Job justifies his complaints. (1-7) He wishes for death. (8-13) Job reproves his friends as unkind. (14-30)
Verses 1-7 Job still justifies himself in his complaints. In addition to outward troubles, the inward sense of God's wrath took away all his courage and resolution. The feeling sense of the wrath of God is harder to bear than any outward afflictions. What then did the Saviour endure in the garden and on the cross, when he bare our sins, and his soul was made a sacrifice to Divine justice for us! Whatever burden of affliction, in body or estate, God is pleased to lay upon us, we may well submit to it as long as he continues to us the use of our reason, and the peace of our conscience; but if either of these is disturbed, our case is very pitiable. Job reflects upon his friends for their censures. He complains he had nothing offered for his relief, but what was in itself tasteless, loathsome, and burdensome.
Verses 8-13 Job had desired death as the happy end of his miseries. For this, Eliphaz had reproved him, but he asks for it again with more vehemence than before. It was very rash to speak thus of God destroying him. Who, for one hour, could endure the wrath of the Almighty, if he let loose his hand against him? Let us rather say with David, O spare me a little. Job grounds his comfort upon the testimony of his conscience, that he had been, in some degree, serviceable to the glory of God. Those who have grace in them, who have the evidence of it, and have it in exercise, have wisdom in them, which will be their help in the worst of times.
Verses 14-30 In his prosperity Job formed great expectations from his friends, but now was disappointed. This he compares to the failing of brooks in summer. Those who rest their expectations on the creature, will find it fail when it should help them; whereas those who make God their confidence, have help in the time of need, ( Hebrews 4:16 ) . Those who make gold their hope, sooner or later will be ashamed of it, and of their confidence in it. It is our wisdom to cease from man. Let us put all our confidence in the Rock of ages, not in broken reeds; in the Fountain of life, not in broken cisterns. The application is very close; "for now ye are nothing." It were well for us, if we had always such convictions of the vanity of the creature, as we have had, or shall have, on a sick-bed, a death-bed, or in trouble of conscience. Job upbraids his friends with their hard usage. Though in want, he desired no more from them than a good look and a good word. It often happens that, even when we expect little from man, we have less; but from God, even when we expect much, we have more. Though Job differed from them, yet he was ready to yield as soon as it was made to appear that he was in error. Though Job had been in fault, yet they ought not to have given him such hard usage. His righteousness he holds fast, and will not let it go. He felt that there had not been such iniquity in him as they supposed. But it is best to commit our characters to Him who keeps our souls; in the great day every upright believer shall have praise of God.
FIRST SERIES CONTINUED.
Job 6:1-30 . REPLY OF JOB TO ELIPHAZ.
2. throughly weighed--Oh, that instead of censuring my complaints when thou oughtest rather to have sympathized with me, thou wouldst accurately compare my sorrow, and my misfortunes; these latter "outweigh in the balance" the former.
3. the sand--( Proverbs 27:3 ).
are swallowed up--See Margin [that is, "I want words to express my grief"]. But Job plainly is apologizing, not for not having had words enough, but for having spoken too much and too boldly; and the Hebrew is, "to speak rashly" [UMBREIT, GESENIUS, ROSENMULLER]. "Therefore were my words so rash."
4. arrows . . . within me--have pierced me. A poetic image representing the avenging Almighty armed with bow and arrows ( Psalms 38:2 Psalms 38:3 ). Here the arrows are poisoned. Peculiarly appropriate, in reference to the burning pains which penetrated, like poison, into the inmost parts--("spirit"; as contrasted with mere surface flesh wounds) of Job's body.
set themselves in array--a military image ( Judges 20:33 ). All the terrors which the divine wrath can muster are set in array against me ( Isaiah 42:13 ).
5. Neither wild animals, as the wild ass, nor tame, as the ox, are dissatisfied when well-supplied with food. The braying of the one and the lowing of the other prove distress and want of palatable food. So, Job argues, if he complains, it is not without cause; namely, his pains, which are, as it were, disgusting food, which God feeds him with (end of Job 6:7 ). But he should have remembered a rational being should evince a better spirit than the brute.
6. unsavoury--tasteless, insipid. Salt is a chief necessary of life to an Easterner, whose food is mostly vegetable.
the white--literally, "spittle" ( 1 Samuel 21:13 ), which the white of an egg resembles.
