The preceding books of scripture are, for the most part, plain and easy narratives, which he that runs may read and understand: but in the five poetical books, on which we are now entering, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Solomon's song, are many things hard to be understood. These therefore require a more close application of mind, which yet the treasures they contain will abundantly recompence. The former books were mostly historical: these are doctrinal and devotional. And they are wrote in verse, according to the ancient rules of versifying, tho' not in rhythm, nor according to the rules of latter tongues. Job is a kind of heroic poem; the book of Psalms a collection of sacred odes, Solomon's song, a Divine pastoral. They are all poetical, yet serious and full of majesty. They have a poetic force and flame, without poetic fury, move the affections, without corrupting the imagination; and while they gratify the ear, improve the mind, and profit the more by pleasing. We have here much of God, his infinite pefections, and his government both of the world, and of the church. And we have much of Christ, who is the spring, and soul, and center of revealed religion. Here is what may enlighten our understandings, and acquaint us with the deep things of God. And this divine light may bring into the soul a divine fire, which will kindle and inflame devout affections, on which wings we may soar upwards, until we enter into the holiest. We are certain that the book of Job is a true history. That there was such a man as Job, undeniably appears, from his being mentioned by the prophet, together with Noah and Daniel, (Eze 14:14), and the narrative we have of his prosperity and piety, his strange afflictions and exemplary patience, the substance of his conferences with his friends, and God's discourse with him out of the whirlwind, with his return to a prosperous condition, are no doubt exactly true. We are sure also this book is very ancient, probably of equal date with the book of Genesis itself. It is likely, Job was of the posterity of Nahor, Abraham's brother, whose first - born was Uz, and in whose family religion was kept up, as appears (Ge 31:53), where God is called not only the God of Abraham, but the God of Nahor. He lived before sacrifices were confined to one altar, before the general apostacy of the nations, and while God was known by the name of God Almighty, more than by the name of Jehovah: for he is called Shaddai, the Almighty, above thirty times in this book. And that he lived before (probably very little before) the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt, we may gather from hence, that there is no allusion at all to that grand event throughout the whole book.
In this noble poem we have,
A monument of primitive theology;
A specimen of Gentile piety: for Job was not of the promised seed, no Israelite, no proselyte:
An exposition of the book of providence, and a clear solution of man difficult passages therein:
A great example of patience and close adherence to God in the deepest calamities: and
An illustrious type of Christ, emptied and humbled, in order to his greater glory.
In this book we have, an account of Job's sufferings, chap. 1, 2, Not without a mixture of human frailty, chap. 3. A dispute between him and his three friends, chap. 4 - 31. The interposal of Elihu, and of God himself, chap. 32 - 41. The end of all in Job's prosperity, chap. 42.