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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Job 6

Verses 1-27

Job Speaks (6:1-7:21)

Such Advice Does No Good (6:1-27)

Eliphaz has expressed his settled conviction, based on experience, that "vexation," or impatience, kills the fool (Job 5:2), warning that Job had symptoms of such fatal impatience. Now Job speaks and defends his attitude. If his impatience, or his calamity which gives rise to it, were weighed, it would prove to be so heavy that it would account for his rash words.

Moreover, in answer to Eliphaz’ superficial advice to "seek God" Job declares that God is his antagonist. Job’s disease and troubles are the arrows of God, poisoned arrows, against which there is no defense.

Verse 5 is Job’s repeated justification of his exaggerated language. The very fact that he protests is proof that he has no satisfaction to keep him quiet. The following two verses obviously refer to something insipid, either the advice of Eliphaz which Job refuses to swallow, or, more probably, the flat and tasteless existence to which Job is doomed. He can find nothing in which to be confident or upon which to base hope.

He comes back, therefore, to his original plea — that he be allowed to die (vss. 8-9). Then he would have at least one slight consolation, enabling him to bear pain — that he had not yielded to the natural temptation (and the advice of his wife, if the Prologue is yet in view) and forsaken God. Death would be more than welcome if, in addition to relief from his pains and his despair, it would deliver him from the danger of such a denial.

Once again Job reminds his friends of the true situation. It is useless to counsel him to trust and to wait. He has neither the strength for waiting nor a future for which to wait. He is utterly without resource or help save in the friends themselves. His disappointment in them shows in verses 14-23, where he compares them to promising streams which run dry at the very time they are needed.

The Revised Standard Version rendering of verse 14 makes very good sense out of a difficult verse, although the thought is surprising. It represents a high spiritual standard in its implication that not merely unkind action, but indeed failure to perform the most elementary acts of kindness (for "a friend"), is to depart from true religion ("the fear of the Almighty").

After the extended picture of the dry beds of streams which traveling caravans seek in vain. Job declares that this is what the friends have become for him. Their fright at the enormity of his distress has paralyzed them, so that they cannot offer any help beyond the most superficial words. In sarcasm he asks a number of questions which point to the fact that he had not solicited their aid, certainly not the kind of aid Eliphaz offered. He could stand sound advice, even if it would point realistically to some error sufficient to explain his tragedy (vs. 24). But the kind of empty reproof they give ignores his despair and shows that they lack even the fundamentals of human sympathy (vs. 27).

I Have No Future at All (6:28-7:6)

Job has just called into question not only the truth of Eliphaz’ words but even the motives of the friends (vs. 27). The next section opens with an appeal to them to "look" at him and to "turn." "My vindication," he says, "is in the matter; it is the point at issue." It is as though he were saying, "Stick to the facts in the case." That his presentation is true is stressed by the first line of verse 30, and the second line insists that he is perfectly capable of discerning a calamity when it happens.

The calamity which he begs the friends to consider is vividly described in Job 7:1-6. Job begins with a statement of the generally difficult and unsatisfying lot of men on earth. Man is compared to a soldier (the "hard service" is usually that of a mercenary soldier) and to a hired servant. Life itself does not accord with Eliphaz’ rosy picture. As for Job, he, in common with humanity, is like a slave looking for the respite that evening will bring. But his case is even worse than the lot of man in general. In the place of days of hard labor he has months of emptiness, with no reward or wages; and the night which gives rest to the slave brings him only increased pain. The contrast rises to a bitter climax in verse 4, where he reflects on the fact that, unlike the rest of hardworking mankind, for him the very length of the night is a horror, not a blessing. Verse 5 is a graphic description of his disease which gives no prospect of release. Finally, although he longs for death, he also bewails the fact that life is short at best; it passes with the swiftness of a shuttle crossing the loom; and, at least in his case, it passes without a ray of hope.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 6". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/job-6.html.