And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand…
I. GOD PERMITS TEMPORAL ADVERSITY.
1. It cannot come without his permission. Satan roams over the earth, longing for mischief; yet he cannot do any harm till he obtains leave from the court of heaven. It is some consolation in adversity to know that this has not fallen without God's observing it, nor even in spite of his will. That which he distinctly sanctions cannot be really bad. Therefore adversity is not the evil it appears to be.
2. God does not always inflict evil immediately. It is not God, but Satan, who smites Job. It would seem that God would never have done it, and that if Satan had not sought permission to hurt Job, Job's prosperity would have remained unshaken. This is not like the narratives of destroying angels sent forth by God to smite Jerusalem (2 Samuel 24:16) and to destroy the Assyrian host (2 Kings 19:35). In those cases the calamity was from God. Here it originates in Satan, though it is permitted by God. Possibly we may see a ray of light on the mystery of suffering in this fact, especially as a similar thing is seen in the New Testament, in the ease of the woman "whom Satan has bound" (Luke 13:16), and in the case of a person "delivered over to Satan" (1 Timothy 1:20). St. Paul's thorn in the flesh was not a messenger of God, but "a messenger of Satan ' (2 Corinthians 12:7). There are evils which God would not initiate, yet which it would not be well for him at once to restrain by force.
II. GOD LIMITS THE ADVERSITY HE PERMITS. Satan is permitted to lay hold on all that Job possesses, but not to touch the man himself. Thus the adversity is limited, and on various grounds.
1. According to necessity. It shall be no greater than is necessary to accomplish its object. God is lavish of mercies; he is parsimonious with afflictions - even in the case of the huge afflictions of a Job! But he is the Judge of how much trouble is necessary, and we cannot estimate it.
2. According to powers of endurance. God will not suffer us to be tempted beyond that we are able to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). He knew Job when he pertained tremendous troubles to fall upon him. Those Titanic shoulders could carry a giant's load of calamity. Weaker souls are more gently dealt with.
III. THE ADVERSITY IS ONLY PERMITTED FOR THE SAKE OF A GREAT GOOD. To the casual observer it looks as though Job were merely delivered over for Satan to make diabolical sport with him, as the Philistines made sport with blind Samson. But God would not thus cruelly deal with any man. The fact is, Job is to prove a great truth to devils and angels, and ultimately to men also. The testing of his fidelity is a lesson for the universe. It shows that God inspires disinterested devotion. Now, Job was not aware of this purpose. Had he known it, the trial would have been frustrated. To him the series of calamities is an overwhelming mystery, and he is tried the more by its inexplicable character. We cannot see the purpose of our troubles. But there is a purpose. Possibly one explanation is, not that we are merely to suffer for our own soul's discipline, but, like Job, for the sake of lessons which, without our knowing them, may be taught to others by means of our experience. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.