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Job 14:1 Man [that is] born of a woman [is] of few days, and full of trouble.
Ver. 1. Man that is born of a woman, &c. ] Or, that is borne about by a woman in her womb. Job’s design is here to set forth the misery of man (whom in the last verse of the former chapter he had compared, 1. To a rotten thing; 2. To a moth eaten garment), ab exordio ad exodium, from his conception to his dissolution. Man, earthly man, that is born of a woman, or mannesse, that weaker vessel, who both breedeth, beareth, and bringeth forth in sorrow a weak sorry man, Genesis 3:16 , and is (as Gregory expresseth it) ante partum onerosa, in partu dolorosa, post partum laboriosa, every way calamitous; neither is her babe in a better condition, but born with a cross on his back (as the story is told of Frederick, the Elector of Saxony), and having his whole life overspread with sins and miseries, as with a filthy leprous eruption. (Joh. Manl. loc. com.)
Is of few days ] Heb. Short of days. Short indeed, everything reckoned; for, 1. Childhood and youth are vanity. 2. Sleep, as a publican, takes off a third part of our time. 3. All the days of the afflicted are evil, and Mortis habet vices quae trahitur vita gemitibus (Aug. de Civ. Dei, lib. ix. c. 10); it is not a life, but a death rather that is spent in sorrow; in which regard Plotinus, the philosopher, held mortality a mercy, that we may not always be held uuder the miseries of this life present. 4. Scarce one of a thousand live that little time that they are here, but woefully waste the flower of their age, the strength of their bodies, the vigour of their spirits, in sinful pleasures and sensual delights, and then either sit and sing all too late, and in vain,
O mihi praeteritos referat si Iupiter annos!
or else complain with old Themistocles, that now they must die when they do but begin only to be wise. The life of a wicked man runneth out as the sand in an hour glass, that doth little good; he considereth not that upon this little point of time hangs the crown of eternity; and that the very next moment he may be cut off from all possibility of repentance, acceptation, and grace for ever. Hence his many troubles here; all which are but typical of those hereafter; besides the fear of death, which maketh him all his lifetime subject to bondage, Hebrews 2:15 . It were much to be wished that men would consider their time is short, their task long, and that, therefore, they should use all speed and diligence; lest (so as children have usually torn their books) they have ended their lives before they have learned their lessons.
And full of trouble ] Or, of indignation, commotion, perturbation. Those three vultures, fear, anger, grief, are frequently feeding upon his heart while he is in this world; and, like a ship in a storm, he is tossed much, but faileth little or nothing. Few and evil are the days of my pilgrimage, saith good old Jacob, Genesis 47:9 . And she in the poet could say as much of her son Achilles:
Nυν θ αμα ωκυμορος, και υιζυρος περι παντων Eπλεο - (Thetis ap. Hom. lliad).
Job 14:2 He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
Ver. 2. He cometh forth like a flower ] What he had asserted concerning the shortness of man’s life is here illustrated by two elegant similitudes, frequently used, not in Scripture only, but in heathen authors, as were easy to instance, Isaiah 28:1 ; Isaiah 40:6 James 1:10-11 1 Peter 1:24 . A flower hath a spring and a fall; so have men their times and their turns; their rise and their ruin. Why and how man in his flourish is like to a flower; see Psalms 103:15-16 , where he is compared to a flower of the field (which lies open to all inconvenience), not of the garden, which is much sheltered from sharp winds, fenced from the teeth and feet of beasts, from the hands of children, strangers, &c.
And is cut down ] Heb. Cut around, or circumcised, sc. by some nipping or blasting wind, such as that east wind, Genesis 41:23 , or some cropping hand, or its own fading nature; and then it is not, saith David, Psalms 103:16 , that is, it neither continues any longer in being, nor returns any more into being; no more doth man, though in his time never so flourishing.
He fleeth also ] With post haste, as one that fleeth for life; so doth he from life, every moment yielding somewhat unto death: Orimur, morimur, finisque ab origine pendet; life, as fast as it increaseth, decreaseth. It is improper, saith one, to ask when we shall die, but rather when we shall make an end of dying?
As a shadow ] As the shadow of a dial, our lives are continually hasting to their period, and never make stop. By these, and many the like comparisons (common in this Book and other Scriptures), we see how much God desireth that we should mind our mortality; to blame, then, are those who have one leg in the grave and the other in hell, and yet do put far away thoughts of death, and under gray hairs nourish green hopes and desires; neither may young men be excused who bind upon long life, and boast of tomorrow, Proverbs 27:1 , since they know not what a great bellied day may bring forth. Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam (Hor. i.). The Jews have a proverb, that many times old camels carry young camels’ skins to the market. And how often see we elder folk carry men’s and children’s bodies to the grave?
And continueth not ] Heb. Standeth not, as a pillar, but vanisheth as a shadow, yea, as a dream of a shadow, as the Greek poet hath it, τιδε τις; τιδ ουτις; σκιας οναρ ανθρωπος (Pindar). The Vulgate translateth, He continueth not in the same state. To have no shadow of turning, noteth the perfection of God, James 1:17 .
Job 14:3 And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?
Ver. 3. And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one? ] sc. To observe his faults strictly, and to punish him for the same severely? doth this become so great a Majesty? This Job speaketh, non citra stomacbum, not without stomach, as forgetting himself through impatience, saith Mercer, and seeking to ease himself any way of the pains and dolors he sustained, being carried out of himself by his unruly passions. By this question Job doth non tam admirari quam arguere, saith Brentius; not so much wonder as warble with God, that he should care for so poor a creature, whom it might seem to him rather to contemn. But Job should have remembered, that God openeth his eyes upon man, not to punish him only, but to help and relieve him, Psalms 34:15 . And at another time Job could set it upon the score of God’s favours to man, that he visiteth him every morning (viz. by his fatherly chastisements) and trieth him every moment Job 7:17-18 .
And bringest me into judgment with thee? ] Poor me, who am τρισανθρωπος , thrice a man; that is most miserable, even me thou questionest in the rigour of thy righteous judgment, Me gravissimis tuis iudiciis extra ordinem divexas (Mera.). See a like expostulation Psalms 89:46-51 , and all to move God to compassion. Our frailty is a good pleadable argument to this purpose.
Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean [thing] out of an unclean? not one.
Ver. 4. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one ] q. d. I confess I am unclean; but what can I do withal? or how can I do otherwise, since I do but my kind? But was this a sufficient plea? David was of another mind when he alleged this as a great aggravation of his bloodguiltiness, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me," Psalms 51:5 : q.d. I have not only fallen into these foul sins, but I have done it out of the venomousness and vitiosity of my nature, commonly called original, and by the apostle inhabiting sin, Romans 7:17 , as by the schools peccatum peccans, the sinning sin, as that which is the source and seminary of all actual disobedience. And because this uncleanness is natural to us, therefore it maketh us as loathsome to God as a toad is to us, because poison is in the nature of it. Papists say (but not truly) that original sin is the smallest of all sins, not deserving any more of God’s wrath than only a want of his blessed presence; and that too without any pain or sorrow of mind from the apprehension of so great a loss. They hold also those motions of the heart not consented to be no sins, but necessary conditions, arising from our constitution, and such as Adam had in his innocence. Contrariwise, Job here grants a birthblot upon all, and lays his hand upon it as the cause of the length of men’s troubles and shortness of their lives; only he forgetteth himself (saith Mercer here) when he pleadeth that he should rather be pitied than thus sharply punished, because he was naturally inclined to sin, and cannot avoid it. For as Aristotle saith of drunkards, that they deserve double punishments, διπλα τα τπιτιμια (Ethic. lib. 3, cap. 5); first, for their drunkenness, and then for the sin committed in and by their drunkenness: so do all men deserve double damnation; first, for the corruption of nature (signified by those legal pollutions, by bodily issues), and then for the cursed effects of it, Gen 6:5 Romans 7:8 . But it may be Job here had an eye to that promise made to Noah after the flood, Genesis 8:21 , where the Lord moveth himself to mercy by consideration of man’s native corruption, even from his childhood, for he knoweth our frame, &c., Psalms 103:14 , that is (as the Chaldee paraphrast explaineth it), he knoweth our evil figment or thought which impelleth to sin; he knoweth it, and weigheth it. See the like Isaiah 48:8-9 . We may beseech the Lord to spare us when we act in sin, because our natures are sinful; but let not any go about either to palliate or extenuate their acts of sin by the sinfulness of their natures; as those do, who, being told of their evil pranks and practices, plead for them, saying, We are flesh and blood, &c.
Not one ] Fortes creantur fortibus et bonis; but no mere man can bring forth a clean child out of unclean seed. Adam begat a son after his own image, Genesis 5:3 . Corruptus corruptum, that which is of the flesh, John 3:3-8 . Sin is propagated, and proceedeth from the union of body and soul into one man. That phrase, warmed in sin, Psalms 51:5 , is meant of the preparation of the body, as an instrument of evil, which is not so actually till the soul come. But we should not be so inquisitive how sin came in, as how to be rid of it; like as when a fire is kindled in a city, all men are more careful to quench it than to question where and how it began. Now there is one only way of ridding our hearts of sin, viz. to run to Christ, and to believe in him; "For if the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed"; and hereunto, both the Chaldee paraphrast had respect, likely, when he rendered this text, Cannot one? that is, cannot God? as also the Vulgate Latin, Nonne tu qui solus es? Canst not thou alone? sc. by thy merit and Spirit, according to that of the apostle, 1 Corinthians 6:11 .
Job 14:5 Seeing his days [are] determined, the number of his months [are] with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
Ver. 5. Seeing his days are determined, &c. ] God hath set every man both his time (whether shorter, called here his days, or longer, the number of his months, they have both their bounds which none can pass) and also his task, Acts 13:25 . John fulfilled his course, et in brevi vitae spatio tempora virtutum multa replevit, and he lived long in a little time; he wrought hard, as not willing to be taken with his task undone (Hieron.). So Acts 13:36 . David, after he had served his own generation, and had done all the will of God, fell on sleep. See more of this on Job 7:1 .
Thou hast appointed his bounds ] Heb. His statutes. It is appointed for all men once to die, Hebrews 9:27 , once for all, and for ever it is appointed, and this statute is irrepealable. Here then we see the cause why some, likely to live long, die soon, and others more infirm live longer. God hath set the bounds of each one’s life to a very day. The bounds may be passed which our natural complexion setteth; the bounds cannot be passed which the providence and will of God setteth. Stat sua cuique dies - (Virg.).
Job 14:6 Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.
Ver. 6. Turn from him, that he may rest ] Heb. Look away from him, i.e. from me; look not so narrowly, and with such a critical eye, upon mine out strays, thus to hold me still on the rack; look not so angerly, afflict me not so heavily, but let me rest or cease from my present pressures and doleful complaints, and spend the span of this transitory life with some comfort, and then let the time of my departure come when thou pleasest.
Till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day ] That is, saith the gloss, till I am as willing to die as a labouring man is to go to supper and to bed. The word rendered accomplish signifieth properly to acquiesce, and rest in a thing, and vehemently to desire it. The saints, when they die, shall rest in their beds, Isaiah 57:2 , they rest from their labours, Revelation 14:13 , and that απαρτι , presently, straight upon the stroke of death; no sooner have they passed under the flaming sword of that punishing angel but they are forthwith in paradise. Here they are seldom quiet, but tossed up and down as the ball upon the racket, or ship upon the waves; and hence it is that they sometimes fret or faint, as Job, and speak unadvisedly with their lips; these firm mountains are moved with earthquakes, these calm seas are stirred with tempests; and truly, whosoever hath set himself to do every day’s work with Christian diligence, to bear every day’s crosses with Christian patience, and is sensible of his failings in both; libenter ex vitae, et quasi pleno passu egredietur, saith one, he will be full glad to be gone hence, and be as weary of his life as ever any hireling was of his work. See Trapp on " Job 7:1 " See Trapp on " Job 7:2 "
Job 14:7 For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
Ver. 7. For there is hope of a tree, &c. ] Here Job setteth on his request, Job 14:6 , with a reason; God loveth a reasonable service, and liketh well that we reverently reason it out with him. And for the literal sense, all things, saith Gregory, are so plain, that there is no need to say anything to that, it being no more than this; either I shall have comfort in this world before I die, or never here; therefore grant me rest now. This argument Job illustrateth, 1. By a dissimilitude, here. 2. By a similitude, Job 14:11-12 . The dissimilitude between a tree and a man is this: a tree may be hewed and felled, yet feel no pain. Again, succisa repullalat, imbribus irrigata, a tree cut down, if well watered, - will spring and sprout up again (Merlin). But now man, as he is very sensible of every stroke of God’s hand, neither can he suffer sickness or other affliction without smart, so when once cut down by death, he can by no means be recovered; he cannot revive without a miracle.
