Job Defends his Desire for Death
v. 1. But Job answered and said,
v. 2. Oh, that my grief were throughly weighed, namely, the suffering which he was enduring, and my calamity, the bitter and unexplainable affliction, laid in the balances together! Both pans being thus adjusted, his misfortunes would be found to out weigh his sorrows, his complaint.
v. 3. For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea, his woe was heavy beyond measure; therefore my words are swallowed up, rather, "they raved," they were spoken rashly. Although the greatness of his misery explained his complaining, yet he himself confessed that this fact did not really justify his untamed sorrow, his foolish raving. His better knowledge told him that he should not indulge his grief, but the unequaled greatness of his misery drove his tongue to the complaint which he made.
v. 4. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the sickness, pains, and plagues which God inflicted upon him, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit, like a venom whose burning heat dried up his soul; the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me, like an attacking army storming a citadel, Isa_42:13. Job now argues that the demand which wanted him to submit without a murmur is unnatural.
v. 5. Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass, literally, "by the fresh grass"? Or loweth the ox over his fodder? That is, even an irrational beast will not groan or utter discontented cries if it is fully provided with food; much less would Job lament without sufficient cause.
v. 6. Can that which is unsavory, tasteless, be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg? In either case the lack of flavor, the insipid taste, tends to make the food nauseating; even so Job cannot relish his present sufferings, which to him are like a loathsome food.
v. 7. The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat, or, What my soul abhorred to touch, that is to me as my loathsome food; he had to smell and touch the putrid matter of leprosy day after day.
v. 8. Oh, that I might have my request, literally, "that it might come," be fulfilled; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! He was crying and longing for release from his misery.
v. 9. Even that it would please God to destroy me, snuffing out his life by an early death; that He would let loose His hand and cut me off! The picture is that of the cutting of a cord or string, which was synonymous with death. It was an intense, an impatient desire for death.
v. 10. Then should I yet have comfort, he would find consolation in this fact; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow. Let Him not spare, rather, "I would leap up in unsparing pain," due to its excessive force which promised him no respite; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One. The fact that he had not denied the Lord was Job's confidence in the midst of all distress and misery, even if the pain it caused him should be practically unbearable.
v. 11. What is my strength that I should hope, continue to wait, persevere as heretofore? And what is mine end that I should prolong my life, literally, "lengthen my soul," be patient? His strength was completely gone, and therefore he looked forward to death with eager impatience.
v. 12. Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of brass? He certainly did not have the power of endurance which inorganic matter possesses.
v. 13. Is not my help in me, rather, "Is not the nothingness of my help with me," that is, Am I not utterly helpless? And is wisdom driven quite from me? His well-being, his prospect of strength in the future, of an eventual recovery, had been driven away from him and thus utterly lost. An early death was the only hope he cherished, and that he desired with an intense longing. A Christian will always be ready for death, but it would be wrong for him to demand death at the hands of God. We must at all times submit our will to that of our heavenly Father.
Job Criticizes Eliphaz for his Conduct
v. 14. To him that is affiliated pity should be showed from his friend, or, to him who is melting on account of the fierceness of his misery, and therefore in despair, gentleness should be shown by his friends; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty, rather, even if he should, or, lest he should, forsake the fear of the Almighty. Friends worthy of the name should stand by one who is in misery and distress, lest he give way entirely to despair and forsake the Lord.
v. 15. My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, false and treacherous as a torrent, as an arroyo in the wilderness, which presents a dry bed at just the time when water is most needed, and as the stream of brooks they pass away, torrents which overflow one day and disappear on the next, absolutely unreliable;
v. 16. which are blackish, turbid, dark, foul, by reason of the ice, as the melting ice is carried down by the spring floods, and wherein the snow is hid, seeming to offer a solid surface to stand on, but in reality altogether treacherous;
v. 17. what time they wax warm, they vanish, after the short spring flow, which seemed to carry so much promise, their bed is soon parched; when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place, altogether extinguished. To this characterization of unreliable friends Job adds a description of the disappointment which filled his heart on account of the attitude of his visitors.
v. 18. The paths of their way are turned aside, their course winds hither and thither, just like that of the arroyos in the wilderness; they go to nothing, and perish, vanishing out in the desert wastes, sinking from sight, failing men when they are most in need of water.
v. 19. The troops of Tema looked, the caravans of a nomadic tribe in Northern Arabia, the companies of Sheba waited for them, hoping to obtain water for their parched lips. In Job's picture his friends are the unreliable arroyos, while he is the thirsty traveler searching for a drink of cooling water.
v. 20. They were confounded because they had hoped, put to shame on account of their confident hope, just as Job was in this instance; they came thither, and, were ashamed, red with shame on account of the deceit which they finally perceived, betrayed by a lying brook.
v. 21. For now ye are nothing, they had shown that they did not exist as real friends; ye see my casting down, and are afraid, full of terror and dismay, fearing to identify themselves with one whom they believed struck down by the wrath of God.
v. 22. Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your substance? He had not asked any sacrifice from them, had not even desired a gift from them; he had expected only the sympathy of true friends.
v. 23. Or, Deliver me from the enemy's hand? or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty, of the oppressor? He had never yet asked for such a proof of their friendship; therefore he was all the more sorely disappointed at their failing to show even the least friendly interest in him and compassion for him.
v. 24. Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; he was willing to be set right and to cease his complaint; and cause me to understand wherein I have erred, this being preferable to any silent or open accusation on their part.
v. 25. How forcible are right words, such as are based upon sound knowledge! But what doth your arguing reprove? What Job missed so sorely in the case of his friends was this, that they did not substantiate their accusations, that they judged merely according to their feelings.
v. 26. Do ye imagine to reprove words, were they trying to fasten only upon the words which his misery pressed out of his mouth, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind? They had his blameless conduct to judge him by and should draw no conclusions from his present complaints.
v. 27. Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, like unrelenting creditors they would cast lots for the orphans left by a debtor to make them bondservants, and ye dig a pit for your friend, trafficking or bargaining for him, to sell him as a slave; they were traitors to the cause of true friendship.
v. 28. Now, therefore, be content, look upon me, they should be pleased to scrutinize his face closely; for it is evident unto you if I lie, they would be able to read in his face whether he were really the hypocrite they supposed him to be.
v. 29. Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness is in it. They should turn from their present position of unfriendly suspicion and make a careful examination of his case, so that they would do no wrong, but find the evidence of his righteousness.
v. 30. Is there iniquity in my tongue? Had he actually, thus far in his complaint, spoken wrong? Cannot my taste discern perverse things? Was his palate, figuratively speaking, in such a poor condition that they believed him to have lost all consciousness of guilt, or that he could no longer understand the meaning of his misfortunes? True friends are a blessing, but false friends destroy a person's faith in humanity.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 6". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany