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CONTINUATION OF JOB’S SPEECH
Job ceases to altercate with Eliphaz and to defend himself. Resumes his complaints, and ends by addressing himself to God.
I. Complains of the general lot of humanity (Job 7:1)
“Is there not an appointed time (margin, a warfare,’ or war-service) to man (properly, to wretched man, Heb., ‘Enosh,’—man viewed as fallen, and therefore miserable) upon earth? Are not his days also as the days of an hireling?” Wishes to show—
(1) His desire for death excusable;
(2) Suffering not peculiar to the bad. Suggests instructive views of
1. As an appointed period. War-service, and the time of a hired labourer’s employment, limited. The term used also to express the time of a Levite’s service at the tabernacle, namely, twenty years (Numbers 4:23). Doctrine: The bounds of man’s life appointed (ch. Job 14:5). Our days measured out by Him who created us (Psalms 39:4). Our times in His hand (Psalms 31:15). Not without respect to the means necessary for life’s continuance. God’s predestination neither interferes with the human will nor the operation of second causes, but embraces both. The means taken into view along with the appointment of the end. The crop not appointed without the ploughing and sowing. If the passengers’ lives are to be preserved, the sailors are to do their duty (Acts 27:22-31). The elect saved, but not without regeneration, repentance, and faith. If a man is to reach his “threescore years and ten,” he is not to shorten them by neglect, intemperance, or crime. The wicked often do not “live out half their days,”—the days they might and should have lived. Disease as much appointed as the death it occasions. Lessons: Life an appointed period. Hence—
(1.) Bear meekly its trials; they are but for a limited time;
(2.) Wait patiently for its termination: it will come in God’s time. Neither greatly desire nor hasten it;
(3.) Carefully improve its continuance. Much to be done, and but a short time to do it in (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
2. As a war-service. Such a period not one of ease, enjoyment, or indulgence; but of hardship, privation, unrest. Job’s reason for desiring its termination. Life a war-service—
(1) As a time of trouble and suffering. Man born to trouble (ch. Job 5:7);
(2) As a time of conflict. Sin and Satan our great enemies;
(3) As a time of service. Man bound to serve God as his rightful sovereign. Lessons:
(1) Be patient of hardship, and prepared for trial and suffering. Man’s, and especially a Christian’s, is a soldier’s, life. “Endure hardness” (2 Timothy 2:3). Tedious marches, camp discomforts, field duties.
(2) Be careful to be on the right side. We must serve; but it may be either under Christ’s banner or the devil’s.
(3) Be faithful, obedient, and active; faithful to your King, obedient to your Captain, active in discharge of your duty.
(4) Be hopeful, courageous, and enduring. With Christ as our captain victory is certain; and, after short and faithful service, comes long and honourable reward (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
3. As the term of a hired servant. We may have a hireling’s post, without a hireling’s spirit. Salvation by grace not inconsistent with “respect to the recompense of reward.” Each believer has his work in the vineyard, and each receives “his penny.” A hired labourer has—
(1) Painful and self-denying labour to undergo;
(2) A short and limited time to do it in;
(3) Due wages to receive when it is done. Life such a service. Man must serve—either God or Satan, righteousness or sin (Romans 6:16-22). Each thought, word, and action, a service to one or other of these two masters. Hence—
(1) “Choose the best master. God’s service is—(i.) Honourable; (ii.) Pleasant; (iii.) Satisfying to the conscience. Has along with it—(a) Kind treatment; (b) Comfortable provision; (c) Liberal remuneration.—
(2) Be diligent in doing the Master’s work and watchful in looking for the Master’s coming (Mark 13:34-37.)
II. Renews his complaint and describes his sad condition. Mention of the “hireling” in verse I suggests to him the comparison of himself to a slave or a day-labourer who longs for the evening rest (Job 7:2). “As the servant (or slave) earnestly desireth (margin—‘gapeth’ or pants after) the shadow [of evening], and as a hireling (hired servant, as distinguished from a slave) looketh for the reward (or finishing) of his work, so,” &c.