Job 14:8 Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;
Ver. 8. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth ] And so the more unlikely to shoot forth again. Trees also have their old age wherein they decay.
And the stock thereof die in the ground ] Heb. In the dust, as it needs must, when, cut off from the root, it lieth along on the earth. It was by a miracle that Aaron’s rod flourished: not only all the plants of God’s setting, but the very boughs cut off from the body of them, shall flourish and be fruitful.
Job 14:9 [Yet] through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.
Ver. 9. Yet through the scent of water it will bud ] Heb. From the smell of waters. A sweet metaphor, saith Merlin, sense being attributed to things senseless, as smelling to the fire, Judges 16:9 , and here to trees, which are said to turn themselves and their roots after a sort, to take in the smell of the water, and thereby refreshed to bud and bring forth boughs, like a plant. This is check to those that live under the droppings of the ordinances, and yet are like the cypress tree, which, the more it is watered, proves the less fruitful, and being once cut down, it never springs again; whence the Romans, who did not believe in a resurrection, were wont to place a cypress tree at the threshold of the house of death, as Pliny and Servius tell us. (Serv. in Virg. 1. 4; Plin. lib. 16, cap. 32.)
Job 14:10 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where [is] he?
Ver. 10. But man dieth, and wasteth away ] Heb. Strong and lusty man, Homo quantum vis robustus (Vat.), dieth and wasteth away, or is cut off, sc. worse than a tree, for he grows no more; or is discomfited, vanquished, as Exodus 17:13 ; Exodus 32:18 , sc. by death, and so carried clean out of this world.
Yea, man giveth up the ghost ] Homo vulgaris et plebeius. All of all sorts must die, whether noble or ignoble, as Rabbi Abraham here observeth. Job is very much in this discourse about death; and surely, as Nazianzen wisheth of hell, so could I of death, Utinam ubique de morte dissereretur! Oh that it were more in men’s minds and mouths than it is!
And where is he? ] q.d. Nowhere above ground; or if he be, putrefit et teterrime olet, he putrefies and stinks filthily; and as his life is taken away, so is his glory; yea, being once out of sight, he grows by little and little out of mind too, little thought of, less spoken of, many times not so much as his name mentioned or remembered in the next generation, Ecclesiastes 1:11 . There is no remembrance of former things, or men, neither shall there be any remembrance, &c. So Ecclesiastes 2:16 ; Ecclesiastes 8:10 ; Ecclesiastes 9:5 . Hence the state of the dead is called "the land of forgetfulness," Psalms 88:12 ; Psalms 31:12 , "I am forgotten, as a dead man out of mind." Heathens also say the same (Hor. lib. 4, Carm. 7):
Cum semel occideris, et de te splendida Minos
Non, Torquate, genus, non te facundia, non te
Job 14:11 [As] the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:
Ver. 11. As the waters fail from the sea ] He sets forth the same truth by an elegant similitude drawn from drying up of waters. Look how these, after some exundation of the sea, or some great river, are separated and left (upon the reflux thereof) behind the rest upon the land, which cannot return (for then they must ascend, which is impossible to nature) nor continue, but do utterly dry up, and evaporate; sc, &c., Job 14:11 . Others read it thus, As when the waters from the sea fail, the flood decayeth, and drieth up; so when man’s life is taken away, it returns no more while this world lasteth. God hath made in the bowels of the earth certain secret ways, passages, and veins through which water conveyeth itself from the sea to all parts, and hath its saltness taken away in the passage. Thence are our springs, and from them our rivers; but in hot countries and dry seasons springs are dry, and rivers lack water exceedingly; as at this time they do, March 7th, 1653. So when natural moisture decayeth in man, he faileth and dieth; the radical humour, that supplement and oil of life, is dried up, and can be no more renewed till the last day, when yet it shall not be restored to the same state and moisture, but, instead of natural, rise spiritual, 1 Corinthians 15:44 .
Job 14:12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens [be] no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
Ver. 12. So man lieth down ] sc. In the dust of death, or in the bed of the grave; his dormitory, till the last day.
