A Classic Study:
The Book of Job
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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 1:7-8 (part 4) – “My Servant Job”,
by Joseph Caryl (1644)
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?” (KJV)
“My servant Job” (vs. 8): There is somewhat also to be considered in that phrase. When God speaks of his people by name, it notes two things in Scripture:
First, A special care that God has over them.
Second, A special love that God has to them.
So, when Jesus says, “He calleth his own sheep by name” (John 10:3); this denotes a special care Christ has for his sheep, and a special love that he bears to them. So in Isaiah 49:1: “The Lord hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name”, it notes the special care, and the special love that God had of and bore to Christ. See it eminently in that place, in Ex. 33:12, where Moses speaks thus to God, “Yet thou hast said I know thee by name.” Now, what it is to know by name, is by way of exposition added in the end of the verse: “And thou hast also found grace in my sight.” So that to be known by name, is in a special manner to find grace in the sight of God. When it is said here, “My servant Job,” it shows that God did take an extraordinary care of, and did in an extraordinary manner, love Job above all that were upon the earth.
There is a great deal of difference between these two expressons; to know the name of a man, and to know a man by name. It is a truth, that God knows all your names, and the names of all the men in the world, but he does not know all by name. Therefore the Scripture assures us, that God has the names of none written, but the names of his own, as Moses said in the former chapter, “If thou wilt not forgive the sin of this people, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy books which thou has written” (Ex. 32:32). You know me by name; my name is written in your book. So also, in Luke 10, Christ bade his disciples that they should not rejoice much that they had the spirits subject unto them, but in this they should rejoice, that their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20).
Note from hence: That God takes care of his elect children and servants in a special manner above all other men in the world. The names of princes or emperors or potentates, if they belong not to God, are not vouchsafed a place in his book, but the names of the meanest of his saints, are recorded forever, and shall be had in everlasting remembrance.
“Hast thou not considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth…” (vs. 8): We read before at the end of the 3rd verse, that Job in reference to his riches was “the greatest of all the men of the East.” Now, he goes beyond that, in reference to this holiness, he is the greatest upon the earth, there in “none like him in the earth.”
This we may understand first as a cause or reason why Job fell under the special consideration or observation of Satan: Hast thou not considered my servant Job, because (so some render that particle) or in as much, or for that, there is not the like to him in the earth. As if God should say, there is reason why he must needs be taken into your consideration, because there is not such another man as he in the earth. You know that a man is quickly taken notice of, when there are none like him, in the place or company where he is. If a man walk in the streets, or come into a house, who is of an extraordinary height, some will ask the question, “Did you not observe that man?”, for there was never a man in the company, never a man in the street so tall as he. So one that is extraordinary in beauty, or extraordinary in rich apparel, everyone has an eye upon such. The reason why many are observed is because they are not like to others, or they are beyond others in quality or in habit. So here, “Hast thou not considered my servant Job, that there is none like unto him in the earth,” you must take notice of him.
Or again, it may be understood thus; as the matter which Satan should consider and observe in Job. Hast thou not considered my servant Job, in this thing, that there is not a man upon earth like to him? Have you not taken notice of this in him? You who have looked over all men, and have (as it were) sifted all men’s manners, have you not observed this much, that there is not such a man upon the earth as Job? Has not that fallen under your observation?
So now in the words, There is none like him, there is a secret advancing of the praise of Job, for there is nothing that can be spoken more to the praise of a man than this: to say that there is none like him. Though you say no more, you have said all. As the Scripture (we know) sets forth the wonderful praises of God, in Ex. 15:11, “Who is like unto thee O Lord, amongst the gods? Who is like thee?” (which is resolved into the negative, that there is none amongst the gods like unto thee; there is none like unto thee). “This is the high praise of God. Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?” (Mic. 7:18). It is the highest commendation of God to say, there is none like him, to set him above all creatures. In like manner here in the text, when it is affirmed that there was none like Job, this sets him up in all praises and excellencies to the highest: though particulars be concealed, yet whatsoever may make for the honor of a man is included in this, that there is none like him.
But how should we understand this of Job, that there was none like to him upon the earth?
