Job 1:6

I. EVERY MAN'S LIFE IS AN OBJECT OF INTEREST IN HEAVEN. This is a sublime thought, powerfully suggested by the present passage, and full of comfort for every man who trusts in the goodness of God. "Every man's life a plan of God's" (see the powerful sermon of Dr. Bushnell on this subject). Even of men who do not consciously know God or own his providence, this is true. Their career is controlled by a mysterious direction; their mistakes or misdeeds overruled for good. Of Cyrus, for example, it is said, "I have called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me" (Isaiah 45:4).

II. BUT IN HOW PECULIARLY HAPPY A SENSE IS THIS TRUE OF EVERY GOOD MAN'S LIFE! His way is often entangled, perplexed, darkened to himself; but never so to God. From the bright scene of heavenly light and contemplation, where the map of every life is spread open to view, we are soon to plunge into gloom and sorrow by the side of the afflicted servant of God. But let us carry the memory of this glimpse of heaven through all the windings of the maze of grief which soon we are to tread in fancy, and may -no day follow in actual experience. Already let us take the lesson home - that the way of God's children is not hidden, their cause not passed over, by the Most High. Their steps are ordered by him. In their blindness they will be led by paths they have not known. They may seem to themselves exiled from joy, banished from light and love; but he will yet make darkness light before them, and crooked ways straight, and will never forsake them. For in the life of flower and bird even, much more in the life of man, there is a plan of God.

III. EVERY MAN'S LIFE THE OBJECT OF OPPOSING INFLUENCES: of good and evil, pleasure and pain, happiness and misery, heaven and hell. Nowhere is this grand secret of the mechanism of our being more distinctly disclosed than in this book. The presence of an evil influence, ever curious and busy about our life, is distinctly acknowledged; its origin left in mystery. We must recognize this dualism of influence on man's life without attempting to solve it. After all that has been thought and said on the subject, we can only acknowledge that it is a fundamental condition of our earthly existence. To ignore it, and try to live in some fool's paradise of extreme optimism, is to expose ourselves to disappointment and to danger; or to fall into the other extreme of a gloomy, desponding pessimism is to be unfaithful to that instinctive sense of God's goodness which is deep-seated in the heart. Scripture guides us in a middle course between these extremes - places before us, in equal distinctness, the two poles of thought, the opposing currents of influence; and this makes the practical duty manifest, to abhor the evil and cleave to the good, to fill the heart with reverence and trust for God, and to depart from evil in all its forms.

IV. THE SPIRIT OF ACCUSATION CONCERNED WITH GOOD MEN'S LIVES, This is the great characteristic of the evil spirit spoken of in various parts of Scripture. He is "Satan," that is, "the Adversary," one whose delight is in laying snares for men, seducing them from rectitude, and then slandering and accusing them before God. "The accuser of our brethren, who accuses them before our God day and night" (Revelation 12:10). Here, in the court of heaven, the radiant scene of Divine glory which is brought before our view, while the rest of the retinue of angels, "sons of God," are present to discharge their functions of praise and of service, the evil genius of men comes to enjoy the dark pleasure of detraction and spite. While those bright spirits habitually look on the bright side of things, upon the creation lit up by the smile of God, reflecting everywhere his wisdom and his power, Satan dwells upon the dark side of things - upon that frailty and corruptibility of man, which appears to be the only blemish in the fine picture of God's world. Note the restlessness of this spirit of accusation. To and fro he roams in the earth, seeking rest, but finding none. How true a picture is this of every human heart which has given way to evil, and has thus become a mirror of the dark spirit! How restless are all men who are ill at ease in themselves, because devoid of peace with their God! The hunger for mischief is the counterpart of the hunger for righteousness. They roam about, discontented, mad. dened at the sight of goodness and purity which they have lost; barking, snapping, biting, devouring, like beasts of prey - fastening upon noble reputations and dragging them to the ground, as the panther springs upon the noble stag of the forest. What need have we to be warned against the misery of allowing ourselves to become the servants of so dark a spirit, the agents of such malice! Whenever we find the rust of slander and backbiting gathering too easily on our tongues, whenever we find that the sight of good men's failures affords us more pleasure than that of their success and honour, we have need to look closely into the heart. We must be ill before we can enjoy these diseased pleasures. A soul in health towards God delights to see the reflection of that health in the faces and the lives of others. It is the misery of conscious sin which seeks relief in the sin of others. Whether in good or in evil, we cannot endure to be alone. The fulness of the heart's joy must have expression, and so must the burden of its unpardoned guilt - the one in words of charity to men and praise to God; the other in those of bitterness and blasphemy. But this scene sets before us a man who is to become the object, rather than the subject, of this malignant influence. Job is the victim, not the agent, of Satanic slanders. And it is well to consider here what there is in the constitution of our nature which lays us open to these diabolical attempts.

1. There is a weak side in the nature of every one. The sensuous side of nature presents a constant opening to attack. We can be easily bribed by bodily pleasures and frightened by bodily pains. Our affections too often expose us. We may be fortified on all sides; yet there is some postern door or secret entrance to the seat of will, which our wife, or little child, or besom friend is well acquainted with and has the key of, and can readily, at any hour of day or night, pass through. Our tastes, pursuits, circumstances, variously constitute sources of weakness. Some men appear richer toward God amidst poverty and struggle; with many comfort and competence seem to foster and beautify their piety. In the case of Job, an attack is suddenly made all along the line; he is assailed in all the weak points of humanity. And in this completeness of his trial, with the result, lies a main point of instruction in the book.

2. In the best of men there is a mixture of motives. A man chooses the right from principle - from the fear of God in his heart. But he has promises beforehand to stimulate and encourage his choice, and successes afterwards to confirm it. None long travels on the narrow way without discovering that it is not only the right path, but the wise one; not only the right and the wise path, but the path of happiness, honour, and peace. Therefore, at any given point in a man's course, it may be difficult to determine what is the ruling motive of good within him. Did he begin to be good because he believed beforehand that it would turn out well with him in this world? Does he persevere because he has discovered by experience that godliness is profitable for this life? or is the fear and love of the Eternal and his righteousness the greatest, deepest, secret of his career? Who can answer these questions? Can any observer from outside? Can the man himself answer these questions? No. Trial, judgment, the sifting by the winnowing-fan, the cleansing of the refiner's fire, can alone declare what sort of man he is to himself and to others. By trial the inferior and the superior motives are separated. "Experience worketh knowledge;" and all new knowledge is new power. Blessed, then, the man that endureth affliction. The fine old Greek proverb, in his case, παθήματα μαθήματα, comes true - "to suffer is to learn." Thus the very malignancy of his adversary, by the overruling of supreme wisdom and goodness, turns to his advantage; the calumnious foe becomes the unwilling friend. As the general feels grateful for an assault which has been severe, but in resisting which he has been taught a new lesson in war, so the faithful heart thanks God in the end for the permission of those trials which have called forth to the utmost and corroborated the holy energies within.

3. Every outwardly good deed, every outwardly good life, admits of a twofold explanation, until the real facts be known. This follows from the theory of motives. The most disinterested action, in semblance, may conceivably be referred, by a subtle analysis of motives, to some egotistic and more or less faulty motive. Here we have, in the theory of Satan concerning the piety of Job, an illustration of these laws. And the evil spirit, we may say, is within his right in insisting upon it, until the facts of experience shall refute him. It is trial alone which can, by its clear manifestation, refute the dark insinuations of our spiritual foes. Every man has two sides to his life - an outward and an inward. Does the inward correspond to the outward? Who can judge without proof? What all-silencing proof can there be but facts, stamped by suffering, written in blood and in fire? The Greeks had a saying that the character of a man was not to be known until he was placed in authority (Sophocles, 'Antigone'). Certainly that is one form of trial, through which Job had passed, gaining noble instruction. But it is a form of temptation far more severe to be cast down suddenly from previous influence and wealth, than to be suddenly raised to it. Our instinctive sympathy and pity towards those who have thus suffered teach us that it is so. And yet this is the trial for the chosen of God, for the selected specimens of his grace, the vessels of his holy fashioning. He will rebut and discomfit the slanders of the adversary and of all his followers, who love to scoff at the reality of goodness, to discount and depreciate and deny every human excellence, by subjecting his faithful ones to the last intensity of the furnace, that the truth and eternal reality of his work in the soul may be manifest to the eyes of all, both of the good and the evil.

V. LIFE, THEN, IS DIVINELY DELIVERED TO TRIAL. This is the teaching of this passage; it is the teaching of all Scripture. There is a precise permission from the sovereign will for evil to wreak its malice upon the good man. There is a distinction between the way in which good and evil respectively come upon us from the Divine hand. Good comes immediately, directly, fresh from the heart and love of him who is all goodness. But evil comes indirectly, through the dark and devious channels of evil and hostile wills. In blessing, in joy, God visits us in Person, his sunshine pierces through the windows of the soul unsought. But evil is only a licensed visitor to our dwelling, to our heart. And it is difficult to recognize behind the gloomy shape a controlling hand, a solicitous and loving eye. But it is one of the deep lessons of piety that we have all to learn - to say in affliction, "God permits this," as well as in joy, "God sends this." It may be learnt. In the low-stooping thunderous cloud, in the bursting rain and hail over our heads, we may feel the nearness of God, know his hand to be laid upon our conscience, his voice to be appealing to the inmost sense of our relation to him, which had perhaps slumbered beneath the bright and cloudless blue.

VI. GOD DOES NOT DELIVER LIFE TO DESTRUCTION, THOUGH HE MAY DELIVER IT FOE A TIME TO THE POWER OF EVIL. "He hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation." Jehovah says to Satan, "All that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand." Let us fix our attention on this antithesis: what a man has and what a man is. The stoic Epictetus dwelt, in his noble exhortations, on this contrast. There are things he says which are "within us," within our power, within the scope of our choice and control; other things which are "not within our power," over which our will has little or no control. The important matter, then, in self-government, is to be master of this inward sphere of thought, feeling) purpose. Then outward changes can work us no real harm. One who had duly imbibed these lessons said of his persecutors, "They may kill me, but they cannot hurt me.' But the aspect of this truth in the light of the Christian revelation is more winning than the cold and haughty self-reliance of stoicism. He who has given himself up to the love and guidance of a heavenly Father knows that his soul is safe, whatever the disease of his body or the sufferings of his mind. Cast down he may be, destroyed he cannot be, so long as he is held by the hand that sustains the world. "Wherefore let them that suffer in well-doing commit their souls unto him, as unto a faithful Creator."

VII. This passage shows us that THERE IS LIGHT IN HEAVEN WHILE THERE IS DARKNESS UPON EARTH. There is the silver lining behind the cloud of every earthly affliction; for the presence of eternal wisdom and love is there. All was soon to he darkness, dismay, and doubt for the mind of Job; but to him who sees the end from the beginning all was clear and full of meaning. The machinations of the devil will only serve to bring out the fidelity and patience of his chosen servant, who will live to see the "end of the Lord," that he is very pitiful and of tender mercy. Let us lift up our thoughts, in every season of personal or national depression) in every time of discouragement, when wickedness abounds, when the devil seems to be advancing his kingdom and the light of faith is waning, to that eternal, unquenchable light of the wisdom that cannot err, the will that evil never can defeat. Let us never forget that

"Blessing, not cursing, rules above,
And that in it we live and move." J.







Now there was a day.
1. That Satan observeth and watcheth his time to fasten his temptations most strongly upon the soul. He watcheth a day, "there was a day," and there was not a day in the whole year upon which he could have done it with greater advantage than upon that day. As the mercies of God are exceedingly endeared to us by the season in which they come to us: When they come to us in our special need, how sweet is a mercy then! And as our sins are exceedingly aggravated, by the session and time wherein they are committed: What, sin upon this day? A day of trouble, a day of humiliation? So likewise the temptations of Satan and the afflictions which he brings upon the servants of God, are exceedingly embittered by the season; and he knows well enough what seasons will make them most bitter. And what can more imbitter a cup of sorrow than to have it brought us upon a day of rejoicing? If joy be troublesome in our sorrows, how troublesome is sorrow in the midst of our joys (Proverbs 25:20). Then Satan could never have found out such a time as this. Must he needs be afflicting the father when the children were a feasting? Could he find out no other time but this? blast his tears be mingled with their wine? Must the children's rejoicing day be the father's mourning day? Must Satan needs show his malice against the father, when the children were shewing their love one to another? Let us observe, then, this mixture of malice and cunning in Satan, in choosing his time. To carry a man from one extremity to another, puts him upon the greatest extremity: To make the day of a man's greatest rejoicing to be the day of his deepest sorrows, this is cutting, if not killing sorrow. It were well if we could be wise in this respect to imitate Satan, to choose out our day to do good when there is greatest probability of success, as he chose out his day to do mischief.

2. That the fairest and clearest day of our onward comfort may be clouded and overcast before the evening.

(J. Caryl.)

And Satan came also among them.
In contrast to the Almighty we have the figure of the adversary, or Satan, depicted with sufficient clearness, notably coherent, representing a phase of being not imaginary but actual. He is not, as the Satan of later times came to be, the head of a kingdom peopled with evil spirits, a nether world separated from the abode of the heavenly angels by a broad, impassable gulf. He has no distinctive hideousness, nor is he painted as in any sense independent, although the evil bent of his nature is made plain, and he ventures to dispute the judgment of the Most High. This conception of the adversary need not be set in opposition to those which afterwards appear in Scripture as if truth must be entirely there or here. But we cannot help contrasting the Satan of the Book of Job with the grotesque, gigantic, awful, and despicable fallen angels of the world's poetry. Not that the mark of genius is wanting in these; but they reflect the powers of this world, and the accompaniments of malignant human despotism. The author of Job, on the contrary, moved little by earthly state or grandeur, whether good or evil, solely occupied with the Divine sovereignty, never dreams of one who could maintain the slightest shadow of authority in opposition to God. He cannot trifle with his idea of the Almighty in the way of representing a rival to Him; nor can he degrade a subject so serious as that of human faith and well-being by painting with any touch of levity a superhuman adversary of men...Evidently we have here a personification Of the doubting, misbelieving, misreading spirit which, in our day, we limit to men, and call pessimism.

(Robert A. Watson, D. D.)

This scene is not less perplexing than startling. Satan is beheld in some way among the angels of God. There is another parallel striking illustration of the dominion God holds, and of His mode of administration over the world of moral causes and evil consequences, in 1 Kings 22:19-22.

