Job appeals from man to God. (1-9) His hope is not in life, but in death. (10-16)
Verses 1-9 Job reflects upon the harsh censures his friends had passed upon him, and, looking on himself as a dying man, he appeals to God. Our time is ending. It concerns us carefully to redeem the days of time, and to spend them in getting ready for eternity. We see the good use the righteous should make of Job's afflictions from God, from enemies, and from friends. Instead of being discouraged in the service of God, by the hard usage this faithful servant of God met with, they should be made bold to proceed and persevere therein. Those who keep their eye upon heaven as their end, will keep their feet in the paths of religion as their way, whatever difficulties and discouragements they may meet with.
Verses 10-16 Job's friends had pretended to comfort him with the hope of his return to a prosperous estate; he here shows that those do not go wisely about the work of comforting the afflicted, who fetch their comforts from the possibility of recovery in this world. It is our wisdom to comfort ourselves, and others, in distress, with that which will not fail; the promise of God, his love and grace, and a well-grounded hope of eternal life. See how Job reconciles himself to the grave. Let this make believers willing to die; it is but going to bed; they are weary, and it is time that they were in their beds. Why should not they go willingly when their Father calls them? Let us remember our bodies are allied to corruption, the worm and the dust; and let us seek for that lively hope which shall be fulfilled, when the hope of the wicked shall be put out in darkness; that when our bodies are in the grave, our souls may enjoy the rest reserved for the people of God.
Job 17:1-16 . JOB'S ANSWER CONTINUED.
1. breath . . . corrupt--result of elephantiasis. But UMBREIT, "my strength (spirit) is spent."
extinct--Life is compared to an expiring light. "The light of my day is extinguished."
graves--plural, to heighten the force.
2. UMBREIT, more emphatically, "had I only not to endure mockery, in the midst of their contentions I (mine eye) would remain quiet."
eye continue--Hebrew, "tarry all night"; a figure taken from sleep at night, to express undisturbed rest; opposed to ( Job 16:20 ), when the eye of Job is represented as pouring out tears to God without rest.
3. Lay down now--namely, a pledge or security; that is, be my surety; do Thou attest my innocence, since my friends only mock me ( Job 17:2 ). Both litigating parties had to lay down a sum as security before the trial.
put me in a surety--Provide a surety for me (in the trial) with Thee. A presage of the "surety" ( Hebrews 7:22 ), or "one Mediator between God
strike hands--"who else (save God Himself) could strike hands with me?" that is, be my security ( Psalms 119:122 ). The Hebrew strikes the hand of him for whom he goes security ( Proverbs 6:1 ).
4. their heart--The intellect of his friends.
shalt . . . exalt--Rather imperative, "exalt them not"; allow them not to conquer [UMBREIT], ( Isaiah 6:9 Isaiah 6:10 ).
5. The Hebrew for "flattery" is "smoothness"; then it came to mean a prey divided by lot, because a smooth stone was used in casting the lots ( Deuteronomy 18:8 ), "a portion" ( Genesis 14:24 ). Therefore translate, "He that delivers up his friend as a prey (which the conduct of my friends implies that they would do), even the eyes," &c. [NOYES] ( Job 11:20 ). Job says this as to the sinner's children, retorting upon their reproach as to the cutting off of his ( Job 5:4 , 15:30 ). This accords with the Old Testament dispensation of legal retribution ( Exodus 20:5 ).
6. He--God. The poet reverentially suppresses the name of God when speaking of calamities inflicted.
by-word--( Deuteronomy 28:37 , Psalms 69:11 ). My awful punishment makes my name execrated everywhere, as if I must have been superlatively bad to have earned it.
aforetime . . . tabret--as David was honored ( 1 Samuel 18:6 ). Rather from a different Hebrew root, "I am treated to my face as an object of disgust," literally, "an object to be spit upon in the face" ( Numbers 12:14 ). So Raca means ( Matthew 5:22 ) [UMBREIT].
7. ( Psalms 6:7 , 31:9 , Deuteronomy 34:7 ).
members--literally, "figures"; all the individual members being peculiar forms of the body; opposed to "shadow," which looks like a figure without solidity.
8. astonied--at my unmerited sufferings.
against the hypocrite--The upright shall feel their sense of justice wounded ("will be indignant") because of the prosperity of the wicked. By "hypocrite" or "ungodly," he perhaps glances at his false friends.
9. The strength of religious principle is heightened by misfortune. The pious shall take fresh courage to persevere from the example of suffering Job. The image is from a warrior acquiring new courage in action ( Isaiah 40:30 Isaiah 40:31 , Philippians 1:14 ).
10. return--If you have anything to advance really wise, though I doubt it, recommence your speech. For as yet I cannot find one wise man among you all.
11. Only do not vainly speak of the restoration of health to me; for "my days are past."
broken off--as the threads of the web cut off from the loom ( Isaiah 38:12 ).
thoughts--literally, "possessions," that is, all the feelings and fair hopes which my heart once nourished. These belong to the heart, as "purposes" to the understanding; the two together here describe the entire inner man.
12. They--namely, "my friends."
change the night into day--that is, would try to persuade me of the change of my misery into joy, which is impossible [UMBREIT] ( Job 11:17 ); (but) the light of prosperity (could it be enjoyed) would be short because of the darkness of adversity. Or better for "short," the Hebrew "near"; "and the light of new prosperity should be near in the face of (before) the darkness of death"; that is, they would persuade me that light is near, even though darkness approaches.
13. Rather, "if I wait for this grave (Sheol, or the unseen world) as my house, and make my bed in the darkness ( Job 17:14 ), and say to corruption," rather, "to the pit" or "grave," &c. ( Job 17:15 ). Where then is my hope? [UMBREIT]. The apodosis is at Job 17:15 .
14. Thou art my father, &c.--expressing most intimate connection ( Proverbs 7:4 ). His diseased state made him closely akin to the grave and worm.
15. Who shall see it fulfilled? namely, the "hope" ( Job 11:18 ) which they held out to him of restoration.
16. They--namely, my hopes shall be buried with me.
bars--( Isaiah 38:10 ). Rather, the wastes or solitudes of the pit (sheol, the unseen world).
rest together--the rest of me and my hope is in, &c. Both expire together. The word "rest" implies that man's ceaseless hopes only rob him of rest.