Ut somnus morris, sic lectus imago sepulchri.
And riseth not ] sc. To live again among men. So, Psalms 78:39 , man is compared to a wind, which, when it is past, returneth not again. If it be objected, that we read of three in the Old Testament, and five in the New, raised from death to life; besides those many that arose and came out of the graves after Christ’s resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many, Matthew 27:52-53 ; it is answered, 1. These few raised by God’s extraordinary power do not infringe the truth of what the Scripture here and elsewhere affirmeth of all mankind according to the ordinary course of nature. 2. Even those men also afterwards died again, and vanished, no more to return or appear again in this world.
Till the heavens be no more ] i.e. Never (say some interpreters), to wit, vi sua, by his own strength, and to a better condition in the land of the living; so the word "until" is used, 2Sa 6:13 Matthew 5:26 ; Matthew 1:25 , ut pie credimus. How sound and clear Job was in the point of the resurrection we shall see, Job 19:26 , and because he falls upon it in the words next following here, some understand these words thus: They shall not rise till the general resurrections, when these heavens shall be changed and renewed, Psa 102:25-26 Isaiah 65:17 2Pe 3:7 ; 2Pe 3:10-11 Revelation 21:1 .
They shall not awake ] Out of the sleep of death;
nor be raised ] viz. By the sound of the last trump, till the last day. But raised they shall be, and sleep no more, viz. when the heavens shall be no more. And till that time the bodies of the saints are laid in the grave, as in a bed of down, or of spices, to mellow and ripen. This is matter of joy and triumph, Isa 26:19 Daniel 12:2 , when they were to lose all: so Hebrews 11:35 . The wicked also sleep in the grave, Daniel 12:2 , but shall awake to everlasting shame and contempt, ib.; their sick sleep shall have a woeful waking, for they shall be raised by virtue of Christ’s judiciary power, and by the curse of the law, to look upon him whom they have pierced, and to hear from him that dreadful Discedite, "Depart, ye cursed," &c.
Job 14:13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
Ver. 13. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave ] As in a sweet and safe repository ( Sepulchrum est quasi scrinium vel capsa in quam reponitur corpus ), sanctuary! my soul meanwhile living and reigning with thee in heaven, expecting a glorious resurrection, and saying, How long, Lord, holy and true? The fable or fancy of Psychopannychia hath been long since hissed out, though lately revived by some libertines, that last brood of Beelzebub; our mortalists especially, who say, that the body and soul die together. But what saith the apostle, Rom 8:10 ? "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." Now that Job thus woos death, and petitions for the grave, it is manifest that he saw some good in it, and that he promised himself by it malorum ademptionem, bonorum adeptionem, freedom from evil, and fulness of good. We should learn to familiarize death to ourselves, and put the grave under the fairest and easiest apprehensions, that we hear God speaking to us, as once he did Jacob, Fear not to go down to Egypt (so down to the grave), for I will go with thee, and will surely bring thee up again, Genesis 46:3-4 . Or as he did his labouring Church, Isaiah 26:20 , "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast."
That thou wouldest keep me secret ] In limbo Patrum, say the Papists, in parabola ovis capras suas quaerentes.
Until thy wrath be past ] For it is such as I can of myself neither avoid nor abide. Turn it away, therefore, or turn it into gentleness and kindness, Psalms 6:4 , and be friends again, Jeremiah 2:35 . Or, secrete and secure me till the resurrection, when all thy wrath will be gone from me.
That thou wouldest appoint me a set time ] Heb. Set me a statute; set down even what time thou pleasest, either to send me to bed, or to call me up again, so that thou wilt but be sure at last to remember me.
And remember me ] Job is willing to die out of the world, but not to die out of God’s memory; to be out of sight, but not out of mind; that God should bury him in the grave, but not bury his thoughts of him; he could be content to be free among the dead, free of that company, but not as the slain that lie in the grave, whom God remembereth no more, Psalms 88:5 . Job would be remembered for good, as Nehemiah prayeth, and be dealt with as Moses was, whose body, once hid in the valley of Moab, did afterwards appear glorious in mount Tabor at the transfiguration.