I. CAN WE IN ANY WAY REALISE THE SCENE? We may conceive the bright beings — Gabriel, Raphael, Michael, Uriel "circling the throne," rejoicing each with his hymn of praise, reporting his work of love. These are the "chariots of the Lord"; these are they which "do His commandments"; they have each performed his own work, for the Bible beholds all the work of creation and providence carried on, not by dead laws, not eves by operating living principles — life stands behind all matter, using it as a veil or as a vehicle. "I," might Raphael say, "directed the rolling planets, I stood by the axis of the young firmament, I heard the stars sing together, and I stand in Thy presence to report my obedience, and to bless Thee. And I, might Uriel say, have confirmed the doubting, I have steadied the steps of the straying; I passed by the couch of the dying, and I consoled." "And I," might Gabriel have said, "have prepared the earth for Thy approach; I have winnowed the winds and have diffused the light; and I have put thoughts into the hearts of men; and at Thy command I have broken up solitudes; I have set the solitary in families, and where I have gathered them into companies I have heard their songs to Thee; and I have come into Thy presence to report my obedience and to bless Thee." And then there was seen a shadow, and it fell across the gold of the throne, and while it dropped from the seraph's wing, it spread itself out even over the pavement of light; and when the voice from the central blessedness piercingly inquired, "Whence comest thou?" it was in a tone altogether unlike that of the other angels, the shadow rejoined, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." And all this transaction, so suggestively given, I conceive still; I drop the more lofty conceptions of the book — I conceive the sons of God, each with his hymn and his work. I see the merchant who, the balances of trade in his hands, feels how much selfishness has still been, if not the main intention, still present — yet he goes and presents himself before the Lord. "Thou," he says, "hast given all; behold my obedience; behold my contrition; behold me, and bless me." Or the schoolmaster, or the minister, "I also am an angel or a messenger of Thine; my strength is from Thee, the light I bear is a candle kindled by Thee; I bring Thee my obedience, I have wrought for Thee, behold me, and bless me." And then you can conceive one to whom all this is only a fitting subject for caricature, as you see all reality is, all enthusiasm is. Do you not see that which exposes itself most always as the weak side, is ever the strongest side of a character? So the jaunty sneerer comes; some cynical Horace Walpole or sardonic Voltaire, and, "Ah," says he, "I have been looking at all these things, mocking — that is my way, not mending — 'I have been going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.'"

II. HERE, THEN, WE HAVE NEXT THE SCRIPTURAL IDEA OF SATAN. Of course you will often have heard the passage I have read, spoken of as conveying a poetic description, that it is merely a highly sublime personification. Be that as it may, the doctrine of the text affirms the personality of Satan. The Holy Scriptures sketch the character of the Evil One; but they never permit us to hesitate as to the fact of his personality. He exists, not as an abstract idea, not as a blind force, not either as a mere quality, or the absence or negation of qualities in bodies or in persons. Elevate your conceptions to what is the ground of personality, what constitutes its difference from a mere thing. Personality is consciousness; it consciously works out its own character, and its powers are all collected and resolved in will. Now Scripture teaches us that such a being there is, immediately evil, and living only in and for evil. He is not merely a necessity in things; at any rate this is not the account of his origin; and it would be impossible to believe this without impeaching the infinite character, the unity, and goodness of God. Satan is positive, personal, although not absolute, evil. The response of the Evil One to his Almighty Questioner distinctly expresses —

1. Indifference. Indeed, the attributes of his personality are riveted and closely interlocked together; the one emanates from the other, "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it." This is the end, the passionless end of Ms character — indifference, the absence of all reality, contempt for all enthusiasm, contempt for all sentiment, studious repression of all that might be divine instinct, or delight in the works of the great God — such is Satan. What Satan is, you may detect in many a character, in many an essay, in which you are reminded how Satan comes among people still, "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it." See a man who has lost his sense of wonder, who boasts that nothing can take him by surprise, who has been living so fast you cannot overtake him by any sentiments or ideas that are noble — not the delicacy of a flower, not the calm, upheaving grandeur of the mountain, no holy life, no noble book, no spectacle of a stirring and absorbing passion; he goes to and fro in the earth, and sees nothing; his eyeglass sees us much as he sees. Look at that hard man who prides himself on seeing what men are, and using them; priding himself, too, that nobody ever did know him, that nobody ever did read him — he is "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it." Or the selfish manufacturer or merchant, who simply wrought for his own gains, like a buccaneer or Choctaw, who has prowled over society to find among men cogs for his machine, bricks for his mill, and to whom men anywhere are only as so many stones in the wall. And just as all these are manifestations of personality, so I conceive a vast and extended personality in that amazing conscienceless being, who seems to wrap this world round like a cold and dreadful mist, or withering blight and shade — Satan.

2. There is another attribute, although, certainly, the first is very greatly the result of this second — it is Unbelief. In the instance before us it assumes a shape we often notice now, manifests itself in disbelief in man. "Doth Job serve God for nought?" This, then, is a marked attribute of Satan — disbelief in God too; for to believe in God is not merely to apprehend His being and His absolute power.

3. Another characteristic is brought out as an attribute of Satan in this singular and ancient scene — Cruelty. I cannot but notice how most assuredly there is involved in it the immediate connection of Satan with, and his influence over, material interests and things; lightning and storm, disease and death, are shown here to be certainly related to him. It seems to me eminently reasonable, that in Scripture the universe is represented as governed by life. I know I shall be told of "forces" and "laws," and I reply, I have looked at these things, and attempted a little to apprehend these things, and I believe in them. In any case, as we cannot account for the benevolent and general scheme of nature without one blessed and infinite over-ruling Presence, so it seems impossible to conceive the strangely ruptured condition of things without referring them back to some central agency of evil and sin.

