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 (part 2) –
God’s Blessing on Work
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)
It follows, “Hast thou not made an hedge about him…? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.”
“Thou hast blessed…”: The root for the word “blessed” used here signifies to bow the knee as well as to bless, because men used to bow the knee in blessing God or man. Blessings are carried three ways.
First, from man to man: one man blesses another. There were prophetic or extraordinary blessings, as Isaac blessed Jacob, and Jacob blessed his sons upon his death-bed; and there is a popular or ordinary blessing; to wish well to another is to bless another; every time we pray for our friends, we bless our friends. So man from man.
Secondly, man blesses God; and then man blesses God when he praises God, when he takes notice of and returns thanks for the blessings received from God. “Bless the Lord O my soul…” (Ps. 103:2) “and forget not all,” (that is), forget not any of his benefits. Thankfully, to remember benefits is to bless the Lord. The cup in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is called the cup of blessing (see I Cor. 10:16), because therein we commemorate the death of Christ, and render thanks to the name of the Lord, for the unspeakable benefits conveyed to us by his blood.
Thirdly, as here in the text, God blesses man. Now God blesses man, when he causes that to prosper which man undertakes. Man’s blessing to man, it is only a wish, an optative blessing, but God’s blessing to man is an operative blessing, as Aquinas expresses it, “When God wishes us good, he does us good.”
So then, the sense is, thou hast blessed: that is, thou hast caused him to prosper and thrive in what he undertakes, as we shall see in the object of the blessing. Thou hast blessed the work of his hands.
“The work of his hands”: We are not to understand it strictly for manual or hand labors, as if Job were a man employed in ordinary manual services, in the labor of his hands, but according to an ordinary use of speech amongst the Hebrews, and likewise amongst other nations, by the work of the hands, is understood any kind of labor, any kind of business whatsoever. As it is said of Christ, that the pleasure of the Lord did prosper in his hands (Isa. 53:10). Now the work that Christ had to do was not a handy work, yet it did prosper in his hands; that is, as he was managing and going about it, it did prosper and took success. It was effectual for the redemption and salvation of his people. This was prospering of the work of his hands. In this sense, the work of the head may be called the work of the hands; likewise, the work of the tongue, the work of the hands; any work, any business that a man does, may be called the work of his hands. So then, thou hast blessed the work of his hands; that is, thou hast blessed everything that Job goes about, as a magistrate, as a minister, or as a master of a family; in any of, in all his relations, thou hast caused his endeavors to prosper. In Deut. 28, a universal blessing is thus promised, “Blessed thou shalt be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out” (Deut. 28:6): between those two are contained all the labors and undertakings of that people. By their going forth is meant the beginning of their labors, and by their coming in is meant the end and conclusion of their labors, so that, beginning and ending, when they set their hands to a business, and when they took their hands from a business, they should be blessed; that is, they should have a thorough blessing upon all their labors. So here, “thou hast blessed the work of his hands,” that is, everything he puts his hands to.
“And his substance is increased in the land”—That is the third thing which Satan observes here concerning Job, that he was not only blessed in the estate wherein he was, but God did mightily increase and multiply his estate. “He is increased in the land.” The word which we translate “increased,” signifies not an ordinary increase, but such an increase as breaks the bounds; it signifies so to increase in such an abundance, as that the former place where those things were, cannot contain nor hold them, but they must seek some new place, more room for them: such a kind of increase is here meant. So the word is used in Ex. 1:12 concerning the people of Israel when they were in Egypt, when they were afflicted, the text says, “The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.” The same word is there used to show the wonderful increase of the people of Israel when they were in their affliction. It was such as did break the bounds. As it is with a river, the more it is stopped, the more it swells and breaks all the banks and bays, whatsoever is set to hinder the course of it. So much is meant in that place of Moses when the people of Israel were stopped and hindered from their increase: they like a river did swell overall; they did increase so as they did break all the bounds. Thus of Job, “his substance is increased.” It is as if we should say in our language, he had so much that there was no end, no room for his substance; as the rich fool said in Luke 12, when his estate was increased: What shall I do? My barns are not big enough; I must pull them down and build larger, that they may hold my estate. So Job’s estate was so increased that the compass he had for that present could not contain it. He must make new folds for his sheep they increased so; and he must build bigger houses for his family. “He is increased;” he is broken forth in the land. In Gen. 38:29, when Tamar brought forth twins, the text says that one put out his hand, and as he drew it back, his brother came out, and therefore they called his name Pharez (the same original word that is here used for increased), because of the breach that he made. So this signifies the breaking forth of the estate of Job in the land: he increased wonderfully and exceedingly. Thus, Satan by the most emphatic words, still heightens the dealings of God with Job, that he may the more debase the services of Job towards God.
“Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.” We may observe here first, that all success in business is from the blessing of the Lord. Satan speaks very good divinity here, “Thou has blessed.” It is from the Lord. It is said of Joseph, in Gen. 39:23, that “whatsoever he did the Lord made it to prosper.” We may do much; we may set our hands to do many things, but we cannot prosper anything. Working is our part, but prospering is the Lord’s part. As it was with the disciples: they could fish all night, but until Christ came, they could not catch. When Christ came the blessing came, and when the blessing came, there was not only fishing and catching, but there was catching in abundance (see Luke 5). So it is in all the works of men’s callings. Men may be laboring, and sweating, and toiling, but there is no prospering, no succeeding, until God comes with a blessing. “Thou hast blessed the work of his hands.” Some take all to themselves, and thank their own labors, their own wisdom, policy and parts. Others ascribe all to their good fortune, etc. We see Satan himself here preaches a truth that will confute them. He is more orthodox than human practical atheists. Satan acknowledges, “Thou hast blessed.”
Then again, we may observe, since “Thou hast blessed the work of his hands,” then, Everyone ought to be a man of employment. Everyone ought to have some business to turn his hand to. In the former part of this chapter, we read of Job’s piety and holiness, and of his zeal in the worship of God. Here now we see Job’s care and diligence in his place and calling wherein God had set him, which is called “the work of his hands.” Everyone must have two callings, and the one helps forward the other; Job feared God, and Job went on in the business which God set him. Job is said to serve God continually, and yet Job did work continually. These two continuals may well stand together: for both the continuals are taken for their seasons; continually, that is seasonably according to the several opportunities God called him to, and put into his hands. This rebukes those who have no labor, who can show no work of their hands. It was said to Adam, and in him to mankind, not only as a curse, but as a command, “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat thy bread till thou return to earth;” this is layed upon all, “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat thy bread” (Gen 3:19). Not that every man is bound to labor in such an employment as causes the face to sweat, but thereby is meant serious labor and employment in some honest calling. So here, the work of the hands is taken not strictly, but for any employment wherein Job was serviceable to God and his country.
Put these two together, “Thou hast blessed,” and “Thou hast blessed the work of his hands,” and we may observe from both, that the Lord delights to bless those who are industrious. It is seldom that there is an industrious hand but there is a blessing of God upon it. Hence as we find in one place, “The diligent hand maketh rich” (Prov. 10:4); so in another, “The blessing of God maketh rich” (Prov. 10:22). The blessing of God maketh rich and the diligent hand maketh rich; neither of them alone but both conjoined; the blessing of God upon a diligent hand makes rich; a diligent hand cannot make rich without God, and God does not usually make rich without a diligent hand. Therefore it is said here, that God blessed the work of Job’s hands. Up and be doing, and the Lord shall be with you. God will not be with us unless we be doing. God does not love to bless those that are idle; if we be doing, God will be blessing, his being with us, is put for his assisting and prospering us. So it is indeed in all things. God does not work that we should sit still, nor bless to the intent that we should do nothing. As it is in Judges 7, they proclaimed the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon; those two must go together. Do you want to be blessed with protection? You must labor to protect yourselves. Do not think that the Lord will protect you with your hands in your pockets, and your swords rusting in your sheaths. When you labor in times of danger to defend yourselves, you may expect defense from the Lord. How unbecoming is it for you now to stand still and say, “Lord help us.” We must indeed stand still (as Moses counselled the people in Ex. 14:13) in regard of fear and diffidence, but beware of standing still in regard of care and diligence, as ever you hope to see the salvation of the Lord. The sword of the Lord and of Gideon must be cried up at once; those two must go together.
There is a fourth point that we must observe also from the connection of the two sentences in the text. “Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.” The blessing of God where it falls is effectual. If God does but bless, we shall increase: There is no question of if. If God does but bless, we shall increase mightily. “Thou hast blessed him, and he is increased.” It is the word that followed the first blessing after the creation: “God blessed them and said unto them be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). Blessing and multiplying go together; the blessing of God is a powerful blessing. It is mighty in operation, and carries all before it. You know what a strong opinion Balak had concerning the blessing of Balaam. “I wot that he whom thou blesses is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed” (Num. 22:6). A strong conceit, and but a conceit. But I desire to raise your esteem of God’s blessing, for it is a certain truth: That whom God blesses, they are blessed; God’s blessings are fixed and effectual blessings. If he bless, we shall be blessed indeed. His blessings are irreversible, as Balaam was forced to confess: “Behold he hath blessed and I cannot reverse it.” If once God has blessed, it is not in Satan, nor in all his lying prophets, nor in all the power of the creature to alter it, no nor to retard or hinder it for a moment.
If God now give us the mercy of protection, if he make the hedge about us and bless us in these times, we shall be continued and established in the land; yea we shall be increased in the land, we shall break forth abundantly, to the amazement of all hearers and beholders. Though enemies curse, though hell plot, yet if God bless, we are safe.
This is the thing therefore that we should labor for, to be under the influence of the blessing of God. If we have but that, we have all. Let means be what they will, great or little, or none at all, if God bless he can make anything serve the turn. Anything with a blessing will do it. Anything with a blessing will make us increase; yea make us a strong, a mighty, an invincible people, so that Satan and his instruments shall be forced to acknowledge that there is a hedge about us which they cannot break through, that there is a wall about us which they can neither scale nor batter with all their engines and artillery.
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