Job Complains of his Weakness
v. 1. My breath is corrupt, or, "my spirit is violently disturbed"; his power of life was fast waning as his bodily organism was succumbing to the illness racking him. My days are extinct, the graves are ready for me; his life was like a lamp whose oil was about consumed, and so he saw nothing but the tomb before him.
v. 2. Are there not mockers with me? or, "truly, mockery surrounds me," namely, in the persons of these false friends. And doth not mine eye continue in their provocation? The eyes of Job were obliged to rest, to dwell, on their quarreling, on their contentions, a fact which increased his misery.
v. 3. Lay down now, Job pleads with God to furnish him a pledge, or security, to bind Himself as surety; put me in a surety with Thee, He Himself being bondsman for Job before the tribunal of divine justice. Who is he that will strike hands with me? or, "who else would guarantee or furnish me surety?" Both parties in a trial were obliged to pledge a sum or guarantee before court was opened, and it is with reference to this custom that Job asks God to go on his bond.
v. 4. For Thou hast hid their heart from understanding, his friends were so short-sighted and narrow-minded that they were prevented from seeing and acknowledging Job's innocence; therefore shalt Thou not exalt them, not let them prevail against Job, whom they were unjustly accusing. And the attitude of his friends forces another exclamation from his lips.
v. 5. He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail, literally, "he who offers his friends for a prey," exposing them to unjust accusations, as did the three friends of Job, the eyes of his children will languish. The thought is that God certainly could not favor these false friends, since they had betrayed Job's friendship and thus had incurred judgment in which their children were bound to share.
v. 6. He hath made me also a byword of the people, God had set him as a proverb before the whole world, the name of Job suggested to the minds of men everywhere a great misery inflicted by the Lord; and aforetime I was as a tabret, one into whose face the passers-by could freely spit, the object of the most unqualified contempt.
v. 7. Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, the light of his eyes was expiring from weeping and grief, and all my members are as a shadow, wasted away like phantoms.
v. 8. Upright men shall be astonied at this, they are astonished and horrified that such a fate can strike the righteous, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite, roused up in anger against the ungodly, his sense of justice being outraged by the prosperity of the wicked.
v. 9. The righteous also shall hold on his way, that is, in spite of such happenings the truly pious person will cling to his righteousness, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger, increase in inward, spiritual strength. This is one of the passages which show the purpose of the book, lighting up its darkness like a flash of encouraging brightness.
v. 10. But as for you all, Job here addressing himself once more to his false friends, do ye return and come now, he challenged them to come forward with some real wisdom; for I cannot find one wise man among you, their hearts remained closed to the right understanding of Job's condition, they were still deceiving themselves concerning the actual state of the case before them. Thus false friends everywhere, if once they have rendered judgment, are most unwilling to retract their false statements, preferring, rather, to have their victim suffer unjustly.
Job's Hopelessness in his Affliction
v. 11. My days are past, he felt that he was near the end, and he sank back into his former hopeless complaint, my purposes are broken off, the plans which he had made for his life were cut off, destroyed, even the thoughts of my heart, the projects which he had secretly nursed and affectionately cherished.
v. 12. They change the night into day, namely, such joyous plans for life as his friends held before him; the light is short because of darkness, in the presence of darkness, for, according to the consolations of his friends, his present trouble was just like the darkest hour which just precedes the dawn, if he would but admit the guilt which they ascribed to him. All this was being alleged while Job saw before him only the dark night of death.
v. 13. If I wait, the grave is mine house, if he hopes for the realm of death as his dwelling place; I have made my bed in the darkness, having spread his couch in the darkness of death.
v. 14. I have said to corruption, Thou art my father, if he has so cried out to the pit or grave; to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister;
v. 15. and where, or, "where, then," is now my hope? As for my hope, who shall see it? Who would disclose and prove to him that he had any hope of being restored to health and strength!
v. 16. They shall go down to the bars of the pit, that is, his hope sinks down to the bars of the underworld, to the realm of death, when our rest together is in the dust, that is, while his body rests in the dust of the earth, in the grave, his soul would descend into the realm of the dead, the place where the souls are kept till the great day of resurrection. When his hope of death would become a certainty, then the misery of his suffering would become the rest of the grave. Similar sighs are voiced to this day, even by true believers, who are tired of the misery of this world; but they must never turn into impatient demands addressed to God.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 17". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany