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Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
INTRODUCTION TO Job 10
Job here declares the greatness of his afflictions, which made him weary of his life, and could not help complaining; entreats the Lord not to condemn him but show him the reason of his thus dealing with him, Job 10:1; and expostulates with him about it, and suggests as if it was severe, and not easily reconciled to his perfections, when he knew he was not a wicked man, Job 10:3; he puts him in mind of his formation and preservation of him, and after all destroyed him, Job 10:8; and represents his case as very distressed; whether he was wicked or righteous it mattered not, his afflictions were increasing upon him, Job 10:13; and all this he observes, in order to justify his eager desire after death, which he renews, Job 10:18; and entreats, since his days he had to live were but few, that God would give him some respite before he went into another state, which he describes, Job 10:20.
1My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
My soul is weary of my life,.... And yet nothing of a temporal blessing is more desirable than life; every man, generally speaking, is desirous of life, and of a long life too; soul and body are near and intimate companions, and are usually loath to part; but Job was weary of his life, willing to part with it, and longed to be rid of it; he "loathed" it, and so it may be here rendered (x), he would not live always, Job 7:15; his "soul" was uneasy to dwell any longer in the earthly tabernacle of his body, it being so full of pains and sores; for this weariness was not through the guilt of sin pressing him sore, or through the horror of conscience arising from it, so that he could not bear to live, as Cain and Judas; nor through indwelling sin being a burden to him, and a longing desire to be rid of it, and to be perfectly holy, to be with Christ in heaven, as the Apostle Paul, and other saints, at certain times; or through uneasiness at the sins of others, as Isaac and Rebekah, Lot, David, Isaiah, and others; nor on the account of the temptations of Satan, his fiery darts, his buffetings and siftings, which are very distressing; but on account of his outward afflictions, which were so very hard and pressing, and the apprehension he had of the anger and wrath of God, he treating him, as he thought, very severely, and as his enemy, together with the ill usage of his friends. The Targum renders it,"my soul is cut off in my life;''or I am dying while I live; I live a dying life, being in such pain of body, and distress of mind; and so other versions (y):
I will leave my complaint upon myself: not that he would leave complaining, or lay it aside, though some (z) render it to this sense; rather give a loose to it, and indulge it, than attempt to ease himself, and give vent to his grief and sorrow by it; but it should be "upon himself", a burden he would take upon himself, and not trouble others with it; he would not burden their ears with his complaints, but privately and secretly utter them to himself; for the word (a) used signifies "meditation", private discourse with himself, a secret and inward "bemoaning" of his case; but he did not continue long in this mind, as appears by the following clause: or since I can do no other but complain; if there is any blame in it, I will take it wholly upon myself; complain I must, let what will be the consequence of it; see Job 13:13; though the phrase may be rendered, as it is sometimes, "within myself", see Hosea 11:8; (b); and then the sense may be, shall I leave my inward moan within myself, and no longer contain? I will give myself vent; and though I have been blamed for saying so much as I have, I will say yet more:
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul: as one whose life is made bitter, against whom God had wrote and said bitter things, and had brought bitter afflictions upon him, which had occasioned bitter complaints in him, as well as he had been bitterly used by his friends; and amidst all this bitterness he is determined to speak out his mind freely and fully; or to speak "of the bitterness" (c) of his soul, and declare, by words, what he in his mind and body endured.
(x) "fastidit anima mea vitam meam", Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (y) "Excisa est anima mea in vita mea", Pagninus, Vatablus; so Ben Gersom & Ben Melech. (z) So Junius & Tremellius. (a) "meditationem meam", Schindler, col. 1823. "my sighing", Broughton. (b) "intra me". Vid. Noldium, p. 701. (c) "in vel de a maritudine", Mercerus.
2I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.
I will say unto God, do not condemn me,.... Not that he feared eternal condemnation; there is none to them that are in Christ, and believe in him as Job did; Christ's undertakings, sufferings, and death, secure his people from the condemnation of law and justice; nor, indeed, are the afflictions of God's people a condemnation of them, but a fatherly chastisement, and are in order to prevent their being condemned with the world; yet they may look as if they were, in the eyes of the men of the world, and they as very wicked persons; and so the word may be rendered, "do not account me wicked" (d), or treat me as a wicked man, by continuing thine afflicting hand upon the; which, as long as it was on him, his friends would not believe but that he was a wicked man; wherefore, as God knew he was not such an one as they took him to be, he begs that he would not use him as such, that so the censure he lay under might be removed; and though he was condemned by them, he entreats that God would make it appear he was not condemned by him: and whereas he was not conscious to himself of any notorious wickedness done by him, which deserved such usage, he further prays:
show me wherefore thou contendest with me. Afflictions are the Lord's controversy with his people, a striving, a contending with them; which are sometimes so sharp, that were they continued long, the spirits would fail before him, and the souls that he has made: now there is always a cause or reason for them, which God has in his own breast, though it is not always known to man, at least not at first, or as soon as the controversy or contention is begun; when God afflicts, it is either for sin, to prevent it, or purge from it, or to bring his people to a sense of it, to repent of it, and forsake it, or to try their graces, and make them more partakers of his holiness; and when good men, as Job, are at a loss about this, not being conscious of any gross iniquity committed, or a course of sin continued in, it is lawful, and right, and commendable, to inquire the reason of it, and learn, if possible, the end, design, and use of such dispensations.
(d) "neque judices me improbum", Vatablus; so Schultens.
3Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?
Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress?.... This God does not approve of in others; he dehorts men from it; he threatens to punish those that do so, and to be a swift witness against them; he promises to arise to the help of the oppressed, and to be a refuge for them, and therefore will never do the same himself; it can never be pleasant to him, nor right and just in his sight, nor is it of any advantage to him. Job here suggests that his afflictions were an oppression to him; and, indeed, no affliction is joyous, but grievous, and sometimes the hand of God presses hard and sore, but then there is no injury nor any injustice done, as the word (e) here used signifies; and he intimates also, as if God took some seeming delight and pleasure in thus oppressing him, and therefore expostulates with him about it, as if such conduct was not fit and becoming him, not agreeable to his perfections, and could afford neither pleasure nor profit. This, and what follows in this verse, are expostulations too bold and daring, and in which Job uses too much freedom with the Almighty, and in which he is not so modest as in Job 10:2,
that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands? which he tacitly insinuates he did. Job means himself, who, as to his body, and the several members of it, were the work of God's hands, curiously and wonderfully made by him, as is afterwards expressed; and as to his soul, and the powers and faculties of it, they were his make, who is the Father of spirits; and moreover, as a new man, he was made by him, was the workmanship of God, and a curious piece indeed, created after his image in righteousness and true holiness; and he was in every sense the work of his hands, or "the labour of his hands" (f); wrought with great care and labour, even with the "palms of his hands", as is the word (g) used; and could Job think that God "despised" such a work? he who, upon a survey of his works, said they were all very good; who forsakes not the work of his hands, nor despises the day of small things, could never do this; nor are afflictions to be interpreted in such a manner, as if God was indifferent unto, slighted and thought meanly of, what he himself has wrought; since these are so far from having such a meaning, that they flow from that great respect he has for his own work, and are for the good of it:
and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? either the counsel of the wicked one, Satan, who moved God to afflict him in the manner he had, or of the Sabeans and Chaldeans, who thrived and prospered, notwithstanding the injury they had done him; or of his friends, who consulted to brand his character with hypocrisy; or, rather, of wicked men in general, on whose counsel God may be thought to "shine", when it succeeds, and God seems to smile upon them in his providence, and they are in prosperous circumstances, and have what heart can wish, when good men are greatly afflicted; which sometimes has been a temptation, and greatly distressing, to the latter; see Psalm 73:2; but this is not always the case; the counsel of the froward is sometimes carried headlong, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is made brutish, and that of Ahithophel was defeated by him; and whenever he seems to countenance it, it is to answer some ends of his glory.
(e) "est opprimere vim injustam alicui facere", Schmidt. (f) "laborem", Pagninus, Montanus, Schultens, Michaelis. (g) "volarum tuarum", Montanus, Bolducius.
4Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?
Hast thou eyes of flesh?.... God has eyes, but not fleshly ones; he has eyes of love, grace, and mercy, which are always upon his people for good, and are never withdrawn from them; and he has eyes of displeasure and wrath on sinful men, to destroy them; these are not made of flesh, or like the eyes of flesh and blood, or of men; fleshy eyes cannot see at any great distance, and only in one place at a time, and only one object after another; they cannot see in the dark, and what they are, and only outward objects; and in these they are sometimes deceived, and at length fail: but the eyes of God see all things, at the greatest distance; he looks down from heaven, and beholds all the children of men on earth, and all their actions; his eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good; he can see in the dark as well as in the light, the darkness and the light are both alike to him; he beholds not only outward actions and visible objects, but the hearts of men, and all that is in them; nor is he ever deceived, nor will his sight ever fail: though Job, perhaps, may mean carnal eyes; that is, evil ones, as especially envious ones are: "is thine eye evil?" Matthew 20:15; that is, envious; and it is as if Job should say, dost thou envy me my former prosperity and peace, that thou searchest so narrowly into my conduct to find iniquity in me, and take advantage against me?
or seest thou as man seeth? look with hatred and envy, as one man does upon another: so seemed the dispensations of God towards Job, as if he did, as he suggests.
5Are thy days as the days of man? are thy years as man's days,
Are thy days as the days of man?.... No, they are not: not so few; the days of the years of man's life in common are threescore years and ten, Psalm 90:10; but a thousand years with the Lord are but as one day, 2 Peter 3:8; his days are days not of time, but of eternity: nor so mutable, or he so mutable in them; man is of one mind today, and of another tomorrow; but the Lord is in one mind one day as another; he is the Lord that changes not, Malachi 3:6; immutable in his nature, purposes, promises, and affections: but Job suggests as if his dispensations towards him showed the contrary; one day smiling upon him, and heaping his favours on him, and the next frowning on him, and stripping him of all: but this was a wrong way of judging; for, though God may change the dispensations of his providence towards men, and particularly his own people, his nature changes not, nor does he change his will, his purposes, and designs, nor his love and affection:
are thy years as man's days? as few as they, or fail like them? no, he is the same, and his years fail not, and has the same good will to his people in adverse as well as in prosperous dispensations of his providence. Some understand all this in such sense, in connection with what follows, as if Job had observed, that since God was omniscient, and knew and saw all persons and things, his eyes not being like men's eyes, eyes of flesh; and since he was eternal, and wanted not for time, there was no need for him to take such methods as he did with him, through afflictive providences, to find out his sin; since, if he was guilty, it was at once known to him; nor need he be in such haste to do it, since his time was not short, as it is with an envious and ill natured man, who is for losing no time to find out and take an advantage of him he bears an ill will unto.
6That thou inquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin?
