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[Here we continue a reprint of a small portion of Joseph Caryl’s study in Job. Mr. Caryl wrote twelve volumes on the book of Job. His study is a great example of how deep one can dig into the truths of the Bible.]
Job 1:1 -
A Good Man in a Bad Place, by Joseph Caryl
1There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil.
In the land of Uz. I will not trouble you with any geographical discourse: In a word we may consider three things about Uz.
1. Why it was called so.
2. Where it was seated.
3. What manner of people they were that dwelt in Uz.
1. For the name, let it be taken from Uz, the name of a man. And there were three called by that name in Scripture, Gen. 10:23, 22:21, 36:28. From either of these Job’s country might derive its name, but from which of these would be (I think) a nice debate; yet it is rather ascribed to Uz, or Huz, the eldest son of Nahor, Gen. 22:21.
2. For the place, where it was seated, it is clear that it was upon the borders of the Sabeans, and of the Chaldeans, and of the Arabians, those Eastern people. Some affirm that the lot of the half tribe of Manassas on the other side Jordan, which was set forth for them when the people of Israel came into Canaan, was the very place where Job lived, and that was called Uz. It is clear that it was near those parts above mentioned. First, from Lament. 4:21, There the Prophet Jeremiah speaking of Uz, faith, “Rejoice, and be glad O daughter of Edom, that dwells in the Land of Uz.” And Jer. 25:20, he speaks again of the land of Uz, “All the mingled people, and all the Kings of the Land of Uz, they shall drink of the Cup”: he mentions the cup also in that place, Lam 4. “Rejoice and be glad O daughter of Edom that dwells in the land of Uz, the cup also shall pass through unto thee.” Secondly, Uz bordered upon those countries, for these people made out their parties, invaded, flew and took away Job’s estate, cattle, and servants; therefore the place in all probability lay near these countries.
3. For the condition and manners of the people: it is generally received that they were a people profane in their lives, and superstitious at least in their worship: Edameans and Edomites, the descendants of Esau, here and all the Scripture over. Among these Job lived, among these Job governed, there he exercised those precious graces, and practices those excellent duties both of homeless towards God, and of justice towards men. It was in the midst of a sinful and perverse nation, in the land of Uz.
Then observe, first, God has his servants in all places, including the worst places.
There was never any air so bad but that a servant of God might breathe in it. Here God had a choice piece, even in the land of Uz, a place of profanity; there was Bethel in Rethaven, so “house of God” in a land of wickedness. Lot dwelled in Sodom, Joseph in Egypt, David in Mesech, and in Kedar. There were saints in Caesar’s (wicked Nero’s) household. Babylon held many of God’s people, yet let them not make such places their refuge, much less their election. But remember the call, “Come out of here my people” (Rev. 18:4).
Secondly, we may observe from hence (this being spoken of Job to set him forth in the excellency of his spiritual condition, that he lived in the land of Uz), that,
It is a great honor and a high commendation to be good, and do good among those that are evil.
You shall be recorded for it. This was one reason why the place is named, that the honor of Job might be lifted up, that he was good, not by the example and encouragement, but against the example of others. He was a leading man himself, though he lived among those that were scoffers and wicked, yet Job was holy. As they say concerning the affection of love, it is most unnatural for a man to hate those that love him; it is civil for men to love those that love them, but this is truly Christian for a man to love those that hate him and do him wrong. So in regard of living and conversing, as of loving and affecting, we may say, it is a most wicked thing to be naught among those that are good. It aggravates a man’s sinfulness, to be unholy while he converses with those that are holy. It is a good thing to be good with the good, to take example by them. But it is a most excellent thing, a glorious thing to be good among those that are stark naught, to worship God aright among idolaters, to fear God among those that have no fear of God before their eyes, to be perfect among hypocrites, to be upright among those that are unjust, to eschew evil among those that are altogether wrapped about with evil. This was the honor and commendation of Job. For a man to be as Lot in Sodom, never touched with Sodom’s wickedness, to keep himself pure and sincere and without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, to shine as a light in the midst of darkness: this brings honor both to God and man.
Thirdly, from the place where Job lived, we may observe, that,
Grace will preserve itself in the midst of the greatest opposition. It is such a fire as no water can wholly quench or put out. True grace will keep itself sound and clean among those who are leprous and unclean. It is such a thing as overcomes and masters all the evil that is about it: God has put such a mighty power into grace, that if it once possess the heart in truth, though there be but a little of it, though there be but as much as a grain of mustard-seed, not all the wickedness in the world, no not all the devils in hell can dispossess it. As all the water in the sea cannot make the fish salt, but still the fish retains its freshness, so all the wickedness and filthiness that is in the world, cannot destroy, cannot defile true grace, which will bear up its head and hold up itself forever.