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Job 3:1 After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
Ver. 1. After this ] After so long silence of his friends, and to provoke them to speak, who haply waited for some words from him first, as knowing him wise and well spoken. Or [After this] After that Job’s pains were somewhat allayed, so that he could breathe, recollect himself, and utter his mind; for some troubles are above speech, Psalms 77:4 , they will hardly suffer a man to take breath, Job 9:18 , See Trapp on " Est 4:14 " or to hear anything, though never so wholesome or comfortable, Exodus 6:9 .
Job opened his mouth ] But better he had kept it closed still: either be silent, saith the Greek proverb, or else say something that is better than silence. But it may befall the best, left to themselves, to speak unadvisedly with their lips, as meek Moses did at the waters of Meribah, for which sin of his, some Jews say that he was damned, because we read not of his repentance. And a like wretched censure they pass upon holy Job for his cursing his day here, saying, that although in words he cursed the creature only, yet interpretatively and indeed, he cursed the Creator; like as he that spitteth upon a king’s picture, or robe royal, doth the same to the king himself. But why do they not then say the same of Jeremiah, and pronounce him a reprobate for cursing his birthday too? Jeremiah 20:14 . R. Levi answereth, because it appeareth to be otherwise by Jeremiah’s whole prophecy besides. And may we not say the like for Job, if we wisely weigh his words in their right sense, and the end which the Lord made, James 5:11 , propounding him for a pattern of patience, not of impatience, whereof nothing is said against him, though he had his outbursts, as here; and must have his allowance (as good gold hath when it comes to the scale) that so he may pass. If he had blasphemed God, or denied his providence, ascribing all events to the conjunction of the stars at a man’s birth (as the Talmudists falsely gather from this chapter), Satan had had his design upon him; and God would never have justified him, and preferred him before his friends, as he did, Job 42:7-8 True it is, that, Job 38:2 , when he had spoken his mind overly freely, and indeed sinfully (as there is not a man upon earth that liveth, and sinneth not), as if the Lord had dealt unkindly, if not unequally, with him, God in the end steppeth forth, as it were, from behind the hangings, overhearing him, and taking him up, Who is this, saith he there, that talketh thus? how now? After which Job was not only hushed, Job 40:4-5 , but humbled, Job 42:6 . And truly it should be considered, say both Ambrose and Chrysostom, in Job’s defence, that, though patient in the two former chapters, yet now he begins to be wet to the skin; yea, the drops of God’s wrath began to soak into his soul; the devil also set upon him with all violence, as some conceive from the next verse, Job answered and said, sc. to some dispute with the devil. Now, therefore, that he thus falleth a roaring and a cursing his day, it is, saith Chrysostom, as a sick man, who, being under the physician’s hands, of whom he is well persuaded, useth all patience towards him; but, being in extremity of pain, lays about him, and strikes at the bystanders, &c. Exemplo Iobi liquet, it is evident from the example of Job saith another good writer; by this example of Job it appeareth, that in extreme trials of the best it oft happens that pain and grief speaketh rather than the man himself, and that in the sieve of temptations, upon a more violent sifting, the holes being worn or widened, not the offal only, but some grains of good wheat, that is, of faith, do slip through; which yet the right hand of a gracious God is wont to gather, and to lay up in the granary of his grace (Bucholc.). Job cannot altogether be excused, saith Fetus upon this chapter, neither is he said, as before, not to have sinned in these following expressions. Rather is it to be held, that the Lord, who before stood by him, now for a time left him, to try what is in man, even the best man living, if he be not strengthened by God continually. David was most courageous when he went against Goliath, but fearful when Saul pursued him. Elijah was most zealous for the Lord of hosts when he slew 450 of Baal’s priests: Tantus tamen fulminator ad Iezabelis minas trepidat, factus seipso imbecillior, saith one; and yet this valiant prophet flees at the threats of Jezebel, and heareth from heaven, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" So Jeremiah, Peter, Father Latimer, Pray for me, saith he, I say, pray for me; for I am sometimes so fearful that I would creep into a mouse hole; sometimes God doth visit me again with his comforts; so he cometh and goeth, to teach me to feel and know mine infirmity. Thus he writeth to Bishop Ridley, with whom he afterwards suffered at the same stake. His last words were, Fidelis est Deus, &c., God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, &c. This was also Job’s comfort, when himself, doubtless; for at this time it was Ego non sum Ego I am not I, with him, and God considered it; for he knoweth our mould, he remembereth we are but dust.
And cursed his day ] Diem, non Deum; his day, and not his God, as the devil would have had it. It was too much howsoever of that; and Job should have opened his mouth to better purpose. In the Revelation, whensoever heaven opened, some memorable matter followed; when wisdom openeth her mouth, she speaketh excellent things, Proverbs 8:6 . When Asaph opened his mouth, he spake parables, Psalms 78:2 . When our Saviour did so, he delivered that famous Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:2 . But Job, alas, in the extreme pain of his body, and anguish of his soul, openeth his mouth, and curseth bitterly; curseth his day in a most emphatical manner, and in most exquisite terms, wishing all the evil to it that it was any way capable of. Now the day that he here curseth, is either the day wherein he suffered such a world of evils, as Oba 1:12 Isaiah 2:12 , or rather the day which gave occasion to his sufferings, his birthday, as Job 3:3 . Jeremiah did the like by a like infirmity, Job 20:14 , and some others; but never hath any yet been heard to curse the day of his new birth, nor ever shall as whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might be partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust: and besides an entrance ministered unto us further and further into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 1:4 ; 2 Peter 1:11 . There is a μυριομακαριοτης , a multiplied happiness in holiness.
Job 3:2 And Job spake, and said,
Ver. 2. And Job spake, and said ] Heb. Answered and said. Answered? Whom answered he? The Jewish doctors say, he answered his friends, who having hitherto said nothing to him, and heard as little from him, at length - rupere silentia voce, to destroy a silent voice, and asked him what he ailed? others more probably conceive that Job answered here to some dispute in his own mind, or rather with the devil. Some take this verse for a transition only. Others make it a preparation for Job’s future discourse, to move expectation, and win attention. The discourse indeed is all along, to Job 42:7 , poetical, and very accurate, made up in hexameters (as Jerome holdeth), not by Job and his friends at the first uttering, but afterwards by Job at better leisure; or, as some think, by Moses whilst a shepherd in Midian, for the comfort of his poor countrymen in Egypt, Sic et Ionas orationem suam in ventre balaenae habitam, et David plerosque Psalmos, &c. Mercer saith that his predecessor Vatablus (as he had heard) had found out a way of scanning these hexameters to others unknown, and to all the more obscure, because the verse causeth a cloud. The first hexameter that ever was made in Greek is said to be this,
Sυμφερετε πτερατ οιωνοι κηρον τε μελισσαι .
Birds, bring your plumes, and bees, your wax at once.
Job 3:3 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night [in which] it was said, There is a man child conceived.
Ver. 3. Let the day perish wherein I was born ] He curseth his birthday, which the Greeks call γενεθλιον , quasi γενεσιν αθλιον : the beginning of a man’s nativity they call the begetting of his misery; because he is non prius natus quam damnatus (Aug.), no sooner born but damned to the mines of misery, Job 14:1 . Crying he comes into the world, and before he speaketh he prophesieth, and saith in effect, Tι βιος ει μη βια; σωμα μεν σημα, χρωμα πτωμα, δεμας δεσμος, γενεσις εις γην ωσος , &c.
Nasci poena, labor vita, necesse mori.
To be born is a penalty, to labour life, to die necessary. Oh that I had ne’er been born! Woe worth the day That brought me forth, and made me not away!
This whole life is overspread with sins and miseries as with a filthy morphew; A leprous or scurfy eruption or as Job was with his leprosy; the anguish whereof, together with his inward troubles, so grieved and galled him, that he not only crieth out (which is natural for a man to do), but giving the reins wholly to his grief, he roareth and rageth beyond all reason; and had not the Spirit held him back, he would surely have run headlong into blasphemy and desperation, which was Satan’s design. But in the saints, as the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and sometimes getting the upper ground (as it were), bears it down, as here in Job at this present; so the Spirit again lusteth against the flesh, and a great bustle there is in the good soul (as when two opposite things meet together, cold saltpetre and hot brimstone, there is a great noise; and as when Paul came to Ephesus, there was no small stir about that way, Act 19:28-41 ), so that ye cannot do the things that ye would, saith the apostle, Galatians 5:17 . As Job cannot do and say the good that he would, because of the flesh, so neither could he do or say the evil that he would, because of the Spirit; he curseth indeed his day, but not his wife nor friends, much less his God, as those malcontents did, Isaiah 8:21 . Nay, so soon as God came into his mind, Job 3:20 , the flesh was thereby, though not altogether, quailed and quelled, yet so far daunted and damped, that it kept itself within the compass of weeping and wailing; and God himself, though he find fault with Job’s speeches for unadvised, and sometimes ranging beyond the precincts of godliness; yet acquitting him from all gross sin, he crowneth him with the garland of a famous victory, as Mr Beza here well observeth. Most wisely, therefore, and fitly doth St James warn us, that in thinking upon Job, we regard not so much what was done while the combat lasted, as what end the Lord made, James 5:11 . The saints do never more prevail and triumph than when it seemeth otherwise. See Rev 13:7 Job 12:11 . They gather strength by opposition, and conquer in being conquered, Romans 8:37 . They repent of their outbursts, as Job did, Job 42:5-6 . And Quem poenitet peccasse, pene est innocens (Senec.), he is little less than innocent who is afterwards penitent. Yea, it is almost more to repent of a fault, saith a Father, than to have been free from the fault (Ambr. in Psal.).
And the night ] He would be sure to hit the time, whether it were day or night. He that is once out of God’s way knows not where he shall stop, or when he shall step back. Take heed therefore to thy ways, that thou sin not with thy tongue, that unruly member, Psa 39:1 James 3:8 .
- Hanc fraenis, hanc tu compesce catenis.
For this bridle, this restrain you for chains. When God’s hand is on thy back, let thy hand be on thy mouth, keep it as with a bridle or muzzle, Psalms 39:1 . Passionate speeches leniter volant, non leviter violant. The best that come of them is repentance; Job, when he was once out, could keep no mean; but what he had said against day and night, he amplifieth by the parts; and first for the day, Job 3:4-5 , and then for the night, Job 3:6-8 , &c.
Job 3:4 Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.
Ver. 4. Let that day be darkness ] Thick darkness, as that once was in Egypt, Exodus 10:28 . A day of trouble and distress, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, Zephaniah 1:15 . Let it be a dreadful and a dismal day, let sorrow and sadness overshadow it, let mourning and tears overwhelm it; let it be as when the sun hideth his head in a mantle of black, and is eclipsed; at which time all creatures here below flag and hang the head. In the gloomiest day there is light enough to make it day, and distinguish it from night, though the sun shine not. But Job would have no light to appear on his birthday. Thus he throweth out words without wisdom, and as hinds by calving, so he by talking casteth out his sorrows, Job 39:3 .
Let not God regard it ] Or require it; let it pass as not worth looking after, let him not take care of it, or pour down any special blessing upon it, as he doth upon his people every day, but especially upon the Sabbath Day, God’s market day, called by the Jews desiderium dierum, the desire of days, and by the Primitive Christians Dies lucis, the day of light.