That thou enquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin? Narrowly examined every action of his life, to find something amiss in them; and took notice of every weakness and infirmity, and aggravated it, to make it appear as sinful as it could be, and watched every halting and failing, that he might have something against him as a reason why he afflicted him; dealing with him as if there was no Messiah, no Mediator, Redeemer, and Saviour, provided, appointed, and promised; and as if there was no forgiveness of sin, through him, for him: sin pardoned for his sake is covered, that when it is sought for it shall not be found; so that when it is not pardoned, or not thought to be so, it lies open, and upon inquiry to be found, charged, and punished for; see Job 7:21; this search and inquiry seems to have been made by afflictions; at least Job imagined that the design of God in them was to put him upon the rack, and bring him to a confession of sin, find in this way find an occasion against him: now such a method as this, Job thought, was unbecoming the greatness, majesty, and perfections of God; and was quite needless, since his eyes were not human nor shortsighted, that obliged him to pore and pry into things, but were omniscient, and could see at once whether there was any evil way in him or not; nor was he as men, short lived, which obliged him to make use of his time while he had it, to get an advantage of another; and besides, such a method of acting seemed to him very extraordinary, when he full well knew he was an innocent person, as follows.
7Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.
Thou knowest that I am not wicked,.... Or "in", or "upon thy knowledge (a) it is that I am not wicked"; it is a thing well known, quite clear, and manifest, without making such a search and inquiry: not that he thought himself without sin, and could appeal to the omniscience of God for the truth of that; for he had confessed before that he was a sinner, and wicked, as to his nature and birth, and the many infirmities of life; see Job 7:20; but that he was not that wicked person, and an hypocrite, as his friends took him to be, and as might be concluded from the sore afflictions that were upon him; he did not live in sin, nor indulge himself in a vicious course of life; sin had not the dominion over him, and he had not secretly cherished any reigning iniquity, and lived in the commission of it: and for the truth of this he could appeal to the searcher of hearts; and yet he so closely pursued, and so strictly examined him, as if he suspected he was thus guilty:
and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand; that is, out of his afflicting hand, until he please to release him from it himself; for this is not to be understood of deliverance from the avenging hand of justice, from hell and wrath, and everlasting destruction; for there is one that can and does deliver his people from sin and Satan; from the world, the law, its curses and condemnation, and from wrath to come; and from the hands of justice, having made full satisfaction to it: but what Job observes that God knew was, that neither he himself, nor any angel, nor man, nor any creature, could take him out of his hand in which be was; and therefore suggests, not only that his condition was extremely bad, distressed, and miserable, but that there was no necessity for God to he so quick upon him, and so strict in his inquiry into him; nor of enclosing him about on all hands with afflictions, since, there was no danger of his escaping from him, or of others assisting him in and facilitating such an attempt: and this he full well knew; for so the words are connection with the preceding: "and thou knowest that there is none", &c. (b), as well as with what follows, as some think.
(a) "in notitia tua est", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Beza; so Michaelis. (b) So Bolducius, Drusius, Schmidt, Michaelis, and Bar Tzemach.
8Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me.
Thine hands have made me, and fashioned together round about,.... This and what follow are an illustration of and an enlargement upon, the work of God's hands, made mention of in Job 10:3; and suggest reasons why it should not be despised by him, as well as confirm what was just now said, that none could deliver him out of his hands; since his hands had made him, and therefore had such power over him as none else had: and the whole seems designed to move to pity and compassion of him; for not he himself, nor his parents, but God only had made him; he was his workmanship only, and a curious piece it was, which his hands of power and wisdom had nicely formed; for, though the Son and Spirit of God are not to be excluded from the formation of man, yet it seems a too great strain of the words to interpret "hands" of them, as some do; and much less are they to be understood literally of the hands of the Son of God appearing in an human form at the creation of man, since such an appearance is not certain; nor is Job speaking of the formation of the first man, but of himself: the first word (c), rendered "made", has the signification of labour, trouble, grief, and care; and is used of God after the manner of men, who, when things are done well by them, take a great deal of pains, and are very solicitous and careful in doing them; and from hence is a word which is sometimes used for an idol, as Gersom observes, because much labour and skill are exercised to form it in the most curious and pleasing manner; many interpreters, as Aben Ezra observes, from the use of the word in the Arabic language, explain it of God's creating the body of man with nerves, by which it is bound, compacted, and strengthened (d); and the latter word denotes the form and configuration of it, the beautiful order and proportion in which every part is set; and the whole is intended to observe the perfection of the human body, and the exquisite skill of the author of it; and what pity is it that it should be so marred and spoiled! and this is said to be made and fashioned "together", or all at once; the several parts of it being in the seed, in the embryo, all together, though gradually formed or brought into order; or rather this denotes the unity and compactness of the several members of the body, which are set in their proper place, and joined and fitted together, by joints and bands, and by that which every joint supplieth: and this is done "round about", on all sides, in every part; or, as Mr. Broughton renders it, "in every point"; the whole of it, and every member, even the most extreme and minute, are curiously formed and fashioned by the Lord; or rather, thine hands are together round about me; embracing, sustaining, and preserving him ever since he was made:
yet thou dost destroy me; this body, so extremely well wrought, by boils or ulcers; or "swallow me" (e), as a lion, to which he compares him, Job 10:16; or any other ravenous and large creature, see Lamentations 2:2; some connect the words more agreeably to the accents, "yet thou dost destroy me together round about" (f); or on every side, as in Job 19:10; having smitten him with boils from the crown of the head to the sole of the feet, and stripped him of his substance and his family all at once; and so it denotes utter destruction: some read the words interrogatively, "and wilt thou destroy or swallow me?" (g) after thou hast taken so much pains, and been at such labour and trouble, speaking after the manner of men, to make such a curious piece of work, and yet with one stroke destroy it and dash it in pieces, or swallow it up as a morsel at once.
(c) "elaboraverunt me", Tigurine version, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius, Codurcus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Michaelis. (d) "Nervis colligarunt", Schultens. (e) "et degluties me", Montanus, Bolducius; "et tamen absorbeas me", Schmidt; "absorbes me", Schultens, Michaelis. (f) So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Cocceius. (g) "Absorbes me?" Beza, Mariana.
9Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?
Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay,.... Not of the clay, though man was made originally of the dust of the earth, and the bodies of men are houses of clay, earthen vessels, and earthly tabernacles, but "as the clay"; either as the clay is wrought in the hand of the potter, and worked into what form, and made into what vessel he pleases, so are men in the hand of God, made by him in what form, and for what use and end he thinks fit; or rather this denotes not the likeness of the operation, but the likeness of the matter of the human body to clay: not for the impurity of it; for though man is in a state and condition comparable to the mire and clay, this he has brought himself into by sin, and not the Lord; he made man upright, but man has made himself sinful and polluted; but for the brittleness of it; as a vessel made of clay is brittle and easily broke to pieces, and cannot bear much weight, or any heavy stroke; so the body of man is weak and frail, and feeble; its strength is not the strength of stones, and its flesh brass, but clay: and this Job humbly entreats the Lord would "remember", and that "now" (h); immediately; and deal mildly and mercifully with him, since he was not able to bear the weight of his hand, which would soon, crush him and break him to pieces; not that God forgets this, for he remembers man's frame and composition, that he is but dust; that he is flesh, and a wind or vapour that passes away: but he may seem to do so, when he sorely afflicts, and his hand lies heavy, and he does not remove it, but continues it, and rather in creases the affliction; and therefore, as the Lord allows his people to put him in remembrance, Job here desires that he would show himself, in his providential dealings with him, that he was mindful of his natural frailty and infirmity; see Job 7:12 Psalm 78:3,
and wilt thou bring me into dust again? to the dust of death; to the original of which he was made; and that so soon, and at once; or, "and unto dust will return me?" as Mr. Broughton and others (i), according to the original sentence, "dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return", Genesis 3:19; and which Job expected, and will be the case of all men, Ecclesiastes 12:7; and therefore he thought that this might suffice, that it was enough that he should die in a little while through the course of nature, and therefore desires he might have some respite and ease while he did live; he could not see there was any occasion to press him so hard, and follow him so close with afflictions one after another, or be so rough with him and quick upon him; since in a short time his brittle clay would break of itself, and he should drop into the dust and lie decaying there, as it was of old decreed he should.
(h) "nunc", Drusius; so the Targum. (i) "reducturus", Schmidt, Schultens; "reduces me?" V. L. Beza, Michaelis; "redire facies me?" Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius.
10Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?
Hast thou not poured me out as milk,.... Expressing, in modest terms, his conception from the seed of his parents, comparable to milk, from being a liquid, and for its colour:
and curdled me like cheese? that of the female being mixed with, and heated by the male, is hardened like the curd of which a cheese is made, and begins to receive a form as that, and becomes an embryo: and naturalists (k) make use of the same expressions when speaking of these things; and in this way most interpreters carry the sense of the words; but Schultens observes that milk is an emblem of purity and holiness, see Lamentations 4:7; and so this may respect the original pure formation of man, who came out of his Maker's hands a pure, holy and upright creature, made after his image and in his likeness, created in righteousness and holiness, and so, like milk, pure and white; or rather the regeneration and sanctification of Job personally, and which might be very early, as in Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and others; or however, he was filled and adorned with the gifts and graces of the spirit of God, was washed and cleansed, and sanctified and justified; and had his conversation in the world in all simplicity and godly sincerity, being preserved from gross enormities in life; was a man that feared God and eschewed evil, and had not only the form of godliness, but the power of it; and was established and confirmed in and by the grace of God, and was strong in the exercise of it; and from hence he argues with God, should such a vessel of grace, whom he had made so pure and holy, and had so consolidated and strengthened in a spiritual and religious way, be crushed and destroyed at once?
(k) "Sic semen maris dicitur" Aristot. de Gen. Animal. l. 1. c. 20. "coagulum". Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 7. c. 15. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 3. c. 16.
11Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.
Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh,.... The bones with flesh, which is the under garment, and the flesh with skin, which is the upper; which is artificially composed of intricate little arteries, veins, nerves, and glands, through which the blood continually circulates, and through innumerable pores, and transpires, of which pores 125,000 may be covered with a small grain of sand (l), amazing! Timaeus Locrus (m) calls them invisible little mouths; see Ezekiel 37:6; the order of generation seems to be observed; after the semen is hardened and consolidated, the inward parts are formed, and then the outward parts, the flesh and skin, to protect and defend them; and so are compared to clothes which are outside a man, and put about him; Porphyry (n) calls the body the clothing of the soul; see 2 Corinthians 5:4; the spiritual clothing of Job was the righteousness of his living Redeemer, who was to partake of the same flesh and blood with him, and stand on the earth in the fulness of time, and work out and bring in a righteousness for him, consisting of his obedience in life in the days of his flesh, and of his sufferings and death, or blood, by which he and every believer are justified before God; and with which being clothed, shall not be found naked:
and hast fenced me with bones and sinews; the bones are said by philosophers (o) to be the fences of the marrow, and the flesh the covering of them; the bones are the strength and stability of the human body; the sinews or nerves bind and hold the several parts of it together, and are of great use for its strength and motion: the bones, some of them are as pillars to support it, as those of the legs and thighs; and others are of use to act for it, offensively and defensively, as those of the hands and arms; and others are a cover and fence of the inward parts, as the ribs: Gussetius (p) seems inclined, could he have found an instance of the word being used for making a tent, which it has the signification of, to have rendered the words,"with bones and sinews, thou hast given ate the form of a tabernacle; or, thou hast made me to be a tent;''so the human body is called a tabernacle, 2 Corinthians 5:1; the skin and flesh being like veils or curtains, which cover; the bones are in the room of stakes, and the nerves instead of cords, the breast and belly a cavity: in a spiritual sense, a believer's strength lies in the grace of Christ, in the Lord, and in the power of his might; his defence is the whole armour of God provided for him, particularly the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, and the breastplate of righteousness, with which he is fenced and protected from every spiritual enemy; and will God suffer such an one to be destroyed, whom he hath taken such care of, both in a natural and spiritual manner?