4. Another characteristic feature brought out in the text is Limitation. While evil and Satan exist, they are conditioned by the sovereignty of God; God rules over evil in all its personalities and forms. Satan and the angels alike come into the presence of God. The faith of our fathers, indeed, was, that the devil was on the earth, having great power. It would provoke a smile on some lips to think of the real way in which they were wont to wrestle with the devil. I hear of nobody who places much faith in his power to injure us; we never pray as if he were by us in terrible might. Coldly our prayers ascend to God, as if He were not; and for the great Adversary, it is as if he were really dead. How different was Luther and his great foe, Duke George, for instance. "All the Duke Georges in the universe," said he, "are not equal to a single devil, and I do not fear the devil." The mighty-hearted Luther kept the battle heating in a constant tempest. You have read and know well his Table Talk, his life — that invisible world, how present to him! With Luther it was, then, evidently no sham fight, but a fearful hand-to-hand conflict; and all his praying and speaking most evidently went upon the principle, not only of a real belief in the power of darkness, but of his power also, by hearty prayer and faith in Christ, to rout and scatter it. And I, why do I venture to set before you this doctrine, as I believe it is, of Holy Scripture? Very greatly because I feel that we live in an age which is dangerously loosening its hold of great spiritual personalities. I cannot, indeed, form a very clear conception of attributes, excepting as they are embodied in persons. I can speak of theft, and I can define theft, but I cannot separate it from the action of a person; and I can speak of holiness, and define holiness, but it is nothing to me unless it is embodied in a person. We are in great danger of using fine-sounding epithets about God, and even about man, and losing the sense of personal relation. So to many who even profess and call themselves Christians, God is the sum total of the forces of the universe, the soul is a mode of matter, and Satan is a term for the empirical, partial, and evil drift of things, which in the course of ages may possibly sink into the tidal force of good, and so cease to be the necessity it looks at present. Manifestly the whole consequence of such negations is to annihilate responsibility, and to destroy the cheerful radiant freedom of the human soul everywhere. The personality of Satan stands over against the personality of God; limited, indeed, only permitted, and doomed by His sovereignty. Strangely, indeed, must Scripture have surrendered its intention, if its purpose is not to produce in us hatred and fear towards some tremendous ubiquitous person constantly seeking to have power over us — a malignant will, a power and an element in the universe, in the world, in the human heart — a power not of God, not good, adverse and hateful to God and goodness.

(E. P. Hood.)

Homilist.
We have here a highly figurative representation of the Eternal and His spiritual kingdom. And a remarkable meeting of the great God and some of His intelligent creatures. The passage teaches concerning Satan —

I. THAT HE HAS A PERSONAL EXISTENCE. Acting as a person, he "goes to and fro in the earth."

1. The personality of his existence is suggested by reason.(1) As there are existences gradually sinking beneath man down to nothing, so there may be intelligent beings existing above man, up to the highest point of creatureship.(2) As men have fallen and become rebels against God, there is nothing improbable in the supposition that there are beings above man who have done the same.(3) As the fallen amongst men become the tempters of others, and this in proportion to their depravity and power, it is very probable that amongst the fallen ones above us there are leaders in wickedness. Because of this natural probability, almost all peoples in all lands have believed in an arch-fiend, a malignant "god of this world."

2. The personality of his existence is confirmed by human history. It is almost impossible to account for the absurdities which men entertain, and the enormities which they perpetrate, without going up to some foul spirit who blinds the eyes and flames the passions of men.

3. The personality of his existence is declared in the Bible (Matthew 4:3; John 8:44; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:10, etc.). He is called by different names, Satan, Devil, Old Serpent, Prince of the Power of the Air, Beelzebub, Dragon, etc.

II. HE IS AN INTRUDER INTO THE SACRED (1 Kings 22:19-23; Matthew 4:3). Wherever the sons of the Almighty assemble, Satan is amongst them; he is there to bias the intellect, and to pollute the feelings.

III. HE IS AMENABLE TO THE ETERNAL. Jehovah asks him concerning his movements, and concerning his opinions.

IV. HE IS A VAGRANT IN THE UNIVERSE. Going to and fro implies —

1. Homelessness.

2. Zealousness.

V. HE IS A SLANDERER OF THE GOOD. He slanders man to God, and he slanders God to man. He is diabolus, breaking the harmony of God's moral universe by slander.

VI. HE IS A SLAVE OF THE INFINITE. He can only act by permission. God uses him as His instrument.

(Homilist.)

Temptation is the precursor of sin. There is a great tendency to forget the real nature of Satan; that he is a distinct being, governed by the same laws of motion and influence over matter by which other spiritual bodies are governed. Every strong impulse of evil is a direct assault, and indicates a personal appearance of the tempter, as decidedly as would the approach of any earthly assailant be marked by visible signs. Satan has a distinct personality and individuality, veiled only from us by the mist of our bodily being. There is a floating impression in men's minds that evil is simply a principle inherent in themselves, of no very definite shape, and scarcely forming itself into a clear principle at all. We ought to be able to separate in our minds between the distinct and violent assaults of the tempter, and those slighter suggestions of evil which are the frequent movements of our own corrupt heart. A clear distinction between external assault and internal suggestion will go far to chase those doubts and apprehensions away, and tend to give health and vigour to the soul and conscience. Another benefit will arise from the ideas and pictures this idea of the personality of Satan will raise to the mind in the contest with evil. It reduces the conflict to a definite period, and a number of definite acts. The more real we make our struggle with evil the better. In our bodily condition it is easier to resist a person than an abstraction. We can more easily kindle within ourselves feelings of indignation, desire of superiority, and the like, when we realise personality in our foe.

(E. Monte.)

1. That there is no place in the world that can secure a man from temptation, or be a sanctuary from Satan's assaults. Cloisters are as open to Satan as the open field.

2. We may note here the wonderful diligence of Satan.

3. That Satan is confined in his business to the earth.

(J. Caryl.)

