Matthew Henry Complete CommentaryJob 2
on the Whole Bible
We left Job honourably acquitted upon a fair trial between God and
Satan concerning him. Satan had leave to touch, to touch and take, all
he had, and was confident that he would then curse God to his face;
but, on the contrary, he blessed him, and so he was proved an honest
man and Satan a false accuser. Now, one would have thought, this would
be conclusive, and that Job would never have his reputation called in
question again; but Job is known to be armour of proof, and therefore
is here set up for a mark, and brought upon his trial, a second time.
I. Satan moves for another trial, which should touch his bone and his
II. God, for holy ends, permits it,
III. Satan smites him with a very painful and loathsome disease,
IV. His wife tempts him to curse God, but he resists the temptation,
V. His friends come to condole with him and to comfort him,
And in this that good man is set forth for an example of suffering
affliction and of patience.
|Satan Again Permitted to Afflict Job.
||B. C. 1520.|
1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present
themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to
present himself before the LORD.
2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And
Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the
earth, and from walking up and down in it.
3 And 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? and still
he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against
him, to destroy him without cause.
4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea,
all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his
flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand;
but save his life.
Satan, that sworn enemy to God and all good men, is here pushing
forward his malicious prosecution of Job, whom he hated because God
loved him, and did all he could to separate between him and his God, to
sow discord and make mischief between them, urging God to afflict him
and then urging him to blaspheme God. One would have thought that he
had enough of his former attempt upon Job, in which he was so
shamefully baffled and disappointed; but malice is restless: the devil
and his instruments are so. Those that calumniate good people, and
accuse them falsely, will have their saying, though the evidence to the
contrary be ever so plain and full and they have been cast in the issue
which they themselves have put it upon. Satan will have Job's cause
called over again. The malicious, unreasonable, importunity of that
great persecutor of the saints is represented
by his accusing them before our God day and night, still repeating and
urging that against them which has been many a time answered: so did
Satan here accuse Job day after day. Here is,
I. The court set, and the prosecutor, or accuser, making his appearance
The angels attended God's throne and Satan among them. One would have
expected him to come and confess his malice against Job and his mistake
concerning him, to cry, Pecavi--I have done wrong, for belying
one whom God spoke well of, and to beg pardon; but, instead of that, he
comes with a further design against Job. He is asked the same question
as before, Whence comest thou? and answers as before, From
going to and fro in the earth; as if he had been doing no harm,
though he had been abusing that good man.
II. The judge himself of counsel for the accused, and pleading for him
"Hast thou considered my servant Job better than thou didst, and
art thou now at length convinced that he is a faithful servant of mine,
a perfect and an upright man; for thou seest he still holds
fast his integrity?" This is now added to his character, as a
further achievement; instead of letting go his religion, and cursing
God, he holds it faster than ever, as that which he has now more than
ordinary occasion for. He is the same in adversity that he was in
prosperity, and rather better, and more hearty and lively in blessing
God than ever he was, and takes root the faster for being thus shaken.
1. How Satan is condemned for his allegations against Job: "Thou
movedst me against him, as an accuser, to destroy him without
cause." Or, "Thou in vain movedst me to destroy him, for I will
never do that." Good men, when they are cast down, are not
2 Corinthians 4:9.
How well is it for us that neither men nor devils are to be our judges,
for perhaps they would destroy us, right or wrong; but our judgment
proceeds from the Lord, whose judgment never errs nor is biassed.
2. How Job is commended for his constancy notwithstanding the attacks
made upon him: "Still he holds fast his integrity, as his weapon, and
thou canst not disarm him--as his treasure, and thou canst not rob him
of that; nay, thy endeavours to do it make him hold it the faster;
instead of losing ground by the temptation, he gets ground." God speaks
of it with wonder, and pleasure, and something of triumph in the power
of his own grace; Still he holds fast his integrity. Thus the
trial of Job's faith was found to his praise and honour,
1 Peter 1:7.
Constancy crowns integrity.
III. The accusation further prosecuted,
What excuse can Satan make for the failure of his former attempt? What
can he say to palliate it, when he had been so very confident that he
should gain his point? Why, truly, he has this to say, Skin for
skin, and all that a man has, will he give for his life. Something
of truth there is in this, that self-love and self-preservation are
very powerful commanding principles in the hearts of men. Men love
themselves better than their nearest relations, even their children,
that are parts of themselves, will not only venture, but give, their
estates to save their lives. All account life sweet and precious, and,
while they are themselves in health and at ease, they can keep trouble
from their hearts, whatever they lose. We ought to make a good use of
this consideration, and, while God continues to us our life and health
and the use of our limbs and senses, we should the more patiently bear
the loss of other comforts. See
But Satan grounds upon this an accusation of Job, slyly representing
1. As unnatural to those about him, and one that laid not to heart the
death of his children and servants, nor cared how many of them had
their skins (as I may say) stripped over their ears, so long as he
slept in a whole skin himself; as if he that was so tender of his
children's souls could be careless of their bodies, and, like the
ostrich, hardened against his young ones, as though they were not his.
2. As wholly selfish, and minding nothing but his own ease and safety;
as if his religion made him sour, and morose, and ill-natured. Thus are
the ways and people of God often misrepresented by the devil and his
IV. A challenge given to make a further trial of Job's integrity
"Put forth thy hand now (for I find my hand too short to reach
him, and too weak to hurt him) and touch his bone and his flesh
(that is with him the only tender part, make him sick with smiting
and then, I dare say, he will curse thee to thy face, and let go
his integrity." Satan knew it, and we find it by experience, that
nothing is more likely to ruffle the thoughts and put the mind into
disorder than acute pain and distemper of body. There is no disputing
against sense. St. Paul himself had much ado to bear a thorn in the
flesh, nor could he have borne it without special grace from Christ,
2 Corinthians 12:7,9.
V. A permission granted to Satan to make this trial,
Satan would have had God put forth his hand and do it; but he
afflicts not willingly, nor takes any pleasure in grieving
the children of men, much less his own children
and therefore, if it must be done, let Satan do it, who delights in
such work: "He is in thy hand, do thy worst with him; but with a
proviso and limitation, only save his life, or his soul. Afflict
him, but not to death." Satan hunted for the precious life, would have
taken that if he might, in hopes that dying agonies would force Job to
curse his God; but God had mercy in store for Job after this trial, and
therefore he must survive it, and, however he is afflicted, must have
his life given him for a prey. If God did not chain up the roaring
lion, how soon would he devour us! As far as he permits the wrath of
Satan and wicked men to proceed against his people he will make it turn
to his praise and theirs, and the remainder thereof he will
"Save his soul," that is, "his reason" (so some), "preserve to him the
use of that, for otherwise it will be no fair trial; if, in his
delirium, he should curse God, that will be no disproof of his
integrity. It would be the language not of his heart, but of his
distemper." Job, in being thus maligned by Satan, was a type of Christ,
the first prophecy of whom was that Satan should bruise his heel
and so he was foiled, as in Job's case. Satan tempted him to let go his
integrity, his adoption
If thou be the Son of God. He entered into the heart of Judas
who betrayed Christ, and (some think) with his terrors put Christ into
his agony in the garden. He had permission to touch his bone and his
flesh without exception of his life, because by dying he was to do that
which Job could not do--destroy him that had the power of death,
that is, the devil.
|Job Smitten with Disease; The Affliction of Job.
||B. C. 1520.|
7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote
Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he
sat down among the ashes.
9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine
integrity? curse God, and die.
10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish
women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God,
and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with
The devil, having got leave to tear and worry poor Job, presently fell
to work with him, as a tormentor first and then as a tempter. His own
children he tempts first, and draws them to sin, and afterwards
torments, when thereby he has brought them to ruin; but this child of
God he tormented with an affliction, and then tempted to make a bad use
of his affliction. That which he aimed at was to make Job curse God;
now here we are told what course he took both to move him to it and
move it to him, both to give him the provocation, else he would not
have thought of it: thus artfully in the temptation managed with all
the subtlety of the old serpent, who is here playing the same game
against Job that he played against our first parents
aiming to seduce him from his allegiance to his God and to rob him of
I. He provokes him to curse God by smiting him with sore boils, and so
making him a burden to himself,
The former attack was extremely violent, but Job kept his ground,
bravely made good the pass and carried the day. Yet he is still but
girding on the harness; there is worse behind. The clouds return after
the rain. Satan, by the divine permission, follows his blow, and now
deep calls unto deep.
1. The disease with which Job was seized was very grievous: Satan
smote him with boils, sore boils, all over him, from head to
foot, with an evil inflammation (so some render it), an
erysipelas, perhaps, in a higher degree. One boil, when it is
gathering, is torment enough, and gives a man abundance of pain and
uneasiness. What a condition was Job then in, that had boils all over
him, and no part free, and those as of raging a heat as the devil could
make them, and, as it were, set on fire of hell! The small-pox
is a very grievous and painful disease, and would be much more terrible
than it is but that we know the extremity of it ordinarily lasts but a
few days; how grievous then was the disease of Job, who was smitten all
over with sore boils or grievous ulcers, which made him sick at heart,
put him to exquisite torture, and so spread themselves over him that he
could lie down no way for any ease. If at any time we be exercised with
sore and grievous distempers, let us not think ourselves dealt with any
otherwise than as God has sometimes dealt with the best of his saints
and servants. We know not how much Satan may have a hand (by divine
permission) in the diseases with which the children of men, and
especially the children of God, are afflicted, what infections that
prince of the air may spread, what inflammations may come from that
fiery serpent. We read of one whom Satan had bound many years,
Should God suffer that roaring lion to have his will against any of us,
how miserable would he soon make us!
2. His management of himself, in this distemper, was very strange,
(1.) Instead of healing salves, he took a potsherd, a piece of a
broken pitcher, to scrape himself withal. A very sad pass this
poor man had come to. When a man is sick and sore he may bear it the
better if he be well tended and carefully looked after. Many rich
people have with a soft and tender hand charitably ministered to the
poor in such a condition as this; even Lazarus had some ease from the
tongues of the dogs that came and licked his sores; but poor Job
has no help afforded him.
[1.] Nothing is done to his sore but what he does himself, with his own
hands. His children and servants are all dead, his wife unkind,
He has not wherewithal to fee a physician or surgeon; and, which is
most sad of all, none of those he had formerly been kind to had so much
sense of honour and gratitude as to minister to him in his distress,
and lend him a hand to dress or wipe his running sores, either because
the disease was loathsome and noisome or because they apprehended it to
be infectious. Thus it was in the former days, as it will be in the
last days, men were lovers of their own selves, unthankful, and
without natural affection.
[2.] All that he does to his sores is to scrape them; they are
not bound up with soft rags, not mollified with ointment, not washed or
kept clean, no healing plasters laid on them, no opiates, no anodynes,
ministered to the poor patient, to alleviate the pain and compose him
to rest, nor any cordials to support his spirits; all the operation is
the scraping of the ulcers, which, when they had come to a head and
began to die, made his body all over like a scurf, as is usual in the
end of the small-pox. It would have been an endless thing to dress his
boils one by one; he therefore resolves thus to do it by wholesale--a
remedy which one would think as bad as the disease.
[3.] He has nothing to do this with but a potsherd, no surgeon's
instrument proper for the purpose, but that which would rather rake
into his wounds, and add to his pain, than give him any ease. People
that are sick and sore have need to be under the discipline and
direction of others, for they are often but bad managers of
(2.) Instead of reposing in a soft and warm bed, he sat down among
the ashes. Probably he had a bed left him (for, though his fields
were stripped, we do not find that his house was burnt or plundered),
but he chose to sit in the ashes, either because he was weary of his
bed or because he would put himself into the place and posture of a
penitent, who, in token of his self-abhorrence, lay in dust and ashes,
Isa. lviii. 5; Jonah iii. 6.