Neither let the light shine upon it ] And what is the air without light, that first ornament of the visible world? so what are all creature comforts, unless God shine through them? What a woeful case is that poor soul in that walketh in darkness, and hath none of his light, Isaiah 50:10 ; how lamentably is such a one deserted, benighted! how doth he find himself in the very suburbs of hell itself, where the pain of loss is greater than the pain of sense, 2 Thessalonians 1:9 . And to note thus much, Job here, after he had said, Let that day be darkness, added as a greater evil, Let not the light shine upon it.
Job 3:5 Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.
Ver. 5. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it ] Let it be dies luctuosus et lethalis, such a deadly dark day, that each man may think it his last day, fatal and feral. Let there not be dimness only (such as appeareth through a painted glass, dyed with some obscure colour), but horrid and hideous darkness, such as was that at our Saviour’s passion, when the sun was totally eclipsed, and a great philosopher thereupon cried out, Either the God of Nature suffers, or the world is at an end. To darkness Job here emphatically addeth the shadow of death. The shadow is the dark part of the thing, so that the shadow of death is the darkest side of death, death in its blackest representation. Now let these stain it, saith he, or challenge it, or espouse it. In nocte funestatur mundi honor - Sordent, silent, stupent cuncta, saith Tertullian, elegantly.
Let a cloud dwell upon it ] Crescit etiamnum per Auxesin oratio. Job heaps up words, like in sound, and not unlike in sense. Grief had made him eloquent; as hoping thereby to ease himself. "Let a cloud dwell upon it," a fixed cloud, not such a one as continually hangeth over the island of St Thomas, on the back side of Africa, wherewith the whole island is watered; nor such a cloud of grace as God promiseth to create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, that upon all his glory may be a defence, Isaiah 4:5 . But such as St Paul and his company were under before the shipwreck, Acts 27:20 , when neither sun nor star appeared for many days together, the heavens being wholly muffled, &c.
Let the blackness of the day terrify it ] Or, Let the heat of the day terrify it; as it befalleth those that live under the torrid zone, where nothing prospereth. The Atlantes (a certain people) are said to curse the rising sun, it doth so torture them with extreme heat. When the dog star ariseth, those are in ill case who dwell in hot countries towards the east, they are troubled and terrified. Some take the word Chimrine, here rendered blackness, for those Chemarims mentioned by the prophets, those chimney chaplains of the heathen idols, and so render it thus, Let the priests of the day terrify it, Hinc forsan tenebrae Cimmeriae; that is, Let those who used to observe and distinguish days note it for a terrible day. Others understand it of the noon day devils, that should vex people on that day with hellish heats and fires: the Vulgate Latin hath it thus, Let, as it were, the bitternesses of the day terrify it: and to the same sense the Chaldee Paraphrast. Job still riseth in his discourse, making use of many poetical figures, and tragic phrases, picked out for the purpose.
Job 3:6 As [for] that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.
Ver. 6. As for that night, let darkness seize upon it ] Having spent his spleen upon the day, he now vents himself upon the night, according to that division, Job 3:8 . As for that night of mine unhappy conception, or birth, let tenebrosus turbo (as the Vulgate here hath it), a dark tempest, or a tempestuous darkness, grasp it, or invade it; let it be as dark as pitch, by a darkness superadded to its natural darkness, Caligo perpetua et inusitata (Mercer).
Let it not be joined unto the days of the year ] Let nature quite disclaim it, and disjoint it from the day following; let it not be reckoned as any part of time, that measure of all our motions. Some render it, Ne gaudeat inter dies, Let it not rejoice itself among the days of the year, as one of them. The night hath glory by union with the day; this he wisheth taken from it. Disunion and division is a curse; and the number of two hath been accounted accursed, because it was the first that departed from unity.
And let it not come into the number of months ] Deleatur e calendario, let it be razed out of the calendar, and not have any place in the computation of time. The Hebrews call the moon and a month by the same name; because the moon is renewed every month, So μην , month, and μηνη , moon.
Job 3:7 Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein.
Ver. 7. Lo, let that night be solitary ] And so consequently sorrowful; for aloneness is comfortless, et optimum solatium sodalitium. There is a desirable solitariness, such as was that of Isaac, Genesis 24:63 , of Jacob, Genesis 32:24 , of Christ, Mark 1:35 , of Peter, Acts 10:9 , to talk with God and with themselves. But usually to sit solitary is a misery, Lamentations 1:1 (for Satan is readiest to assault when none is by to assist), neither is there a greater tie to constancy than the society of saints. This the heathen persecutors perceived, and therefore banished and confined the Christian confessors to isles and mines; where they could not come together for mutual edification and comfort. There is a woe to him that is alone, and good reason showed for it by Solomon, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 . Let no man sty up himself, or affect solitariness; but make conscience of fellowship in the gospel, as the Philippiaus did from the first day of their conversion to Christ, Philippians 1:5 , accounting, that communion of saints is a point of practice, as well as an article of belief.
And no joyful voice come therein ] That is, saith one, no pleasing stillness (as in other nights there is), to invite the melody of music. Or, let there be no merry meetings, feastings, and jollities, as was usual in the night season. Let not so much as the voice of the cock be heard that night (so the Chaldee here paraphraseth), but the doleful ditties of screech owls, and other inauspicate creatures. Let no traveller, that is then benighted, solace himself with sweet songs, or musicians play from house to house, as minstrels do.
Job 3:8 Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning.
Ver. 8. Let them curse it, that curse the day ] As those atri et tetri Atlantes (before spoken of) curse the rising sun for scorching them, Non tam cute, quam corde Not so much skin as heart, (Aethiopici); as despairing persons, and malefactors led to execution, use to curse the time that ever they were born. The help of all such Job here calleth in against the harmless night he banneth with so much bitterness. Like as that desperate wretch mentioned by Mr Bolton, who being upon his death bed, albeit he swore as fast and as furiously as he could, yet desired he the bystandersy to help him with oaths, and to swear for him. Tremellius here thinks that Job calls to the stars and winds to help him curse, See his translation of the text, and his notes thereon.
