And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house:…
Everything is done to heighten and intensify the impression of Job's calamities. Let us note their salient features.
I. THEY OCCUR AT A SEASON OF FESTIVITY. It was a feast-day, and Job's whole family was gathered together in his eldest son's house. Then of all times the affectionate father would be least prepared for ominous rumours of calamity. The thunderbolt fell from the cloudless blue sky. Without a note of warning, the fearful storm burnt in an overwhelming deluge. This is a lesson against trusting to prosperity, as though it contained a promise of its own certain continuance. But it is no unmerciful arrangement of Providence that the dark future is hidden from us. We are made sad because
"We look before and after." If we saw all the future, we could not endure the present.
II. THEY OCCUR IN RAPID SUCCESSION. So closely do these calamities follow one upon another that, before the first messenger has told his tale, a second herald arrives with more evil news, followed as speedily by a third, and he after no more delay by the last, with his most dreadful message. It has often been noticed how troubles come in batches. In Job's case we can see the reason. One fearful power of malignity is behind the whole series.
III. THEY COME FROM VARIOUS QUARTERS. Though Satan is the ultimate cause of all the calamities, he does not inflict any of them with his own hand. He keeps that hidden, and finds means to send emissaries from all quarters - Arabs from the south fall on the home farm; lightning from heaven smites the sheep on the downs; three robber-bands of roving Chaldees from the north swoop down on the caravan of camels that carries Job's wealth of merchandise; and, worse than all else, a hurricane from the desert smites and fells the house where Job's sons and daughters are feasting. Who can dwell in security when trouble may come in so many directions? It is impossible for the strongest man to fortify himself against it. None of us can do more than make reasonable preparations, which may all prove useless. But all may trust the providence of him who rules wind and storm and heart of man, and without whose permission not a hair of our head can be touched.
IV. THEY ARE AGGRAVATED AS THEY PROCEED. The worst comes last. It is terrible for a rich man to see his wealth melting before his eyes in a few moments. This was Antonio's trouble when his fleet of merchandise was destroyed ('Merchant of Venice'), but it was not so fearful as Malcolm's, when all his children were murdered at once ('Macbeth'), or the late Archbishop Tait's, when one after another his children died of an epidemic of fever. Let the impoverished man be thankful if his family is spared to him. Note:
1. Possibly trouble is softened by coming with successive shocks. Each may drown the effect of its predecessor.
2. Job's trouble was only once surpassed - in Gethsemane. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: