Satan's Estimate of Human Nature
Job 2:4
And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life.

The Book of Job is a historical poem, and one of the most ancient. In form it is dramatic. We have to be on our guard as to the degree of authority with which we invest the statements of the different interlocutors. Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz spoke for themselves only. We must not think all their utterances were inspired. So the utterances of Satan are his own, and are not to be treated as inspired. This proverbial sentence means that a man will give up everything to save his life. The insinuation is that Job served God from merely selfish considerations. Satan was only measuring Job and mankind generally by his own bushel. It must be admitted that there is a degree of truth in the saying. If it had not been so, there would have been no plausibility about it, and it could have imposed on no one. A lie, pure, simple, and unadulterated, does little harm in the world. Some one hath pithily said, "A lie always needs a truth for a handle to it; else the hand would cut itself which sought to drive it home upon another." The worst lies, therefore, are those whose blade is false, but whose handle is true. There is an instinctive love of life in every human being. Life is sweet, even with all its trials, sorrows, and, in many cases, miseries; and there is a clinging to it in every heart. And this love of life is not only an instinctive principle: within certain limits it may even be a positive duty. But the affirmation of the text is not true —

I. TO THE HISTORY OF EVEN UNREGENERATE HUMAN NATURE. Even in the unconverted there are principles, some evil and some good, which, becoming dominant, subordinate to themselves the love of life. Such as the passions of hatred and revenge; the love of adventure; duellings; love of know. ledge; science; salvation of the imperilled by water, fire, or disease. So, in the name of humanity, we may repudiate the assertion that, as a universal thing, men will do anything to save their lives.

II. HOW MUCH LESS TRUE IS THE TEXT OF THE RENEWED HEART. That which is the ruling passion in a man rules over the love of life, as well as other things in him. In the truly godly man the ruling passion is love to God, and love to his neighbour for God's sake, and that dominates over all things else. The adversary, though he used every advantage, could not succeed in shaking Job's confidence in God. (Illustrate from cases of three Hebrew youths, Daniel, Paul, etc.) Satan spoke words of calumny, not of truth. Learn —

1. Through our self-love Satan's most insidious temptations come to us. With this estimate of human nature in his mind, he has kept continually appealing to men's love of life, and it is astonishing in how many cases he has at least partially succeeded.

2. The truest greatness of humanity lies in falsifying this assertion of Satan. Since we call ourselves by the name of Christ, let us be distinguished by His unselfishness. That only is a heroic life which forgets itself in service.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.

WEB: Satan answered Yahweh, and said, "Skin for skin. Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.

Satan's Old Saw
Top of Page
Top of Page