We must understand it, not only in reference to wicked men, that there was no mere natural man, no wicked man like unto him—as if God had said to Satan, there is none in the earth which is thy inheritance, no earthly man like my servant Job, look over all your servants and you have not such a one in the earth. That’s too low. We will take it therefore in reference to all the saints that were then upon the earth; there was not such a godly man upon the earth, none like him: and then we must expound likeness by a distinction. There is a double likeness: there is a likeness of quality, and there is a likeness of equality. When it is said here, that in the earth there was none like Job, you must not understand it of a likeness of quality, as if there were no man that had such qualities as Job had, for all the saints that are in the earth have the same kind of qualities. They are all alike in the main and in the general—namely in the conformity of their nature to the will of God, which is holiness; that is the general quality, and in this way, all the saints upon the earth are alike. There is not any man who can have any other likeness upon him than this; it is impossible. I say in this regard, the meanest and lowest saint upon the earth is like to the highest and greatest saint upon earth; yea not only so, but the meanest saint upon earth is like to Jesus Christ in heaven, in regard of quality. He has the same quality, the same nature. He is “made partaker of the divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4). And the apostle Paul exhorts the Philippians, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ” (Phil. 2:5). The meanest saint has the same mind and the same quality in reference to his new nature that is in God himself or in Christ. He is like to God, God begets all his own children in his own likeness.
But in regard of the likeness of equality; thus Job was such a man as there was none like him in the earth; no man like him in the degrees of those qualities; they were not equal to him in this or that or the other grace. Job was a man above them all. As we know it is with wicked and natural men, all wicked men upon the earth are as like on to another as can be. “As face answereth to face in water, so doth the heart of man to man” (Prov. 27:19), that is, the heart of one natural man to the other: but yet, there are some wicked men so wicked, that there is none like them in the earth. We have the very same words applied to Ahab in wickedness: “But there was none like to Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord” (I Kings 21:25). None like him not, I say (as in the former), that there were no wicked men that had the same sinful qualities, for all have the same sinful qualities. But there was none like him in equality of wickedness, Ahab was a none-such; he was a giant in wickedness; none were grown to such a stature of wickedness as Ahab. In the same manner, we must understand this concerning Job: none did reach to him in the equality of his graces, in the stature of the inward man. Job had outgrown all the world in grace at that time.
Yet a little further for the understanding of this: We find sometimes when the Scripture says of a man, that there is none like him, the speech is to be restrained to some one particular. And it may be a question whether we are to understand this of Job’s pre-eminence in the general or in regard of some one particular grace. We read of Solomon that there was none like him: “Among many nations was there no king like him who was beloved of God” (Neh. 13:26). There was no king like Solomon, but he restrains it to this, “who was beloved of God”; none to whom God did so much communicate himself as to Solomon; none like Solomon in wisdom and knowledge; in those revelations and intimate communions that God had with him, he was as it were God’s darling, as his other name Jedidiah imports. For another instance, it is said of Hezekiah: “He trusted the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah” (II Kings 18:5). Now this we must understand of some one particular especially, that is, of his trusting in the Lord. In regard of his trusting so firmly in God, he went beyond all the Kings that came after him; there was none did so perfectly trust in God, for it is said: “He broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made, and stamped it to powder, trusting in the Lord” (II Kings 18:4). Though some of his counsellors may have told him, “If you do those things you may bring a world of trouble upon yourself and the kingdom, if you change these ancient customs you will make your people mutiny; this serpent was of God, it was made in the wilderness,” etc. Yet he would say, “I see it is abused to idolatry. I care not for all that you say. I will trust in the Lord how ever it go.” Here was a high and unparalleled act of confidence.
Yet afterward it was said concerning Josiah: “Like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might” (II Kings 23:5). Here it is said after Hezekiah, that Josiah was such a king as there was none before him; and it was said of Hezekiah that was before him, that he was such a one, that after there should be none like him. How shall we reconcile these two? We can do so only by applying those expressions to such and such particulars: Hezekiah was such a man, as there was no king after him for trusting in God; and Josiah was such a man, as there was no king before him for desire, care and zeal in reforming the church of God. Josiah’s reformation was the most perfect reformation that was made by all the kings of Judah, and so in that particular, in regard of his great zeal for God, there was no king before him, like him. How shall we understand this then concerning Job?
I answer in two conclusions. First, when it is said, there was none like to Job, we are to understand it in reference to that generation. Doubtless God had as great ones in grace as Job, both before and afterward. Noah and Abraham before him were eminent ones; and afterward, Moses, and Joshua, and David, and Samuel. But take Job in the time and the age wherein he lived, so there was none like unto him in equality, we may understand it so. For Job is conceived to be in the darker times, between Abraham and Moses, about the time that the people of Israel were in captivity in Egypt, so that in reference to that time Job lived in, he was the only man, the chief man, the greatest for grace in that age—as it is said of Noah, he was a just man, and perfect in his generations; he was the most just man of all that age; the most righteous of all that generation—so was Job in his.
Secondly, we may understand it, not only concerning some particular grace wherein he was most eminent (although it is true that he had one grace for which he was cried up in Scripture more than others, to wit, patience; have you not heard of the patience of Job?), but we may take it for the whole latitude of Job’s holiness and graces. In that respect, there was not at that time such a man upon the earth as Job, and so God himself seems to expound it. He does not confine this to some one point, but says, “Hast thou not considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that fears God and eschews evil?” God adds this by way of exposition, what he means by a man to whom there was none like, who had no match upon the earth. In those words the whole sum of godliness is comprised; whatsoever goes, or may be conceived to go toward the making up of a godly man, falls under one of those four members. And God says there is none like him; take him in any or in all these.
I shall only give you two or three brief observations from hence: There is none like unto him in the earth. Learn:
First, that God has servants of all statures and degrees. Not all his servants come up to the like pitch, to the like height. Here is one that is beyond them all, my servant Job; not a man like him upon the earth.
Secondly, note this, we ought not to set up our rest in low degrees of grace, or content ourselves to be like others in grace. We should labor (if it be possible) to go beyond all others in grace. It did not satisfy Job that he had gotten to such a degree, to such a frame and temper of heart, to such a course of holiness as his neighbors or brethren that were good, had attained to, but he labored to go beyond them all. Not such a man upon the earth as Job. It is a holy ambition to labor to exceed all others in grace and goodness. We have a great many in the world that desire to be so rich, as none should be like them; or to be so gay in their apparel, as none should be like them; or so beautiful, as none should be like them. But where are they that desire and endeavor to have such a portion or stock of grace, that none should be like them—to be above others in holiness, as Job was? True grace never rests in any degrees or measures of grace, but labors to increase. He that has any grace should desire to have more, does not think it enough when you are like others. You ought to labor to be beyond others.
Then see the character that God gives of Job: A perfect and upright man, one that fears God and eschews evil.
These have been already opened in the first verse, and these are but a report of the history before going, therefore I shall not need to stay upon this place. Only, take these two observations from it.
The first is this, God has a perfect character of every soul. He knows fully and clearly what the temper of your hearts and spirits are, just as the history and relation of Job was, such is God’s testimony of him to a tittle.
Secondly this, God will give to every man a testimony according to his utmost worth. God will not conceal any of your graces, or obscure your goodness; he will make it known to the world to the full, what you are. When God comes to give testimony, he gives it so as his saints can never lose by it. Often, man gives testimony short of his brother’s goodness, and draws a curtain before another man’s worth; but God will draw the curtain quite back, and unveil every soul to the whole world. You shall see and hear a testimony from God before men and angels concerning yourselves to the uttermost, what you are in all godly and gracious perfections.
Job was an excellent man, a man commended indeed, who was commended of God, as the Apostle concludes it, not he that commends himself is approved, but he whom God commends (II Cor. 10: 18). It is good for us to have our Letters Testimonial from God, to have our Letters Commendatory from Heaven. It is not what a man says in his own heart, how he flatters himself. It is not what your neighbors or others flatter you and say of you, but what God says of you, what testimony he gives of you. He is not approved that commends himself, or that other men commend only, but he whom the Lord commends. And if God speak well of us, no matter though all the world be silent or slander.
This article is taken from: Caryl, Joseph. An Exposition with Practical Observations upon the Book of Job. London: G. Miller, 1644. A PDF file of this book can be downloaded, free of charge, at