The next time we see Satan, chronologically, in the Bible after Genesis 3 is when he appears in the first two chapters of Job as a foil of God and as the unknown instigator of Job’s troubles. Let us examine these two passages separately, as they form the prologue to the book of Job and set up the context of Job’s struggle to understand the providence of God in the face of his friends’ equation between Job’s suffering and a false view of him receiving his just desserts.
We see Satan’s appearance in Job 1:6-12: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”
Before we get to some of the important elements of this passage, let us note a few extraneous but nevertheless interesting details. For one, let us note that there is a specific time and place where God discusses matters with those who are labeled as the “sons of God.” This expression can sometimes refer to angels, and is a matter of contention when it comes to understanding Genesis 6, which we will deal with briefly when we come to discuss the role of demons in the Bible. Here, in this particular occasion, God had a conversation with Satan, who again is labeled here by his title of accuser, and true to form Satan has an accusation to make. But before we discuss the content of this accusation it is worthwhile to note that even Satan and the demons are held accountable to God by having a set time and (presumably) place to interact with God and present themselves to Him. There are other stories in the Bible that we will discuss where this becomes a matter of considerable importance.
In this particular passage, as in the Garden of Eden, God sets Satan up. First, God draws Satan’s attention to His servant Job and gives a commendation of his character, describing Job as “a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil.” Satan’s reply is to appeal cynically to the benefits that Job has received, the protection and the wealth, that result (ordinarily) to obedience to God. And God, putting his reputation on the line and daring Satan that Job would continue to obey God loyally even if his life fell apart, was ultimately right to do so. Here we see an interesting aspect of Satan’s character, and that is the way that Satan does not understand when God is setting him up, but simply serves as a hostile adversary to mankind even against his strategic interests. One wonders why Satan is unable to learn from his mistakes and to wonder what it is that God is seeking to do by setting him up so. However, the possession of such a capacity for reflection would make him less of an adversary, though, and unable to live up to his name.