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.]
A Study by Joseph Caryl (1644)
Job 1:10 –
God’s Hedge of Protection about Job
10”Hast 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.” (KJV)
Here Satan more fully expounds himself, and what he means by Job’s not serving God for naught. You shall see it is not for naught. He casts up the particulars of God’s benefits conferred on Job, and they amount to a great sum: 1. He has a hedge about him, that is somewhat; 2. He has blessed him, that’s more; 3. He does increase and multiply, there’s the highest degree of outward happiness. Here are three degrees of God’s dealing with Job. These Satan reckons up in this verse, that he may make Job’s goodness of no account, and leave his person in no degree of acceptance with God.
Here is first protection in the hedge: “Hast thou not made an hedge about him…?”
Secondly, here is a benediction upon that which was protected: It was not a bare keeping of that from spoiling, but it was a blessing of it.
Thirdly, here is also an increase or multiplication: he was not only blessed to keep himself and all he had in the state and plight wherein he stood, but there was a daily increase and an augmentation. Thou protectest him, thou blessed him, and thou doest increase all that he hath, he is “increased in the land.” That is the sum and sense of the words. I shall now open them a little more distinctly.
First, he speaks here of his protection: “Hast thou not made an hedge about him?” Some render it, Hast thou not made a wall about him? Or, Hast thou not made a trench about him? It is an elegant metaphor frequent in Scripture, showing that as when a field is well hedged, or a town well walled and entrenched, then it is safe. So when God is said to make a hedge or a wall about a man or about a nation, the safety of that man or nation is assured by it. We have this word used, where God speaks of his vineyard: He planted a vineyard in a very fruitful hill, and he fenced it, or he made a wall or a hedge about it (see Isa. 5:2). So Isa. 5:5, when God is angry with his vineyard and will destroy is, it is thus expressed, “I will” (said He) “take away the hedge thereof,” that is, I will take away my protection from it. In the same sense, in Zech. 2:5, “I will be” (said God) “take away the hedge thereof,” that is, I will be a defense for it. So when it is said here that God had made a hedge about Job, it notes divine protection: he was under the wing and safeguard of the Almighty.
This hedge of protection is two-fold. It is said God made this hedge, “Hast thou not made an hedge about him?” First, there is a hedge which is made immediately by the hand of God. Sometimes God makes the hedge immediately, yea sometimes God expresses himself to be the hedge or wall, like in Zech. 2:5. So also, in Psalm 18:2: “Thou art my rock and my fortress, my deliverer, my strength, my buckler, the horn of my salvation, and my high tower,” etc. There God was the hedge; here God makes the hedge; God has not put out this hedge to others to make, but he makes it himself; Satan observes as much. “Hast not thou made an hedge about him?”
Secondly, sometimes the hedge of protection is made by the hands of others. God sends out his angels to guard his people: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him” (Ps. 34:7). Encamping and hedging are to the same purpose, God’s hedge is as strong for safety as any wall, as any trench. Sometimes, God makes one man to be a hedge or a defense to another. The servants of Nabal said of David: That he had been “a wall unto them both by night and day” (I Sam. 25:16); that is, he had been a protection and a guard to them; he had defended them all the while his army was quartered in those parts. God makes a good man to be as a wall to a wicked man. How much more will he make men and angels to be walls and hedges for the security of his own people?
The text further goes on and shows the compass of this hedge, what ground it takes in, how far it reaches: and here we shall find that it was a very large hedge of a great extent. We know there are some cities that have not only a single wall, but a double wall, yea some strong cities and places have a treble wall about them: So we find a three-fold hedge made about Job, and they are all expressed here in this text.
Here was a hedge, first about his person, that was the inmost hedge, or the inmost wall, in these words, “Hast thou not made an hedge about him?”, that is, a hedge about the very person of Job; a hedge about his body lest any sickness, diseases or dangers should invade it, and a hedge about his soul, lest snares and temptations should take hold of, or prevail against that; thou hast made a hedge about him, so that I cannot come at the person of Job to hurt him.
Again, besides this inmost wall, and the nearest about his person, there is a second wall or hedge, and that is expressed to be about his family: “Hast thou not made an hedge about him and about his house?” By house, we are not to understand the material house of stone or timber, the edifice in which Job and his family, as often-times in Scripture, the house is put for the family. “This day” (said Christ to Zaccheus) “is salvation come to thy house” (Luke 19:9); and it is said of the jailer, “that he believed and all his house” (see Acts 16:29ff), that is, all his household; so here, “thou hast made an hedge about him, and about his house,” that is, about his family, about his children especially: hence the Hebrew word for a child, for a son, does signify a house, because children build up the house or keep up the name of their fathers. So that the house hedged about is the children, the family and the followers and servants of Job; as if Satan should say, thou hast made a hedge not only about his person, but about all that belong to him, about his children and servants; I may not meddle with them either. There is a second hedge.
Lastly, there is a third hedge or wall, “Hast thou not made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath?” That is about his goods, about his cattle and about his lands: so far as ever anything of Job’s does extend, so far the hedge goes; if Job has but the least thing abroad, God makes a hedge about it, he has not the meanest thing belonging to him, but is under guard and protection. That is the meaning of it.
