THE REMOVAL OF PROSPERITY PUTS OUR DEVOTION TO GOD TO THE TEST —
GOD ALLOWS SATAN TO TEST JOB’S MOTIVATION FOR WORSHIP
David Clines: Here we learn what Job never learns, that his suffering had a particular cause and that it subserved a purpose. The cause of Job’s suffering is unmistakably Satan’s challenge that Job’s piety is not disinterested and God’s acceptance of the challenge; the purpose of the suffering is to substantiate God’s assessment of Job’s piety and so justify God’s claim to disinterested piety from humans.
Robert Alden: A dialogue between the Lord and the Satan fills vv. 7-12. Mainly it is a question-and-answer session. At first the Lord asks the questions (vv. 7-8), and the Satan answers. In vv. 9-10 the Satan asks the questions. The Lord does not exactly answer the questions but simply grants the accuser a limited amount of freedom to persecute Job. The dialogue ends with the Satan leaving the presence of the Lord.
Tremper Longman: The introduction of main characters of the book continues, though Yahweh appears in person only at the beginning and end of the book and the accuser only at the beginning. However, it is their interaction that sets the plot in motion.
Roy Zuck: Satan’s subtle suggestion that worship is basically selfish hits at the heart of man’s relationship to God. The Book of Job does more than raise the question of the suffering of the righteous. It also, through Satan’s words, deals with the motives for godly living. Will anyone serve the Lord if he enjoys no personal gain from it? Is worship a coin that buys a heavenly reward? Is piety part of a contract by which to gain wealth and ward off trouble?
(:6) PROLOGUE – SATAN APPROACHES GOD
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves
before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.”
Francis Andersen: The ‘host of heaven’ (e.g. 1 Kgs 22:19) consists of all superhuman beings, including stars (Job 38:7). As God’s attendants these creatures are called ‘messengers’ or ‘angels’ (e.g. Gen. 32:2; cf. Ps. 103:20) or ‘slaves’ (e.g. Job 4:18). As associates of God they are ‘holy ones’ (Job 5:1). As supervisors of God’s realm, such agents were later called ‘watchers’ (Dan. 4:13, 17, 23), active in the affairs of men, patrolling the earth (Zech. 1:10f.; 6:5f.) to observe and to protect. One of the great names of God—The Lord of hosts—probably means that he is the sole Creator of them all, leaving no room whatever for polytheism. Another name for these beings is the sons of God or, simply, ‘gods’ (Ps. 97:7) or ‘spirits’ (Zech. 6:5). When gathered in assembly they constitute ‘the divine council’ (Ps. 82:1) or ‘the assembly of the holy ones’ (Ps. 89:5) or ‘the council of the holy ones’ (Ps. 89:7). Since in Israel only the Lord received divine honours, his supremacy is never in doubt. He presided over the meeting like a king on his throne. The angel courtiers are seen surrounding him when a man is granted a glimpse of his splendour (1 Kgs 22:19; Isa. 6:1; Gen. 28:12).
David Atkinson: Job 1 does not use the word ‘heaven’, but it refers to ‘the presence of the LORD’ (1:12) to mean exactly this. There is another realm, another place, where God holds council with his heavenly court and where actions are taken which affect people on earth. Job does not see this. There is no indication that he is ever aware of it. In fact, it is centrally important to the story that he is completely unaware of this whole dimension to his predicament. All Job knows is the suffering which results. But we, the readers, are told. We are given a glimpse of the heavenly realm of which Job himself remains ignorant.
John Hartley: Here the Hebrew word haśśāṭān has the article, so it functions as a title rather than as a personal name. The. Hebrew root śṭn means “to oppose at law.” On this basis some scholars conjecture that the Satan may be the prosecuting attorney of the heavenly council. If this view is correct, his task on earth was to discover human sins and failures and to bring his findings before the heavenly assembly. But his role in this scene deviates from this explanation. Instead of uncovering disruptive plans, he acts as a troublemaker, a disturber of the kingdom. . .
The main function of this assembly here is to provide an open forum in which Yahweh permits the testing of Job. That is, the plan to test Job was not hatched in a secret meeting between Yahweh and the Satan. Rather it was decided openly before the heavenly assembly. In this setting Yahweh’s motivation, based on his complete confidence in Job, was fully known and thus it was above question.
I. (:7-8) DIVINE TESTIMONY TO JOB’S DEVOTION —
TWO QUESTIONS FROM THE LORD TO SATAN
A. (:7) Question #1 – What Is Satan Up To?
“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’”
Cyril Barber: Of course the Lord knew where Satan had been and why he had come before Him. He, however, asked what he had been doing. To this question He received the surly and somewhat evasive reply, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it” (1:7).
“Then Satan answered the LORD and said,
‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.’”
Albert Barnes: In Zechariah 4:10, it is applied to “the eyes of Yahweh,” which are said to “run to and fro through the earth,” that is, he surveys all things as one does whose eye passes rapidly from object to object. The same phrase occurs in 2 Chronicles 16:9. In Jeremiah 5:1, it is applied to the action of a man passing rapidly through the streets of a city. “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem” compare Jeremiah 49:3. From these passages it is clear that the idea is not that of going “in a circuit” or circle, but it is that of passing rapidly; of moving with alacrity and in a hurry; and it is not improbable that the “original” idea is that suggested in the Arabic of “heat” – and thence applied to a whip or scourge because it produces a sensation like burning, and also to a rapid journey or motion, because it produces heat or a glow. It means that Satan had been active and diligent in passing from place to place in the earth to survey it. The Chaldee adds to this, “to examine into the works of the sons of men.”
B. (:8) Question #2 – What is Job Up To?
“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job?’”
John Piper: It’s as though a diamond thief should meet the owner at the back of a jewelry store late at night. The owner says, “What are you doing?” And the thief answers, “Just walking around in your store.” And then the owner says, “Did you see our most precious diamond up there at the front?”
Chuck Smith: The word considered is the word that I’m interested in, though, because it is actually a military term. It is the term that is used of a general who is studying a city before he attacks it in order that he might develop his strategy whereby he can destroy the city. So he’s watching when they open the gates, the method of which they open the gates. How do the people come out? What gates are the most easily attacked? And he’s developing his whole strategy in order that he might attack and destroy the city. That’s the Hebrew word, the background of the word. It’s a military term. “Have you been studying Job? Seeking to develop the strategy whereby you might destroy him? Have you considered my servant Job?”
“For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”
David Clines: Job is God’s boast. Not only does God endorse the author’s characterization of Job in v 1, using exactly the same words, “a man blameless and upright, a God-fearer, a shunner of evil,” but also denominates Job “my servant” and declares “there is none like him in the earth.” (It is of course equally the author’s evaluation of Job whether he expresses it in his own person in v 1 or sets it in the mouth of God in v 8, but he means to dispel any shadow of doubt that Job’s piety may be only seeming and to have the God from whom Job’s afflictions will stem affirm his own cognizance of Job’s character.)
II. (:9-12) SATANIC CHALLENGE OF JOB’S MOTIVATION FOR DEVOTION
A. (:9-11) Challenge Proposed
1. (:9) The Provoking Taunt
“Then Satan answered the LORD, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’”
Francis Andersen: The Satan asks his sneering question: Does Job fear God for nought? He knows enough about religious people to be persuaded that they are in it for what they can get out of it.
Robert Alden: The question cuts to the heart of genuine faith. The issue is whether God deserves to be worshiped because of the greatness of his character or must “buy” his worship with gifts and promises of blessing. The serpent raised a similar issue when he accused God of being less than good and honest (Gen 3:12-15).
David Atkinson: But the Satan, whose preoccupation with hunting out wrongdoing has produced a cynicism which is destructive, replies to God in effect, ‘Do you think Job’s piety is all for nothing? You don’t think he does all this without expecting some reward, do you? In any case, he is a bad example of piety – you, God, have hedged him in with so much wealth, richness, and family support (1:10). No wonder he is good! In the real world of pain, of bereavement, of struggle, people are not good. Take away Job’s possessions and he will fail – he will curse you to your face. Goodness cannot survive in the real world of human pain.’
2. (:10) The Protective Hedge of Blessing
“Hast Thou not made a hedge about him and his house
and all that he has, on every side?
Thou hast blessed the work of his hands,
and his possessions have increased in the land.”
Robert Alden: Verse 10 lists three categories: “him,” “his household,” and “everything he has.” In this verse the Satan receives permission to afflict only the last two. The affliction of Job’s body would be the substance of the second test (2:7).
3. (:11) The Proposed Test
“But put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he has;
he will surely curse Thee to Thy face.”
Francis Andersen: So the basic questions of the book are raised. God’s character and Job’s are both slighted. Is God so good that he can be loved for himself, not just for his gifts? Can a man hold on to God when there are no benefits attached? The Satan suggests a test to prove his point.
Charles Swindoll: Here we witness the Accuser’s personality.
– We know that he has an intellect because he converses with the Lord.
– We see that Satan has emotions because he is antagonistic toward Job.
– He also has volition because he purposes to destroy Job in hopes of disgracing God.
B. (:12a) Challenge Accepted
“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power,
only do not put forth your hand on him.’”
John Hartley: This scene and its counterpart in 2:1–7a are essential for the audience to comprehend the spiritual dimensions of Job’s trial. They afford insight into God’s evaluation of Job and his confidence that under the severest testing his servant will prove that this evaluation is well-founded. Without knowledge of God’s position the dialogue would be meaningless and Job’s stubbornness would be thought the height of self-delusion. In order to make a proper assessment of Job’s complaint the audience must know God’s attitude toward Job and his direction of the events that will befall Job.
Derek Kidner: God will place his children in situations where it will not be easy to believe, where great reserves of faith will be needed to survive, where the most basic convictions will be called into question. There will be times when it will be difficult to believe that God is gracious, when faith will be stretched to the limits of endurance and the love of God is veiled and obscured. These are moments that God has brought about. He may use Satan in the process, but ultimately it comes from him. Our suffering is at the hands of one who loves us, not one who despises us. God, and not Satan, has the key to our recovery. “When we consider the power and policy of Satan,” comments Joseph Caryl, “let us bless God that he cannot stir to do us that mischief which his nature at once inclines and enables him to do, until God permits him.”
(:12b) EPILOGUE – SATAN DEPARTS FROM GOD
“So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.”