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Job goes on to pour out his lamentations in the most pathetic manner, and expostulates with God, praying to be speedily released from his miseries; or that God would grant him some little respite, till the time of their termination should come.
Before Christ 1645.
Job 7:2. As a servant earnestly desireth, &c.— As a servant panteth for the shade; that is, wherein he may refresh and recruit himself when wearied with labours in the heat of the day. Schultens. Heath renders the next clause, And as the hireling earnestly longeth for his wages.
Job 7:3. So am I made to possess— So am I made to inherit—and nights of misery are my portion: Heath; who, instead of I am full of tossings, in the next verse, reads, I am tired, or wearied out with tossings.
Job 7:5. My flesh is clothed with worms, &c.— My flesh is clothed with worms, and with the filth of dust: my skin is broken and putrifies. Houbigant. Heath renders it, The worm covereth my flesh, and filthy mud my skin; suddenly it will turn even to putrefaction. See ch. Job 19:26.
Job 7:6. And are spent without hope— תקוה באפס ויכלו vayiklu beaepes tikvah. Literally, And they are destroyed even to the extremity of hope. Heath renders it, And even the least glimmering of hope is at an end.
Job 7:7-11. That my life is wind— That my life is but empty breath. Houbigant. It is easy to observe, in almost all Job's speeches, the struggle which he laboured under, between an earnest desire of death, as a removal from a life of pain and misery, and a dread of it, as he must die in the ill opinion of his friends, and leave a blot and a reproach upon his memory, which he should never have the opportunity to wipe off again; for after death there was no return. Read with attention the following verses in this view; and you will see nothing in them which contradicts the doctrine of a future resurrection, and another state of life, as some would have us believe. The expressions, indeed, are strong; Thine eyes are upon me, and I am not; Job 7:8. He that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more, Job 7:9. But nevertheless the following verse shews the full importance of these phrases; that they mean just so much, and no more than this: He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more. Peters; who observes, that the expression, and I am not, is used by Homer's heroes for the dead; and yet no one questions their belief of a future state. Thus Telemachus says of his father Ulysses: "If I hear that he is dead, and is not any longer, [μηδ ετ εοντος ] then I will celebrate his funeral, &c."
Job 7:12. Am I a sea, or a whale, &c.— Houbigant renders it, Am I a sea or a whale, that thou raisest a tempest against me? an idea which very well suits with that storm of troubles wherewith Job was nearly overwhelmed.
Job 7:15. So that my soul chooseth strangling, &c.— My soul therefore chooseth strangling; death rather than the recovery of my health. Heath. But Houbigant renders it thus: Yet thou preservest me from a violent end, and drivest death far from my bones: Job 7:16. Yet I shall not live always; cease therefore from me, since my days are vanity. See his note.
Job 7:17. What is man, &c.?— What is mortal man, that thou shouldst contend with him, and that thou shouldst set thy heart against him? Schultens.
Job 7:19. How long wilt thou not depart from me?— Literally, How long wilt thou not take thine eyes off me? This is a metaphor borrowed from combatants, who never take their eyes off from their antagonists. The figure is preserved in the next sentence, which represents a combatant seized by his adversary in such a manner as to prevent his swallowing his spittle, or fetching his breath. Till I swallow my spittle, is an Arabic proverb at present in use, signifying a very short time. See Schultens and Houbigant.
Job 7:20-21. I have sinned, &c.— As if he said, "Though I am no such wicked and ungodly wretch as these men imagine me to be, for thou knowest the uprightness of my heart, yet I acknowledge myself a sinner, and humble myself under thy afflicting hand; renouncing every sin or error that I may have been guilty of, whether known or unknown. Let my confession and repentance, then, prevail with thee for pardon; take away this heavy load of evils from me; and thereby remove the cause of those suspicions which my friends have entertained against me. For now, if I expire under thy rod, their suspicions are confirmed, and my character entirely stained beyond redress: and shouldst thou seek me in the morning (the usual hour of judicature) to judge between me and my friends, behold I am not, the determination comes too late: when I am dead and gone, there will be no convincing them of the rashness of their censures; which, as they arose from the dreadful evils that they see me suffer, can only be removed by a visible removal of those evils." He must have entered very little into the spirit of this poem, who does not see how great a part of Job's calamity the unjust suspicions of his friends were to him; and how he labours and turns himself every way to remove them, or to support himself under them. Heath, Houbigant, and others, render the 20th verse, Be it that I have sinned; what injury can I do to thee, O thou Observer of man? Why hast thou set me up as a mark for thee, and why am I made a burthen to thee?