Who are ready to raise up their mourning ] Whether they be those mercenary mourners mentioned elsewhere, which, for hire, are wont at funerals with doleful execrations to lament the day of their benefactor’s death, Jeremiah 9:17-18 ; Jeremiah 9:20 ; crying out, Oh the day! alas for the day! oh that ever such a day came! See Ezekiel 30:2 2Ch 35:25 Amos 5:16 . Or else those that really mourn for their deceased friends; and yearly, as oft as the day returneth, they renew their mourning. These are called upon by Job, totes saccos deplere, to pour out their utmost lamentations and execrations upon this his night. Concerning the word Leviathan, here rendered mourning, whether it be taken for the sea dragon, or the devil, and what it is to raise him up, and why they cursed him that are ready to do so, with a prepared and meditated active readiness, if I should go about to show the reader, with the several opinions of interpreters, I should not only tire him out, but also danger doing as that vicar of Augsburgh did, mentioned by Johannes Manlius. This doctor of divinity (for so he was) having read at Tubinga certain lectures upon Job, at the end of his last lecture said, that both Job and himself were very glad to be rid of one another; for as he understood little or nothing of Job’s meaning, so Job seemed to him to be more tormented with his narrations than ever he had been with all his own ulcers. Let them that have a mind consult the commentators here.
Job 3:9 Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but [have] none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:
Ver. 9. Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark ] If the stars of its twilight be dark, how great is that darkness! Job would not have this night to have light of stars, or hope of day’s dawn, hope of better, or place of worse. And this part of the curse he reserveth to the last place, as worse than any of the former. Semblably, that judgment of pining away in their iniquity is the last that God denounceth, Leviticus 26:39 , after those other dismal ones there to befall the disobedient. And that, Revelation 22:11 , Let him that is filthy be filthy still, is the last, but not the least (of those that befall in this life), threatened in all the New Testament.
Let it look for light, but have none ] Heb. But none. Loss of expectation is a great loss. Esau found it so, and the mother of Sisera, Judges 5:28 , and those shall once, that come knocking and bouncing at heaven’s gates, with "Lord, Lord, open unto us," and shall hear, "Depart ye." The hopes of the wicked fail them when at highest; whereas the saints find that comfort in extremity which they durst not expect: their light shall rise in obscurity, Isaiah 58:10 , it shall shine more and more unto the perfect day, Proverbs 4:18 .
Let it not see the dawning of the day ] Heb. The eyelids of the morning; that is, the first breakings of light, the morning rays or beams peeping abroad. These this night must never see. Heaven is a nightless day ( ανεσπερος ημερα ), hell a dayless night. Fire there is, but without light; it burneth, but shineth not to those reprobates who are in tenebras ex tenebris infeliciter exclusi, infelicius excludendi; thrust into outer darkness, a darkness beyond a darkness, as the dungeon is beyond the prison, Matthew 8:12 .
Job 3:10 Because it shut not up the doors of my [mother’s] womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.
Ver. 10. Because it shut not up the doors of my mother’s womb] Lest this curse should seem causeless, and he mad without reason, he telleth you here why he thus poureth out his passion; and complaineth so heavily against the day of his birth and night of his conception, which yet were harmless, and had not deserved to be thus charged, cursed. "Because it shut not up," &c. But how could the night do that? Is it not of God alone to shut or open the womb? Genesis 20:18 ; Genesis 29:31 . And was it not he that took David thence? Psalms 18:23 . This Job could tell well enough at another time, but now he is quite out of all reason; beating himself with his passions, as the lion doth with his own tail; yea, like some sullen bird in a cage, he could almost find in his heart to beat himself to death. We use to say, - Res est ingeniosa dolor, Grief is an ingenious thing; yet it maketh a man foolish (the excess of it), as it did Job here; yea, it maketh a wise man mad, as Solomon saith of oppression, Ecclesiastes 7:7 , and we see it exemplified in Job, especially if the words be thus read, as they may, Because he (that is, God) shut not up the doors, &c.
Nor hid sorrow from mine eyes ] In Scripture, to see good or evil is to feel it, Psalms 34:12 Jer 17:6 Isa 65:16 Job 33:17 . He meaneth, that he had missed those evils which now he met with since his coming into the world, if those doors, being shut, had shut him out of the world. Man is no sooner born than born to trouble, Job 5:7 , yea, man that is born (or conceived) of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble, Job 14:1 . Miserable he is even as soon as he is warm in the womb, as David phraseth it, Psalms 51:5 . If he live to see the light, he comes crying into the world, and an untimely birth may be better than he, Ecclesiastes 5:3 . The Hebrews call him Enosh, that is, sorry man; or doleful, miserable, and desperately diseased man, whose living is but to lie a dying. The Greeks, when they would set forth one extremely wretched, they call him πρισανθρωπον , thrice a man, that is, thrice miserable. And, What is man? saith Seneca (Ad Mar. cap. 11). He answereth, Morbidum, putre, cassum, a fletu vitam auspicatum; a diseased, rotten, empty thing, beginning his life with tears, as if he wept to think upon what a shore of trouble he is landed; or rather, into what a sea of sorrows he is launching; not unlike the Straits of Magellan, a sea of that nature, say geographers, that which way soever a man bend his course, he shall be sure to have the wind against him.
