Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.…
The central subject of this book is the trial of the righteous man. Job is acknowledged of God to be "a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil." Yet he is tried, and tried sorely, and by permission of God. The difficulty to be solved by the history of Job is - How can it come to pass that the righteous suffer? To what end is this permitted? The trial of Job is divided into two parts - the first is briefly recounted, it contains the main facts; the second part is extended. The discussion of the book relates to the whole.
I. ATTENTION IS INSTANTLY DIRECTED TO THE AGENT OF THE TRIAL. Satan - the adversary. All our knowledge of the spirit-world is derived from Holy Scripture. The teaching of Scripture concerning evil spirits is full, minute, consistent. No valid objection to the existence of evil spirits can be raised on the ground of our ignorance, or our unfamiliarity with the phenomena attending the action of evil spirits. It is impossible to remove the teaching concerning Satan from Scripture without doing so great violence to it as to derange the whole. To a revelation we come to be taught, not to cavil. But the story is pictorially and dramatically represented. Satan is throughout "the agent of probation" Satanic action is not prevented, but controlled by God. The spirit of Satan is revealed by the malignant accusation made against Job. He charges Job with selfishness; his motive to obedience is a false one; his integrity will not stand a severe test. Very significant is the representation of the allowed Satanic testing," All that he hath is in thy power."
II. ATTENTION IS DIRECTED TO THE NATURE OF THE TRIAL. It embraces the loss to Job of his substance, his servants, and his children. Wave after wave of sorrowful intelligence reaches him. Yet it is sudden. While one was "yet speaking, there came also another." It robbed the man of property, of his possessions; the man of honour, authority, and influence, of his servants; the tender father, of his family. How sad the change in his circumstances! How poignant his grief from the loss of his children How desolate the home! How suddenly the brightness of noon changed for the darkness of midnight! It would be difficult to conceive a picture of more severe trial. It was intense, widespread, irreparable.
III. ATTENTION IS DIRECTED TO THE TEACHING OF THE TRIAL.
1. The folly of depending too confidently on earthly happiness. Every condition of happiness present; every ground of hope for its continuance; yet how speedily destroyed!
2. The demand for other resources of blessedness than those found in the changeful conditions of the present life. The hand must not grasp earthly riches too firmly. All that is of earth fadeth: how needful to seek "durable riches"!
3. The whole surroundings and possessions of life may be made the occasions of the testing of virtue.
4. The necessity for such a view of one's life, and such a habit of obedience, as to be able to bow to the Divine will in the midst of our heaviest trials. - R.G.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.