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Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Job 7

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?

Appointed time - better, warfare [ tsaabaa' (H6635)], hard conflict with evils (so in Isaiah 40:2); but in Daniel 10:1;14:14, it is translated appointed time (cf. Job 14:5-13) - 'appoint me a set time' - "the measure of my days" (Psalms 39:4). Job reverts to the sad picture of man, however great, which he had drawn (Job 3:14), and details in this chapter the miseries which his friends will see if, according to his request (Job 6:28), they will look on him. Even the christian soldier, "warring a good warfare," rejoices when it is completed (1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:7-8) - "I have fought a good fight: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." Man is enlisted as a soldier, to fight the battle of life for a set time: implying a state of hardship and sore trials.

Verse 2

As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work:

Earnestly desireth - Hebrew, pants for the (evening) shadow [ yish'ap (H7602) tseel (H6738)]. The Orientals measure time by the length of their shadow. If the servant, wearied witch toil and mid-day heat, longs for the evening, when his hard-earned wages are paid, why may not Job long for the close of his hard service, when he shall enter on his reward? This proves that Job did not, as many maintain, regard the grave as a mere sleep.

Verse 3

So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me.

Months of vanity - comfortless misfortune. "I am made (obliged against my will) to posses" - literally, to be heir to-irony. To be heir to is usually a matter of joy; but here it is the entail of an involuntary and dismal inheritance. Months, for days, to express its long duration.

Appointed - literally, they have numbered to me; marking well the unavoidable doom assigned to him.

Verse 4

When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.

When shall ... the night - literally, 'When shall be the flight of the night?' [ midad (H4059), 'flight,' from naadad (H5074), to fly]. The Hebrew "night" is literally 'evening' [ `ereb (H6153)] - in contrast to [ neshep (H5399)] 'morning twilight' (Gesenius). Umbreit translates [from the Arabic and Hebrew, maadad (H4058), to extend a line], 'The night is long extended'-literally, measured out: so margin.

Verse 5

My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.

Clothed with worms. In elephantiasis maggots are bred in the sores. "Herod was eaten of worms" (Acts 12:23; Isaiah 14:11).

Clods of dust - clod-like scales of dirt: a crust of dried filth and accumulated corruption (Job 2:7-8).

My skin is broken and ... loathsome - rather, draws together, so as to heal up, and again breaks out with running matter (Gesenius). More simply, the Hebrew is, 'My skin rests [ raaga` (H7280)] (for a time) and (again) melts away' (Psalms 58:7).

Verse 6

My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope.

Days. "I have cut off like a weaver my life" (Isaiah 38:12). Every day, like the weaver's shuttle, leaves a thread behind; and each shall wear as he weaves. But Job's thought is, that his days must swiftly be cut off as a web: without hope-namely, of a recovery and renewal of life. "Thou washest away the tidings which grow out of the dust of the earth: and thou destroyest the hope of man" (Job 14:19. cf. Job 9:25; 1 Chronicles 29:15.)

Verse 7

O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good. Address to God. Wind, a picture of evanescence. "He remembered that they were but flesh: a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again" (Psalms 78:39).

Shall no more see - literally, 'shall no more return to see good.' This change from the different wish in Job 3:17, etc., is most true to nature. He is now in a softer mood: and a beam from former days of prosperity falling upon memory, and the thought of the unseen world, where one is seen no more (Job 7:8), drew from him an expression of regret at leaving this world of light. "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun" (Ecclesiastes 11:7). So Hezekiah - "I shall not see the Lord in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more," etc., (Isaiah 38:11). This is the voice of nature. Grace rises above nature - "We are confident, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Verse 8

The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not.

The eye of him hath seen, who beholds me [present, not past, as English version] - i:e., in the very act of beholding me, seeth me no more. "Thine eyes (are) upon me, and I am not?" He disappears from this earth (cf. Job 7:21; Psalms 37:36) even while God is looking upon him. Job cannot survive the gaze of Yahweh - "He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth" (Psalms 104:32). "From, whose face the earth and the heavens fled away" (Revelation 20:11). Not as Umbreit, 'Thine eyes seek me, and I am not to be found;' for God's eye penetrates even to the unseen world. "If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there" (Psalms 139:8). Umbreit unnaturally takes Thine to refer to one of the three friends.

Verse 9

As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.

(2 Samuel 12:23). David as to his child, "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

The grave - the Sheol, or the place of departed spirits-not disproving Job's belief in the resurrection. It merely means, 'He shall come up no more' in the present order of things. Though doubtless Job, through the severity of his affliction, speaks under the impulses of sense at times, more than of faith, viewing things in their earthly aspect rather than in their unseen and heavenly point of view. But his faith continually at intervals breaks forth in glimpses of unseen realities, in spite of carnal sense (Job 19:25). With "the cloud is consumed" cf. Psalms 37:20 - "They shall consume: into smoke shall they consume away."

Verse 10

He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.

Return to more - (Psalms 103:16). The Oriental keenly loves his dwelling. In Arabian elegies the desertion of abodes by their occupants is often a theme of sorrow. Grace overcomes this also. "As many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet" (Acts 4:34).

Verse 11

Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Therefore, as such is may hard lot, I will at least have the melancholy satisfaction of venting my sorrow in words. The Hebrew opening words, therefore I, at all events [ gam (H1571) 'ªniy (H589), "Even I," I as concerns my part], express self-elevation (Umbreit).

Verses 12-14

Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?

Why dost thou deny me the comfort of care-assuaging sleep? Why scarest thou me with frightful dreams?

Am I, then, a sea - regarded in Old Testament poetry us a violent rebel against God, the Lord of nature, who therefore curbs his violence "I have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail" (Jeremiah 5:22, etc., cf. Daniel 7:2; Revelation 21:1); or

A whale - (or some other sea monster [ taniyn (H8577)], 'dragon that is in the sea;' crocodile, Isaiah 27:1), that thou needest thus to watch and curb me? The Egyptians "watched" the crocodile most carefully, to prevent its doing mischief. Am I, a poor frail man, so dangerous an object as to need, like the sea, to be kept within bounds by mighty barriers? or, like a sea monster, needing to be beset with miseries as watches?

Verse 13. Ease - literally, 'bear a part of;' so alleviate. Verse 14. Thou scarest me. The frightful dreams resulting from elephantiasis he attributes to God: the common belief assigned all night visions to God.

Verse 15

So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.

My soul chooseth strangling. Umbreit translate, 'So that I could wish to strangle myself-dead by my own hands.' He softens this idea of Job's harbouring the thought of suicide, by representing it as entertained only in agonizing dreams, and immediately repudiated with horror next verse. 'Yet that (self-strangling) I loathe.' But the Hebrew [ min (H4480)] does not signify the efficient cause 'by my bones' or 'hands' (Maurer). Therefore, as in the English version, the meaning is simply, "My soul chooses (even) strangling (or any violent) death rather than my life" - literally, my bones (Psalms 35:10); - i:e., rather than the wasted and diseased skeleton (Job 19:20) left to me. In elephantiasis sometimes death is caused by violent suffocation. In this view, "I loathe it" (Job 7:16) refers to his life.

Verse 16

I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.

I would not live alway - even if I could. A life of misery like mine is, a thing to be loathed, not desired.

Vanity. "Let me alone" - i:e., cease to afflict me for the few and vain days still left to me (Job 10:20; Psalms 39:13).

Verse 17

What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?

What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? (cf. Psalms 8:4; Psalms 144:3). Job means, 'What is man that thou shouldest make him of so much importance [ gideel (H1435)], and that thou shouldest expend such attention (heart-thought [ siym (H7760) leeb (H3820)], turn thy heart or mind) upon him,' as to make him the subject of so severe trials? Job ought rather to have reasoned, from God's condescending so far to notice man as to try him, that there must be a wise and loving purpose in trial. David uses the same words in their right application, to express wonder that God should do so much as He does for insignificant man. Christians, who know God manifest in the man Christ Jesus still more may use them.

Verse 18

And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?

Every morning - with each new day: "All the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning." It is rather "the Lord's mercies," not our trials, that are "new every morning" (Lamentations 3:23). The idea is that of a shepherd taking count of his flock every morning, to see if all are there (Cocceius).

Verse 19

How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?

How long (like a jealous keeper)

Wilt thou never look away [shaa`aach, for depart] from me, nor let me alone for the briefest respite? -literally, so long as I take to swallow my spittle: an Arabic proverb like our until I draw my breath (Job 9:18).

Verse 20

I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself?

I have sinned (I grant): yet what sin can I do against (to hurt, Job 35:6) thee of such a nature that thou shouldest jealously watch and deprive me of all strength, as if thou didst fear me! Yet thou art one who hast men ever in view, ever watchest them, so as to be able to frustrate any attack on their part (Umbreit).

