lord asked Satan if he had observed Job, Satan complained that God had put an hedge about Job so that he couldn't touch him; and, in addition, God had blessed the work of his hands. This admission on the part of Satan is very comforting to believers. Our security does not lie in our perseverance, but in His preservation. God may allow Satan sometimes to "sift us as wheat," as He did Peter; however, no matter what testing is permitted, God will prepare a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it. If the Lord had not said unto us, "I will be thy shield and thy strong tower," we know not what might have befallen us. Thank God, we are held in the hand of omnipotency.

3. Satan's insinuations. Satan insinuated that Job's obeisance to God was not genuine. He said that Job, in his heart, had no trust in Jehovah, that he was serving Him alone for what he could get out of it.

V. SATAN REQUESTING THE PRIVILEGE OF TESTING JOB (Job 1:11-12 )

1. The challenge made. Satan said to God, "Put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face." The challenge had been made; Satan demanded that God should try out Job.

During the dark days which followed, if Job had only known of this challenge on the part of Satan, and the reason why he was being put to the test, it would have made it a thousand times easier for him to suffer.

On the other hand, if God had told Job the objective, and had smiled upon him as he suffered, it would have upset the whole purpose of the test.

The trial of Job's faith brought God honor, because it proved that Satan was a liar and a false accuser, and that Job did, in reality, serve God because he loved Him, and not because of what he profited thereby.

2. The challenge accepted. "And the Lord said unto Satan, behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand."

Many Christians have felt, at times, that God had forgotten them; and, perhaps, that He had set Himself against them. This could not be. God loves His own with an everlasting love, and every man, when he is tested of God, is tested for his good, and not for his harm. Satan's purpose in this temptation and trial was the utter undoing of Job. God's purpose was Job's ultimate enlargement.

VI. THE COMPLETENESS OF SATAN'S WRATH (Job 1:13-19 )

1. The scope of Satan's power. There are many who underestimate the ability and strength of the devil. Michael, an archangel, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, and yet, there are many men, women and children who possess nothing of Michael's power and authority, who dare to jest about Satan. They call him the "Old Nick," or the "Old Scratch," and speak as though they had victory over him in some imagined personal combat.

It is with such an one that we have to deal, so if we would go forth to battle, we must be clothed with the whole armour of God that we may withstand in the evil day.

2. Satan's power at work. With God's permission obtained, Satan stretched forth his hand. In order to make his devilish work forceful and more trying to Job, he arranged matters so there would not be a long-drawn series of temptings, but one great stroke in which all of Job's substance would be swept from him.

(1) While Job's sons and daughters were feasting, a messenger came to Job, saying, that all his oxen and asses had been captured by the Sabeans, and the attending servants slain with the sword.

(2) While the messenger was yet speaking, a second one arrived, saying that all of Job's sheep had been burned, and his servants consumed with them.

(3) While the second messenger was speaking, a third came saying that the Chaldeans had fallen upon the camels, and had carried them away, slaying all the servants.

(4) While the third messenger spoke, a fourth arrived saying that all of his sons and daughters had been smitten and slain by a great wind from the wilderness.

No one need doubt, as this fourfold wreckage comes before them, the thoroughness of Satan's malicious maneuverings.

VII. JOB'S FIDELITY AND FAITHFULNESS VINDICATED (Job 1:21-22 )

With everything swept away, and with Job in absolute darkness as to why God had permitted such a disaster, yet Job did not sin, nor charge God foolishly. The mighty man of the East 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."

Job did not alone refuse to complain, but he even blessed the Name of the Lord. With everything gone, he said both Amen and Hallelujah.

All will agree that Job possessed a very high standard of Christian integrity. All will agree that Satan's words concerning Job were no more than a mere slander.

AN ILLUSTRATION

Dr. Howard Taylor tells of his yearning for holiness of life and power in service:

"All the time I felt assured there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was how to get it out. He was rich, truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I, weak. I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question. As gradually the light was dawning on me, I saw that faith was the only requisite, was the hand to lay hold on His fullness and make it my own. But I had not this faith. I strove for it, but it would not come; tried to exercise it, but in vain. Seeing more and more the wondrous supply of grace laid up in Jesus, the fullness of our precious Saviour, my helplessness and guilt seemed to increase. Sins committed appeared but as trifles compared with the sin of unbelief which was their cause, which could not or would not take God at His Word, but rather make Him a liar! Unbelief was, I felt, the damning sin of the world, yet I indulged in it. I prayed for faith, but it came not. What was I to do?

When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I have never known it before. McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure, but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory):

"But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One. "

As I read, I saw it all! "If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful." I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that He had said, " I will never leave you." Ah, there is rest, I thought. I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I'll strive no more, for has He not promised to abide with me never to leave me, never to fail me? And, dearie, He never will!"

 


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Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Job 23:4". "Living Water". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/job-23.html.

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