(l) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 681. (m) De Anima Mundi, p. 18. (n) De Antro Nymph. (o) Timaeus Locrus, ib. p. 15. (p) Ebr. Comment. p. 555, 556.
12Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.
Thou hast granted me life and favour,.... Or "lives" (q); natural life; both in the womb, where and when he was quickened, and at his birth, when he was brought into the world, and began to live in it; the rational soul may be intended, by which he lived; which, when created and infused into man, and united to his body, he becomes a living man; it is the presence of that which causes life, and the absence or removal of that which causes death; and this is a "grant" or gift from God, who gives to all his creatures life and breath, and all things; see Job 33:4; and is a "favour" also; a mercy, the chief of mercies; it is more than meat; yea, all a man has he will give for his life: besides this, Job had a spiritual life, a principle of it implanted in him; God had quickened him when dead in trespasses and sins; the spirit of life from Christ had entered into him, and he was become a living spiritual man: this likewise was a "grant" from God, a free grace gift of his; it is he that gives the living water, and gives it freely, or it would not be grace; for it is a "favour" which flows from the free grace and good will of God; it is owing to the great love wherewith he loves men that he quickens them; his time is a time of love, and so of life; and eternal life is the consequent of this, and is inseparably connected with it; and Job had an interest in it, a right unto it, and a meetness for it; he bad knowledge of it, faith in it, and hope of enjoying it, and knew that after death he should live this life; see Job 19:26; and this is a gift of God through Christ, owing to his good pleasure, the fruit of his favour and loving kindness: though by "favour" may be meant something distinct from life; either the care of him in the womb, and the taking of him out from thence, which are sometimes observed as singular mercies and favours; see Psalm 22:9; or the beauty and comeliness of his body, such as was on Moses, David, and others; see Proverbs 31:30; or rather it intends in general all the temporal blessings of life, food and raiment, every thing necessary for the comfort and support of life; and which are all mercies and favours, and what men are undeserving of; and especially spiritual blessings, or the blessings of grace; and the word here used is often used for grace and mercy, and may signify the several graces of the Spirit bestowed in regeneration, as faith, hope, love, &c. which are all the gifts of God, and the effects of his favour and good will; as also the blessings of, justifying, pardoning, and adopting grace; all which Job was favoured with, as well as with supplies of grace from time to time, and the fresh discoveries of the favour and loving kindness of God to him, which is better than life:
and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit; kept him alive, in a natural sense, while in the womb, as Jarchi, where he was in a wonderful manner nourished; and when he came out from thence, exposed to many difficulties and dangers, and during his helpless and infant state, and amidst a variety of troubles throughout the whole of his life hitherto; and which was owing to God's visitation of him in a way of mercy every morning; and which was no other than his providence or daily care of him, and concern for him; and so Mr. Broughton renders it "thy providence" (r), and so some others: likewise he preserved his soul or spirit in a spiritual sense, in Christ Jesus, in whose bands he put him; he hid his life in him, and bound it up in the bundle of life with him; he kept him by his power as in a garrison, and preserved him safe to his kingdom and glory; and this is to be ascribed to his visitation of him in a way of grace, through the redemption of Christ, and the effectual calling of the blessed Spirit, and the constant supplies of grace vouchsafed from time to time: the Targum is, "thy remembrance": for it is owing to God's remembrance of his people that he visits them, either in providence or grace; and when he visits them with his providence, or with his gracious presence and protection, it is plain he remembers them: now since God had favoured him with such blessings of nature, providence, and grace, he reasons with him about his present circumstances; that, after all this, surely he would not destroy him and cut him off; at least he knew not how well to reconcile past favours with such hard and severe usage as he thought he met with from him.
(q) "vitas", Montanus, Bolducius. (r) "providentia tua", Tigurine version, Munster, Michaelis.
13And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is with thee.
And these things thou hast hid in thine heart,.... Meaning, either the mercies and favours he had indulged him with; these he seemed to conceal and suppress the memory of, as if they had never been, by a different conduct and behaviour; or rather, these he had laid up in his mind and memory, and had full knowledge and remembrance of; though he dealt with him in the manner he did, he could not forget his former favours to him, which, when compared with his present dealings, were very unlike: or, it may be best to understand these things of his afflictions and troubles, which, notwithstanding his being the work of his hand so curiously formed, and notwithstanding all his temporal and spiritual mercies, he had in his heart purposed, and decreed in his mind, and laid up in his treasures, in order to be brought forth in due time, and to exercise him with; these were the things he had appointed for him, and many such things were with him, as it follows:
I know that this is with thee; either that he was not ignorant and forgetful of what he had done in a kind way; or rather, that he had this in his mind, and it was an eternal purpose of his to afflict him in the manner he had done: some connect these words with Job 10:14, as if the sense was, these are what thou hast hid in thine heart, and this is what I know is with thee, "if I sin", &c. (s).
(s) So Coceeius, Schmidt.
14If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.
