To contact us:
[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 1:2 – Job’s Family, by Joseph Caryl
2There were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
This verse contains the first part of Job’s outward happiness; the blessings of children. Concerning whom we have three things offered. 1. Their number ten. 2. The distinction of sexes (sons and daughters). 3. Their mutual love and concord.
There is little in the words that needs explication, therefore where the Scripture is plain and clear, I will not spend time.
There were born unto him.
His children were not born against him, but born unto him, given as comforts and blessings to him.
Seven sons and three daughters. The number seven and the number three, are numbers of perfection. Some trouble themselves much about them, but I will not stay upon numbers.
1. Children are blessings of the Lord.
They are put here as a part of his inheritance. “Children are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:13). They are special blessing. Children (as it is observed) are a resemblance of our immortality, because a man revives again, lives anew (as it were) in every child: he is born again (in a civil sense) when others are born unto him. There be some who account their children but bills of charges, but God puts them upon the account of our mercies; how holily and piously speaks Jacob concerning his children. “These are the children which God has graciously given thy servant” (Genesis 33:5).
2. Observe this, Children as they are blessings and great blessings, so they are greater blessings than any outward thing else whatsoever.
When a description is made of goods, the best is put first. First, his spiritual blessings are set down, then comes his outward; now children are put in the very next degree to his graces. What our Savior Christ says of a man’s soul, may be said of children; “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26). It is true, which is spoken there of a man’s own soul, that it is more to himself than the world, but it is a truth here too, if one have a soul given him (and to have a child is to have a soul bestowed upon us) for the present it is more than to have the whole world bestowed on him. A whole world of riches is not so good, not such goods, as one child: therefore children are put in the first place, as his choosiest and chiefest outward blessings.
Then from the number of his children, he had many children, he had 7 sons and 3 daughters. Observe,
3. To have many children is a great blessing, and the more children the greater the blessing.
Some think themselves blessed, if they may have one or two children; one to inherit their estates, one or two to delight themselves in, to play with, or to bear their name; but if they come to a number, to a great number, then they think themselves exceedingly burdened, then they are troubles. When God casts up the estate of a blessed man in outward things, He says not only that he has a child, that he is not barren, but that he has many children, that he has his quiver full of such arrows, as the expression is, and that is made the blessedness of a man there, “Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them” (Ps. 127:5), that has many such arrows, such are children of the youth. There are some rich and covetous men, that are in this point beyond others rich in folly. You shall hear them pride themselves, that they have no children, or but few; this they conceive sets them off in the opinion of the world for the richer men, whereas one child is more riches then all the things that are in the world. And we know, it is an ordinary thing (though indeed it is a very sinful thing) to say, it is true such an one is a rich man, he has a fair estate, but he has a great charge, a great many children, as if that did take off from his riches, or make him less happy: as if he were the poorer, because he has a larger share of that ancient first blessing upon man, “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the Earth” (Gen. 1:28).
4. To have many sons and daughters too, is yet a more complete blessing.
For by daughters the family is increased, and other families are joined and knit and united to that family. And to have sons and daughters both, is the perfection of that natural blessing; because man was so made that first, he was made male and female. As it is with the soul and the body, though the soul be more excellent than the body, yet the soul alone is not so perfect, as when soul and body are together: because though the body be not so strong in constitution and noble in condition as the soul, yet body and soul in creation were joined together, therefore their greatest perfection consists in their union. So likewise it is in a family, the fullness and completeness of the blessing is in the union of both. Job had many sons and daughters likewise, this made the blessing more complete.
And then lastly observe this, Job had many children in the family are in themselves no impediments, either of piety towards God or justice toward man.
As soon as ever Job was described in all his perfections, it is added he had many sons and many daughters, though he had so many to look to and provide for, yet he omitted neither duty towards God, nor duty towards man. There are many who think it some excuse, if not excuse enough for their neglect, for their slighting holy duties, or slightness in the holy duties of hearing, praying, and the like; oh, they have a great many children, and they must rise early and they must work late, they can spare no time or but little for the public or private or secret worship of God; especially for anything that is extraordinary: so that these cares steal away, not only those times that might be bestowed in an extraordinary manner upon their souls, but even the ordinary times are stolen away by them also. Further, some think themselves by this in part excused for their injustice toward men, they have a great family, and if they deal somewhat harshly, and stick as close as they can in business, they may be borne with for they have a great many children; and they must look to provide for them, they else were worse than infidels, and hence they take liberty to do what honest infidels were ashamed of. Job, you see, was upright, though he had so many sons and daughters to provide for. It is ill with those whose gain for their children is any loss to their souls; but woe, when any to gain for their children is any loss to their souls: doing like those in Nahum 2:12, “The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with rapine.” By the lion there is meant those oppressors, that lived in Ninevah, and by their whelps are meant their children, and by lionesses their wives; they had wives and children, and they must have means and estates for them. Job may say had whelps and a lioness, wife and children, yet he does not tear for them. Nay though he had so many to provide for, yet he rather give out to others. What hungry belly was not filled with his meat? And what naked back was not clothed with his wool? He did not say: “I have children to feed and to clothe, and therefore you can have nothing.” You see though he had many children and a great charge, yet how complete he was in his duty to God and in his duty to man, he failed not either in the duties of worship and holiness, not in the duties of justice and uprightness.