Thus did he humble himself under the mighty hand of God, and bring his
mind to the meanness and poverty of his condition. He complains
that his flesh was clothed with worms and clods of dust;
and therefore dust to dust, ashes to ashes. If God lay him among
the ashes, there he will contentedly sit down. A low spirit becomes low
circumstances, and will help to reconcile us to them. The LXX. reads
it, He sat down upon a dunghill without the city (which is
commonly said, in mentioning this story); but the original says no more
than that he sat in the midst of the ashes, which he might do in
his own house.
II. He urges him, by the persuasions of his own wife, to curse God,
The Jews (who covet much to be wise above what is written) say that
Job's wife was Dinah, Jacob's daughter: so the Chaldee paraphrase. It
is not likely that she was; but, whoever it was, she was to him like
Michal to David, a scoffer at his piety. She was spared to him, when
the rest of his comforts were taken away, for this purpose, to be a
troubler and tempter to him. If Satan leaves any thing that he has
permission to take away, it is with a design of mischief. It is his
policy to send his temptations by the hand of those that are dear to
us, as he tempted Adam by Eve and Christ by Peter. We must therefore
carefully watch that we be not drawn to say or do a wrong thing by the
influence, interest, or entreaty, of any, no, not those for whose
opinion and favour we have ever so great a value. Observe how strong
this temptation was.
1. She banters Job for his constancy in his religion: "Dost thou
still retain thy integrity? Art thou so very obstinate in thy
religion that nothing will cure thee of it? so tame and sheepish as
thus to truckle to a God who is so far from rewarding thy services with
marks of his favour that he seems to take a pleasure in making thee
miserable, strips thee, and scourges thee, without any provocation
given? Is this a God to be still loved, and blessed, and served?"
|Dost thou not see that thy devotion's vain?
What have thy prayers procured but woe and pain?
Hast thou not yet thy int'rest understood?
Perversely righteous, and absurdly good?
Those painful sores, and all thy losses, show
How Heaven regards the foolish saint below.
Incorrigibly pious! Can't thy God
Reform thy stupid virtue with his rod?--Sir R. BLACKMORE.
Thus Satan still endeavours to draw men from God, as he did our first
parents, by suggesting hard thoughts of him, as one that envies the
happiness and delights in the misery of his creatures, than which
nothing is more false. Another artifice he uses is to drive men from
their religion by loading them with scoffs and reproaches for their
adherence to it. We have reason to expect it, but we are fools if we
heed it. Our Master himself has undergone it, we shall be abundantly
recompensed for it, and with much more reason may we retort it upon the
scoffers, "Are you such fools as still to retain your impiety, when you
might bless God and live?"
2. She urges him to renounce his religion, to blaspheme God, set him at
defiance, and dare him to do his worst: "Curse God and die; live
no longer in dependence upon God, wait not for relief from him, but be
thy own deliverer by being thy own executioner; end thy troubles by
ending thy life; better die once than be always dying thus; thou mayest
now despair of having any help from thy God, even curse him, and hang
thyself." These are two of the blackest and most horrid of all Satan's
temptations, and yet such as good men have sometimes been violently
assaulted with. Nothing is more contrary to natural conscience than
blaspheming God, nor to natural sense than self-murder; therefore the
suggestion of either of these may well be suspected to come immediately
from Satan. Lord, lead us not into temptation, not into such,
not into any temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
III. He bravely resists and overcomes the temptation,
He soon gave her an answer (for Satan spared him the use of his tongue,
in hopes he would curse God with it), which showed his constant
resolution to cleave to God, to keep his good thoughts of him, and not
to let go his integrity. See,
1. How he resented the temptation. He was very indignant at having such
a thing mentioned to him: "What! Curse God? I abhor the thought of it.