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Job proceeds to justify his desire of death, as the period to the miseries that he underwent. Is there not an appointed time, or a warfare to man upon earth, where he must combat with a variety of evils, till by death he receives his discharge? Are not his days also like the days of an hireling, and full of toil and labour? As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, wearied with the toils of the day, and longing for repose, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work, so do I long for death to relieve me from my miseries, and bring me to that reward which God hath promised to bestow in mercy on every man according to his work. I am made to possess, as if this was the only portion he was heir to, months of vanity, or empty ones, destitute of all joy, comfort, and usefulness, and wearisome nights are appointed to me. Restless upon his bed, no sweet report closed his eyes, to sooth his pains; or, if he slumbered, visions of the night scared and terrified him. When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone, or measured? when shall the welcome day return, and these lingering hours be past? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day. I turn, and turn again; every posture is uneasy; and, tired out upon my bed, I watch for the break of day. My flesh is clothed with worms, that bred in his ulcers, and clods of dust, from the ashes in which he sat. My skin is broken, and become loathsome: my days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, hastening to their end, and are spent without hope of any recovery of his former prosperity. So that it need not be wondered that he courted death, overwhelmed as he was with such miseries, without the prospect of relief. Note; (1.) If we awake refreshed from beds of sleep, let us thankfully acknowledge to whom we owe it. (2.) Our vile bodies should ever humble us: one stroke of disease may make them loathsome to others and a burthen to ourselves. (3.) As our days are incessantly hastening to an end, how diligent should we be to improve them, that, when the thread of life is cut, we may not die without hope!
2nd, Job now directs his discourse to God. If his friends care not for him, he hopes that God will remember him, either to ease or release him.
1. He begs him to remember the vanity of his life, depending upon the breath in his nostrils, and passing as the wind. He despairs of seeing any more prosperity upon earth: hidden in the grave, he should no longer afford this spectacle of woe; and one glance of God's eye were enough to bring him thither. There all his sorrows would end, and, once removed, he should return to this miserable world no more, vanished as the cloud, and forgotten. Note. (1.) Our life is vanishing as a cloud, and passing as the wind; and, when we lie down in the dust, there is no returning to redeem or amend the days that are fled. (2.) If we must shortly take our leave of a vain world, it highly becomes us to have our affections weaned from it, that we may with readiness wait our great change, and cast no lingering look behind.
2. He pours forth his passionate complaint: in anguish, in bitterness, he expostulates with God on his afflictions. Am I a sea, proud and raging, or a whale, ravenous and oppressive, that thou settest a watch over me? hemming me in with sore afflictions, and preventing my escape by death, which I long for. Nor can it be thought strange that I should thus eagerly court it, when, at my rising up and lying down, misery pursues me closer than my shadow. Terrified with fearful dreams, my bed, instead of easing me, aggravates my complaint: my life is become insupportable; I loathe it, or am become loathsome; the most tormenting death is preferable to my present sufferings. Let me then alone, that I may close these wretched eyes in the dust. I would not wish to live alway in the most prosperous condition, how much less thus afflicted, where my days all of them are vanity, full of evil, misery, and woe. Surely this also is his infirmity; how merciful is God to disappoint his wishes, and refuse an answer to his prayers! Note; (1.) Though to depart and be with Christ makes death desirable to the believer in his best estate, yet he is not unwilling to wait, in the midst of torture, till God is pleased to give him his dismission. (2.) Asleep or awake, God can reach our spirits, and on our beds make us a terror to ourselves.
3rdly, We have,
1. Job foolishly expostulating with God, What is man, that thou shouldst magnify him? which God seemed to do, by entering the lists as an adversary, to wrestle or contend with him, as the word may be rendered, a foe so unequal, and beneath his notice; and that thou shouldst set thine heart upon him, as an enemy? and that thou shouldst visit him every morning with repeated strokes of affliction, and try him every moment, giving him no respite from sufferings? How long wilt thou not depart from me, or look off from me? turn away thy frowning face, or eye me not so fiercely, as a contending wrestler; nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? Take off thy hand for a moment at least, just whilst I draw breath. Note; (1.) If God contends with his people, it is in mercy, because our way is perverse. (2.) The trials that we suffer here are designed, as the furnace for gold, to purge our dross, and brighten our graces; therefore we ought not to murmur under them, but seek to answer their design.
2. We have him wisely confessing his sins, and pleading for pardon and reconciliation. I have sinned; though, respecting the charges laid by his censorious friends, he maintained his integrity, yet before God he was ready to acknowledge himself a sinner, and therefore unable to contend with him. What shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? Fain would I obtain thy favour, and avoid thy displeasure, which now so heavily oppresseth me. Why hast thou set me as a mark against thee? Shew me wherefore thou contender with me so sorely, that I am a burthen to myself? And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? that the cause of all my evils being removed, the dire effects of them may cease. For now, if thou wilt grant me this, I shall sleep in the dust in peace, when my iniquity is forgiven; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be: like a kind friend coming in the morning to inquire after him, and lo, he is happily released from his misery. Note; (1.) An humbling sense of sin will serve essentially to silence every complaint in our afflictions. (2.) The great concern under our severest sufferings should be, not so much to obtain ease for our bodies, as rest for our souls in the pardon of our sins. (3.) If we ask, what a sinner must do? the answer is, Apply to the sinner's friend, the Saviour of men, and none go from him with a repulse. (4.) When our souls are at peace with God, we can comfortably commit our bodies to the dust, and take our leave of the world with as much calmness and satisfaction as when we bid good night to our friends on retiring to repose. (5.) If in the morning our spirit should be fled, and the corpse alone remain, let not weeping friends complain that we have so easily and suddenly escaped the pains of dying, if we fall asleep in Jesus.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 7". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29