Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Job 10

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-22

Even So I Question His Purpose (10:1-22)

Job’s answer to Bildad represents the extreme limit of his skepticism. Nowhere else does he go so far in outright challenge of God and in dispute of God’s moral governance. But even in this violent outburst we can detect notes of unconscious faith, which are all the more important because they sound out in the midst of bleak despair. Thus in chapter 10 Job actually turns once again to God. True, he turns with ironic question and sarcastic tone, but it is to God, the God whom he has just charged with out-and-out indifference. As before (Job 7:11-21) and later (for example, Job 14:13-17) he directs his words to the unseen Antagonist, his onetime Friend.

The transition from his answer to Bildad to his words to God is clearly indicated in Job 10:1-2. From here on to the end of the chapter it is as though the friends were not present. Job’s language is as private as a prayer — certainly not one of praise or trust, but still a prayer.

Job raises hypotheses which could conceivably explain his case. Since no one of them is argued seriously, it is evident that they are meant to be taken as inadequate or false explanations. The first, in verse 3, is the possibility that God is completely cruel, actually finding pleasure in inflicting pain. Another (vss. 4-5) is either that, like a man, God must take revenge swiftly and without regard to justice, or that God sees as imperfectly as men see, and hence does not really know what justice is.

In verse 8 Job turns to the paradoxical fact that he has not only been made by God (vss. 8-11) but has actually been the object of God’s love and of such care that his life ("breath" rather than "spirit" in vs. 12) has been preserved. The figure of God as potter and man as clay is, of course, familiar in Scripture. The metaphors of birth in verses 10 and 11 are in keeping with primitive notions of procreation, although they may be only poetic images balancing the one in verse 9.

The other side of the paradox is the fact that, though expending such attention and care on Job, God had from the beginning been set in his purpose to destroy him (vs. 13). In Job’s case it is all the same whether he has committed sins, or is a settled wicked man, or is righteous (vss. 14-15). As in Job 9:22-24 he charges the Judge of all the earth with indiscriminate action, here he charges his own Creator with an indiscriminate purpose.

Job reiterates the hopelessness of such a situation (vss. 16-17). If God be against him, who can be for him? How can he be helped? Finally, since he has been brought into this life, meaningless as it is, he begs for a brief surcease from pain, and especially for a brief respite from God’s attentive persecution, so that he may take a little comfort before death brings him to Sheol, the land where even "light is as darkness."

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 10". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/job-10.html.
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