Get thee behind me, Satan." In other cases Job reasoned with his
wife with a great deal of mildness, even when she was unkind to him
I entreated her for the children's sake of my own body. But,
when she persuaded him to curse God, he was much displeased: Thou
speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. He does not call her
a fool and an atheist, nor does he break out into any
indecent expressions of his displeasure, as those who ar sick and sore
are apt to do, and think they may be excused; but he shows her the evil
of what she said, and she spoke the language of the infidels and
idolaters, who, when they are hardly bestead, fret themselves, and
curse their king and their God,
We have reason to suppose that in such a pious household as Job had his
wife was one that had been well affected to religion, but that now,
when all their estate and comfort were gone, she could not bear the
loss with that temper of mind that Job had; but that she should go
about to infect his mind with her wretched distemper was a great
provocation to him, and he could not forbear thus showing his
(1.) Those are angry and sin not who are angry only at sin and take a
temptation as the greatest affront, who cannot bear those that are
When Peter was a Satan to Christ he told him plainly, Thou art an
offence to me.
(2.) If those whom we think wise and good at any time speak that which
is foolish and bad, we ought to reprove them faithfully for it and show
them the evil of what they say, that we suffer not sin upon them.
(3.) Temptations to curse God ought to be rejected with the greatest
abhorrence, and not so much as to be parleyed with. Whoever persuades
us to that must be looked upon as our enemy, to whom if we yield it is
at our peril Job did not curse God and then think to come off with
Adam's excuse: "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me
persuaded me to do it"
which had in it a tacit reflection on God, his ordinance and
providence. No; if thou scornest, if thou cursest, thou alone shalt
2. How he reasoned against the temptation: Shall we receive good at
the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil also? Those whom we
reprove we must endeavour to convince; and it is no hard matter to give
a reason why we should still hold fast our integrity even when we are
stripped of every thing else. He considers that, though good and evil
are contraries, yet they do not come from contrary causes, but both
from the hand of God
and therefore that in both we must have our eye up unto him, with
thankfulness for the good he sends and without fretfulness at the evil.
Observe the force of his argument.
(1.) What he argues for, not only the bearing, but the receiving of
evil: Shall we not receive evil, that is,
[1.] "Shall we not expect to receive it? If God give us so many good
things, shall we be surprised, or think it strange, if he sometimes
afflict us, when he has told us that prosperity and adversity are set
the one over against the other?"
1 Peter 4:12.
[2.] "Shall we not set ourselves to receive it aright?" The word
signifies to receive as a gift, and denotes a pious affection and
disposition of soul under our afflictions, neither despising them nor
fainting under them, accounting them gifts
accepting them as punishments of our iniquity
acquiescing in the will of God in them ("Let him do with me as seemeth
him good"), and accommodating ourselves to them, as those that know how
to want as well as how to abound,
When the heart is humbled and weaned, by humbling weaning providence,
then we receive correction
and take up our cross.
(2.) What he argues from: "Shall we receive so much good as has come to
us from the hand of God during all those years of peace and prosperity
that we have lived, and shall we not now receive evil, when God thinks
fit to lay it on us?" Note, The consideration of the mercies we receive
from God, both past and present, should make us receive our afflictions
with a suitable disposition of spirit. If we receive our share of the
common good in the seven years of plenty, shall we not receive our
share of the common evil in the years of famine? Qui sentit
commodum, sentire debet et onus--he who feels the privilege, should
prepare for the privation. If we have so much that pleases us, why
should we not be content with that which pleases God? If we receive so
many comforts, shall we not receive some afflictions, which will serve
as foils to our comforts, to make them the more valuable (we are taught
the worth of mercies by being made to want them sometimes), and as
allays to our comforts, to make them the less dangerous, to keep the
balance even, and to prevent our being lifted up above measure?
2 Corinthians 12:7.
If we receive so much good for the body, shall we not receive some good
for the soul; that is, some afflictions, by which we partake of God's
something which, by saddening the countenance, makes the heart better?
Let murmuring therefore, as well as boasting, be for ever excluded.
IV. Thus, in a good measure, Job still held fast his integrity, and
Satan's design against him was defeated: In all this did not Job sin
with his lips; he not only said this well, but all he said at this
time was under the government of religion and right reason. In the
midst of all these grievances he did not speak a word amiss; and we
have no reason to think but that he also preserved a good temper of
mind, so that, though there might be some stirrings and risings of
corruption in his heart, yet grace got the upper hand and he took care
that the root of bitterness might not spring up to trouble him,
The abundance of his heart was for God, produced good things,
and suppressed the evil that was there, which was out-voted by the
better side. If he did think any evil, yet he laid his hand upon his
stifled the evil thought and let it go no further, by which it
appeared, not only that he had true grace, but that it was strong and
victorious: in short, that he had not forfeited the character of a
perfect and upright man; for so he appears to be who, in
the midst of such temptations, offends not in word,
|Job Visited by His Friends.
||B. C. 1520.|
11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was
come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz
the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite:
for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with
him and to comfort him.
12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him
not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every
one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward
13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and
seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that
his grief was very great.
We have here an account of the kind visit which Job's three friends
paid him in his affliction. The news of his extraordinary troubles
spread into all parts, he being an eminent man both for greatness and
goodness, and the circumstances of his troubles being very uncommon.
Some, who were his enemies, triumphed in his calamities,
&c. Perhaps they made ballads on him. But his friends
concerned themselves for him, and endeavoured to comfort him. A
friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Three of them are here named
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. We shall afterwards meet with a fourth,
who it should seem was present at the whole conference, namely, Elihu.
Whether he came as a friend of Job or only as an auditor does not
appear. These three are said to be his friends, his intimate
acquaintance, as David and Solomon had each of them one in their court
that was called the king's friend. These three were eminently
wise and good men, as appears by their discourses. They were old men,
very old, had a great reputation for knowledge, and much deference was
paid to their judgment,
It is probable that they were men of figure in their country-princes,
or heads of houses. Now observe,
I. That Job, in his prosperity, had contracted a friendship with them.
If they were his equals, yet he had not that jealousy of them--if his
inferiors, yet he had not that disdain of them, which was any hindrance
to an intimate converse and correspondence with them. to have such
friends added more to his happiness in the day of his prosperity than
all the head of cattle he was master of. Much of the comfort of this
life lies in acquaintance and friendship with those that are prudent
and virtuous; and he that has a few such friends ought to value them
highly. Job's three friends are supposed to have been all of them of
the posterity of Abraham, which, for some descents, even in the
families that were shut out from the covenant of peculiarity, retained
some good fruits of that pious education which the father of the
faithful gave to those under his charge. Eliphaz descended from Teman,
the grandson of Esau
Bildad (it is probable) from Shuah, Abraham's son by Keturah,
Zophar is thought by some to be the same with Zepho, a descendant from
The preserving of so much wisdom and piety among those that were
strangers to the covenants of promise was a happy presage of God's
grace to the Gentiles, when the partition-wall should in the latter
days be taken down. Esau was rejected; yet many that came from him
inherited some of the best blessings.
II. That they continued their friendship with Job in his adversity,
when most of his friends had forsaken him,
In two ways they showed their friendship:--
1. By the kind visit they paid him in his affliction, to mourn with him
and to comfort him,
Probably they had been wont to visit him in his prosperity, not to hunt
or hawk with him, not to dance or play at cards with him, but to
entertain and edify themselves with his learned and pious converse; and
now that he was in adversity they come to share with him in his griefs,
as formerly they had come to share with him in his comforts. These were
wise men, whose heart was in the house of mourning,
Visiting the afflicted, sick or sore, fatherless or childless, in their
sorrow, is made a branch of pure religion and undefiled
and, if done from a good principle, will be abundantly recompensed
(1.) By visiting the sons and daughters of affliction we may contribute
to the improvement,
[1.] Of our own graces; for many a good lesson is to be learned from
the troubles of others; we may look upon them and receive instruction,
and be made wise and serious.
[2.] Of their comforts. By putting a respect upon them we encourage
them, and some good word may be spoken to them which may help to make
them easy. Job's friends came, not to satisfy their curiosity with an
account of his troubles and the strangeness of the circumstances of
them, much less, as David's false friends, to make invidious remarks
but to mourn with him, to mingle their tears with his, and so to
comfort him. It is much more pleasant to visit those in affliction to
whom comfort belongs than those to whom we must first speak
(2.) Concerning these visitants observe,
[1.] That they were not sent for, but came of their own accord
whence Mr. Caryl observes that it is good manners to be an unbidden
guest at the house of mourning, and, in comforting our friends, to
anticipate their invitations.
[2.] That they made an appointment to come. Note, Good people should
make appointments among themselves for doing good, so exciting and
binding one another to it, and assisting and encouraging one another in
it. For the carrying on of any pious design let hand join in hand.
[3.] That they came with a design (and we have reason to think it was a
sincere design) to comfort him, and yet proved miserable comforters,
through their unskilful management of his case. Many that aim well do,
by mistake, come short of their aim.
2. By their tender sympathy with him and concern for him in his
affliction. When they saw him at some distance he was so disfigured and
deformed with his sores that they knew him not,
His face was foul with weeping
like Jerusalem's Nazarites, which had been ruddy as the rubies,
but were now blacker than a coal,
What a change will a sore disease, or, without that, oppressing care
and grief, make in the countenance, in a little time! Is this
So, Is this Job? How hast thou fallen! How is thy glory stained
and sullied, and all thy honour laid in the dust! God fits us for such
changes! Observing him thus miserably altered, they did not leave him,
in a fright or loathing, but expressed so much the more tenderness
(1.) Coming to mourn with him, they vented their undissembled grief in
all the then usual expressions of that passion. They wept
aloud; the sight of them (as is usual) revived Job's grief, and set him
a weeping afresh, which fetched floods of tears from their eyes.
They rent their clothes, and sprinkled dust upon their heads, as
men that would strip themselves, and abase themselves, with their
friend that was stripped and abased.
(2.) Coming to comfort him, they sat down with him upon the
ground, for so he received visits; and they, not in compliment to
him, but in true compassion, put themselves into the same humble and
uneasy place and posture. They had many a time, it is likely, sat with
him on his couches and at his table, in his prosperity, and were
therefore willing to share with him in his grief and poverty because
they had shared with him in his joy and plenty. It was not a modish
short visit that they made him, just to look upon him and be gone; but,
as those that could have had no enjoyment of themselves if they had
returned to their place while their friend was in so much misery, they
resolved to stay with him till they saw him mend or end, and therefore
took lodgings near him, though he was not now able to entertain them as
he had done, and they must therefore bear their own charges. Every day,
for seven days together, at the house in which he admitted company,
they came and sat with him, as his companions in tribulation, and
exceptions from that rule, Nullus ad amissas ibit amicus opes--Those
who have lost their wealth are not to expect the visits of their
friends. They sat with him, but none spoke a word to him,
only they all attended to the particular narratives he gave of his
troubles. They were silent, as men astonished and amazed. Curæ
leves loquuntur, ingentes stupent--Our lighter griefs have a voice;
those which are more oppressive are mute.
|So long a time they held their peace, to show
A reverence due to such prodigious woe.--Sir R. BLACKMORE.
They spoke not a word to him, whatever they said one to another, by way
of instruction, for the improvement of the present providence. They
said nothing to that purport to which afterwards they said much--nothing
to grieve him
because they saw his grief was very great already, and they were loth
at first to add affliction to the afflicted. There is a time to keep
silence, when either the wicked is before us, and by
speaking we may harden them
or when by speaking we may offend the generation of God's
Their not entering upon the following solemn discourses till the
seventh day may perhaps intimate that it was the sabbath day, which
doubtless was observed in the patriarchal age, and to that day they
adjourned the intended conference, because probably then company
resorted, as usual, to Job's house, to join with him in his devotions,
who might be edified by the discourse. Or, rather, by their silence so
long they would intimate that what they afterwards said was well
considered and digested and the result of many thoughts. The heart
of the wise studies to answer. We should think twice before we
speak once, especially in such a case as this, think long, and we shall
be the better able to speak short and to the purpose.