7. To "touch" is contrasted with "meat." "My taste refused even to touch it, and yet am I fed with such meat of sickness." The second clause literally, is, "Such is like the sickness of my food." The natural taste abhors even to touch insipid food, and such forms my nourishment. For my sickness is like such nauseous food [UMBREIT]. ( Psalms 42:3 , 80:5 , 102:9 ). No wonder, then, I complain.
8. To desire death is no necessary proof of fitness for death. The ungodly sometimes desire it, so as to escape troubles, without thought of the hereafter. The godly desire it, in order to be with the Lord; but they patiently wait God's will.
9. destroy--literally, "grind" or "crush" ( Isaiah 3:15 ).
let loose his hand--God had put forth His hand only so far as to wound the surface of Job's flesh ( Job 1:12 , 2:6 ); he wishes that hand to be let loose, so as to wound deeply and vitally.
cut me off--metaphor from a weaver cutting off the web, when finished, from the thrum fastening it to the loom ( Isaiah 38:12 ).
10. I would harden myself in sorrow--rather, "I would exult in the pain," if I knew that that pain would hasten my death [GESENIUS]. UMBREIT translates the Hebrew of "Let Him not spare," as "unsparing"; and joins it with "pain."
concealed--I have not disowned, in word or deed, the commands of the Holy One ( Psalms 119:46 , Acts 20:20 ). He says this in answer to Eliphaz' insinuation that he is a hypocrite. God is here called "the Holy One," to imply man's reciprocal obligation to be holy, as He is holy ( Leviticus 19:2 ).
11. What strength have I, so as to warrant the hope of restoration to health? a hope which Eliphaz had suggested. "And what" but a miserable "end" of life is before me, "that I should" desire to "prolong life"? [UMBREIT]. UMBREIT and ROSENMULLER not so well translate the last words "to be patient."
12. Disease had so attacked him that his strength would need to be hard as a stone, and his flesh like brass, not to sink under it. But he has only flesh, like other men. It must, therefore, give way; so that the hope of restoration suggested by Eliphaz is vain
13. Is not my help in me?--The interrogation is better omitted. "There is no help in me!" For "wisdom," "deliverance" is a better rendering. "And deliverance is driven quite from me."
14. pity--a proverb. Charity is the love which judges indulgently of our fellow men: it is put on a par with truth in Proverbs 3:3 , for they together form the essence of moral perfection [UMBREIT]. It is the spirit of Christianity ( 1 Peter 4:8 , 1 Corinthians 13:7 , Proverbs 10:12 , 17:17 ). If it ought to be used towards all men, much more towards friends. But he who does not use it forsaketh (renounceth) the fear of the Almighty ( James 2:13 ).
15. Those whom I regarded as "my brethren," from whom I looked for faithfulness in my adversity, have disappointed me, as the streams failing from drought--wadies of Arabia, filled in the winter, but dry in the summer, which disappoint the caravans expecting to find water there. The fulness and noise of these temporary streams answer to the past large and loud professions of my friends; their dryness in summer, to the failure of the friendship when needed. The Arab proverb says of a treacherous friend, "I trust not in thy torrent" ( Isaiah 58:11 , Margin).
stream of brooks--rather, "the brook in the ravines which passes away." It has no perpetual spring of water to renew it (unlike "the fountain of living waters," Jeremiah 2:13 , Isaiah 33:16 , at the end); and thus it passes away as rapidly as it arose.
16. blackish--literally, "Go as a mourner in black clothing" ( Psalms 34:14 ). A vivid and poetic image to picture the stream turbid and black with melted ice and snow, descending from the mountains into the valley. In the [second] clause, the snow dissolved is, in the poet's view, "hid" in the flood [UMBREIT].
17. wax warm--rather, "At the time when." ("But they soon wax") [UMBREIT]. "they become narrower (flow in a narrower bed), they are silent (cease to flow noisily); in the heat (of the sun) they are consumed or vanish out of their place. First the stream flows more narrowly--then it becomes silent and still; at length every trace of water disappears by evaporation under the hot sun" [UMBREIT].
18. turned aside--rather, "caravans" (Hebrew, "travellers") turn aside from their way, by circuitous routes, to obtain water. They had seen the brook in spring full of water: and now in the summer heat, on their weary journey, they turn off their road by a devious route to reach the living waters, which they remembered with such pleasure. But, when "they go," it is "into a desert" [NOYES and UMBREIT]. Not as English Version, "They go to nothing," which would be a tame repetition of the drying up of the waters in Job 6:17 ; instead of waters, they find an "empty wilderness"; and, not having strength to regain their road, bitterly disappointed, they "perish." The terse brevity is most expressive.
19. the troops--that is, "caravans."
Tema--north of Arabia-Deserta, near the Syrian desert; called from Tema son of Ishmael ( Genesis 25:15 , Isaiah 21:14 , Jeremiah 25:23 ), still so called by the Arabs. Job 6:19 Job 6:20 give another picture of the mortification of disappointed hopes, namely, those of the caravans on the direct road, anxiously awaiting the return of their companions from the distant valley. The mention of the locality whence the caravans came gives living reality to the picture.
Sheba--refers here not to the marauders in North Arabia-Deserta ( Job 1:15 ), but to the merchants ( Ezekiel 27:22 ) in the south, in Arabia-Felix or Yemen, "afar off" ( Jeremiah 6:20 , Matthew 12:42 , Genesis 10:28 ). Caravans are first mentioned in Genesis 37:25 ; men needed to travel thus in companies across the desert, for defense against the roving robbers and for mutual accommodation.
The companies . . . waited for them--cannot refer to the caravans who had gone in quest of the waters; for Job 6:18 describes their utter destruction.
20. literally, "each had hoped"; namely, that their companions would find water. The greater had been their hopes the more bitter now their disappointment;
they came thither--to the place.
and were ashamed--literally, "their countenances burn," an Oriental phrase for the shame and consternation of deceived expectation; so "ashamed" as to disappointment ( Romans 5:5 ).
21. As the dried-up brook is to the caravan, so are ye to me, namely, a nothing; ye might as well not be in existence [UMBREIT]. The Margin "like to them," or "to it" (namely, the waters of the brook), is not so good a reading.
ye see, and are afraid--Ye are struck aghast at the sight of my misery, and ye lose presence of mind. Job puts this mild construction on their failing to relieve him with affectionate consolation.
22. And yet I did not ask you to "bring me" a gift; or to "pay for me out of your substance a reward" (to the Judge, to redeem me from my punishment); all I asked from you was affectionate treatment.
23. the mighty--the oppressor, or creditor, in whose power the debtor was [UMBREIT].
24, 25. Irony. If you can "teach me" the right view, I am willing to be set right, and "hold my tongue"; and to be made to see my error. But then if your words be really the right words, how is it that they are so feeble? "Yet how feeble are the words of what you call the right view." So the Hebrew is used (in Micah 2:10 , 1:9 ). The English Version, "How powerful," &c., does not agree so well with the last clause of the verse.
25. And what will your arguings reprove?--literally, "the reproofs which proceed from you"; the emphasis is on you; you may find fault, who are not in my situation [UMBREIT].
26. Do you imagine--or, "mean."
to reprove words and (to reprove) the speeches of one desperate, (which are) as wind?--mere nothings, not to be so narrowly taken to task? UMBREIT not so well takes the Hebrew for "as wind," as "sentiments"; making formal "sentiments" antithetical to mere "speeches," and supplying, not the word "reprove," but "would you regard," from the first clause.
27. literally, "ye cause" (supply, "your anger") [UMBREIT], a net, namely, of sophistry [NOYES and SCHUTTENS], to fall upon the desolate (one bereft of help, like the fatherless orphan);
and ye dig (a pit) for your friend--that is, try to ensnare him, to catch him in the use of unguarded language [NOYES]. ( Psalms 57:6 ); metaphor from hunters catching wild beasts in a pit covered with brushwood to conceal it. UMBREIT from the Syriac, and answering to his interpretation of the first clause, has, "Would you be indignant against your friend?" The Hebrew in Job 41:6 , means to "feast upon." As the first clause asks, "Would you catch him in a net?" so this follows up the image, "And would you next feast upon him, and his miseries?" So the Septuagint.
28. be content--rather, "be pleased to"--look. Since you have so falsely judged my words, look upon me, that is, upon my countenance: for (it is evident before your faces) if I lie; my countenance will betray me, if I be the hypocrite that you suppose.
29. Return--rather, "retract" your charges:
let it not be iniquity--that is, (retract) that injustice may not be done me. Yea retract, "my righteousness is in it"; that is, my right is involved in this matter.
30. Will you say that my guilt lies in the organ of speech, and will you call it to account? or, Is it that my taste (palate) or discernment is not capable to form a judgment of perverse things? Is it thus you will explain the fact of my having no consciousness of guilt? [UMBREIT].