Job speaks of man's life. (1-6) Of man's death. (7-15) By sin man is subject to corruption. (16-22)
Verses 1-6 Job enlarges upon the condition of man, addressing himself also to God. Every man of Adam's fallen race is short-lived. All his show of beauty, happiness, and splendour falls before the stroke of sickness or death, as the flower before the scythe; or passes away like the shadow. How is it possible for a man's conduct to be sinless, when his heart is by nature unclean? Here is a clear proof that Job understood and believed the doctrine of original sin. He seems to have intended it as a plea, why the Lord should not deal with him according to his own works, but according to His mercy and grace. It is determined, in the counsel and decree of God, how long we shall live. Our times are in his hands, the powers of nature act under him; in him we live and move. And it is very useful to reflect seriously on the shortness and uncertainty of human life, and the fading nature of all earthly enjoyments. But it is still more important to look at the cause, and remedy of these evils. Until we are born of the Spirit, no spiritually good thing dwells in us, or can proceed from us. Even the little good in the regenerate is defiled with sin. We should therefore humble ourselves before God, and cast ourselves wholly on the mercy of God, through our Divine Surety. We should daily seek the renewing of the Holy Ghost, and look to heaven as the only place of perfect holiness and happiness.
Verses 7-15 Though a tree is cut down, yet, in a moist situation, shoots come forth, and grow up as a newly planted tree. But when man is cut off by death, he is for ever removed from his place in this world. The life of man may fitly be compared to the waters of a land flood, which spread far, but soon dry up. All Job's expressions here show his belief in the great doctrine of the resurrection. Job's friends proving miserable comforters, he pleases himself with the expectation of a change. If our sins are forgiven, and our hearts renewed to holiness, heaven will be the rest of our souls, while our bodies are hidden in the grave from the malice of our enemies, feeling no more pain from our corruptions, or our corrections.
Verses 16-22 Job's faith and hope spake, and grace appeared to revive; but depravity again prevailed. He represents God as carrying matters to extremity against him. The Lord must prevail against all who contend with him. God may send disease and pain, we may lose all comfort in those near and dear to us, every hope of earthly happiness may be destroyed, but God will receive the believer into realms of eternal happiness. But what a change awaits the prosperous unbeliever! How will he answer when God shall call him to his tribunal? The Lord is yet upon a mercy-seat, ready to be gracious. Oh that sinners would be wise, that they would consider their latter end! While man's flesh is upon him, that is, the body he is so loth to lay down, it shall have pain; and while his soul is within him, that is, the spirit he is so loth to resign, it shall mourn. Dying work is hard work; dying pangs often are sore pangs. It is folly for men to defer repentance to a death-bed, and to have that to do which is the one thing needful, when unfit to do anything.
Job, having turned himself from his friends to God, continues his address to him in this chapter; wherein he discourses of the frailty of man, the shortness of his life, the troubles that are in it, the sinfulness of it, and its limited duration, beyond which it cannot continue; all which he makes use of with God, that he would not therefore deal rigorously with him, but have pity on him, and cease from severely afflicting him, till he came to the end of his days, which could not be long, Job 14:1-6; he observes of a tree, when it is cut down to the root, yea, when the root is become old, and the stock dies, it will, by means of being watered, bud and sprout again, and produce boughs and branches; but man, like the failing waters of the sea, and the decayed and dried up flood, when he dies, rises not, till the heavens be no more, Job 14:7-12; and then he wishes to be hid in the grave till that time, and expresses hope and belief of the resurrection of the dead, Job 14:13-15; and goes on to complain of the strict notice God took of his sins, of his severe dealings with men, destroying their hope in life, and removing them by death; so that they see and know not the case and circumstances of their children they leave behind, and while they live have continual pain and sorrow, Job 14:16-22.