Many have their names for nought, because they do nothing for them; like Laban's images, which were called gods, though they were but blocks; but the devil deserves his names. He is not called a tempter, a liar, a slanderer, and an accuser, and a deceiver, and a murderer, and a compasser in vain; like St. George, which is always on horseback, and never rides; but he would do more than by his office he is bound to. Others are called officers because they have an office; but he is called an enemy because he shows his envy. Others are called justicers because they should do justice; but he is called a tempter because he practiseth temptation. Others are called pastors because they should feed; but he is called a devourer because he doth devour; and we call him a compasser because he doth compass.

(Henry Smith.)

Another route that Satan on his active travels is exceedingly apt to take is for the despoiling of souls. It does not pay him merely to destroy the bodies of men and women. Those bodies would soon be gone anyhow; but great treasures are involved in this Satanic excursion. On this route he meets a man who is aroused by something he has seen in the Bible, and Satan says, "Now I can settle that for you: the Bible is an imposition; it has been deluding the world for centuries; do not let it delude you. It has no more authority than the Koran of the Mohammedan, or the Shaster of the Hindoo, or the Zend-Avesta of the Parsee." He meets another man who is hastening towards the Kingdom of God, and says: "Why all this precipitation? Religion is right, but any time within the next ten years will be soon enough for you. A man with a stout chest like yours, and such muscular development, must not be bothering himself about the next world." Satan meets another man who has gone through a long course of profligacy, and is beginning to pray for forgiveness, and Satan says to the man: "You are too late; the Lord will not help such a wretch as you; you might as well brace up and fight your own way through." And so with a spite and an acuteness and a velocity that have been gaining for six thousand yours, he ranges up and down, baffling, disappointing, defeating, afflicting, destroying the human race.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Compassing here doth signify tempting, and the "earth" doth signify all the people of the earth; as if he should say, "I come from tempting all men." As Satan is here called a "compasser," so he will compass your eyes with shows, and your ears with sounds, and your senses with sleep, and your thoughts with fancies, and all to hinder you from hearing while the articles are against him; and after I have spoken, he will compass you again with business, and cares, and pleasures, and quarrels, to make you forget that which you have heard. Therefore "take heed how ye hear." Satan is an adversary compassing the earth; and therefore let the earth beware, like a city which is besieged with the adversaries. Three things I note wherefore the devil may be said to compass the earth.

1. Because he tempteth all men.

2. Because he tempteth all to sin; and

3. Because he tempteth by all means.What doth he compass? "The earth." This is the devil's pilgrimage, from one end of the earth to the other, and then back again; like a wandering merchant which seeketh his traffic where he can speed cheapest. First of all creatures, Satan compasseth men; he compasseth all men, and he compasseth good men. If then the devil be such a busy-body, which meddleth in every man's matter, let us remember what the wise man saith, "A busy-body is hated"; the devil is to be hated because he is a busy-body. As the serpent compasseth, so doth his seed; and therefore Solomon calls the ways of the wicked crooked ways.

(H. Smith.)

(vers. 8, 11; and Job 40:4). —

A three-fold estimate of a good man's character: —

I. JOB'S CHARACTER AS ESTIMATED BY GOD. God regarded the character of Job. He estimated Job as "perfect." Every part of his character contained the germ of completeness. He estimated Job as "upright." His life was parallel with the commandments of heaven, and the precepts of truth. Job recognised carefully his domestic responsibilities. This perfection is alleged of human nature, "an upright man." Note the blessedness of this character.(1) Divine protection. A hedge about him.(2) Business prosperity. "Substance increased in the land."

II. JOB'S CHARACTER ESTIMATED BY SATAN. The Satanic test of character must he viewed in a two-fold aspect.(1) As a subtle scheme to secure Job's ruin.(2) As a merciful messenger permitted by God to enhance the worth of Job's life. The test was severe, but limited. He estimates that Job's character was superficial, that underneath his garb of goodness there was a smouldering impiety, which only required outward circumstances to develop it into obstinate rebellion.

III. JOB'S CHARACTER ESTIMATED BY HIMSELF.

1. He designates himself "vile." True, his sorrows may have had a depressing effect upon him, and continued suffering have brought him under the influence of gloomy views. Perhaps he had circumstances as an index of his heart life, thinking that his trials were the infliction of wrath, rather than the chidings of love. However, it is evident that reverent humility was a great element in his piety. He had such lofty conceptions of God, His purity and justice, that, in remembrance of such an ideal of life, his own paled into absolute imperfection.

2. Job calls attention to his vileness. — "Behold!" This is somewhat unusual, as people try to conceal the miserable rottenness of their lives, either by a mock modesty or daring pretension.

3. Job takes the blame of his vileness — "I am vile." He does not make his assumed pollution the result of original depravity; he does not attribute it to the despotism of circumstances, to the evil tendency of education, and the impurity of society. No; without palliation or excuse, he renders himself culpable. Ought we not to be shamed into honesty by the plain, bold confession of this good man? Job could afford to consider himself vile, when God thought him perfect.

(Joseph S. Exell, M. A.)

1. That Satan's main temptations, his strongest batteries are planted against the most eminent godly persons. Here God calleth Job His servant. And He calleth him so —(1) By way of distinction or difference; My servant, that is, Mine, not his own. Many are their own servants, they serve their own lusts and pleasures; many are Satan's servants. Some are the servants of men.(2) My servant, by way of special right and property. So Job and all godly persons are called God's servants.

(a)By election.

(b)They are God's servants by the right of purchase.(3) My servant, by way of covenant. Then again, we may further understand this, and all suchlike expressions: When God saith My servant, He doth as it were glory in His servant. God speaks of him as of His treasure; as a man doth of that which he glorieth in.

2. It is a man's honour to be God's servant, and God thinks Himself honoured by the service of man. When God speaks of His people by name, it noteth two things in Scripture.(1) A special care that God hath over them.(2) A special love that God hath to them (John 10:3).

3. That God doth take care of His elect children and servants in a special manner above all other men in the world.

(J. Caryl.)

I. THAT GOD HATH SERVANTS OF ALL STATURES AND DEGREES. All His servants come not to the like pitch, to the like height; here is one that is beyond them all, "My servant" Job — not a man like him upon the earth.

II. WE OUGHT NOT TO SET UP OUR REST IN LOW DEGREES OF GRACE; OR CONTENT OURSELVES TO BE LIKE OTHERS IN GRACE. Then see the character that God giveth of Job, A perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil.

1. God hath a perfect character of every soul. He knoweth fully and clearly what the tempers of your hearts and spirits are.

2. God will give to every man a testimony according to his utmost worth. God will not conceal any of your graces, or obscure your goodness, He will make it known to the world to the full, what you are. It is good for us to have our letters testimonial from God, to have our letters commendatory from heaven. It is not what a man saith in his own heart, what he flattereth himself: it is not what your neighbours or others flatter you, and say of you, but what God saith of you, what testimony He giveth of you.

(J. Caryl.)

If I say to a person, "I will not receive you into my house when you come dressed in such a coat"; and I open the door to him when he has on another suit which is more respectable, it is evident that my objection was not to the person, but to his clothes. If a man will not cheat when the transaction is open to the world, but will do so in a more secret way, or in a kind of adulteration which is winked at in the trade, the man does not hate cheating, he only hates that kind of it which is sure to be found out; he likes the thing itself very well. Some sinners, they say, hate sin. Not at all, sin in its essence is pleasing enough; it is only the glaring shape of it which they dislike.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

How very uncertain are all terrestrial things! How foolish would that believer be who should lay up his treasure anywhere, except in heaven! Job's prosperity promised as much stability as anything can do beneath the moon. He had accumulated wealth of a kind which does not suddenly depreciate in value. Up there, beyond the clouds, where no human eye could see, there was a scene enacted which augured no good to Job's prosperity. The spirit of evil stood face to face with the infinite Spirit of all good. An extraordinary conversation took place between these two beings.

I. IN WHAT SENSE MAY SATAN BE SAID TO CONSIDER THE PEOPLE OF GOD? Certainly not in the usual Biblical meaning of the term "consider." O Lord, consider my trouble. Consider my meditation. Blessed is he that considereth the poor." Such consideration implies goodwill and a careful inspection of the object of benevolence with regard to a wise distribution of favour. In that sense Satan never considers any. If he has any benevolence, it must be towards himself; but all his considerations of other creatures are of the most malevolent kind. No meteoric flash of good flits across the black midnight of his soul. Nor does he consider us as we are told to consider the works of God, that is, in order to derive instruction as to God's wisdom and love and kindness. He does not honour God by what he sees in His works, or in His people.

1. The consideration which Satan pays to God's saints is upon this wise. He regards them with wonder, when he considers the difference between them and himself. A traitor, when he knows the thorough villainy and the blackness of his own heart, cannot help being astounded when he is forced to believe another man to be faithful. What grace is it which keeps these? I was a vessel of gold, and yet I was broken; these are earthen vessels, but I cannot break them! It may be that he also wonders at their happiness. He feels within himself a seething sea of misery. He admires and hates the peace which reigns in the believer's soul.

2. Do you not think that he considers them to detect, if possible, any flaw and fault in them, by way of solace to himself? He considers our sinful flesh, and makes it one of the books in which he diligently reads. One of the fairest prospects, I doubt not, which the devil's eye ever rests upon is the inconsistency and the impurity which he can discover in the true child of God. In this respect he had very little to consider in God's true servant, Job.

3. We doubt not that he views the Lord's people, and especially the more eminent and excellent among them, as the great barriers to the progress of his kingdom; and just as the engineer, endeavouring to make a railway, keeps his eye very much fixed upon the hills and rivers, and especially upon the great mountain through which it will take years laboriously to bore a tunnel, so Satan, in looking upon his various plans to carry on his dominion in the world, considers most such men as Job. He is sure to consider God's servant, if there be "none like him," if he stand out distinct and separate from his fellows. Those of us who are called to the work of the ministry must expect from our position to be the special objects of his consideration. If you are more generous than other saints, if you live nearer to God than others, as the birds peck most at the ripest fruit, so may you expect Satan to be most busy against you. Who cares to contend for a province covered with stones and barren rocks, and ice bound by frozen seas? But in all times there is sure to be a contention after the fat valleys where the wheat-sheaves are plenteous, and where the husbandman's toil is well requited, and thus, for you who honour God most, Satan will struggle very sternly. He wants to pluck God's jewels from His crown, if he can, and take the Redeemer's precious stones even from the breastplate itself.

4. It needs not much wisdom to discern that the great object of Satan in considering God's people is to do them injury. Where he cannot destroy, there is no doubt that Satan's object is to worry. He does not like to see God's people happy.

5. Moreover, if Satan cannot destroy a Christian, how often has he spoilt his usefulness! How is it that God permits this constant and malevolent consideration of His people by the evil one? One answer, doubtless, is, that God knows what is for His own glory, and that He giveth no account of His matters; that, having permitted free agency, and having allowed, for some mysterious reason, the existence of evil, it does not seem agreeable with His having done so to destroy Satan; but He gives him power, that it may be a fair hand-to-hand fight between sin and holiness, between grace and craftiness. Besides, be it remembered, that incidentally the temptations of Satan are of service to the people of God. An experimental divine remarks, that there is no temptation in the world which is so bad as not being tempted at all; for to be tempted will tend to keep us awake — whereas, being without temptation, flesh and blood are weak: and though the spirit may be willing, yet we may be found falling into slumber. Children do not run away from their father's side when big dogs bark at them.

II. WHAT IS IT THAT SATAN CONSIDERS WITH A VIEW TO THE INJURY OF GOD'S PEOPLE? It cannot be said of him as of God, that he knoweth us altogether; but since he has been now nearly six thousand years dealing with poor fallen humanity, he must have acquired a very vast experience in that time, and having been all over the earth, and having tempted the highest and the lowest, he must know exceedingly well what the springs of human action are, and how to play upon them.

1. Satan watches and considers, first of all, our peculiar infirmities. He looks us up and down, just as I have seen a horse dealer do with a horse; and soon finds out wherein we are faulty. Satan knows how to look at us and reckon us up from heel to head, so that he will say of this man, "His infirmity is lust," or of that other, "He hath a quick temper," or of this other, "He is proud," or of that other, "He is slothful."

2. He takes care also to consider our frames and states of mind. If the devil would attack us when our minds are in certain moods, we should be more than a match for him: he knows this, and shuns the encounter. Some men are more ready for temptation when they are distressed and desponding; the fiend will then assail them. Others will be more liable to take fire when they are jubilant and full of joy; then will he strike his spark into the tinder. As the worker in metals knows that one metal is to be worked at such a heat, and another at a different temperature; as those who have to deal with chemicals know that at a certain heat one fluid will boil, while another reaches the boiling point much earlier, so Satan knows exactly the temperature at which to work us to his purpose. Small pots boil directly they are put on the fire, and so little men of quick temper are soon in a passion; larger vessels require more time and coal before they will boil, but when they do boil, it is a boil indeed, not soon forgotten or abated.

3. He also takes care to consider our position among men. There are a few persons who are most easily tempted when they are alone — they are the subjects then of great heaviness of mind, and they may be driven to most awful crimes; perhaps the most of us are more liable to sin when we are in company. In some company I never should be led into sin; into another society I could scarcely venture.

4. How, too, will he consider our condition in the world! He looks at one man, and says, "That man has property — it is of no use my trying such-and-such arts with him; but here is another man who is very poor, I will catch him in that net."

5. Satan, when he makes his investigations, notices all the objects of our affection. I doubt not, when he went round Job's house, he observed it as carefully as thieves do a jeweller's premises when they mean to break into them. So, when the devil went round, jotting down in his mind all Job's position, he thought to himself, "There are the camels and the oxen, the asses and the servants, — yes, I can use all these very admirably." "Then," he thought, "there are the three daughters! There are the ten sons, and they go feasting — I shall know where to catch them, and if I can just blow the house down when they are feasting, that will afflict the father's mind the more severely, for he will say, 'Oh, that they had died when they had been praying, rather than when they had been feasting and drinking wine.' I will put down, too, in the inventory," says the devil, "his wife — I dare say I shall want her," and accordingly it came to that. You have a child, and Satan knows that you idolise it. "Ah," says he, "there is a place for my wounding him."

III. Satan considered, but THERE WAS A HIGHER CONSIDERATION WHICH OVERRODE. HIS CONSIDERATION. In times of war, the sappers and miners of one party will make a mine, and it is a very common counteractive for the sappers and miners of the other party to countermine by undermining the first mine. This is just what God does with Satan. Satan is mining, and he thinks to light the fusee and to blow up God's building, but all the while God is undermining him, and tie blows up Satan's mine before he can do any mischief. Subtlety is not wisdom. All the while that Satan was tempting Job he little knew that he was answering God's purpose, for God was looking on and considering the whole of it, and holding the enemy as a man holds a horse by its bridle.

1. The Lord had considered exactly how far He would let Satan go.

2. Did not the Lord also consider how He should sustain His servant under the trial? You do not know how blessedly our God poured the secret oil upon Jacob's fire of grace, while the devil was throwing buckets of water on it.

3. In the next place, the Lord considered how to sanctify Job by this trial. Job was a much better man at the end of the story than he was at the beginning. Foolish devil! he is piling up a pedestal on which God will set His servant Job, that he may be looked upon with wonder by all ages.

4. Job's afflictions and Job's patience have been a lasting blessing to the Church of God, and they have inflicted incredible disgrace upon Satan.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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