Verses 1–6

Satan, that sworn enemy to God and all good men, is here pushing forward his malicious prosecution of Job, whom he hated because God loved him, and did all he could to separate between him and his God, to sow discord and make mischief between them, urging God to afflict him and then urging him to blaspheme God. One would have thought that he had enough of his former attempt upon Job, in which he was so shamefully baffled and disappointed; but malice is restless: the devil and his instruments are so. Those that calumniate good people, and accuse them falsely, will have their saying, though the evidence to the contrary be ever so plain and full and they have been cast in the issue which they themselves have put it upon. Satan will have Job’s cause called over again. The malicious, unreasonable, importunity of that great persecutor of the saints is represented (Rev. 12:10) by his accusing them before our God day and night, still repeating and urging that against them which has been many a time answered: so did Satan here accuse Job day after day. Here is,

I. The court set, and the prosecutor, or accuser, making his appearance (Job 2:1, 2), as before, Job 1:6, 7. The angels attended God’s throne and Satan among them. One would have expected him to come and confess his malice against Job and his mistake concerning him, to cry, Pecavi—I have done wrong, for belying one whom God spoke well of, and to beg pardon; but, instead of that, he comes with a further design against Job. He is asked the same question as before, Whence comest thou? and answers as before, From going to and fro in the earth; as if he had been doing no harm, though he had been abusing that good man.

II. The judge himself of counsel for the accused, and pleading for him (Job 2:3): “Hast thou considered my servant Job better than thou didst, and art thou now at length convinced that he is a faithful servant of mine, a perfect and an upright man; for thou seest he still holds fast his integrity?” This is now added to his character, as a further achievement; instead of letting go his religion, and cursing God, he holds it faster than ever, as that which he has now more than ordinary occasion for. He is the same in adversity that he was in prosperity, and rather better, and more hearty and lively in blessing God than ever he was, and takes root the faster for being thus shaken. See, 1. How Satan is condemned for his allegations against Job: “Thou movedst me against him, as an accuser, to destroy him without cause.” Or, “Thou in vain movedst me to destroy him, for I will never do that.” Good men, when they are cast down, are not destroyed, 2 Cor. 4:9. How well is it for us that neither men nor devils are to be our judges, for perhaps they would destroy us, right or wrong; but our judgment proceeds from the Lord, whose judgment never errs nor is biassed. 2. How Job is commended for his constancy notwithstanding the attacks made upon him: “Still he holds fast his integrity, as his weapon, and thou canst not disarm him—as his treasure, and thou canst not rob him of that; nay, thy endeavours to do it make him hold it the faster; instead of losing ground by the temptation, he gets ground.” God speaks of it with wonder, and pleasure, and something of triumph in the power of his own grace; Still he holds fast his integrity. Thus the trial of Job’s faith was found to his praise and honour, 1 Pet. 1:7. Constancy crowns integrity.

III. The accusation further prosecuted, Job 2:4. What excuse can Satan make for the failure of his former attempt? What can he say to palliate it, when he had been so very confident that he should gain his point? Why, truly, he has this to say, Skin for skin, and all that a man has, will he give for his life. Something of truth there is in this, that self-love and self-preservation are very powerful commanding principles in the hearts of men. Men love themselves better than their nearest relations, even their children, that are parts of themselves, will not only venture, but give, their estates to save their lives. All account life sweet and precious, and, while they are themselves in health and at ease, they can keep trouble from their hearts, whatever they lose. We ought to make a good use of this consideration, and, while God continues to us our life and health and the use of our limbs and senses, we should the more patiently bear the loss of other comforts. See Matt. 6:25. But Satan grounds upon this an accusation of Job, slyly representing him, 1. As unnatural to those about him, and one that laid not to heart the death of his children and servants, nor cared how many of them had their skins (as I may say) stripped over their ears, so long as he slept in a whole skin himself; as if he that was so tender of his children’s souls could be careless of their bodies, and, like the ostrich, hardened against his young ones, as though they were not his. 2. As wholly selfish, and minding nothing but his own ease and safety; as if his religion made him sour, and morose, and ill-natured. Thus are the ways and people of God often misrepresented by the devil and his agents.

IV. A challenge given to make a further trial of Job’s integrity (Job 2:5): “Put forth thy hand now (for I find my hand too short to reach him, and too weak to hurt him) and touch his bone and his flesh (that is with him the only tender part, make him sick with smiting him, Mic. 6:13), and then, I dare say, he will curse thee to thy face, and let go his integrity.” Satan knew it, and we find it by experience, that nothing is more likely to ruffle the thoughts and put the mind into disorder than acute pain and distemper of body. There is no disputing against sense. St. Paul himself had much ado to bear a thorn in the flesh, nor could he have borne it without special grace from Christ, 2 Cor. 12:7, 9.

V. A permission granted to Satan to make this trial, Job 2:6. Satan would have had God put forth his hand and do it; but he afflicts not willingly, nor takes any pleasure in grieving the children of men, much less his own children (Lam. 3:33), and therefore, if it must be done, let Satan do it, who delights in such work: “He is in thy hand, do thy worst with him; but with a proviso and limitation, only save his life, or his soul. Afflict him, but not to death.” Satan hunted for the precious life, would have taken that if he might, in hopes that dying agonies would force Job to curse his God; but God had mercy in store for Job after this trial, and therefore he must survive it, and, however he is afflicted, must have his life given him for a prey. If God did not chain up the roaring lion, how soon would he devour us! As far as he permits the wrath of Satan and wicked men to proceed against his people he will make it turn to his praise and theirs, and the remainder thereof he will restrain, Ps. 76:10. “Save his soul,” that is, “his reason” (so some), “preserve to him the use of that, for otherwise it will be no fair trial; if, in his delirium, he should curse God, that will be no disproof of his integrity. It would be the language not of his heart, but of his distemper.” Job, in being thus maligned by Satan, was a type of Christ, the first prophecy of whom was that Satan should bruise his heel (Gen. 3:15), and so he was foiled, as in Job’s case. Satan tempted him to let go his integrity, his adoption (Matt. 4:6): If thou be the Son of God. He entered into the heart of Judas who betrayed Christ, and (some think) with his terrors put Christ into his agony in the garden. He had permission to touch his bone and his flesh without exception of his life, because by dying he was to do that which Job could not do—destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.