Describes his afflicted condition in three particulars:—
1. Comfortless days and painful nights (Job 7:3). “So am I made to possess (Heb. ‘to inherit’) months of vanity (without comfort or relief to myself, and without profit either to myself, or others), and wearisome nights (Heb. ‘nights of labour or trouble’) are appointed (Heb. ‘numbered’) to me.” Such days and nights the result—
(1) Of his disease;
(2) Of his bereavement;
(3) Of spiritual darkness. Says not days, but “months” of vanity, each day appearing a month. So Jonah speaks of his three days in the fish’s belly as an eternity,—“for ever” (Jonah 2:6). “A man in great misery may so far lose his measure as to think a minute an hour” [Locke]. On the other hand, as grief retards, so joy hastens time. The bliss of heaven makes “eternity seem as a day.” Job’s troubles, however, may now have probably lasted some months. These painful days and nights spoken of as an inheritance. A bitter irony, yet true. Trouble handed down to us with sin as its consequence. “A sad inheritance of woe.” Adheres to us as our ancestral possession. “Made to possess” them, as against his will. “The creature made subject to vanity, not willingly” (Romans 8:20). Blessed contrast to this inheritance is that found in Christ (Romans 8:17; Hebrews 9:15; 1 Peter 1:4). Yet months of suffering not necessarily “months of vanity.” These, to a child of God, among the all things working together for his good (Romans 8:24). Times of affliction are made times of profit, to ourselves, through spiritual teaching and Divine communion; to others, by the example afforded of patience and Divine support.
“In all my list of blessings infinite
Stands this the foremost, that my heart has bled.”
2. Rest lessness of mind and body (Job 7:4). “When I lie down, I say, when shall I arise, and the night be gone? (or, ‘but the night is extended;’ margin, ‘and the evening be measured?’) And I am full of tossings,” &c. The distressing nights dwelt upon rather than the days. Long, weary, sleepless nights among the most painful circumstances connected with sickness or sorrow. Such nights contrasted with the refreshing rest of the worn-out slave and weary labourer. These wearisome and restless nights, however, counted out by God to his people. (Job 7:3). Not one too many, or more than He will over-rule for our good. God an accurate dispenser of His people’s sufferings and sorrow (Isaiah 27:8). Connected with the long sleepless nights are the “tossings to and fro upon the bed.” “We change the place, but keep the pain.” The nocturnal tossings in mind often more painful than those of the body (Psalms 77:2-9; Isaiah 38:13). Sleep God’s gift to his beloved (Psalms 127:2). Its absence in sickness or trouble itself no small affliction.
“Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down?”
3. Loathsomeness of body (Job 7:5). “My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust (literally, or in appearance); my skin is broken and become loathsome;” (or, breaks [in ulcers] and dissolves [in matter]). Corruption breeding worms, ulcerous running sores, and rough ashy scales covering the body, prominent features in Job’s disease. The Elephantiasis a species of leprosy (Leviticus 13:9-17). Renders the patient loathsome to look at, and forbids contact or near approach. Similar revolting picture probably presented in Lazarus (Luke 16:20), and in Herod (Acts 12:23). Some thing like it complained of by David (Psalms 38:3; Psalms 38:5; Psalms 38:7; Psalms 38:11), and by Heman (Psalms 88:8; Psalms 88:18). A sad aggravation of our affliction when it renders us loathsome to our friends.
Lessons from Job’s Disease
(1) Terrible power of Satan. Satan the immediate author of Job’s disease.
(2) Dreadful effects of sin. But for sin there had been no disease. Sin turns our comeliness into corruption, and covers a formerly fair and healthy body with foul putridity and worm-breeding sores.
(3) Character of our mortal body. Soon reduced to loathsome putrefaction even while alive. “Our vile body,”—the “body of our humiliation” (Philippians 3:21).
(4) The saint as liable to the most loathsome diseases as the sinner. Witness Job and Lazarus.
(5.) The love of Christ in assuming a body with such liabilities. Made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:2). “Took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:17, quoted from Isaiah 53:4). From the same prophecy, the Messiah said by the Jews to have his place among the lepers.
(6.) Preciousness of a glorious resurrection. Our vile body changed and fashioned like to Christ’s glorious body (Philippians 3:21.)
(7.) Affecting picture of the loathsomeness of sin. Leprosy the most loathsome of all bodily diseases. Sin symbolized by it as the most loathsome thing in the universe. The only truly loathsome thing in the eyes of God and holy beings. Makes the soul infinitely more loathsome than Job’s disease did his body. The godless rich man loathsome with his plump, well-fed, and richly-clad body; godly Lazarus beautiful and comely in his sores.
4. The prematureness of his anticipated death (Job 7:6). “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle (or, ‘come more quickly to an end than the weaving of a web’), and are spent without hope,” (viz., of extension or relief; or, ‘are finished for want of thread’) so Isaiah 38:12. Job anticipated death as the certain and not distant result of his affliction (ch. Job 9:25-26; Job 17:11). Himself, as life was then, still comparatively young. Probably not more than seventy,—only a third of the age then usually attained and actually attained by himself (ch. Job 42:16). A premature death, especially in Old Testament times, viewed as a grievous calamity (Isaiah 6:5; Isaiah 30:9; Isaiah 38:10-19. The language suggestive in regard to
1. Its rapid flight and short duration. Set forth in Scripture under various comparisons:—a flower, a vapour, a dream, a watch of the night, a tale that has been told, & Here, either a weaver’s shuttle passing quickly to and fro, or a web, speedily and perhaps suddenly finished from want of thread. Time represented by the ancients with wings, as not running but flying. Jacob speaks of his days as few at the age of 130. The longest life only a speck in comparison with eternity. A northern winter’s day, when the sun has scarcely risen before it sets again. The sun of many sets while it is yet noon. Job, like most others, had counted on a long life (ch. Job 29:18). Now the grave seems to open its mouth for him (ch. Job 17:1). “Though death be before the old man’s face, it may be behind the young man’s back” [Seneca.] Hence the vanity of earthly pleasures and enjoyments. Like Jonah’s gourd, these spring up in a night and perish in a night. But “for a season,” and that a very short one. Earthly pleasures are, according to one who deeply plunged into them,—
“Like the snow-falls in the river,
A moment white, then melt for ever;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form,
Evanishing amid the storm.”
2. The value of time. Time the short seedtime for eternity. Bound up with eternal destinies. Its value seldom realised. No note taken of it but as the clock tells of its departure. Men speak of killing time. To destroy time is “suicide, where more than blood is spilt.” Greater folly to throw away hours than empires. The value of time realised on a dying bed. “Millions of money for an inch of time” [Queen Elizabeth on her deathbed]. Time ceases at death, and gives place to eternity. “No clock strikes in hell, to say, Thank God, another hour is past. One gigantic clock there, without a dial-plate; its pendulum eternally vibrating, Ever, Never; Damnation ever, Redemption never” [Krummacher].
3. The danger of delay in securing the soul’s salvation. Madness to put off till to-morrow what ought to be done to-day. “Serious things to-morrow”—cost both Cæsar and Archias their life. Procrastination the death of souls. Men “resolve and re-resolve, and die the same.” Augustine was kept seven years from closing with Christ by the temptation, Time enough yet. When Hannibal could have taken Rome, he would not, and when he would, he could not. “What thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” The soul’s salvation the one thing needful. Sad to be sowing our seed when we should be reaping our harvest [Brooks]. Cæsar Borgia on his deathbed said: While I lived, I provided for everything but death, and now death comes and I am unprovided for it. A promise made to late repentance, but no promise of late repentance.
“Alas, that men should lightly spend
In godless mirth or prayerless toil unblest,
Their brief inestimable day of proof,
Till the last golden sands run out.”
IV. Job turns imploringly to God (Job 7:7)
“O remember,” &c. Better in trouble to cry to God than to complain to man. God sometimes appears to His suffering people to forget them and their case (Psalms 13:1; Psalms 44:24; Isaiah 49:14). The contrary affirmed by God for their comfort (Isaiah 49:15). Job pleads for mitigation of His sufferings on the ground—
(1) Of the frail and fleeting nature of his earthly life. “My life is wind”—a breath or puff of air; a “cloud” or smoke; unsubstantial and evanescent (Psalms 78:39;
(2) Its speedy termination (Job 7:8). “Thine eyes are upon me, and I am not.” Speaks of himself as already dead, or soon to be,—a living corpse, (a) Life terminated by a look from the Almighty. His glance our death. So those sent to apprehend Jesus fell backward to the ground at his mere look; (b) Life, compared with God’s eternity, only a moment—the glance or twinkling of an eye.
(3) The impossibility of its recall (Job 7:9-10). “He that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.” The emitted breath, the cloud or smoke disappearing from the sky, never more to be recalled. Death, “the bourne from which no traveller returns.” Only one life on earth. A few special exceptions to prove the rule. Men die but once. Solemn responsibility connected with our one life. No second to correct the errors, undo the mischief, or make up for the negligence, of the first. An egress from the grave in reserve for each, but no return to a mortal life. A resurrection to come, both of the just and the unjust. That resurrection, however, not in the course of nature, but by the special command and power of God (John 5:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). Christ Himself the Resurrection and the Life. Resurrection committed to His hands (John 11:25; John 6:54). Resurrection not unknown to the patriarchs, but seldom referred to by Job. Enoch’s translation a testimony to the early ages of the existence of the body in an invisible state. His prophecy a distinct revelation of resurrection (Jude 1:14-15). God’s relation to the godly dead as their God, a guarantee both of the separate existence of their spirits and the future resurrection of their bodies (Matthew 22:31-32). The doctrine of the resurrection, as well as of the state after death, one of gradual development. Job’s age the twilight of revelation.
V. Job’s resolution to give way to complaint. Occasioned by the consideration of his misery in the world, and his anticipated speedy, untimely, and irrevocable departure out of it (Job 7:11). “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth,” &c. Falls again into his former temptation. His spirit like a surging sea, quiet for a little, then heaving again its angry billows. His present resolution the worst thing he could do. Tended to a continually increasing strife with God. Satan doubtless now rejoiced in his apparent advantage. So far his scheme likely to succeed. Probably thought the next thing would be that Job would “curse God to his face.” Job preserved from this only by imparted and indwelling grace. Perilous to advance so near the brink of the precipice. Dangerous to indulge in bitter language in reference to our lot. Safest when God’s hand is on our back, to keep our hand on our mouth. David’s resolution in similar circumstances much wiser than Job’s (Psalms 39:1). Free utterance to excited feelings only adds fuel to the fire. Grace shutting the lips raises up a barrier to the tempest of the spirit. Passion acquires strength by indulgence and free expression. “Anguish of spirit” a very unsafe guide to speech. Only turbid streams likely to flow from a turbid fountain.
The result of Job’s resolution, petulant and unbecoming expostulation with God. (Job 7:12). “Am I a sea (or a desolating inundation, as of the Nile), or a whale (or sea-monster, as the crocodile), that Thou settest a watch over me (to restrain me by these terrible sufferings from doing injury)?” Very erroneous thoughts often suggested in trouble as to God’s motive in sending it. We may sympathize with Job’s sufferings without imitating his language. His language, however, indicates—
(1) A believer readily ascribing all in his lot to God;
(2) A soul moving always in the Divine presence;
(3) The frequent and familiar intercourse of a child of God with his Heavenly Father.
VI. Enlarges farther on his affliction (Job 7:13-14)
1. His distressing nights (Job 7:13). “When I say, My bed shall ease my complaint, then thou scarest me with dreams and terrifiest me with visions” (images presented to the imagination while half-sleeping, half-waking). These probably a natural symptom of Job’s disease. A grievous aggravation of the affliction. Night, the period of rest to others, made more distressing than the day. The blessing of “tired Nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep,” seldom duly appreciated and acknowledged. Our minds accessible to Satan as well as God and good angels during sleep. Dreams either natural or supernatural; as supernatural, either diabolical or Divine. Job, in ignorance, ascribes to God what was properly due to Satan. Satan cruelly skilful in adopting suitable means to accomplish his purpose. His object to exhaust the energies of Job’s body and spirit, and by representing God as his enemy, to bring him to despair and to curse or renounce Him. For this, he employs a filthy disease and frightful dreams, and tempts him to believe them both from God. Satan a merciless tormentor. Possesses a terrible power of inflicting pain. Job’s case a picture of the misery of falling into Satan’s hands. Still more fearful to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). God able to make every organ of the body and every faculty of the mind the seat of intolerable suffering.—Earnest desire for death the effect of these sufferings on the mind of Job (Job 7:15). “So that my soul chooseth strangling and death rather than life” (margin, “than my bones,”—all that is left of me). The “soul,” or mere fleshly nature, may choose death as a release from suffering; the “spirit” or renewed nature says—“Not my will but thine be done;” “All the days of my appointed time will I wait,” &c. (ch. Job 14:14). Grace the truest heroism. Brave in the battle-field, a man may yet fly in the battle of life. Suicide at best but moral cowardice. To be only accounted for by the absence or the eclipse of faith. Faith in God alone gives true courage. The strongest mind weak when left to itself under depressing thoughts or a disturbed brain. “Do thyself no harm,” a timely voice to harassed and despairing souls.
2. The extremely reduced state of his body and the certainty of a speedy death (Job 7:16). “I loathe it (i.e., my life; or, ‘I am wasting away’); I would not (or, ‘I shall not’) live always (i.e., I shall soon die at any rate); let me alone (leave me to die, or cease to harass me with bodily and mental suffering), for my days are vanity” [and will soon come to an end]. Job’s spirit tossed between two desires—either an immediate death as a release from his continued misery, or a relief from suffering for the few days that remained to him. The troubled and agitated spirit seldom long in one stay.
VII. Man’s insignificance urged by Job as a plea for deliverance or relief (Job 7:17).
“What is man (Heb., ‘wretched man,’ enosh) that, thou,” &c. Same question asked by David from an entirely different consideration (Psalms 8:4). The same truth often viewed in different aspects and with different feelings by different persons, and by the same person at different times. The truth, dark to one or at one time, is bright to another or to the same person at another time. Truth, like the cloud that followed Israel, presents both a dark side and a bright one. Happy, like Israel, to be on the bright side. God’s great attention to man produced in David admiration and praise; in Job displeasure and complaint. To the Psalmist God appears amiable as a Father delighting in blessing His children; to the Patriarch, stern as a judge, constantly examining into men’s actions. Faith’s office is to view the truth as it is, apart from personal feeling. Feeling, in Job, asks with petulance—“Why doth He visit men every morning?” Faith, in Jeremiah, exclaims with thankfulness, amid the desolations of a sacked and burned city—“His mercies are new every morning” (2 Samuel 3:23). God’s morning visitation a mercy, and should—
(1) Impart comfort;
(2) Awaken praise. Opens our eyes to the grateful light of day, the beauties of nature, and the faces of relatives and friends. Imparts to us health of body, soundness of mind, comfort of spirit. Continues to us day after day food, raiment, home, society of friends. Invites us every morning afresh to communion with Himself as our Father in Christ.
Important and suggestive question,
What is Man?
At once the least and the greatest of God’s creatures. Lower than the angels in creature-position, immensely higher in Redemption-privilege. Lives one life on earth consisting of a few months or years; a second in another sphere, which shall last for ever. Has a body that allies him to the ground on which he walks; and a spirit that connects him to the God that made him. A reed, but a reed that thinks [Pascal]. A worm, but a worm capable of measuring, the distances of the stars and of grasping the universe. Made in the image of his Creator as to moral nature, intelligence, immortality, and dominion. Through disobedience and rebellion, reduced below the level of the brutes. Mercifully provided, with deliverance from his fallen condition through the substituted obedience and death of his incarnate Creator.—Man “magnified” by God,
1. In Creation; his place above all the creatures around him, and second only to that of the angels that surround the Eternal’s throne.
2. In Providence; the attention originally paid to his comfort, and the care continually exercised over him.
3. In Redemption; the highest possible proof of Divine regard afforded in the life, sufferings, and death of God’s own Son for his deliverance and happiness.
4. In his Glorification; united to the Son of God and made like Him in spirit, soul, and body; exalted as His spouse to sit with Him on His throne, and with Him to judge angels.
5. In the Assumption of his nature by the Son of God. Christ the man, the second Adam and Head of the race. In Christ man’s nature taken into mysterious, intimate, and indissoluble union with the Divine. Man exalted in Christ to the throne of the universe.
VIII. Conclusion of Job’s speech (Job 7:19-21). Contains—
1. A peevish prayer (Job 7:19) “How long wilt thou not depart (Heb., ‘look away’) from me? nor let me alone that I may swallow down my spittle” (even for the shortest period)? Prayers in time of trial are sometimes—
(3) Requiring repentance. The flesh incapable of judging aright of God and His dealings. God viewed by Job as an adversary intent only on overthrowing him. Yet His removal, or the withdrawing of His eyes from us, our certain ruin. The same spirit moved the Gadarenes to beseech Christ to depart out of their coasts. Prayer often unanswered in compassion to the offerer. Grace needed to know what to pray for (Luke 11:1). The Holy Spirit’s office (Romans 8:26).
2. A partial confession (Job 7:20). “I have sinned; what shall I do (or, ‘What have I [thereby] done’) unto thee?” A confession, but neither frank nor free. Made rather hypothetically,—“granting I have sinned,” or, “If I have.” Job’s conscience not yet sufficiently enlightened nor his soul sufficiently subdued to make the Publican’s confession. The confession rather extorted by the fact of suffering than the consciousness of sin. Job free from life sins; heart sins not yet sufficiently discovered to him. This discovery and his consequent humble confession not made till Jehovah has revealed Himself (ch. Job 40:4; Job 42:5-6). Compare Isaiah 6:5; Luke 5:8.—In order to be acceptable,
Confession of Sin
(1) Free; spontaneous, unconstrained; not extorted by suffering, or merely in order to deliverance from it, as in the case of Pharaoh (Exodus 9:27; Exodus 10:16);
(2.) Frank; open and sincere; without guile or desire of concealment (Psalms 32:5);
(3.) Full; thorough and without reservation (Joshua 7:19-21);
(4.) Particular; not merely of sin in general, or as common to the race; “I have sinned and done this evil in thy sight” (Psalms 51:4;
(5.) Serious and heartfelt; with sense of the heinousness and demerit of the sin confessed (Psalms 51:3; Luke 18:13). In true confession the heart is both affected with the sin, and engaged against it. Confession of sin needful in the holiest saint. Sin cleaves to the believer as ivy to the wall. The strongest believer not above the actings of sin, the weakest not under the power of it. The more we realize God’s spotlessness, the more we discern our own spots. Sweet to confess sin in sight of the laver of a Saviour’s blood. Confession of sin with the lips enhances the preciousness of Christ in the heart. Concealed sin grows—
(1) In strength;
(2) In guilt;
(3) In terror (Psalms 32:3-4). Job’s confession, such as it was, one rather of the mere fact of sin. Acknowledges no evil connected with it, or demerit attached to it. Its heinousness and malignity as against God, yet to be discovered. “What have I done unto thee?” The idea: What wrong have I done thee by my sin, that thou shouldst thus treat me as thine enemy? Sin to be viewed as an injury, not merely to our neighbour or ourselves, but more especially against God.
Is injury done to God, as—
(1.) It robs Him of the honour due to Him (Malachi 1:6). Man’s sin may not take from God’s happiness, but it takes from God’s honour. Every sin strikes as truly at God’s honour as at our peace.
(2.) It tramples under foot His authority. Says with Pharaoh: “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?” (Exodus 5:2).
(3.) It breaks His laws.
(4.) It disturbs the harmony and happiness of His universe.
(5.) It introduces disorder into His government, and, if not arrested and punished, would bring it to an end.
(6.) It interrupts and would terminate His enjoyment of His own works (Genesis 1:31; Psalms 104:24).
(7.) It obliterates His image in His intelligent creatures, and substitutes that of His adversary. Treasonably effaces His image and superscription from His own coin.
Job, in his confession, petulantly addresses God as the watcher and observer of His creatures—“Oh, thou preserver of men.” Same word denotes “guardian” and “observer” (chap, Job 27:18). Latter sense here favoured by the context (so chap. Job 14:16). God viewed as if carefully marking men’s faults in order to punish them. Only perverted and dishonouring views of God taken by the flesh, especially under trouble. Satan’s aim to foster such views in Job in order to gain his object. Job’s complaint in keeping with this view. “Why hast Thou set me as a mark against Thee?” (to shoot at, or make an attack upon). The supposed result of God’s close inspection of his conduct, and as in revenge for the injury done to him. Already viewed himself as shot at by the Almighty’s arrows (chapter Job 6:4). Speaks according to sense and appearance. God’s choicest saints often appear to be the butt of his sharpest arrows.—The effect and meaning of these arrows; “So that I am a burden to myself” or, “and I am become a burden to thee” (both readings found, the latter probably the true one). The sinner, a burden to God through his sin, and a burden to himself through his suffering. When sin makes a man a burden to God, he is likely to become a burden to himself. A sinner left to himself the greatest burden that can be laid upon him. Suffering often a heavy burden; sin a thousand times more so. “I had rather go into hell without sin, than into heaven with it” [Luther]. Cain said, my punishment is greater than I can bear: the same word generally rendered “iniquity,” as in Job 7:20. Judas thought to throw off the burden by hanging himself, but only made it faster and heavier. Sin makes men a burden to the Creator as well as to themselves. God wearied with men’s iniquities (Isaiah 43:24). Pressed under them as a cart full of sheaves (Amos 2:13). That Job was a burden to himself was his own feeling; that he was a burden to God, was Satan’s suggestion.
3. A passionate question and a plaintive appeal (Job 7:20). “And why dost thou not pardon (Heb. ‘take away’ or remit, as a debt) my transgression, and take away (Heb. ‘cause to pass away’ as a cloud) mine iniquity?” “Transgression” and “iniquity” embrace all kinds of sin, those of commission and omission, presumption and ignorance, life and heart. The question not that of a humble penitent asking forgiveness. Job yet to be made a poor sinner. Pardon of sin a favour, not an obligation, or matter of course.
Pardon of Sin
Often, as here, desired rather as the removal of suffering than of guilt. Only not bestowed, because the sinner is not prepared to receive it. Pride, impenitence, and unbelief shut out forgiveness as the window-shutters exclude the sun. Pardon only vouchsafed—
(1) When sin is realised and sincerely confessed (1 John 1:9; Psalms 32:5; Psalms 25:7);
(2) When its demerit and hell-deservingness is acknowledged (Psalms 51:4; Psalms 51:11);
(3) When deliverance is desired from its practice and power as well as from its punishment (Psalms 51:10);
(4) When pardon is humbly sought as a matter of pure mercy (Psalms 51:1; Luke 18:13);
(5) When it is accepted as only bestowed in virtue of the suffering and death of God’s Son as the sinner’s Substitute (Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 9:22; Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:1-2; Romans 3:24-26).
The reason of Job’s passionate question the prospect of a speedy death. “For now shall I sleep in the dust.” Idea: I shall soon die, and Thou must either pardon and heal me speedily or not at all. Death to the believer a sleep. The thought of it not unpleasant to Job. A blessed awaking the hope of the Church (Psalms 17:15; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16). Job’s hope (ch. Job 14:12-15; Job 19:25-27). He can calmly lay his head in the dust, whose heart is already in heaven.—Job believes in a time of Divine relenting towards him. “Thou shalt seek me in the morning (i.e., diligently), but I shall not be”—(thy desire to do me good will be too late). The picture that of a father relenting towards a suffering child. Exhibited also in Jeremiah 31:18-20; Jeremiah 44:6-10. God’s love to His people unchanging and everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3; John 13:1). His dealings with them may change, but not his delight in them. The believer, however tried, still unwilling to quit his hold of God’s fatherly relationship. Faith says, “Though His hand be against me, His heart is still towards me.” Job’s comfort too at times (ch. Job 13:15-16; Job 14:15; Job 19:25-27; Job 23:10).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Job 7". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26