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Job 6:4. The poison of the arrows absorbed his spirits. In 1822, when Campbel the missionary travelled in South Africa, a bushman shot one of his men in the back with a poisoned arrow. He languished about two and forty hours in extreme pain. A hottentot said next day, he will die tomorrow about sunrise, which happened according to his calculation of the time in which others had died of those wounds.
Job 6:5. Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? This animal, often named in the sacred writings, has lately been described, and accompanied with a drawing by Sir Robert K. Porter. It is larger than the common ass, and of a silvery colour. It has a black band along the spine, with patches of pure white on the flanks. The male has a bar of black across his shoulders. Those animals have more vivacity than the common ass, and are formed peculiarly for deserts and hills, having the power to subsist for two or three days without water. The hunters catch them by mounting fresh horses, and running them down. They are much esteemed in the east, and often rode by persons of quality.
Job 6:9. Let loose his hand. Job felt that God only touched him, and was cautious not to kill him, nor to deprive him of exquisite sensibility.
Job 6:10. Then should I yet have comfort, by an entrance into peace.—I have not concealed, or as Schultens reads, “non abnegavi,” I have not denied the words of the Holy One. This was his confidence, that he had been faithful as a preacher of righteousness, and a worshipper of God.
Job 6:12. Is my strength the strength of stones, in a walled city or tower, to bear the incessant strokes of a battering ram in a close siege?
Job 6:13. Is not my help in me, in comfort, in confidence, and in all the sanctifying powers of religion on the mind. This is the sacred test, which exterior adversities can never touch.
Job 6:15. My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, to which the thirsty beasts go afar to drink; but alas, the heat of summer has dried up the stream.
Job 6:16. The ice and the snow were frequent on the ranges of Abarim, whose highest summits were mount Nebo, and mount Pisgah.
Notwithstanding all the terrors of the tempest which now assailed the soul of Job, the renewal of his complaints, after Eliphaz had closed his sharp speech, is extremely beautiful. He was so much shaken with his afflictions, that he makes no apology for the severity of his language. His griefs were heavier than his groanings. He invites his friends to weigh his sorrows, and lay his calamities in the balances. They were heavier than the mountains of sand driven from the deep by foaming billows, and the roaring of the tempests. His words were swallowed up, language was inadequate to description. It was Omnipotence contending with a worm. He fell wounded with his poisoned arrows. He had no soul, no might in contest. Therefore the words of Eliphaz were to him as unsavoury meat.
Job having entreated his friends to weigh his sorrows, next, by a request four times repeated, he entreats the Lord, like Elijah, to kill the body, and take him out of the world. His reasons are many. Death would comfort him by a release from pain and sorrow. Death would restore his confidence and hope; he would harden himself in sorrow; therefore he challenged and invited its approach. The grounds of his confidence were a good conscience; he had neither concealed the words of the Holy One, nor wrested their meaning. He had no hope on earth; his strength was not as stones and brass, to bear perpetual strokes. Hence it is not sinful to groan under the heavier strokes of affliction; and provided we do not murmur, we may implore deliverance. Christ himself deprecated the bitter cup. Hence also, though a man may pray for death, yet he must neither indulge despair, nor have recourse to suicide. That infidel, who under a severe stroke of mortification has recourse to the halter is a fool and a coward. He is a fool, because his affairs might in a short time take a turn to his greater advantage: so it happens in a multitude of cases, and his calamities may be graciously designed to prevent greater evils. He is a coward, because he shrinks at the adversities common to man. He rashly retires from life at enmity with God, for having afflicted him above measure: and dying in this awful state, what reception is he likely to meet with in the invisible world?
Job not only justifies himself in urging those complaints as helping himself by the operations of right reason, but reproaches his friend for not showing pity, which is a first duty of those that fear the Lord. Instead of comforting him, they were as the ice and snow in winter, which promise the troop or caravan of merchants water; but behold, when they return in summer, the whole is dried up. Let us therefore learn of Job’s friends to visit the afflicted uninvited; then we are doubly welcome. Let us also learn of those friends to be faithful to the afflicted; but above all, let us beware of augmenting afflictions by mistaking the case of a friend.
After admonishing the errors of his friends, Job asserts his purity and rectitude in a most admirable strain of eloquence. Did I ask your substance to repair my losses; or to pursue the enemy and retake my cattle? Say now, and I will hold my peace; for I know the force of right words. But what is the substance of your arguments? Do you hope to succeed in reproving a man whose case is desperate? You take up the whole affair on a wrong ground; you overwhelm the orphans, whose fathers have perished in my cause, with an idea of their sins; and you strive to sink your friend into a yet deeper pit, as the sole cause of all their woes. Return, I pray thee, return, and view my whole case on a new ground, or return altogether to your own homes, and I will not account it iniquity. Though Job had no spirit to resist God, he had abundance of courage to plead against the errors of his friends. The whole of this discourse is a model of the true sublime and beautiful of ancient composition.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 6". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/