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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Job 7

 

 

Verses 1-10

Job 7:1-10. Job complains of the misery of his life and destiny. How is it that Job does not go on to maintain his innocence? Instead of this he proceeds to show how dreadfully he suffers, and to accuse God of cruelty (Job 7:11 f.). The point is that he cannot think of his suffering without viewing it as a ground against God. The ideas of Eliphaz about suffering being due to sin make no impression on him: moreover he feels that, if he had sinned, that would give God no reason to treat him as He does. Again Job can hardly believe as yet that Eliphaz really meant to accuse him of sin. He indulges himself, therefore, freely again in the complaint of his misery. As before, however, in Job 3:20, he is led to think of his own case as one among many (Job 7:1 f.). Life is a soldier's campaign, hard drudgery, wounds, and exposure, till the campaign is over. It is a hireling's day. Working through the sultry midday he thirsts for the coolness of evening and his wages (Job 7:2). Such is man's life in general. But with 3 Job comes back to his own case. His troubles too are laid on him, like the soldier's or the labourer's, by the will of another. Like them he longs for the end of his misery. In Job 7:4 f. he paints a graphic picture of this. He especially dwells on the long interminable nights of pain. His sores breed worms. They form a hard crust (clods of dust) and then break out afresh and run. In spite of his long nights of pain, yet his time goes by more swiftly than a weaver's shuttle (cf. Job 9:25 f.), and he is utterly hopeless (Job 7:6). With Job 7:7 he turns to God and pitifully appeals to Him. For a moment he thinks of God as the God who has loved and cared for him, and is carried on to the further thought (Job 7:8) that when he is gone God will look for him and not find him. It is the first indication of the path upon which ultimately he is to find the personal solution of his trouble. By slow degrees he comes to believe that God who had once cared for him must need him, and therefore ultimately must deliver him. But at present all he says is that God will one day look for him and fail to find him. There is just the faintest suggestion that God will miss him. It is the first gleam of light in the midst of Job's darkness. But it vanishes, and in Job 7:9 f. he dwells on the impossibility of a return from Sheol. "The Babylonians called the underworld ‘the land of no return'" (Peake). According to the ancient Hebrew view, the dead in Sheol were cut off from all communion with God (Psalms 6:5; Psalms 88:10-12, Isaiah 38:18). Here, says Duhm, Job completely rejects the idea of immortality. "Of course this is not to say, that it cannot reoccur. On the contrary, just because Job again and again comes back to the comfortless idea, that all is over with death, the observant reader is led to form the suspicion that he is suppressing a hope, which continually reawakens in secret within him, that after all things may be otherwise."


Verses 11-21

Job 7:11-21. Job again gives utterance to his complaint. In the previous passage Job's tone, as in Job 3:11-19, had become quieter, and his complaint almost an elegy on human misery. But now he bursts forth again with the utmost violence of expression, and now, as he had not ventured to do in Job 3, directly attacks God. He will not refrain. Though God destroy him, he will speak (Job 7:11). He asks if he is the sea, fretting against the earth with its turbulent waves, or the sea-monster, the great dragon of the deep, once conquered by God long ago (Job 26:12, Isaiah 51:9, Revelation 21:1*), but always liable to attempt a fresh assault upon God and the world. When Job seeks rest in sleep, God sends him awful dreams (Job 7:13 f.). He has no conception of second causes, and attributes the misery of his dreams directly to God. He wishes that he could die outright (Job 7:15). If only God would let him alone (Job 7:16). In Job 7:17 f. he bitterly parodies Psalms 8:4. The Psalmist in devout ecstasy speaks of the littleness of man, and the wonderful condescension of God, who has made him his vicegerent and lord of the creation. But Job thinks of God as the great Watcher of men (Job 7:12; Job 7:20), the Almighty Eye, always regarding human conduct to try and prove it according to its worth. This is precisely the same idea of God which we have already had from Eliphaz, the God who watches men and rewards or punishes them. But Eliphaz, like the Psalmist, glorified this conception of God. To Job in his present mood it seems nothing but darkness and terror, and he cries out against it. "If religion is conceived as a strict moral order, which lays on man full responsibility for every action and impulse, it must crush him; the poet of Job anticipates Paul in recognising this truth. The above propositions are, however, as little the last word of the poet on the true nature of God, as his previous statements on the questions of life after death give his last judgment on the question of immortality, On the contrary, there is here merely the weighing of the possibility that Job's sufferings are the result of Divine repressive measures, and through the sarcastic conclusions drawn from it rather an indirectly negative than an affirmative answer" (Duhm). In Job 7:19 Job pleads for a moment's respite. In Job 20 he suggests that even if he has sinned, his sin cannot have injured God, who is infinitely above aught that man can do to him. The inference is that God, instead of making Job, by watching him so, into a perpetual stumbling-block (mark) that always seems to be in His way, might simply forgive his sins. We see that Job is already moving from the idea of God as an Almighty Judge to the thought that at bottom His nature is pardoning love. Cf. Psalms 13:04, which makes it clear that if God be simply a Judge, fellowship between man and Him is impossible; if He is to be feared, i.e. if religion is to be possible, it can only be on a basis of forgiveness. The conclusion of Job 7:21 shows that Job is beginning to feel that the God who tortures him is not the real God, but only a passing phase (Psalms 30:5, mg.). When Job is dead at least God will want him. From the real God, who is love, it is not then too much to hope even the forgiveness of sin. The two thoughts—that of the God who is great enough to pardon sin, and of the God who needs him—are intimately connected together.

Job 7:15. The interpretation of the second clause, "I choose death in preference to being this skeleton," is forced. Read, emending the text very slightly, "I choose death rather than my pains."

Job 7:20. According to Jewish tradition the original text was "a burden on Thee," which was altered by the scribes into "a burden to myself." The tradition is probably correct, and the alteration has been made because the original text seemed irreverent.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 7:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/job-7.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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