Job 3:20

20 “Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul,

Job 3:20 in Other Translations

20 Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;
20 "Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul,
20 “Oh, why give light to those in misery, and life to those who are bitter?
20 "Why does God bother giving light to the miserable, why bother keeping bitter people alive,
20 Why is light given to one burdened with grief, and life to those whose existence is bitter,

Job 3:20 Meaning and Commentary

Job 3:20

Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery
That labours under various calamities and afflictions, as Job did, being stripped of his substance, deprived of his children, and now in great pain of body and distress of mind; who, since he died not so soon as he wished he had, expostulates why his life is protracted; for that is what he means by light, as appears from the following clause, even the light of the living, or the light of the world; which though sweet and pleasant to behold to a man in health, yet not to one in pain of body and anguish of mind, as he was, who chose rather to be in the dark and silent grave; this he represents as a gift, as indeed life is, and the gift of God: the words may be rendered, "wherefore does he give light?"


F25 that is, God, as some F26 supply it, who is undoubtedly meant, though not mentioned, through reverence of him, and that he might not seem to quarrel with him; the principle of life is from him, and the continuance and protraction of it, and all the means and mercies by which it is supported; and Job asks the reasons, which he seems to be at a loss for, why it should be continued to a person in such uncomfortable circumstances as he was in; though these, with respect to a good man as he was, are plain and obvious: such are continued in the world under afflictions, both for their own good, and for the glory of God, that their graces may be tried, their sins purged away or prevented, and they made more partakers of divine holiness; and be weaned from this world, and fitted for another, and not be condemned with the world of the ungodly:

and life unto the bitter [in] soul;
whose lives are embittered to them by afflictions, comparable to the waters of Marah, and to wormwood and gall, which occasion bitterness of spirit in them, and bitter complaints from them; see ( Job 13:26 ) ( 23:16 ) ( 27:2 ) .

F25 (Nty hml) "quare dat", Cocceius, Schmidt, Schultens, Michaelis.
F26 So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. vid. Schultens in loc.

Job 3:20 In-Context

18 Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout.
19 The small and the great are there, and the slaves are freed from their owners.
20 “Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul,
21 to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure,
22 who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave?

Cross References 1

  • 1. S 1 Samuel 1:10; Jeremiah 20:18; Ezekiel 27:30-31