INTRODUCTION TO JOB 10
Job here declares the greatness of his afflictions, which made him weary of his life, and could not help complaining; entreats the Lord not to condemn him but show him the reason of his thus dealing with him, Job 10:1; and expostulates with him about it, and suggests as if it was severe, and not easily reconciled to his perfections, when he knew he was not a wicked man, Job 10:3; he puts him in mind of his formation and preservation of him, and after all destroyed him, Job 10:8; and represents his case as very distressed; whether he was wicked or righteous it mattered not, his afflictions were increasing upon him, Job 10:13; and all this he observes, in order to justify his eager desire after death, which he renews, Job 10:18; and entreats, since his days he had to live were but few, that God would give him some respite before he went into another state, which he describes, Job 10:20.
My soul is weary of my life,.... And yet nothing of a temporal blessing is more desirable than life; every man, generally speaking, is desirous of life, and of a long life too; soul and body are near and intimate companions, and are usually loath to part; but Job was weary of his life, willing to part with it, and longed to be rid of it; he "loathed" it, and so it may be here rendered
I will leave my complaint upon myself: not that he would leave complaining, or lay it aside, though some
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul: as one whose life is made bitter, against whom God had wrote and said bitter things, and had brought bitter afflictions upon him, which had occasioned bitter complaints in him, as well as he had been bitterly used by his friends; and amidst all this bitterness he is determined to speak out his mind freely and fully; or to speak "of the bitterness"
I will say unto God, do not condemn me,.... Not that he feared eternal condemnation; there is none to them that are in Christ, and believe in him as Job did; Christ's undertakings, sufferings, and death, secure his people from the condemnation of law and justice; nor, indeed, are the afflictions of God's people a condemnation of them, but a fatherly chastisement, and are in order to prevent their being condemned with the world; yet they may look as if they were, in the eyes of the men of the world, and they as very wicked persons; and so the word may be rendered, "do not account me wicked"
show me wherefore thou contendest with me. Afflictions are the Lord's controversy with his people, a striving, a contending with them; which are sometimes so sharp, that were they continued long, the spirits would fail before him, and the souls that he has made: now there is always a cause or reason for them, which God has in his own breast, though it is not always known to man, at least not at first, or as soon as the controversy or contention is begun; when God afflicts, it is either for sin, to prevent it, or purge from it, or to bring his people to a sense of it, to repent of it, and forsake it, or to try their graces, and make them more partakers of his holiness; and when good men, as Job, are at a loss about this, not being conscious of any gross iniquity committed, or a course of sin continued in, it is lawful, and right, and commendable, to inquire the reason of it, and learn, if possible, the end, design, and use of such dispensations.
Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress?.... This God does not approve of in others; he dehorts men from it; he threatens to punish those that do so, and to be a swift witness against them; he promises to arise to the help of the oppressed, and to be a refuge for them, and therefore will never do the same himself; it can never be pleasant to him, nor right and just in his sight, nor is it of any advantage to him. Job here suggests that his afflictions were an oppression to him; and, indeed, no affliction is joyous, but grievous, and sometimes the hand of God presses hard and sore, but then there is no injury nor any injustice done, as the word
that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands? which he tacitly insinuates he did. Job means himself, who, as to his body, and the several members of it, were the work of God's hands, curiously and wonderfully made by him, as is afterwards expressed; and as to his soul, and the powers and faculties of it, they were his make, who is the Father of spirits; and moreover, as a new man, he was made by him, was the workmanship of God, and a curious piece indeed, created after his image in righteousness and true holiness; and he was in every sense the work of his hands, or "the labour of his hands"
and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? either the counsel of the wicked one, Satan, who moved God to afflict him in the manner he had, or of the Sabeans and Chaldeans, who thrived and prospered, notwithstanding the injury they had done him; or of his friends, who consulted to brand his character with hypocrisy; or, rather, of wicked men in general, on whose counsel God may be thought to "shine", when it succeeds, and God seems to smile upon them in his providence, and they are in prosperous circumstances, and have what heart can wish, when good men are greatly afflicted; which sometimes has been a temptation, and greatly distressing, to the latter; see Psalm 73:2; but this is not always the case; the counsel of the froward is sometimes carried headlong, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is made brutish, and that of Ahithophel was defeated by him; and whenever he seems to countenance it, it is to answer some ends of his glory.
Hast thou eyes of flesh?.... God has eyes, but not fleshly ones; he has eyes of love, grace, and mercy, which are always upon his people for good, and are never withdrawn from them; and he has eyes of displeasure and wrath on sinful men, to destroy them; these are not made of flesh, or like the eyes of flesh and blood, or of men; fleshy eyes cannot see at any great distance, and only in one place at a time, and only one object after another; they cannot see in the dark, and what they are, and only outward objects; and in these they are sometimes deceived, and at length fail: but the eyes of God see all things, at the greatest distance; he looks down from heaven, and beholds all the children of men on earth, and all their actions; his eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good; he can see in the dark as well as in the light, the darkness and the light are both alike to him; he beholds not only outward actions and visible objects, but the hearts of men, and all that is in them; nor is he ever deceived, nor will his sight ever fail: though Job, perhaps, may mean carnal eyes; that is, evil ones, as especially envious ones are: "is thine eye evil?" Matthew 20:15; that is, envious; and it is as if Job should say, dost thou envy me my former prosperity and peace, that thou searchest so narrowly into my conduct to find iniquity in me, and take advantage against me?
or seest thou as man seeth? look with hatred and envy, as one man does upon another: so seemed the dispensations of God towards Job, as if he did, as he suggests.
Are thy days as the days of man?.... No, they are not: not so few; the days of the years of man's life in common are threescore years and ten, Psalm 90:10; but a thousand years with the Lord are but as one day, 2 Peter 3:8; his days are days not of time, but of eternity: nor so mutable, or he so mutable in them; man is of one mind today, and of another tomorrow; but the Lord is in one mind one day as another; he is the Lord that changes not, Malachi 3:6; immutable in his nature, purposes, promises, and affections: but Job suggests as if his dispensations towards him showed the contrary; one day smiling upon him, and heaping his favours on him, and the next frowning on him, and stripping him of all: but this was a wrong way of judging; for, though God may change the dispensations of his providence towards men, and particularly his own people, his nature changes not, nor does he change his will, his purposes, and designs, nor his love and affection:
are thy years as man's days? as few as they, or fail like them? no, he is the same, and his years fail not, and has the same good will to his people in adverse as well as in prosperous dispensations of his providence. Some understand all this in such sense, in connection with what follows, as if Job had observed, that since God was omniscient, and knew and saw all persons and things, his eyes not being like men's eyes, eyes of flesh; and since he was eternal, and wanted not for time, there was no need for him to take such methods as he did with him, through afflictive providences, to find out his sin; since, if he was guilty, it was at once known to him; nor need he be in such haste to do it, since his time was not short, as it is with an envious and ill natured man, who is for losing no time to find out and take an advantage of him he bears an ill will unto.
That thou enquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin? Narrowly examined every action of his life, to find something amiss in them; and took notice of every weakness and infirmity, and aggravated it, to make it appear as sinful as it could be, and watched every halting and failing, that he might have something against him as a reason why he afflicted him; dealing with him as if there was no Messiah, no Mediator, Redeemer, and Saviour, provided, appointed, and promised; and as if there was no forgiveness of sin, through him, for him: sin pardoned for his sake is covered, that when it is sought for it shall not be found; so that when it is not pardoned, or not thought to be so, it lies open, and upon inquiry to be found, charged, and punished for; see Job 7:21; this search and inquiry seems to have been made by afflictions; at least Job imagined that the design of God in them was to put him upon the rack, and bring him to a confession of sin, find in this way find an occasion against him: now such a method as this, Job thought, was unbecoming the greatness, majesty, and perfections of God; and was quite needless, since his eyes were not human nor shortsighted, that obliged him to pore and pry into things, but were omniscient, and could see at once whether there was any evil way in him or not; nor was he as men, short lived, which obliged him to make use of his time while he had it, to get an advantage of another; and besides, such a method of acting seemed to him very extraordinary, when he full well knew he was an innocent person, as follows.
Thou knowest that I am not wicked,.... Or "in", or "upon thy knowledge
and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand; that is, out of his afflicting hand, until he please to release him from it himself; for this is not to be understood of deliverance from the avenging hand of justice, from hell and wrath, and everlasting destruction; for there is one that can and does deliver his people from sin and Satan; from the world, the law, its curses and condemnation, and from wrath to come; and from the hands of justice, having made full satisfaction to it: but what Job observes that God knew was, that neither he himself, nor any angel, nor man, nor any creature, could take him out of his hand in which be was; and therefore suggests, not only that his condition was extremely bad, distressed, and miserable, but that there was no necessity for God to he so quick upon him, and so strict in his inquiry into him; nor of enclosing him about on all hands with afflictions, since, there was no danger of his escaping from him, or of others assisting him in and facilitating such an attempt: and this he full well knew; for so the words are connection with the preceding: "and thou knowest that there is none", &c.
