A Study in Wisdom
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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 1:6-12 Introduction -
The Cause of Job’s Affliction,
by Joseph Caryl (1666)
6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. 7And the Lord said unto Satan, “Whence comest thou?” Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” 8And the Lord said unto Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” 9Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, “Doth Job fear God for nought? 10Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.” 12And the Lord said unto Satan, “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.” So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.
Usually where God gives much grace, He tries grace much. To whom God has given strong shoulders, on him for the most part He lays heavy burdens. As soon as Job is spoken of thus prepared (as in the previous verses), the next thing that follows is an affliction.
And so we are come to the second main division of the chapter, which is the affliction of Job, and that is set forth from this 6th verse to the end of the 19th. And lest we should conceive it to have come upon him by chance, it is punctually described four ways.
1. By the causes of it, ver. 6-12.
2. By the instruments of it, ver. 15-19.
3. By the manner of it, ver. 14-19.
4. By the time of it, ver. 13.
First, his afflictions are set forth in their causes, and that is done from the sixth verse to the end of the twelfth. And the causes are three-fold.
First, the efficient causes, and they were two.
1. The supreme and principal efficient cause, and that was God, ordering and disposing the affliction of Job.
2. The subordinate efficient cause, and that was Satan; he was an efficient but under God. Satan found out other instruments and tools to do it by, but he was an efficient subordinate unto God. And the text discovers him three ways:
· By his diligence in tempting, ver. 7.
· By his malice in slandering, ver. 9-11.
· By his cruelty in soliciting the overthrow and affliction of Job, ver. 11.
Secondly, we have the material cause of Job’s affliction, or in what matter he was afflicted; and that is laid down, first positively in those words, All that he has is in thy power; that is, his outward estate, that was the matter wherein he was afflicted. Then it is laid down negatively, in those words, Only upon himself put not forth thy hand. God does set him out how far the affliction shall go: In the things that he has you shalt afflict him, but you shall not meddle with his person, with his body or with his soul.
Thirdly, the final cause of Job’s affliction, and that is, the practical and experimental determination, decision or stating of a great question that was between God and Satan concerning Job’s sincerity. God tells Satan that Job was a good and just man; Satan denies it, and says that Job was an hypocrite. Now the determination of this question was the general final cause of Job’s affliction. When on the one side God affirms it, and on the other side Satan denies it: how shall it be tried? Who shall be the moderator and umpire between them? Satan will not believe God, and God had no reason to believe Satan: How then should this be made out? It is as if Satan had said, “Here is your yea and my nay, this question will never be ended or decided between us, unless you will admit some course to have Job soundly afflicted. This will quickly discover what metal the man is made of; therefore let him come to the trial,” says Satan. “Let him,” says God, “behold all that he has is in your power, do your worst to him, only upon his person put not forth your hand.” So, the general final cause of Job’s affliction is the determination of the question, the decision of the dispute between God and Satan, whether Job was a sincere and holy man or not.
And all this (to give you the sum of those 6 verses a little further), is here set forth and described to us after the manner of men, by an anthropopathetic, which is, when God expresses Himself in His actions and dispensations with and toward the world, as if He were a man. So God does here; He presents Himself in this business after the manner of some great King sitting upon his throne, having his servants attending him, and taking an account of them, what they had done, or giving instructions and commissions to them what they shall do. This, I say, God does here after the manner of men, for otherwise we are not to conceive that God makes certain days of sessions with His creatures, wherein He calls the good and bad angels together about the affairs of the world. We must not have such gross conceits of God, for He needs receive no information from them, neither does He give them or Satan any formal commission; neither is Satan admitted into the presence of God, to come so near God at any time; neither is God moved at all by the slanders of Satan, or by his accusations to deliver up His servants and children into his hands for a moment. But only the Scripture speaks thus, to teach us how God carries Himself in the affairs of the world, even as if He sat upon His throne, and called every creature before Him, and gave each a direction, what and when and where to work, how far and which way to move in every action.
So that these six verses following, which contain the causes of Job’s affliction are (as we may so speak) the scheme or draught of providence; (that may be the title of them). If a man would delineate providence, he might do it thus; suppose God upon His throne, with Angels good and bad, yea all creatures about Him and He directing, sending, ordering every one, as a Prince does his subjects, or as a Master his servants, do you this and do you that, etc., so all is ordered according to His dictate. Thus all things in Heaven and Earth are disposed of by the unerring wisdom, and limited by the Almighty power of God.
Such a representation as this we read in I Kings 22:19, where Micaiah said to Ahab, “Hear thou the word of the Lord, I saw the Lord sitting upon His throne, and all the Host of Heaven standing by Him.” And so he goes on to show how a spirit came and offered himself to be a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets. This is only a shadow of providence; there was no such thing really acted. God did not convene or call together a Synod of spirits to advise with about hard or doubtful cases; nor are wicked spirits admitted into His presence. Only by this we are instructed and assured that God does as exactly order all things in Heaven and earth, as if He stood questioning or interrogating good Angels, men and devils concerning those matters.
Caryl, Joseph. An Exposition of the Book of Job. Originally published in 1666. Can be found at: http://classicchristianlibrary.com/library/caryl_joseph/Caryl-Job_Vol_01_Chapter_1-3_1-256.pdf