Job 14:14 If a man die, shall he live [again]? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
Ver. 14. If a man die, shall he live again? ] This he speaketh in way of admiration at that glorious work of the resurrection. See the like question Job 15:11 Genesis 3:1 ; Genesis 17:17 . So the apostle, Romans 8:30-31 , having spoken of those glorious things, predestination, vocation, justification, glorification, concludeth in these words, "What shall we say then?" We cannot tell what to say to these things, so much are we amazed at the greatness of God’s goodness in them. Surely, as they have a lovely scarlet blush of Christ’s blood upon them, so they are rayed upon with a beam of divine love, to them that are in Christ. We read of that godly and learned Scotch divine, Mr John Knox, that a little before his death he got up out of his bed, and being asked by his friends, why, being so sick, he would offer to rise, and not rather take his rest? he answered, that he had all the last night been taken up in the meditation of the resurrection, and that he would now go up into the pulpit, that he might impart to others the comforts which thereby himself had received. And surely if he had been able to have done as he desired, I know not what text fitter for his purpose he could have taken, than these words of Job, "If a man die, shall he live again?" He shall without question; and those that deny it or doubt it (as the Sadducees of old, and some brain sick people of late), they err, not knowing the Scriptures (this among the rest), which are express for it, and the power of God, Matthew 22:29 , being herein worse than devils, which believe it and tremble, worse than some heathens, who held there would be a resurrection, as Zoroastes, Theopompus, Plato, &c., worse than Turks, who at this day confess and wait for a resurrection of the body at such a time as the fearful trumpet (which they call Soor) shall be sounded by Mahomet, say they, at the command of the great God of the judgment.
All the days of mine appointed time (or warfare) will I wait, till my change come] i.e. Till my death, (Proverbs 31:8 , men appointed to die are called in the original children of change) or till the resurrection come, when we shall all be changed, 1 Corinthians 15:51 , our vile bodies shall be changed and conformed to Christ’s most glorious body (the standard), Philippians 3:21 , in beauty, agility, impassibility, and other angelical perfections. When I awake, saith David, sc. at that general resurrection, I shall be full of thine image, Psalms 17:15 . I shall be brought from the jaws of death to the joys of eternal life, where are riches without rust, pleasures without pain, &c. Three glimpses of this glorious change were seen: 1. In Moses’ face. 2. In Christ’s transfiguration. 3. In Stephen’s countenance when he stood before the council. Such change as this is well worth waiting for: what would not a man do? what would he not suffer, with those noble professors, Hebrews 11:33-40 , to obtain a better resurrection? I would swim through a sea of brimstone, saith one, that I might come to heaven at last. The stone will fall down to come to its own place, though it break itself in twenty pieces: so we, that we may get to our centre, which is upwards, &c. Sursum cursum nostrum dirigamus; et minantem, imminentem, et exterminantem mortem attendamus: ne simul, cum corporis fractura, animae iacturam faciamus. Let us wait and wish every one for himself, as he once did:
Mi sine nocte diem, vitam sine morte, quietem
Det sine fine, dies, vita, quiesque Deus.
Job 14:15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.
Ver. 15. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee ] At the resurrection of the just thou shalt call me out of the grave by thine all powerful voice, uttered by that archangel, with the trump of God, 1Th 4:16 1Co 15:52 Psalms 50:3-4 , and thou shalt not need to call twice; for as I shall not need then to fear (as the hypocrites will) to show my face, so I will readily answer, Here I am; yea (as that dying saint did so), I will say, I come, I come, I come. I will even leap out of the grave to obey thine orders; and I doubt not but, to draw me out of that dark prison, thou wilt lend me that hand of thine whereof I have the honour to be the workmanship.
Thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands ] I know that thou thyself (for the love thou bearest me, of thy goodness, who am thy creature, and on whom thou hast shown favour, and reprinted thine image) wilt long after the consummation of my happiness; for then I shall be like unto thee (more like than ever), for I shall see thee as thou art, and appear with thee in glory, Colossians 3:4 , being next unto thee, Luke 22:30 ; yea, one with thee, John 17:21 , and so above the most glorious angels, Hebrews 1:14 . The King shall greatly desire my beauty, Psalms 45:11 , and rejoice over me, as the bridegroom doth over his bride, Isaiah 62:5 ; Isaiah 10:3 . The word here rendered thou wilt have a desire signifieth thou wilt desire as men do after silver. The Lord seemed to deal by Job as men do by dross, to put him away as wicked, Psalms 119:119 ; nevertheless, he believed that he would look upon him as silver: and although he now crushed him together, and brake him to pieces, as the silversmith doth an old piece of plate which he means to melt; yet that he would in the grave, as in a furnace, refine him, and at the resurrection bring him out of a new fashion. Lo, this is the right logic of faith, to make conclusions of life in death, and of light in darkness, to gather one contrary out of another.
Job 14:16 For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?
Ver. 16. For now thou numberest my steps ] Or, But now thou numberest, &c., thou keepest an exact account of every sin of mine, of every step that I have trod awry; yea, though it be but some wry motion of my mind (as the Septuagint here translate), so curious art thou and critical in thine observations of mine outstrays, επιτηδευματα . See Job 10:14 . But is this Job that speaketh, or some other? How confident was he erewhile, and comfortable in the hope of a glorious resurrection! but now down again upon all four, as we say; and like an aguish man in a great fit of impatience, which holdeth him to the end of the chapter. But for this, who knoweth not that every new man is two men? that in the saints the flesh is ever lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh? that in the Shulamite is, as it were, the company of two armies maintaining a continual contest? Song of Solomon 6:13 . "I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple," John 2:4 . See Trapp on " Jon 2:4 "
Dost thou not watch over my sin? ] This is the same with the former, but without a figure. The Rabbins have a saying, that there is not any doubt in the law but may be resolved by the context: the Scripture is its own interpreter.
Job 14:17 My transgression [is] sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.
Ver. 17. My transgression is sealed up in a bag ] As the writings or informations of a process which is ready to be sentenced, Deu 32:34 Hosea 13:12 . Thou hast, as it were, sealed up and made sure work with all my sins, saith Job, to have them forthcoming for the increase of my punishment. Look how the clerk of assizes (saith one) seals up the indictments of men, and at the assizes brings his bag, and takes them out to read the same against them; so God dealt with Job, in his conceit at least. The truth is, God had not sealed his transgressions in a bag, but had cast them behind his back. A bag God hath for men’s sins, and a bottle he hath for their tears, Psalms 56:8 . Now Job was one of those penitents that helped to fill God’s bottle, and therefore he saw at length (though now he was benighted) all his sins, bag and all, thrown in the sea, and sinking as a weighty millstone in those mighty waters of free grace and undeserved mercy.
And thou sewest up mine iniquity ] Adsuesne aliquid iniquitati meae? so the Tigurines translate, i.e. Wilt thou sow or add anything to mine iniquity? wilt thou tie to it that tag (as a martyr phraseth it) of the law’s malediction, conjoining the punishment to the sin? Adsuere ad iniquitatem, est poenas poenis continenter adiungere (Merl.). Some make this an explication of the former; q.d. the bag is not only sealed, but, for more surety, sewed too, and that purposely for a purchase of punishment, as some sense it.
Job 14:18 And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place.
Ver. 18. And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought ] q.d. If thou, Lord, proceed to deal thus rigidly with me, viz. to number or cipher up my steps, to watch over my sins, to seal them up in a bag, &c., and all this in fierce wrath, that thou mayest lay load upon me; what mountain, what rock, what other creature is ever able to abide it? Job had said before, "Is my strength the strength of stones?" Job 6:12 ; "Am I a sea, or a whale?" Job 7:12 : were I these, or any the like robust creatures, yet could not I expect to stand before the displeased Omnipotency, who taketh the hills like tennis balls, and cracketh the rocks like a nut shell. See Habakkuk 1:4-6 . See Trapp on " Hab 1:4 " See Trapp on " Hab 1:5 " See Trapp on " Hab 1:6 "
And the rock is removed out of his place ] As in earthquakes it sometimes happens. See Job 19:5 . Or by reason of the sea underlaking, it decayeth in time, and waxeth old, as the Hebrew word signifieth.
Job 14:19 The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow [out] of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.
Ver. 19. The waters wear the stones ] Gutta cavat lapidem, &c. The weakest things wear out the hardest by often falling upon them, or continual running over them; so doth God’s wrath, though let out minimally, secretly, but surely consume. Hosea 5:12 , "I will be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness," or that little worm ( teredo ) that eats into the heart of wood, and rots it. Thus he plagued the Egyptians by lice and flies. There may be much poison in little drops.
