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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Job 3

Verses 1-26

JOB - CHAPTER 3

JOB LONGS FOR DEATH

Verses 1-26:

Verses 1-3 state that "after this," Job 2:11-13, after seven days of both vocal crying and silent mourning in ashes, Job opened up emotionally and spoke out, a thing Orientals seldom do. Overcome with suffering he cursed the day of his birth, not on the day of his birth. With an outburst of emotions he decried that he had ever been born, and asserted that it would have been better had he died the night it was announced that he, a man child, had been born. The birth of a male was celebrated with joy in the east, but often it was not so of a female, Jeremiah 20:14-15; Job 10:18-20. His suffering brought him to a moment of deep depression when his flesh was so weak, but not more than he could bear, 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 4:14-16.

Verses 4, 5 constitute an imprecatory prayer of Job that the day of his birth "be darkness," blotted out, or uncelebrated, without joy or regard, from God above, and men below. He called for darkness and the shadow of death to blot out any record of his having ever been born, Psalms 23:4; Isaiah 9:2; Jeremiah 13:16; Amos 5:8. He asked that dark clouds and blackness of the day replace the light of his life, so terrifying had been his experience in losing all he had: 1) his possessions, 2) his children, 3) the loyalty and help of his wife, and 4) his health. See also Job 10:21-22; Matthew 4:16; Luke 1:79. For Jesus has come to dispel darkness, sorrow, and death’s shadow, Hebrews 2:14-15.

Verses 6, 7 continue Job’s prayer that the former night of his birth announcement, with joy, be blotted out, remembered or celebrated or recalled no more, nor any other happy hour of all his lifetime be further honored. He asked that no joyful voice should ever be heard out of the night of his birth or his present night of solitary or unfruitful sorrow, void of all pride, Luke 18:14.

Verse 8 adds that they should curse the night of his birth as well as the day of it, who mentioned his name thereafter. In a self­abasing feigned state of humility before the Lord, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu, Job asked that instead of mourning for him they might as well get on with their cursing, condemnatory, accusatory adversarial charges against him, from the night and day of his birth, until his life too was blotted out, 2 Chronicles 35:25; Jeremiah 9:17; Matthew 11:17. For these had come to him, not so much to share his grief as, to vent their opinions regarding his loss and sufferings, as wise ones in their own conceits, 1 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 11:25; Romans 12:16; Proverbs 3:7; Proverbs 18:11.

Verses 9, 10 recount Job’s prayer that the stars of twilight might fade away, be darkened or fail to shine, giving no occasion for light or hope surrounding the night and dawning day of his birth. Because that he did not die in child-birth, to avoid his sorrow and loss. This is an imprecatory prayer of Job against the stars of heaven, Job 41:18.

Verses 11, 12 inquire in forlorn vanity why he had not died or given up the ghost while in the womb, before he came forth from the belly. He asks further, just why did the knees not anticipate his present desire to die and his father reject him? This refers to the ancient solemn recognition of a newborn child by its father, who at birth took it upon his knees to bless it, a pledge to rear and care for it as his own, Genesis 30:3; Isaiah 66:12. And he added why did his mother’s breast simply not give him suck or any milk that he might have starved to death as a baby. Yet, Divine wisdom and mercy excelled, Romans 8:28.

Verses 13-16 conclude that if Job had died, as he now wished, he would have been at rest, in sleep, the "sleep called death," Psalms 13:3; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14. He adds that had such sleep of death come he would now be in the company of kings and counselors of earth who built desolate places or tombs for themselves, desolate repositories for their bones and remains in death. Earthly desolation, sudden loss of all, shows man the vanity and emptiness of life, apart from God. Then he adds, or he would be with princes who had once possessed treasurers of gold and filled their houses with silver, to hold none in their cold hands in death, even as he had now lost all. Or he concludes, had he died in the womb, as an untimely birth, it would have been better than the state of a forlorn, afflicted, misery, to which base state he had now come, a beggar on earth, in ashes among men, Psalms 58:8; Ecclesiastes 6:3-5.

Verses 17-19 describe the state of the dead in death: 1) as a state and place where the wicked or restless cease from trouble and the weary in strength, those vexed by sin, are at rest, as described, Isaiah 57:20-21; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 14:2) There and then prisoners are no longer abused or oppressed by chains, or cruelly and brutally treated no more by taskmasters, Exodus 5:13-19; Job 39:7; Job 39:3) No distinction of rank exists in death or in the grave. The slave is released, on par with the master, even as the king and his former subjects, Proverbs 22:2.

Verse 20 inquires why light (life) is given, doled out, or extended, to him who is in misery and bitterness of soul, 1 Samuel 1:10; Job 6:9; Job 10:1; Job 15:16; Job 2 Kg 4:29; Jeremiah 20:18; La 3:1, 2; Proverbs 31:6; Ecclesiastes 9:9.

Verse 21 continues Job’s inquiry why God does not just go on and take his life as he desired and tried to die, like a man digging earnestly for hidden treasure. He sought not death just to escape sorrow, suffering, and shame, as the wicked do, but because he longed for treasure beyond death Revelation 9:6; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8. See also Proverbs 2:4; Matthew 13:44.

Verses 22, 23 extend the inquiry of why death is delayed to those who rejoice to see it, are anxious for it. Just why is the light of life kept burning for those who want to hold it no longer, yet whom God has "hedged in," protected from death? This was Job’s crisis hour inquiry, Job 12:14; Job 19:8; Psalms 31:8; La 3:8; Hosea 2:6; Revelation 3:7; Revelation 3:9. As a wanderer, lost in the wilderness, with no way to escape, Job inquires of his forlorn, continued existence, Romans 8:28.

Verse 24 relates that Job’s sighing came before his eating, kept him from eating with any pleasure, then sudden roaring floods of sobs would come forth, then he sought to take necessary food. He wept and cried aloud in agony, like the sound of rushing waters, or the roaring of a lion, Psalms 80:5; Psalms 22:1; Psalms 32:3.

Verses 25, 26 recount that what he had feared, loss upon loss, had come to him, till he had lost all possessions, family, and health. And finally his friends had come from afar, first to sit down with him in quietness, but now to accuse him of willfully harboring unconfessed sin in his life, as an hypocrite. He had no safety, rest, peace, or security from loss of his possessions, family and health, but now he realized he was to be harassed in conscience, as Jesus was, by false accusations of his long distance friends, in controversy at hand, John 19:12-13.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Job 3". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/job-3.html. 1985.