Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing?
God's challenge calls forth this reply from Satan. It is an insolent reply, in character with the speaker; but one which nevertheless reveals a great deal of keen insight.
1. Satan's reply discloses his conception of Divine providence. "Hast Thou not made a hedge about him?" There are two ways of looking at the hedges, or limitations of life. Those who know of what use they are in protecting and guarding men, accept them gratefully. Those who know little of the uses of such limitations are often found to be impatient of them. Satan's desire concerning every life is that there shall be no hedge about it.
2. Satan's reply supplies his estimate of piety, that it is selfish. A literal translation would be, "Doth Job fear God gratis?" He suspects that there is no such thing as disinterested goodness. If Job's piety had turned out to be selfish, the probability is that the piety of the best of us would prove equally selfish.
3. Satan's reply expresses his estimate of Job. The mission of Satan, according to his own showing, had been that of a peripatetic critic. He had failed to tempt Job, so all he could do was, suggest a false and unworthy motive. When we deal with human motive, we deal with one of the most mysterious things in God's world. Now, I do not expect a better theory of goodness from the devil than that at best it is selfish. No one can rise to a higher altitude than he himself occupies, and when anyone tells me that Christian motive is necessarily a selfish motive I know where he is living. I know the altitude he has reached. It is a law of life that the man who is incapable of an unselfish act is the greatest sceptic on God's earth about the unselfishness of others. He can only grasp the possibility of being unselfish by being partaker of that exalted quality himself. On that principle, when Satan speaks about piety, I do not expect that he should see anything higher or nobler than selfishness in it. I know of nothing so satanic in life as to impute impious motives to godly men. That scepticism as to the possibility of disinterested piety gives me a glimpse into the depths of depravity in the heart of the being who is capable of uttering it. The denial of the possibility of disinterested piety reveals the saddest degradation on the part of the man who is capable of such a denial. There is no power that can save him except that which shall renew his whole nature; for there is no power that can redeem a man save as it makes him unselfish. After all, down deep in the heart of man, there is a profound belief in and admiration of unselfishness. Who are the great men of the past, even in the world's estimation? The men who denied themselves for the sake of their fellows; great reformers, who suffered in order to uplift their fellows. We all instinctively feel keenly the charge of selfishness. We are all ashamed of being considered selfish. In this even those who profess to cling to the philosophy of selfishness are nobler than their creed. Let me remind you of the fact, that as long as we gather round the Cross, and recognise there the highest expression of a surrendering love for us, so long shall we believe in the possibility of self-denial and disinterested services, and our highest desire and aim shall be that the mind which was also in Christ Jesus may be in us.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?