Job 3:11 Why died I not from the womb? [why] did I [not] give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
Ver. 11. Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost? &c. ] Why was I not forthwith carried ab utero ad urnam? from the womb to the tomb, from the birth to the burial? True it is, that infants have the seed of death in them, and the principle of corruption, Romans 5:14 . Every one (say some chemists) hath his own balsam within him; his own bane it is sure that he hath. But why should Job be so weary of life, and so wish to be rid of it? Is not life a great mercy? Doth not the philosopher affirm, that a pismire excelleth the heavens in dignity, because it is a living creature? Saith not the Scripture, that a living dog is better than a dead lion? Ecclesiastes 9:4 ; and why is living man sorrowful, a man for the punishment of his sin? Lamentations 3:39 ; q.d. Let him be never so much punished, it is for his sin; and if, amidst all, he be yet a living man, and have his life spared, he need not be so overly sorrowful, and to make such an outcry, and a wishing himself out of the world, as Job here doth. Life, alas! in its utmost extent is but a little spot of time between two eternities, before, and after; but it is a great consequence, and given us for this end, that glory may be begun in grace, and we have a further and further entrance here into the kingdom of heaven, as Peter saith, 2 Peter 1:11 . This, if Job had seriously and sedately considered (but now, alas! as in a hot lever, all the humours were on a hurry), he would rather have done, as they say Themistocles did; who though he lived till he was about 107 years of age; yet when he came to die, he was grieved upon this ground, Now I am to die, said he, when I begin to be wise.
Job 3:12 Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck?
Ver. 12. Why did the knees prevent me? ] Why did the too officious midwife lay me on her lap, and not let me alone to perish by my fatal helplessness? Man is a poor shiftless creature; and Pliny rails at nature for producing him so forlorn, naked, and unable to help himself; but he knew not that this was a fruit of sin. Cicero indeed could say (whether he believed himself therein I know not), Cum primum nascimur, in omni continuo pravitate versamur, as soon as we are born we are head and ears all over in wickedness; but Pliny was not so persuaded, as I have elsewhere showed.
Or why the breasts that I should suck? ] Why did not my mother turn tigress, and cast me out when newly born? Why was she not cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness, that refuse to give suck to their young ones? Rather we may ask, Why doth not Job, out of his deepest discontent, think much of such a mercy; and rather bless God, first, for filling two such bottles with milk for him, ready against he came into the world? and then, for giving his mother a heart to suckle him, which some nice or unnatural women will not, being therein worse than those sea monsters, Lamentations 4:3 , that help their young? The heathens called their Ceres (queen of plenty) Mammosam, as the nurse of all living creatures; and there are that derive God’s name Shaddai from shad , a dug; because, as he openeth the hand, so he draws out the breast to every living thing. And for his saints, they may suck and be satisfied with the full strutting breasts of his consolations, the two Testaments, Isaiah 66:11 . And whatever Job now (under a heavy temptation, which, like lead, sunk downward, and carried his soul with. it) may misjudge, they may sit and sing thankfully with David, Lord, thou (and not the midwife) art he that took me out of the womb; thou (and not my mother) keptest me in safety when I hung upon the breasts; neither then only, but afterwards, for puerilitas est periculorum pelagus, and the preserver of men keepeth us still from a thousand deaths and dangers. And is this matter of complaint, and not rather of thankfulness?
Job 3:13 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,
Ver. 13. For now should I have lain still and been quiet ] Why, but is it not better to be preserved in salt than to putrefy in sugar? to be emptied from vessel to vessel, than to be at ease, and so to settle on the lees? Jeremiah 48:11 ; to be tumbled up and down, as fishes are in the streams of Jordan, than to perish in the Dead Sea? It is not always (if at all) a happiness to lie still and be quiet. Life consists in action; and in all these things is the life of my spirit, saith good Hezekiah, who had been in death’s hands (where Job so much desired to be), and could therefore make a better judgment, Isaiah 38:16 . What haste, then, was there of his lying still, and being quiet; say that he were assured of his salvation (for else death had been but a trap door to eternal torments), was there nothing more to be done, but taking present possession? nothing to be suffered with Christ, or ere we come to be glorified with him? Romans 8:17 . Ought not he himself first to have suffered and then to have entered into his glory? Luke 24:26 . And ought not we to be conformed to his image (in sufferings also) that he might be the firstborn among many brethren? Romans 8:29 . Let us run with patience (running is active, and patience passive) the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, &c., and looking off our present troubles (as the word αφορωντες , Hebrews 1:12 , importeth), which while Job beheld too wishtly, and was more sensible of than was meet, he brake out in this sort, and showed himself too much a man. Let us do up our work, and then God will send us to bed all in good time, Isaiah 57:1-21 : 2 Kings 16:13 .
Job 3:14 With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;
Ver. 14. With kings and counsellors of the earth ] q.d. Those that here have been most negotious, and (as the nobles of the earth) have had greatest matters in hand, with those should I have been coupled in the grave, that congregation house of all living ( πανηγυρις ), as it is called, Job 30:23 . That long or old home, Ecclesiastes 12:5 . Heaven is called the congregation house of God’s firstborn, Hebrews 12:23 , and their house not made with hands, 2 Corinthians 5:1 . But not many kings or nobles meet here, 1 Corinthians 1:26 , because strait is the gate and narrow the way that leadeth to it; there must be stripping and stopping, which great men cannot frame to. It was a poor comfort to Henry VIII to be told upon his death bed, that he should now go to the place of kings. And a small commendation to Henry II, that some few hours before he died, seeing a list of their names who had conspired against him, and finding therein two of his own sons, he fell into a grievous passion, both cursing his sons, and the day wherein himself was born; and in that distemperature departed the world, which himself had so often distempered. He went indeed to his grave, and slept with his fathers; yea, he was royally interred under a stately monument, meant here, haply, by building desolate places for themselves: Absalom had erected a pillar for this purpose; and the Egyptian kings their pyramids, to perpetuate their memories. The Spanish friar was wont to say, there were but few princes in hell; for why? because there were but few in all. Confer Ezekiel 26:20 . With these Job, had he died prematurely, or never seen the light, might have been fellowed: for death is the only king against whom there is no rising up, Proverbs 30:31 , and the mortal since his master of the royal sceptre, mowing down the lilies of the crown as well as the grass of the field, Sceptra igonibus aequat. The unknown scepter makes equal.