Thou washest away the things that grow out of the earth ] Or, Thou overflowest, as once in the general deluge (when the face of the earth was grown so foul, that God was forced to wash it with a flood), and frequently since, we see that after great rains there are huge floods that mar whole meadows and grain fields, not only discolouring, but drowning all their beauty and plenty. This is the fourth comparison used in this and the former verse; where a man would wonder, saith an interpreter, audire Iobum in mediis aerumnis philosophantem, to hear Job, in the midst of his miseries, making use of his philosophy, and travelling thus in his thoughts, for illustrations of his own case, over mountains and rocks, &c.
Thou destroyest the hopes of man ] viz. In destroying the things above mentioned; or, so thou destroyest, &c.; though some reserve the reddition to the next verse, so thou prevailest against him, &c., i.e. So thou never ceasest with thy might to cast down sorry men, till such time as they, changing countenance, and departing with a heavy and sorrowful heart, thou violently throwest them out, their lives and hope ending together, if they have been wicked; as if godly, yet their vain and groundless hopes of prosperity and plenty, &c., come to nothing: though over the Red Sea, yet God’s people may be made to tack about two and forty times in the wilderness.
Job 14:20 Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.
Ver. 20. Thou prevailest for ever against him ] This, and the rest of the words to the end of the chapter, some make to be the application of the similitudes; others an amplification only of what he had said, Thou destroyest the hope of man. Thou must needs, when thou over match and over master him, and art never worsted. Exodus 15:3 , the Lord is called, "A man of war"; the Chaldee there hath it, The Lord and Victor of wars. And the word here rendered "ever" cometh from a root that signifieth to finish, conquer, and triumph.
And he passeth ] sc. Out of the world by a violent or untimely death, Violenta morte aut certe immatura (Merlin), with as ill a will many times as the unjust steward did out of his office, as the Jebusites did out of the fort of Zion, or as the devil out of the demoniac. Sed voluntas Dei necessitas rei; he passeth, because he can neither will nor choose, as they say.
Thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away ] Eleganter vero mors notatur, immutandi verbo, saith one, Elegantly is death set forth by changing the countenance: for death taketh away the fair and fresh colour of a man, and makes him look wan and withered, pale and ghastly. It is easy to see death, many times, before it come, in the sick man’s face, Facies Hippocratica, in his sharp nostrils, thin cheeks, hollow eyes, &c., those harbingers of death, whereby God sendeth for him, and so sendeth him away, extrudit et amandat, as once he did Adam out of Paradise. Lavater’s note here is, Propone tibi semper horribilem speciem morris, ut eo minus pecces, Set before thyself always the horrid face of death, to restrain thee from sin.
Job 14:21 His sons come to honour, and he knoweth [it] not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth [it] not of them.
Ver. 21. His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not ] While he lieth sick, he regardeth no earthly thing, no, not what becometh of his children (formerly his greatest care), whether they be advanced or impaired in their outward condition, Omnis hi Ascanio churi stat cura parentis (Vir.). As when he is dead he can take no knowledge of anything done in this world, Isa 63:16 Ecclesiastes 2:19 ; Ecclesiastes 9:6 , be his children or friends rich or poor, high or low, he is both ignorant and insensible. It was a base slander, published by a Jesuit, some years after Queen Elizabeth’s death, That as she died without sense or feeling of God’s mercies, so that she wished she might after her death hang a while in the air, to see what striving would be for her kingdom. As for that opinion of some Papists, That the dead do sometimes return into the land of the living, that they know how things go here, and make report thereof to those in heaven, it is contrary to the whole Scripture.
Job 14:22 But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.
Ver. 22. But his flesh upon him shall have pain ] That is, say some, but as long as he is living his body is afflicted with a thousand evils; and though his soul, by the condition of her creation, be exempt from them, yet she bears a part in them, and becomes miserable with it. A dying man hath sorrow without and sorrow within; the whole man is in misery, as Job here felt himself. Others hold that this poetic representation hath no other meaning, but that the dead have no manner of communication with the living (Aben Ezra, Mercer, Diodati). Broughton rendereth it, His flesh is grieved for itself, and his soul will mourn for itself; q.d. he takes no thought or care for his children or nearest relations.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 14". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20