And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness
Most probably from the wilderness of Arabia, winds from such places being generally very strong, ( Jeremiah 4:11 Jeremiah 4:12 ) as this was, and is called a "great one", a very strong and blustering one; and being so, and because of the effects of it, and being an uncommon and extraordinary one, as what follows shows, a "behold" is prefixed to the account, exciting attention and wonder:
and smote the four corners of the house;
which shows it to be an unusual wind, it blowing from all parts and on all sides; and was either a whirlwind, which whirled about this house; or Satan, with his posse of devils with him, took the advantage of the sweep of it, as it came by this house, and with all their force and strength, might and main, whirled it about it; otherwise Satan has no power to raise winds, and allay them at pleasure; God only creates them, holds them in his fists, and brings them out of his treasures; and this wind blowing from the desert, the devil and his angels took the opportunity, and with such violence whirled it about the house that it fell, as follows:
and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead;
not upon Job's sons only, but upon his daughters also, the word used takes in both; and Mr. Broughton renders it, "and it fell upon the young folk"; this was the sorest affliction of all, and which Satan reserved to the last, that if the others did not succeed to his wish, this might; and a very trying, grievous one it was, to lose all his children at once in such a manner, and at such a time; his children, which were parts of himself, whom he had taken so much care of in their education, who had been as olive plants about his table, and now brought up to men's and women's estates, comfortably settled in the world, and living in great peace and harmony among themselves, and not one of them left to comfort him under his other afflictions; and these taken away not by any distemper of body, which would have prepared him for the stroke, but by a violent death; and which had the appearance of the hand and judgment, wrath and vengeance of God; and while they were feasting together in mirth and gaiety, however innocent, and not in a serious frame of spirit, or having any serious turn upon their minds for death and eternity, of which they had no thought; had they been in the house of God attending religious worship, or though in their own houses, yet either in their closets praying, or else conversing about spiritual things, with one another, it would have greatly taken off of the affliction; but to be snatched into eternity at once, and in this manner, must be cutting to Job; though there is no reason to think that this was for any sin of theirs, or through any displeasure of God to them, but was permitted purely on Job's account, for the trial of his faith, patience, sincerity, and integrity; and here, as in the former instances, only one servant was spared to bring the sad tidings:
and I only am escaped alone to tell thee;
so that all the servants in the house, excepting this, perished in the ruins of it, as well as Job's sons and daughters, (See Gill on Job 1:15). It is a notion of some Jewish writers, as Simeon bar Tzemach observes, that each of these messengers, as soon as they had delivered their message, died, and so all that Job had was delivered into the hands of Satan, and nothing left; but this seems contrary to ( Job 19:16 ) . It may be observed that Aristeas, an Heathen writer, as quoted by Alexander Polyhistor F9, another Heathen writer, gives an account of each of these calamities of Job, just in the same order in which they are here. It may be observed from all this, that no character ever so great and high can secure persons from afflictions, even grievous ones; Job had an high and honourable character given and confirmed by God himself, yet so sorely afflicted; and let men be the beloved of God, his chosen and precious, his covenant people, the redeemed of the Lamb, righteous and godly persons, the sons and heirs of God, yet neither nor all of these exempt them from afflictions; and those that befall them are many, frequent, and continued, and come from different quarters, from men good and bad, and from devils, and all by the permission and according to the will of God. And this shows us the uncertainty of all outward enjoyments, gold, silver, cattle, houses, lands, children, friends and relations, all perishing, and sometimes suddenly taken away: and it may be observed, among all Job's losses, he did not lose anything of a spiritual nature, not one spiritual blessing; though he lost all his outward mercies, yet not the God of his mercies; not his covenant interest in him, nor his share in his love, favour, and acceptance, which all still continued; he did not lose his interest in a living Redeemer; his children were all dead, but his Redeemer lived, and he knew it; he did not lose the principle of grace in him, the root of the matter was still with him; nor anyone particular grace, not his faith and confidence in God, nor his hope of eternal life, nor his love and affection to God, and desire after him; nor his patience and humility; nor his integrity, faithfulness, and honesty, which he retained and held fast; nor any of his spiritual riches, which are durable; he had riches in heaven, where thieves cannot break through and steal, a better and a more enduring substance there, an inheritance incorruptible, reserved in the heavens his conduct under all this follows.
F9 Apud. Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 25. p. 431.