Job 3:15 Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:
Ver. 15. Or with princes that had gold ] Great store of it. Petrarch reporteth of Pope John XXII, that his heirs found in his coffers no less than 250 tons of gold. Boniface VIII, taken prisoner and plundered by the command of Philip the Fair, king of France, had as much gold carried away out of his palace as all the kings of Europe received for one year’s revenue from their subjects, together with their crown land. What a mass of treasure had Cardinal Wolsey gotten here! and before him Cardinal Beaufort, who when he saw that he must needs die, and that his riches could not reprieve him till a further time, asked, Why should I die, being so rich? fie, will not death be hired? will money do nothing? The Cardinal Sylberperger took so great a pleasure in money, that when he was grievously tormented with the gout, his only remedy to ease the pain was to have a bason full of gold set before him, into which he would put his lame hands, turning the gold upside down. Of Nugas, the Scythian monarch, it is said, that when Michael Paleologus, the Greek emperor, sent him many rich ornaments for a present, he asked whether they could drive away calamities, diseases, and death? this because they could not do, he slighted them. These princes that had gold, and filled their houses with silver, what would not they have given to have bought off death? but riches avail not in the day of wrath; it is righteousness only that delivereth from death, Proverbs 11:4 . Thrice happy, then, are they who are rich to God, as our Saviour phraseth it, who have the Almighty to be their gold; and who have silver of strength, as Eliphaz speaketh, Job 22:25 .
Who filled their houses with silver ] That is, their graves, say some; called the dead men’s houses, Job 17:13 . The Jews call the burying place Bethchajin, the house of the living; and they used not only to adorn their sepulchres richly; but also to put their wealth into the grave with them. Josephus saith that Hircanus found in David’s sepulchre three thousand talents and, Jeremiah 8:1 , God threateneth that the Chaldeans shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and of his princes, out of their graves, as searching there for hid treasure; so some conceive. Sure it is, that in the siege of Jerusalem, under Vespasian, there was gold found in the entrails of a Jew that was slain, which caused over twenty thousand of them to be ripped up.
Job 3:16 Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants [which] never saw light.
Ver. 16. Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been ] As an abortive or miscarrying embryo that falleth from the mother, as untimely fruit falleth off from the tree. See Revelation 6:13 . Hidden it is called, because cast aside as an unsightly spectacle, that cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name is covered with darkness, Ecclesiastes 6:4 . Job could have wished some way or other never to have been, rather than to have been in so calamitous a condition; and herein he sinned, no doubt: for that which is of the flesh is flesh, John 3:6 .
As infants which never saw light ] But were still born, as we call them. The word rendered infants is taken from a word that signifieth to defile, see Job 16:15 , for children in the womb are compassed about with pollution; and the first sheet or blanket wherewith they are covered is woven of sin, shame, blood, and filth, Ezekiel 16:4 ; Ezekiel 16:6 .
Job 3:17 There the wicked cease [from] troubling; and there the weary be at rest.
Ver. 17. There the wicked cease from troubling ] Here they are restless, as being acted and agitated by the devil, who being a discontented, turbulent creature, maketh ado in the world, and setteth his imps awork to do mischief, and to vex others, רשׁעים The word here rendered wicked signifieth vexatious persons, that worry and weary out others, molestuous and mischievous. In the grave they shall cease from so doing. That was a strange mind of our Edward I, who adjured his son and nobles, that if he died in his journey into Scotland, they should carry his corpse with them about Scotland, and not suffer it to be interred till they had absolutely subdued the country (Daniel’s Hist. 201). This was a desire more martial than Christian, saith the chronicler, showing a mind so bent to the world, as he would not make an end when he had done with it, but designeth his travel beyond his life.
And there the weary be at rest ] Hence some heathens also have counted mortality a mercy, and some of them appointed contrary ceremonies to those now in use; for they brought their friends into the world with mournful obsequies, but they carried them out of the world with joyful exequies, all sorts of sports and pastimes, because then they conceived they were at rest, and out of gunshot (Plotin. ap. Aug. de C. D. l. 9, c. 10; Quintil. Inst. lib. 5; Herod. l. 5; Val. Max.).
Job 3:18 [There] the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.
Ver. 18. There the prisoners rest together ] Or alike, as do their cruel creditors and hard taskmasters. There, that is, in the state of the dead, whether by land or sea, the prisoners, or bound persons, the miserable captives, rest; such as were those poor Christians, shut up so close (by Barbarossa, the Turkish general, returning toward Constantinople) under hatches among the excrements of nature, that all the way as he went almost every hour, some of them were cast dead over board. Such were many of the martyrs, kept fast shut up in Lollard’s tower, in the bishop of London’s coal house, a dark and ugly prison, said Mr Philpot, as any is about London; but I thank the Lord, I am not alone, but have six other faithful companions, who in our darkness do lightsomely sing psalms and praises to God for his great goodness, but especially for this, that I am so near the apprehension of eternal bliss. God forgive me mine unthankfulness and unworthiness of so great glory (Acts and Mon. 1669, 1670). What pitiful hard usage God’s poor prisoners met with in the late troubles, at Oxford especially (from which death God graciously delivered me when I was in their hands) and in the western parts, see Mr Bonas’ Sermon called Job in the West, where he compareth the enemies’ cruelty to that of the American cannibals, who, when they take a prisoner, feed upon him alive, and by degrees, to the unutterable aggravation of his horror and torment.