If I sin, then thou markest me,.... Or "observest me" (t); that is, he took notice of his sins, strictly inquired into them and all the circumstances of them, watched the motions and progress of them, and carefully laid them up, in order to bring them out against him another day, and afflict or punish him for them; or he set a watch about him, "kept him in" (u), and enclosed him on every side with affliction, as if he was in a watch or prison, as Gersom; or, "wilt thou keep me" (w)? that is, in such close confinement: Gussetius (x) renders it, "if I have offered a sacrifice for sin", as the word is sometimes used; signifying, that though he should, as no doubt he did, offer sacrifice for himself, as it is certain he did for his children, yet even that was not regarded by the Lord; he still marked and observed him and his sins, and would not forgive him, or absolve him from his sins, as follows; see Job 7:12,
and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity; clear him of it, and discharge him from it; pronounce him innocent, or pardon him; but, on the contrary, hold him guilty, and deal with him as such in a rigorous way; or wilt not "cleanse" or purify me, as the Targum and others (y), but let me continue, or treat me as an impure person, not fit for communion or converse.
(t) "observasti me", Beza, Mercerus; "tum observas me", Schmidt. (u) "Custodisti me", Drusius. (w) "Custodies me", Vatablus. (x) Ebr. Comment. p. 923. (y) "mundabis", Mercerus; "mundes", Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius; "purges me", Junius & Tremellius.
15If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction;
If I be wicked, woe is me,.... In this world, and to all eternity; afflictions will abide me here, and everlasting wrath hereafter: these are the woes that belong to a wicked man; that is, a profane and abandoned sinner, that lives in sin, and gives up himself to all manner of wickedness; the Targum is,"destruction to me from the great judgment;''utter ruin is my portion, as it is of all wicked and unrighteous persons, Isaiah 3:11,
and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head; live a holy life and conversation, be righteous in the sight of men, and behave so as not to know anything by himself, nor to be conscious of living in any known sin; yet he could not take any comfort from it, or have any pleasure in it, or speak peace to himself on account of it, or glory in it and make his boast of it; or lift up his head before God with boldness and confidence, who is so pure and holy, and his eyes so quick in discerning the sins of men: a good man derives his peace and comfort, not from his own righteousness, but from the righteousness of Christ, and puts his confidence in that only; he blushes, and is ashamed of his own; and cannot, nay, "dare not lift up his head", as Mr. Broughton, the Tigurine version, and others render it, through shame, being sensible that nothing of his own can stand before an holy God, or give him joy, peace, and pleasure there; the Targum adds, "before the ungodly"; but this a man may do before men, when he cannot before God:
I am full of confusion; being in such a dilemma; let him be what he would, he was sure to have affliction, sorrow, and distress, so that he knew not what to say or do; or "reproach" (z), which he was loaded with by his friends, and was occasioned by his afflictions, they judging from thence that he was a wicked man, and justly punished for his sins; the word used signifies a burning heat, such as a than feels in his breast, and which flushes in his face, when he is filled with anger or with shame:
therefore see thou mine affliction; not with his eye of omniscience, that he knew he did, but with an eye of pity and compassion, and deliver him from it; or, "I am full with seeing mine affliction", as Jarchi; or, "I am one that sees affliction" (a); that has an experience of it; sees it all around me, and nothing else, Lamentations 3:1; am a "spectator" (b) of it, as some render it; but not a mere spectator, but one that has a sensible feeling of it: some take this and the former clause both to be an address to God, and render them, "be satisfied with confusion, and behold my affliction", as Broughton and others (c); let the present calamity and confusion I am in be sufficient; let no more be laid upon me; be content with what has been done, and pity me, and do not lay thine hand heavier upon me, and add to my afflictions, as he thought he did, by what follows.
(z) "contumeliis", Tigurine version; "ignominia", Pagninus, Montanus, Beza, Vatablus, Mercerus, Piscator, Michaelis. (a) "et videns afflictionem", Beza, Vatablus, Mercerus, Piscator. (b) "Et spectator adflictionis meae", Schultens. (c) "Satiare ignominia", Junius & Tremellius.
16For it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again thou shewest thyself marvellous upon me.
For it increaseth,.... That is, the affliction increaseth; which is a reason why pity should be shown him, seeing his troubles instead of abating were growing upon him; he had as much, or more, than he could well bear, and yet more was added to it; so that he was an object of compassion: or, "it lifteth itself up" (c); these proud waves of affliction rise, swell, and lift themselves on high, and threaten to overwhelm and utterly destroy; some render it as a "wish, oh, that it increased" (d); that it would come to its height, and quickly and at once put an end to this miserable life of mine: Job's affliction was a lingering one, it proceeded slowly; he wished it would make more haste, and become stronger, and soon dispatch him; see Job 6:9;
thou huntest me as a fierce lion; as the ramping shakal, as Mr. Broughton; the lion rampant, that is hungry, fierce, and ravenous, that pursues its prey with great eagerness, and never leaves till it comes up to it, when it seizes and devours it at once; or it, the affliction, hunteth me, pursues me closely, and will not leave, but threatens destruction to me; or rather, thou, that is God, who is often in Scripture compared to a lion, particularly when afflicting, or about to afflict the sons of men; see Isaiah 38:13; some (e) interpret the words, as if Job was compared to a lion hunted by men, at which darts were cast, for which nets were prepared, and pits were dug: according to this sense Job was dealt with as if, in the time of his prosperity, he had been like a fierce and cruel lion, preying upon and oppressing others; now the Lord was taking methods with him, both to restrain him from hurting others, and to chastise him for what he had done to them: but it would be much better to consider this in a light more agreeable to Job's character as a good man, a righteous one, who is as bold as a lion, and fears nothing, Proverbs 28:1; and such an one was Job; and in his prosperity lifted up his head and walked boldly, and consequently not fearing the frowns of men, nor the malice of Satan; but now this lion was hunted by the Lord himself, and compassed with his net, Job 19:6; and to this sense is the version of Schultens, connecting the words with the preceding clause, "him therefore, who walked high as a lion, thou humblest"; he who before carried his head high, being afraid of none, is now hunted down, and lies low enough, prostrate and distressed:
and again thou showest thyself marvellous upon me; or, "thou returnest (f) and showest", &c. after he had afflicted him in one way, he returned and afflicted him in another; and he not only repeated his afflictions, but devised new ways of afflicting him, uncommon ones, such as raised admiration in all beholders, as things rare and uncommon do: Job's afflictions were surprising ones; to be stripped at once of his substance, servants, children, and health; and it might be more wonderful to some, that God, so gracious and merciful as he is, should afflict in such a severe and rigorous manner; and especially that he should afflict so good a man, one so just and upright as Job was, in such a way: and it was even marvellous to Job himself, who was at a loss to account for it, not being conscious to himself of any gross enormity he had committed, or of a sinful course of life, or of anyone sin he had indulged to, wherefore God should come forth "against" (g) him as an enemy, in so terrible a manner: so some render the particle.