O thou Watcher (Job 7:12; Daniel 9:14 - " The Lord hath watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us") not as the English version, "Preserver (Gesenius) of men." Job had borne with patience his trials, as sent by God (Job 1:21; Job 2:10); only his reason cannot reconcile the ceaseless continuance of his mental and bodily pains with his ideas of the divine nature.

Set me as a mark - Wherefore dost thou make me thy point of attack? - i:e., ever assail me with new pains. The image is taken from war, where the foe directs his attack against some principles point (Job 16:12) - 'He hath set me up for His mark' (Umbreit). (Lamentations 3:12.)

Verse 21

And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.

For now, [ `ataah (H6258)] - very soon. It surely is worthy of thee, the great God, to pardon, rather than relentlessly to punish me: if so, then pardon me soon, or I shall be dead.

In the morning - not the resurrection; for then Job will be found. It is a figure, from one seeking a sick man early in the morning, and finding he has died in the night. So Job implies that if God does not help him at once it will be too late, because he will be gone. In the Hebrew, "seek me in the morning" is all in one word, and means simply 'seek me early' [ shichartaniy (H7836)] from [ shaachar (H7837)] to seek early. The same Hebrew, in Proverbs 8:17, is translated, "They that seek me early," not literally 'in the morning,' but seek diligently, as it were getting up early to seek me. The reason why God does not give an immediate sense of pardon to awakened sinners is, they think they have a claim on God for it.


(1) Man's life is a warfare, in which a good fight is to be fought against our spiritual enemies, the flesh, the world, and Satan; if we do not by the grace of God in Christ overcome them, they will overcome and ruin us everlastingly. The time appointed for this warfare is a set time of short duration. How necessary, then, is it that we should "redeem the time," seeing that upon our use, or else neglect and abuse, of the time it depends whether we shall be happy or miserable throughout eternity!

(2) We must expect, and not be impatient under, hardship, trial, and toil, in our earthly pilgrimage, since our high calling here is to be "good soldiers of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3), enlisted under Him as the great "Captain of our salvation," who was Himself also "made perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10).

(3) "Hired" (Matthew 20:7) as labourer into the Lord's vineyard, the believer, while patiently and diligently doing the Lord's work here, "eagerly pants for" the shades of life's evening, and for the premised "reward of his work" (Job 7:2), to be given by Christ at His coming (Hebrews 10:35-37), and "earnestly desires the rest that remaineth for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 14:13). At the same time he serves God in no "hireling" (Job 7:1) spirit, but regards God Himself as His people's "reward" (Genesis 15:1), and looks for a reward wholly of grace, not of debt or merit.

(4) It is the working of the old corrupt nature which tempts the believer like Job to say, "My days are spent without hope" (Job 7:6). However much besides we lose, so long as we have God, we have all things in Him, and a good hope through grace. But clouds of sorrow often obscure the shining of the Sun of righteousness even on the child of God. And while we sympathize with the suffering patriarch, we must not copy his language. At the same time, his case, even in respect to this impatient language, is not without its profits to us, because it shows the believer, when tempted to entertain hard thoughts of God, that other saints have passed through the same sore temptation. So we may learn "that no man should be moved by these afflictions, for yourselves know," saith Paul (1 Thessalonians 3:3), "that we are appointed thereunto" (cf. also 1 Peter 4:12).

(5) How amazing is the long-suffering of God even with the believer! How often might we expect that the impatient thoughts and hard speeches of the afflicted one would tempt God to swear that the sinner should not enter into His rest. But Christ intercedes for the saint as He did for Simon when Satan desired to have him to sift him as wheat; so, though the believer fall for a time, he is not utterly cast down, because the Lord upholdeth him with His hand. Considerable allowance, however, is to be made for Job in the frequently gloomy views which he took of the future, seeing that he had not as yet the clear shining of the Gospel, which "hath brought life and immortality to light" (2 Timothy 1:10) in our days. It is indeed marvelous, and can only proceed from the direct inspiration of God, that his faith so often breaks out in bright flashes from the gloom which surrounded him. May the Holy Spirit give us grace, with our greater light, never to lose sight of our sure and blessed hope, as Job did at times, and to follow in the steps of his faith wherein soever it stood the test of the fiery ordeal to which it was exposed!

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-7.html. 1871-8.
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