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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Job 30

Verses 1-31

The Contradiction of the Present (30:1-31)

"But now . . ." These words introduce a section which stands in total contrast to the preceding, just as Job’s present condition contrasts with his former condition. The Hebrew phrase is repeated in verse 9 and in verse 16, making natural divisions of the chapter.

In suggesting the senseless horror of his present condition Job goes to the extreme. Where before he had enjoyed the honor and respect of the highest leaders, of princes and nobles, now he is the object of ridicule among the lowest classes, the dregs of humanity. From the standpoint of democratic and even humanitarian ideals the poet’s words here have always seemed shocking. His description of men who were not worthy to be "set with the dogs" of Job’s flock, whose strength and vigor have been reduced by hunger and want, who can be named only as "a senseless, a disreputable brood," is neither kind nor altogether in harmony with Job’s earlier or later protestations of social responsibility. But it is not inconceivable that such a bitter word picture might have been drawn as appropriate to Job’s feeling of alienation and to serve as a definitive proof of the absolute reversal of his fortunes. At any rate, the sight of Job here, the honorable man despised by his inferiors, the once wealthy man treated contemptuously by those who must eat the wild grasses, the respectable chieftain an object of sport among those who themselves have been driven out of society’s limits — this sight confirms as perhaps no other in the book the depths of Job’s condition and its seeming irrationality.

In another outburst Job continues his lament over his changed condition, but whereas in the preceding verses he has concentrated on the character of his tormentors, here he dwells on the effect of their torment on him. An indication of the depth of his agony is to be found in verse 11, where it is plain that the ignoble and irreligious do not hesitate to regard Job as himself the object of God’s punitive wrath. They do not hesitate, moreover, to increase their fury and their hostility against him, since obviously his greater misery must indicate that here at least is someone worse in the sight of God than they. They can judge him forsaken and perhaps find some measure of comfort for their true guilt. Once again there is a reminder of the New Testament where the One who was truly righteous was rejected by and tormented by evil men. Once again, too, the contrast is greater than the comparison, for over against Job’s understandable but bitter denunciation of his tormentors must be placed the prayer of our Lord: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

Finally, in verses 16-31 Job turns to the familiar burden of his complaint — the actual misery and suffering he endures, all the more unendurable because it so violently contrasts with his former happiness and prosperity (ch. 29).

This speech parallels in many details what Job has said elsewhere, but for its poignancy it remains the classic statement of his actual condition. Some of the language is difficult to translate (indicated by the marginal notes in the Revised Standard Version). But the general lines are clear: here is one who suffers days of affliction and nights of racking pain, one who finds no present help and comfort from God, one who faces a death which must be regarded in the eyes of the world as total defeat and condemnation, one who still piteously cries for help which does not come, one whose expected fortune has become an irrational fate. The closing lines (vss. 28-31) sum up the desolation he feels as he recalls the ravages of his disease, his isolation from all men, and the fact that his only word can be one of mourning.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 30". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/job-30.html.