(c) "attollit sese", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Mercerus. (d) So Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Bolducius. (e) So Jarchi and Nachmanides; to which sense the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions incline. (f) "et reverteris", Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius, Vatablus, Mercerus; so Beza. (g) "adversum me", Beza; "contra me", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius.
17Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me.
Thou renewest thy witnesses against me,.... Not the devils, as some, nor Job's friends, as others; but rather afflictions, which were daily renewed, and frequently repeated, new troubles coming continually one upon another; which were brought as fresh witnesses against him, which made the suit tiresome to him, the trial to last the longer, which he wished was at end, that the decisive sentence might be pronounced and executed, and he be dispatched at once; but instead of that the affair was protracted by bringing in one witness after another, or one affliction upon the back of another, which were brought as witnesses "before him" (a), as some render it; either to accuse him, and convince of sin, or as proofs of God's indignation against him, as in the next clause; or they were witnesses against him with the profane world, and even with his friends, who from hence concluded he must have been, and was, a wicked man, that had so many and such great afflictions laid upon him, and these continued and repeated; of which they judged these were full and sufficient proofs and testimonies. Schultens renders it, "thy incursions", and interprets it of instruments of hunting, as nets and the like, to which afflictions may be compared:
and increasest thine indignation upon me; the tokens of it, by increasing afflictions, and the sense of it in his mind; for from his afflictions, and the increase of them, he judged of the indignation of God upon him, or "against him" (b), and the increase of it; as these were daily renewed, and were greater and greater, so was the sense he had of the wrath and displeasure of God against him; see Job 6:4,
changes and war are against me; or "with me", or "upon me" (c); by changes are meant the various afflictive providences which attended him, which were repeated, or succeeded one another in their turns; great changes he had undergone in his estate and substance, from the greatest man in the east now become the poorest; in his family, his servants and children being destroyed; in his body, being covered with boils; and in his mind, being filled with a sense of God's displeasure, and under the hidings of his face: and "war" was against him on every side, not only the law in his members was warring against the law of his mind, his corruptions working powerfully under his afflictions; and he was conflicting with Satan, and his principalities and powers; but even his friends were at war with him, yea, God himself, in his opinion, counted and treated him as an enemy. Job was in a warfare state, and his afflictions came upon him like troops, and charged him one after another; or his afflictions were like an "army" (d) as the word may be rendered, many and numerous; and these were either repeated, or new ones succeeded others; different afflictions in their turns came upon him, and particularly an army of worms were continually running to and fro upon him; see Job 7:5; the word is rendered an "appointed time", Job 7:1; and so some take it here, and may signify that all the changes and vicissitudes in life he passed through, the various afflictions that came upon him, were at the set and appointed time, as well as there was an appointed time for him on earth, until his last change came.
(a) "coram me", Pagninus, Montanus, Beza, Mercerus, Schmidt, Schultens. (b) "adversus me", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schultens; so Vatablus. (c) "mecum", Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius, Morcerus, Schmidt; "apud me", Beza, Piscator, Cocceius. (d) "militia", Montanus, Bolducius; "exercitus", Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Schmidt, Schultens.
18Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!
Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb?.... Into this world; this act is rightly ascribed by Job to the Lord, as it is by David, Psalm 22:9; which kind act of God Job complains of, and wishes it had never been, seeing his life was now so miserable and uncomfortable; here he returns to his former complaints, wishes, and expostulations, expressed with so much vehemence and passion in Job 10:3; and for which his friends blamed him, and endeavoured to convince him of his error in so doing; but it does not appear that their arguments carried any force in them with him, or had any effect upon him; he still continues in the same mind, and by repeating justifies what he had said; and thought he had sufficient reason to wish he had never been born, that he had died in the womb, since his afflictions were so very great and increasing, and since God pursued him as a fierce lion; and, according to his sense of things, his indignation against him appeared more and more, and his life was a continued succession of trouble and distress:
and that I had given up the ghost; that is, in the womb, and had never been brought out of it, at least alive; or it may be rendered not as a wish, but as an affirmation, "I should have given up the ghost"; or, "so or then I should have expired" (e); if such care had not been taken of me, if God had not been so officious to me as to take me out of my mother's womb at the proper time, I should have died in it, and that would have been my grave; and which would have been more eligible than to come into the world, and live such a miserable life as I now live:
and no eye had seen me! no eye would have seen him, had he not been taken out of the womb; or however if he had died directly, would not have seen him alive; and an abortive or stillborn child few see, or care to see; and had he been such an one, he had never been seen in the circumstances he now was; and by this he suggests, that he was now such a shocking sight as was not fit to be seen by men, and which would have been prevented had he died in the womb.