There is yet another thing to be observed in the words to make it more full. Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? It is not only said, thou hast made a hedge about him, but thou hast made a hedge about him on every side, which is a redundancy of speech. It was a sign of God’s care of job, when he made a hedge about him, but to say he made a hedge about him on every side, here is expressed an extraordinary care, that God had not left the least gap for Satan or for any annoyance to come in unto Job, his family and estate is set out under the protection of God. That for the opening of those words.
First, we may observe from the manner of this speech, Hast thou not made an hedge about him? Satan speaks very angrily. Questions as they ever express quickness of spirit, so they many times express much trouble of spirit. Here Satan in questioning, speaks as if he were vexed, Hast thou not made an hedge about him? Hence note:
That the protection which God gives to his people and servants is the vexation of Satan and of all his instruments. It troubles them extremely that God so guards and hedges up his people, that they cannot come at them. No man can endure to see that defended, which he wishes were destroyed.
Then again, if we consider the matter of Satan’s speech, it is a truth and a most comfortable truth, a truth full of consolation to the people of God, Hast thou not made an hedge about him and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? We may note hence,
That Satan the father of lies sometimes speaks truth for his own advantage. For as it is said concerning Judas about his care for the poor, when he would have had the ointment sold and given to the poor, This he said (says the text) not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag and bore what was put therein. So we may say here, Satan sets forth the care of God over his people in most exact terms; and why does he do this? Not that he cares to speak well of God, or to advance God in the eyes of his people, by telling his people and servants how watchful he is over them: but he does this only for his own advantage, that hereby he may lessen the service and blemish the obedience of Job, because he received so much care and love from God. As it is many times with ungodly men, they will do good, not that they care to do good, but only for some other end: So Satan will sometimes speak that which is true, not that he regards the truth, or that he would speak a word of truth (for he has nothing but lies in his heart, there is a lie in his heart when there is truth in his mouth). He never speaks truth, but to deceive and do hurt by it.
Thirdly, we may observe this, which lies plain in the words: That the people and servants of God dwell in the midst of enemies, in the midst of dangers. Why else need there be a hedge, a wall about them? What need there be a guard about them, unless there were dangers about them? There are none in the world so envied and spited, so aimed at and persecuted as the people and servants of God; you may see it by the wall that is made about them; God will not bestow cost and care in preserving and guarding where there is no danger of invading. If you should come to a city and see it mightily fortified, and see men make wall after wall about it, and bulwark after bulwark, you will presently conjecture, that city stands in great danger and is in the midst of enemies: so when we read that God was fain to make wall after wall, to make hedge after hedge about the person, the family, the estate of Job, it shows that the devil had an ill eye upon Job and upon all that was Job’s; Satan and his instruments, had it not been for this hedge, would quickly have fallen upon him. No godly man should live a quiet moment, did not the Lord stretch forth his hand to save and protect him.
Fourthly, we may observe, that God himself undertakes the guarding and protecting of his people. “Thou hast made an hedge about him and about all that he hath.” God himself either does it immediately, or he puts those to do it to whom he gives his power, strength and wisdom. There is no mere creature that could be strength and security enough for us against our great malicious and mighty enemies, therefore God himself either is or makes the hedge. There is no strength in man but Satan can over-match it; Satan can overpower all the strength, and outwit all the wisdom that is in the creature. Flesh and blood are no match for a spirit. “And we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). But if God makes a hedge about us, it is not in the power of all the enemies in the world, whether men or devils to make a gap in it; they are sure that are under the protection of God. “They that dwell in the secret place of the most high, they shall abide” (safely) “under the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps. 91:1).
Fifthly, you see here how far the hedge goes, a hedge not only about his person and household, but about all that he has. Take the meanest thing that Job has: God protects it and hedges it about. Then we may note this, that God has an especial care, and does exceedingly price even the meanest thing that belongs to one of his servants. God would not bestow a hedge about it, if he did not prize it: A man will not hedge or wall that about which he does not value. God highly values the meanest thing that belongs to one of his servants. The psalmist said, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Ps. 116:15). But not only is the blood, the life of the saints, precious in the sight of God, but every member, every hair of their head is precious. God numbers these. Not only are their children precious, but everything that’s called theirs, their servants, their household, their cattle, their oxen, whatsoever they have is all precious in the sight of God.
Lastly, observe, that Satan has a deadly spite not only against the persons of the godly, but against everything that belongs to a godly man. Satan would not only hurt and annoy them in their persons, but in everything that is theirs. If God (if we may so speak with reverence) should leave but a dog that belongs unto one of his servants unguarded, Satan would do it a mischief; Satan would be going at the least thing, rather than not do mischief. If he cannot destroy our souls, he would be at the very hair of our heads; therefore Christ to comfort the disciples in the time of trouble assures them, that the very hairs of their heads were numbered (Luke 12:7): As if he should say, God will have an account of every hair, the enemies cannot pull off a hair, but God will call them to a reckoning for it.
And it notes too that the enemies will take hold of anything that belongs to the people of God. If they cannot get all, they will get a hair if they can. Why else is it expressed that the very hairs of their heads are numbered? Those words at once intimate, God’s care of all, and Satan’s malice against all.
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