They hear not the voice of the oppressor ] Their harsh and hard speeches, Judges 1:15 , that were as a murdering weapon in the poor prisoner’s bones, Psalms 42:10 . Send me back to my frogs and toads again, where I may pray for your conversion, said one of the martyrs to his railing adversaries. Art thou come, thou villain? how darest thou look me in the face for shame? said Stephen Gardiner to Dr Taylor the martyr, who told him his own freely, but fairly: for the spirit of grace is nec mendax, nec mordax. neither lying nor deceitful. Est autem Satanae pectus faecundissimum convitiis, Moreover, there is in the heart of Satan most fruitful vice,saith Luther; the devil and his agents are bitter railers, fetching their words as far as hell, to break the hearts of God’s prisoners, Psalms 69:20 . But besides that they have their cordial of a good conscience by them, 2 Corinthians 1:12 , in the grave they hear not the voice of the oppressor, nor the barkings of these dead dogs, any more.
Job 3:19 The small and great are there; and the servant [is] free from his master.
Ver. 19. The small and the great are there ] In Calvary are skulls of all sizes, say the Hebrews. Stat sua cuique dies (Virg. Aeneid, lib. 1 0). It is appointed for all once to die, be they great or small, low or high. Mors sceptra ligonibus aequat, death makes no difference; kings and captives, lords and lowlies come, then under an equal parity; death takes away all distinctions. William the Conqueror’s corpse lay unburied three days; his interment was hindered by one that claimed the ground to be his (Daniel). King Stephen was interred at Feversham monastery; but since his body, for the gain of the lead, wherein it was coffined, was cast into the river, where at length it rested; as did likewise the dead corpse of Edward V, and his brother, smothered in the Tower by Richard III, and cast into a place called the black deeps at the Thames’ mouth (Speed.).
The servant is free from his master ] Servant is a name of office. He is not his own to dispose of, but the master’s instrument, saith Aristotle, and wholly his, till he please to free him: if he do not, yet death will; and by taking away his life, give him his liberty. His body resteth from all servile offices for a season howsoever: and if with good will he hath done service as to the Lord, and not to men, he shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance, even a child’s part, Colossians 3:24 .
Job 3:20 Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter [in] soul;
Ver. 20. Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery ] Job hath not done yet, though he had said more than enough of this matter; but for want of the oil of joy and gladness his doors move not without creaking, his lips (like rusty hinges) open not without murmuring and complaining: good, therefore, is that counsel given by David, Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; take up in time, before it hath wholly leavened and soured you: "Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil," Psalms 37:8 . He shall not choose but do evil who is sick of the fret. David had the sad experience of this when he had carted the ark, and thereupon God had made a breach upon Uzzah: David was displeased, saith the text; and how untowardly spake he, as if the fault were more in God than in himself; though afterwards he came to a sight of his own error, 1 Chronicles 13:11 ; 1 Chronicles 15:2 . And so did Job, no doubt, when come to himself; but here he proceeds to express his peevishness and impatience, yea, against God himself (though not by name, forsan sese cohibens - ob bonae mentis reliquias, saith Mercer, out of his good respect to God, which he still retained), and calls for a reason why the miserable should be condemned to live, since death would be much more welcome to them. How apt are men to think there is no reason for that for which they can see no reason!
Job 3:21 Which long for death, but it [cometh] not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
Ver. 21. Which long for death, but it cometh not ] The bitter in soul long for death, those that are in pain or penury are apt to desire to be dispatched upon any terms, and would freely pardon them, they say, that would give them their passport. But these, for the most part, consider not the unsupportableness of the wrath to come, that eternity of extremity in hell, that death usually baleth at the heels of it; so that by death, whereof they are so desirous, they would but leap out of the frying pan into the fire, as Judas did: they do so, as the ass in the fable, who desired to die, that he might be no more beaten; at post mortem factus est tympanum, but when he was dead he was made a drum head of, and so was ten times more laid on than ever in his lifetime before.
And dig for it more than for hid treasures ] Covetousness is παντολμος , all daring, saith an ancient; and men, for love of wealth, will dig to hell, light a candle at the devil, as they say: with such an eagerness of desire do some (that have little reason for it, all things reckoned) long and labour after death, not to be rid of sin, or to be with Christ, as Philippians 1:23 , but to be freed from misery incumbent or impendent. Thus Cato (having first read Plato’s book of the soul’s immortality) committed suicide, that he might not fall into the hands of the conqueror. Thus Adrian the emperor, having lain long sick (and could get no help by physicians, but was the worse for them, as he complained at his death, πολλοι ιατροι κατεκτειναν τον βοσιλεα ), would gladly have slain himself, if those about him would have suffered it. It is said that Severianus, whom this emperor injuriously put to death, wished of God, ut Adrianus, quamvis mortem obire percupiat, tamen non possit, that Adrian might desire to die, and not be able, or find opportunity. There is an epistle of his extant, saith the historian, wherein is set forth what a misery it is to desire to die, and yet to be denied it (Dio Cass. in Adrian). This was the case of those popelings, Revelation 9:6 . And in particular of Roger, bishop of Salisbury in King Stephen’s time; who, through long and strait imprisonment, was brought to that evil pass, ut vivere noluerit, mori nescierit, live he would not, and yet die he could not. This is a very typical hell, and a foretaste of eternal torment.
Job 3:22 Which rejoice exceedingly, [and] are glad, when they can find the grave?
Ver. 22. Which rejoice exceedingly ] Joy till they skip again, so Broughton rendereth it. Strange that any should be so glad of death, that last enemy, that slaughterman of nature, and harbinger of hell to the ungodly; but this the devil hideth from them till he hath them where he would have, and whence there is no redemption. What was it else that moved Augustus at his death to call for a round of applause or that made Julian the apostate to die so confidently; and many today that have little reason for it to be so prodigal of their lives, and seemingly fond of death? Is it not because they are fearfully blinded by the god of this present world, 2 Corinthians 4:4 , who holdeth his black hand before their eyes, lest they should see the evil consequents of death, and be saved? which because they do not, what do they else but rejoice exceedingly (or with exultation, as the word here signifieth) in their woeful bondage, and go dancing to hell in their bolts, not so much as desiring deliverance. A man that is to be hanged next day may dream overnight he shall be set free, nay, that he shall be a king, and rejoice therein accordingly; but the end of such joy is heaviness.
Job 3:23 [Why is light given] to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?
Ver. 23. Why is light given to a man whose way is hid? ] i.e. Why is the light of life continued to him who is in a maze or labyrinth of miseries, whereof he can see no cause, and whereout he can descry no issue? no hope at all appeareth of ever either mending or ending. Therefore Vale lumen amicum, as he in St Jerome said, Sweet light, adieu; Quin morere ut merita es, as she in the poet, Be thine own death’s man. Seneca counts it a mercy to a man in misery that he may, by commiting suicide, let out his life when he will; and this he calls valour and manhood. But we have not so learned Christ, neither may we leave our station till called for by our Captain, but must stand to our arms, and, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, suffer hardship, 2 Timothy 2:4 . His word to us is the same as the king’s was to his son, the Black Prince, Either vanquish or die (Speed.); and as she in the story said to her son when she gave him his target, See that thou either bring this back with thee, or else be thou brought back dead upon it out of the battle, ταν η επι ταν . It troubled Job that he could not see his way, and that God had hedged him in, viz. with a thorn hedge of afflictions, Lamentations 3:7 ; Lam 3:9 Hosea 2:6 , so that he could find no way out. But what if he could not, nor any man alive? yet the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, 2 Peter 2:9 . He hath his way in the whirlwind, and his judgments are a great deep, Psalms 36:6 . Sometimes secret they are, but ever just. Surely it had been more meet for Job to have said unto God, "That which I see not, teach thou me," Job 34:32 . "Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have I waited for thee; the desire of my soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee," Isaiah 26:8 .
Job 3:24 For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.
Ver. 24. For my sighing cometh before I eat ] It cometh unsent for, as evil weather useth to do, and most unseasonably surpriseth me at my repast. I mingle my meat with my tears, with every bit of bread I have a morsel of sorrows; and I mingle my drink with weeping, Psalms 102:9 , though indeed Job’s was not so much a shower of tears as a storm of sighs, and a volley of roarings, betokening extremity of grief, such as was beyond tears, and vented itself as the noise of many waters; for my roarings, saith he, are poured out like water. I am as hungry as a lion roaring on his prey, and as violent as the torrents ranging the fields; and yet I neither have leisure nor list to eat my bread; as loth to prolong such a troublesome life, but that I must, or be guilty of self murder. Mr Fox reports of Mr John Glover, that not long after his conversion, upon a mistake of the sense of that text, Hebrews 6:5-6 , he was strongly concerned that he had fallen into the unpardonable sin, and must necessarily therefore be damned; and in that intolerable grief of mind, although he neither had nor could have any joy of his meat, yet was he compelled to eat against his appetite, to the end to defer the time of his damnation so long as he might (Acts & Mon. 1 552). Now who can tell how near Job’s case might come to this, since the devil was both author and actor in a great part of both these tragic comedies?
Job 3:25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
Ver. 25. For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me ] Heb. I feared a fear, and it came upon me. Had Job been wicked, this had been no wonder, Pro 10:24 Job 15:21 . Or had his fear been sinful, it had been less pity, Proverbs 29:25 John 11:48 ; for why should he, by a painful preconceit, suffer before he needed, and send for his crosses before they came? A good man should be careful (and so consequently fearful) in nothing, Philippians 4:6 , he should hope the best, and bear bravely οτι αν Yεος διδω , saith Demosthenes, whatever God sendeth. The Epicureans held, that a good man might be cheerful under whatsoever miseries: 1. In consideration of honesty and integrity. 2. In consideration of those pleasures and comforts that formerly he had enjoyed, and now cheered up himself with, Ex praeteritarum voluptatum recordatione (Cie. de Finib. lib. 2). Of neither of these was Job to seek; but whereas it might be said unto him, Is it fit for thee, who hast hitherto been so happy, now to take on so heavily, because thus and thus afflicted? Truly, saith he, I was never so happy as you took me for; because (considering how moveable and mutable all outward things are) I always feared lest I should outlive my prosperity; that which now also is unhappily befallen me. Sulla had been happy, si eundem et vincendi et vivendi finem fecisset, saith one; that is, if he had made an end of conquering and of living together; but that he did not. In him and many others it hath appeared that mortality is but the stage of mutability. This holy Job had oft forecasted with himself: and though in his passion he here allege it as a reason why he took no comfort in his meat, &c., yet in true account it could be no grief unto him, nor offence of heart (as she once said to David, 1Sa 25:31 ), since it was a fear of wisdom and caution; a fear of the head, and not of the heart; a fear of diligence, and not of diffidence.
Job 3:26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
Ver. 26. I was not in safety ] i.e. I counted not myself simply the safer and happier man, because of creature comforts; but knowing their uncertainty, I held at a distance, and hung loose to them all.
Neither had I rest ] I set not up my rest here, as did Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:4 , and that rich fool, Luke 12:20 , and the purple whore, who sitteth and saith, I shall see no sorrow. Once indeed Job said (but not so well), "I shall die in my nest, and multiply my days as the sand," Job 29:18 . And so (by a like error, which was quickly confuted) David said in his prosperity, "I shall never be moved," Psalms 30:6-7 . But for the main and the most part Job was otherwise minded. A godly man may be master of and busied about these paltrements of this present world, but not satisfied in them as adequate objects: he looks upon them all in their greatest lustre, as Hiram did on the cities Solomon had given him, which he called Chabul, that is, land of dirt. He minds the things above most of all.
Yet trouble came ] Although I ever kept myself within the bounds of humility and modesty, and so took the safest and wisest course to secure that I had, and to gain a settled estate; yet all is gone, and I am left a mirror of misery. What can any one make of this? This is a riddle to me; here I am gravelled and benighted.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28