(e) "expirabo", Montanus; "expirassem", Mercerus, Cocceius, Schmidt, Schultens.
19I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.
I should have been as though I had not been,.... For though it cannot be said absolutely of such an one, an abortive or untimely birth, that it is a nonentity, or never existed; yet comparatively it is as if it never had a being; it being seen by none or very few, it having had no name, nor any conversation among men; but at once buried, and buried in forgetfulness, as if no such one had ever been; see Ecclesiastes 6:3. This Job wished for, for so some render it, "oh, that I had been as though I had never been" (f); and then he would have never been involved in such troubles he was, he would have been free from all his afflictions and distresses, and never have had any experience of the sorrows that now surrounded him:
I should have been carried from the womb to the grave; if he had not been brought out of it, the womb had been his grave, as in Jeremiah 20:17; or if he had died in it, and had been stillborn, he would quickly have been carried to his grave; he would have seen and known nothing of life and of the world, and the things in it; and particularly of the troubles that attend mortals here: his passage in it and through it would have been very short, or none at all, no longer than from the womb to the grave; and so should never have known what sorrow was, or such afflictions he now endured; such an one being in his esteem happier than he; see Ecclesiastes 4:3.
(f) So Vatablus, Piscator, and some in Mercerus.
20Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little,
Are not my days few?.... They are so, the days of every man are but few; see Job 14:1; the remainder of Job's days were but few; considering the course of nature, and especially the sore afflictions he had on him, it could not be thought his days on earth were many; in all likelihood, according to human probability, he had but a few days to live: or "are not my days a small little thing" (g)? it is as an hand's breadth, as nothing before God, Psalm 39:5,
cease then; that is, from afflicting him; since he had so short a time to live, he requests there might be some intermission of his trouble; that he might have some intervals of comfort and refreshment, that not all his days, which were so few, should be spent in grief and sorrow: some connect this with the preceding clause, and which is most agreeable to the accents, "shall not the fewness of my days cease" (h)? I have but a few days, and these few days will soon cease; therefore give me some respite from my afflictions; and so the Targum,"are not my days swift and ceasing?"
and let me alone; do not follow me with afflictions, or disturb and distress me with them; but take off thine hand, that I may have some rest and ease; see Job 7:10; or "put from me"; thine anger, as Kimchi, or thine army, as Junius and Tremellius; or thy camp, as Cocceius; that is, decamp from me, remove thy troops, the changes and war that are against me, by which I am besieged, surrounded, and straitened; let me be delivered from them:
that I may take comfort a little; that he might have some breathing time, some respite from his troubles, some refreshment to his spirit, some reviving to his fainting soul, some renewing of strength, before he departed this life; see Psalm 39:13; so Aben Ezra and Gersom render it: "that I may be strengthened"; or that his heart might gather strength.
(g) "nonne parum dies mei?" Montanus, Bolducius, Schmidt; "paucum quid", Vatablus, Beza, Mercerus. (h) "An non param, vel paucitas dierum meorum cessabit?" Cocceius; "annon pauxillulum dierum meorum deficiet?" Schultens.
21Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death;
Before I go whence I shall not return,.... Before he went out of the world, the way of all flesh, to the grave, his long home, from whence there is no return to this world, and to the business and affairs of it; to a man's house, his family and his friends, to converse with them as before, there will be no return until the resurrection, which Job does not here deny, as some have thought; it was a doctrine he well understood, and strongly asserts in Job 19:26; but this must be understood in the same sense as in Job 7:9,
even to the land of darkness, and the shadow of death; which describes not the state of the damned, as some Popish interpreters, carry it; for Job had no thought nor fear of such a state; but the grave, which is called "a land", or country, it being large and spacious, and full of inhabitants; a land of "darkness", a very dark one, where the body separated from the soul is deprived of all light; where the sun, moon, and stars, are never seen; nor is there the least crevice that light can enter in at, or be seen by those that dwell in those shades, which are "the shadow of death" itself; deadly shades, thick and gross ones, the darkest shades, where death itself is, or dead men are, destitute of light and life; where no pleasure, comfort, and conversation, can be had; and therefore a land in itself most undesirable.
22A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.
A land of darkness, as darkness itself,.... Not merely like it, but truly so; as gross thick darkness, like that of Egypt, that might be felt; even blackness of darkness, which is as dark as it possibly can be; not only dark, but darkness, extremely dark:
and of the shadow of death; which is repeated for the illustration and confirmation of it, as having in it all kind of darkness, and that to the greatest degree:
without any order, or "orders" (i); or vicissitudes and successions of day and night, summer and winter, heat and cold, wet and dry; or revolutions of sun, moon, and stars, or of the constellations, as Aben Ezra; and whither persons go without any order, either of age, sex, or station; sometimes a young man, sometimes an old man, and the one before the other; sometimes a man, sometimes a woman; sometimes a king, prince, and nobleman, and sometimes a peasant; sometimes a rich man, and sometimes a poor man; no order is observed, but as death seizes them they are brought and laid in the grave, and there is no order there; the bones and dust of one and the other in a short time are mixed together, and, there is no knowing to whom they belong, only by the omniscient God:
and where the light is as darkness; were there anything in the grave that could with any propriety be called light, even that is nothing but darkness; darkness and light are the same thing there: or when "it shineth it is darkness" (k); that is, when the sun shines brightest here, as at noon day, it is entire darkness in the grave; no light is discerned there, the rays of the sun cannot penetrate there; and could they, there is no visive faculty in the dead to receive them; all darkness is in those secret places.
(i) "et non ordines", Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius, Mercerus; "sine ordinibus", Cocceius, Schmidt. (k) "splendet", Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.