Thine hands have made me, and fashioned together round about,.... This and what follow are an illustration of and an enlargement upon, the work of God's hands, made mention of in Job 10:3; and suggest reasons why it should not be despised by him, as well as confirm what was just now said, that none could deliver him out of his hands; since his hands had made him, and therefore had such power over him as none else had: and the whole seems designed to move to pity and compassion of him; for not he himself, nor his parents, but God only had made him; he was his workmanship only, and a curious piece it was, which his hands of power and wisdom had nicely formed; for, though the Son and Spirit of God are not to be excluded from the formation of man, yet it seems a too great strain of the words to interpret "hands" of them, as some do; and much less are they to be understood literally of the hands of the Son of God appearing in an human form at the creation of man, since such an appearance is not certain; nor is Job speaking of the formation of the first man, but of himself: the first word
yet thou dost destroy me; this body, so extremely well wrought, by boils or ulcers; or "swallow me"
Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay,.... Not of the clay, though man was made originally of the dust of the earth, and the bodies of men are houses of clay, earthen vessels, and earthly tabernacles, but "as the clay"; either as the clay is wrought in the hand of the potter, and worked into what form, and made into what vessel he pleases, so are men in the hand of God, made by him in what form, and for what use and end he thinks fit; or rather this denotes not the likeness of the operation, but the likeness of the matter of the human body to clay: not for the impurity of it; for though man is in a state and condition comparable to the mire and clay, this he has brought himself into by sin, and not the Lord; he made man upright, but man has made himself sinful and polluted; but for the brittleness of it; as a vessel made of clay is brittle and easily broke to pieces, and cannot bear much weight, or any heavy stroke; so the body of man is weak and frail, and feeble; its strength is not the strength of stones, and its flesh brass, but clay: and this Job humbly entreats the Lord would "remember", and that "now"
and wilt thou bring me into dust again? to the dust of death; to the original of which he was made; and that so soon, and at once; or, "and unto dust will return me?" as Mr. Broughton and others
Hast thou not poured me out as milk,.... Expressing, in modest terms, his conception from the seed of his parents, comparable to milk, from being a liquid, and for its colour:
and curdled me like cheese? that of the female being mixed with, and heated by the male, is hardened like the curd of which a cheese is made, and begins to receive a form as that, and becomes an embryo: and naturalists
Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh,.... The bones with flesh, which is the under garment, and the flesh with skin, which is the upper; which is artificially composed of intricate little arteries, veins, nerves, and glands, through which the blood continually circulates, and through innumerable pores, and transpires, of which pores 125,000 may be covered with a small grain of sand
and hast fenced me with bones and sinews; the bones are said by philosophers
Thou hast granted me life and favour,.... Or "lives"
and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit; kept him alive, in a natural sense, while in the womb, as Jarchi, where he was in a wonderful manner nourished; and when he came out from thence, exposed to many difficulties and dangers, and during his helpless and infant state, and amidst a variety of troubles throughout the whole of his life hitherto; and which was owing to God's visitation of him in a way of mercy every morning; and which was no other than his providence or daily care of him, and concern for him; and so Mr. Broughton renders it "thy providence"
And these things thou hast hid in thine heart,.... Meaning, either the mercies and favours he had indulged him with; these he seemed to conceal and suppress the memory of, as if they had never been, by a different conduct and behaviour; or rather, these he had laid up in his mind and memory, and had full knowledge and remembrance of; though he dealt with him in the manner he did, he could not forget his former favours to him, which, when compared with his present dealings, were very unlike: or, it may be best to understand these things of his afflictions and troubles, which, notwithstanding his being the work of his hand so curiously formed, and notwithstanding all his temporal and spiritual mercies, he had in his heart purposed, and decreed in his mind, and laid up in his treasures, in order to be brought forth in due time, and to exercise him with; these were the things he had appointed for him, and many such things were with him, as it follows:
I know that this is with thee; either that he was not ignorant and forgetful of what he had done in a kind way; or rather, that he had this in his mind, and it was an eternal purpose of his to afflict him in the manner he had done: some connect these words with Job 10:14, as if the sense was, these are what thou hast hid in thine heart, and this is what I know is with thee, "if I sin", &c.
If I sin, then thou markest me,.... Or "observest me"
and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity; clear him of it, and discharge him from it; pronounce him innocent, or pardon him; but, on the contrary, hold him guilty, and deal with him as such in a rigorous way; or wilt not "cleanse" or purify me, as the Targum and others
If I be wicked, woe is me,.... In this world, and to all eternity; afflictions will abide me here, and everlasting wrath hereafter: these are the woes that belong to a wicked man; that is, a profane and abandoned sinner, that lives in sin, and gives up himself to all manner of wickedness; the Targum is,"destruction to me from the great judgment;'utter ruin is my portion, as it is of all wicked and unrighteous persons, Isaiah 3:11,
and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head; live a holy life and conversation, be righteous in the sight of men, and behave so as not to know anything by himself, nor to be conscious of living in any known sin; yet he could not take any comfort from it, or have any pleasure in it, or speak peace to himself on account of it, or glory in it and make his boast of it; or lift up his head before God with boldness and confidence, who is so pure and holy, and his eyes so quick in discerning the sins of men: a good man derives his peace and comfort, not from his own righteousness, but from the righteousness of Christ, and puts his confidence in that only; he blushes, and is ashamed of his own; and cannot, nay, "dare not lift up his head", as Mr. Broughton, the Tigurine version, and others render it, through shame, being sensible that nothing of his own can stand before an holy God, or give him joy, peace, and pleasure there; the Targum adds, "before the ungodly"; but this a man may do before men, when he cannot before God:
I am full of confusion; being in such a dilemma; let him be what he would, he was sure to have affliction, sorrow, and distress, so that he knew not what to say or do; or "reproach"
therefore see thou mine affliction; not with his eye of omniscience, that he knew he did, but with an eye of pity and compassion, and deliver him from it; or, "I am full with seeing mine affliction", as Jarchi; or, "I am one that sees affliction"
For it increaseth,.... That is, the affliction increaseth; which is a reason why pity should be shown him, seeing his troubles instead of abating were growing upon him; he had as much, or more, than he could well bear, and yet more was added to it; so that he was an object of compassion: or, "it lifteth itself up"
thou huntest me as a fierce lion; as the ramping shakal, as Mr. Broughton; the lion rampant, that is hungry, fierce, and ravenous, that pursues its prey with great eagerness, and never leaves till it comes up to it, when it seizes and devours it at once; or it, the affliction, hunteth me, pursues me closely, and will not leave, but threatens destruction to me; or rather, thou, that is God, who is often in Scripture compared to a lion, particularly when afflicting, or about to afflict the sons of men; see Isaiah 38:13; some
and again thou showest thyself marvellous upon me; or, "thou returnest
Thou renewest thy witnesses against me,.... Not the devils, as some, nor Job's friends, as others; but rather afflictions, which were daily renewed, and frequently repeated, new troubles coming continually one upon another; which were brought as fresh witnesses against him, which made the suit tiresome to him, the trial to last the longer, which he wished was at end, that the decisive sentence might be pronounced and executed, and he be dispatched at once; but instead of that the affair was protracted by bringing in one witness after another, or one affliction upon the back of another, which were brought as witnesses "before him"
and increasest thine indignation upon me; the tokens of it, by increasing afflictions, and the sense of it in his mind; for from his afflictions, and the increase of them, he judged of the indignation of God upon him, or "against him"
changes and war are against me; or "with me", or "upon me"
Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb?.... Into this world; this act is rightly ascribed by Job to the Lord, as it is by David, Psalm 22:9; which kind act of God Job complains of, and wishes it had never been, seeing his life was now so miserable and uncomfortable; here he returns to his former complaints, wishes, and expostulations, expressed with so much vehemence and passion in Job 10:3; and for which his friends blamed him, and endeavoured to convince him of his error in so doing; but it does not appear that their arguments carried any force in them with him, or had any effect upon him; he still continues in the same mind, and by repeating justifies what he had said; and thought he had sufficient reason to wish he had never been born, that he had died in the womb, since his afflictions were so very great and increasing, and since God pursued him as a fierce lion; and, according to his sense of things, his indignation against him appeared more and more, and his life was a continued succession of trouble and distress:
and that I had given up the ghost; that is, in the womb, and had never been brought out of it, at least alive; or it may be rendered not as a wish, but as an affirmation, "I should have given up the ghost"; or, "so or then I should have expired"
and no eye had seen me! no eye would have seen him, had he not been taken out of the womb; or however if he had died directly, would not have seen him alive; and an abortive or stillborn child few see, or care to see; and had he been such an one, he had never been seen in the circumstances he now was; and by this he suggests, that he was now such a shocking sight as was not fit to be seen by men, and which would have been prevented had he died in the womb.
I should have been as though I had not been,.... For though it cannot be said absolutely of such an one, an abortive or untimely birth, that it is a nonentity, or never existed; yet comparatively it is as if it never had a being; it being seen by none or very few, it having had no name, nor any conversation among men; but at once buried, and buried in forgetfulness, as if no such one had ever been; see Ecclesiastes 6:3. This Job wished for, for so some render it, "oh, that I had been as though I had never been"
I should have been carried from the womb to the grave; if he had not been brought out of it, the womb had been his grave, as in Jeremiah 20:17; or if he had died in it, and had been stillborn, he would quickly have been carried to his grave; he would have seen and known nothing of life and of the world, and the things in it; and particularly of the troubles that attend mortals here: his passage in it and through it would have been very short, or none at all, no longer than from the womb to the grave; and so should never have known what sorrow was, or such afflictions he now endured; such an one being in his esteem happier than he; see Ecclesiastes 4:3.
Are not my days few?.... They are so, the days of every man are but few; see Job 14:1; the remainder of Job's days were but few; considering the course of nature, and especially the sore afflictions he had on him, it could not be thought his days on earth were many; in all likelihood, according to human probability, he had but a few days to live: or "are not my days a small little thing"
cease then; that is, from afflicting him; since he had so short a time to live, he requests there might be some intermission of his trouble; that he might have some intervals of comfort and refreshment, that not all his days, which were so few, should be spent in grief and sorrow: some connect this with the preceding clause, and which is most agreeable to the accents, "shall not the fewness of my days cease"
and let me alone; do not follow me with afflictions, or disturb and distress me with them; but take off thine hand, that I may have some rest and ease; see Job 7:10; or "put from me"; thine anger, as Kimchi, or thine army, as Junius and Tremellius; or thy camp, as Cocceius; that is, decamp from me, remove thy troops, the changes and war that are against me, by which I am besieged, surrounded, and straitened; let me be delivered from them:
that I may take comfort a little; that he might have some breathing time, some respite from his troubles, some refreshment to his spirit, some reviving to his fainting soul, some renewing of strength, before he departed this life; see Psalm 39:13; so Aben Ezra and Gersom render it: "that I may be strengthened"; or that his heart might gather strength.
Before I go whence I shall not return,.... Before he went out of the world, the way of all flesh, to the grave, his long home, from whence there is no return to this world, and to the business and affairs of it; to a man's house, his family and his friends, to converse with them as before, there will be no return until the resurrection, which Job does not here deny, as some have thought; it was a doctrine he well understood, and strongly asserts in Job 19:26; but this must be understood in the same sense as in Job 7:9,
even to the land of darkness, and the shadow of death; which describes not the state of the damned, as some Popish interpreters, carry it; for Job had no thought nor fear of such a state; but the grave, which is called "a land", or country, it being large and spacious, and full of inhabitants; a land of "darkness", a very dark one, where the body separated from the soul is deprived of all light; where the sun, moon, and stars, are never seen; nor is there the least crevice that light can enter in at, or be seen by those that dwell in those shades, which are "the shadow of death" itself; deadly shades, thick and gross ones, the darkest shades, where death itself is, or dead men are, destitute of light and life; where no pleasure, comfort, and conversation, can be had; and therefore a land in itself most undesirable.
A land of darkness, as darkness itself,.... Not merely like it, but truly so; as gross thick darkness, like that of Egypt, that might be felt; even blackness of darkness, which is as dark as it possibly can be; not only dark, but darkness, extremely dark:
and of the shadow of death; which is repeated for the illustration and confirmation of it, as having in it all kind of darkness, and that to the greatest degree:
without any order, or "orders"
and where the light is as darkness; were there anything in the grave that could with any propriety be called light, even that is nothing but darkness; darkness and light are the same thing there: or when "it shineth it is darkness"
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany