And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life.
The proverb put into Satan's mouth carries a plain enough meaning, and yet is not literally easy to interpret. The sense will be clearer if we translate it, "Hide for skin; yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life." The hide of an animal, lion or sheep, which a man wears for clothing will be given up to save his own body. A valued article of property often, it will be promptly renounced when life is in danger; the man will flee away naked. In like manner all possessions will be abandoned to keep oneself unharmed. True enough in a sense, true enough to be used as a proverb, for proverbs often express a generalisation of the earthly prudence, not of the higher ideal; the saying, nevertheless, is in Satan's use of it, a lie — that is, if he includes the children when he says, "All that a man hath will he give for himself." Job would have died for his children. Many a father and mother would. Possessions, indeed, mere worldly gear, find their real value or worthlessness when weighed against life, and human love has Divine depths which a sneering devil cannot see. A grim possibility of truth her in the taunt of Satan that, if Job's flesh and bone be touched, he will renounce God openly. The test of sore disease is more trying than loss of wealth at least. Job was stricken with elephantiasis — one of the most terrible forms of leprosy, a tedious malady, attended with intolerable irritation and loathsome ulcers.
(Robert A. Watson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.