1 "Is there not an appointed time for man upon earth? Are his days not also like the days of a hireling?
2 As a servant earnestly desires the shadow, and as a hireling looks for the reward of his work,
3 So I am made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me.
4 When I lie down, I say, 'When shall I arise and the night be gone?' And I am full of tossings to and fro to the dawning of the day.
5 My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust. My skin has broken and become loathsome.
6 My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle and are spent without hope.
7 O remember that my life is wind. My eye will no longer see good.
8 The eye of him who has seen me shall see me no more. Your eyes are upon me and I shall not be.
9 As the cloud is consumed and vanishes away, so he who goes down to the grave shall come up no more.
10 He shall no longer return to his house, neither shall his place know him anymore.
11 Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth. I will speak in the anguish of my spirit. I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I a sea or a whale that you set a watch over me?
13 When I say, 'My bed shall comfort me. My couch shall ease my complaint,'
14 You scare me with dreams and terrify me through visions,
15 So that my soul chooses strangling and death rather than my life.
16 I loathe it. I would not live always. Leave me alone, for my days are vanity.
17 What is man that you should magnify him, that you should set your heart upon him,
18 And that you should visit him every morning and try him every moment?
19 How long will you not depart from me, nor leave me alone until I swallow my spittle?
20 I have sinned. What shall I do to you, O you preserver of men? Why have you set me as a mark against you so that I am a burden to myself?
21 And why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I shall sleep in the dust. And you shall seek me in the morning, but I shall not be."
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
In this chapter Job goes on to defend himself in an address to God; as that he had reason to complain of his extraordinary afflictions, and wish for death; by observing the common case of mankind, which he illustrates by that of a hireling (verse 1); and justifies his eager desire of death by the servant and hireling; the one earnestly desiring the shadow, and the other the reward of his work (verse 2); by representing his present state as exceeding deplorable, even worse than that of the servant and hireling, since they had rest at night, when he had none, and were free from pain, whereas he was not (verses 3-5); by taking notice of the swiftness and shortness of his days, in which he had no hope of enjoying any good (verses 6-7); and so thought his case hard; and the rather, since after death he could enjoy no temporal good: and therefore to be deprived of it while living gave him just reason of complaint (verses 8-11); and then he expostulates with God for setting such a strict watch upon him; giving him no ease night nor day, but terrifying him with dreams and visions, which made life disagreeable to him, and death more eligible than that (verses 12-16); and represents man as unworthy of the divine regard, and below his notice to bestow favors on him, or to chastise him for doing amiss (verses 17-18); and admitting that he himself had sinned, yet he should forgive his iniquity, and not bear so hard upon him, and follow him with one affliction after another without intermission, and make him the butt of his arrows; but should spare him and leave him alone, or however take him out of the world (verses 19-21).
[v.1] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "Our time on earth is limited and short, according to the narrow bounds of this earth; but heaven cannot be measured, nor the days of heaven numbered... We are not to be on this earth always, nor long, but for a certain time, which is determined by him in whose hand our times are."
[v.6] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "Job thought his days ran swiftly because he thought he should soon be at his journey's end; he looked upon them as good as spent already, and he was therefore without hope of being restored to his former prosperity. It is applicable to man's life in general. Our days are like a weaver's shuttle, thrown from one side of the web to the other in the twinkling of an eye, and then back again, to and fro, until at length it is quite exhausted of the thread it carried, and then we cut off, like a weaver, our life (Isaiah 38:12)."
[v.8] - "I shall not be" - In other words, "I can live no longer."
[v.9] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "He who goes down to the grave shall come up no more until the general resurrection, shall come up no more to his place in this world. Dying is work that is to be done but once... This is illustrated by the blotting out and scattering of a cloud. It is consumed and vanishes away, is resolved into air and never knits again. Other clouds arise, but the same cloud never returns: so a new generation of the children of men is raised up, but the former generation is quite consumed and vanishes away."
[v.11] - "When we have but a few breaths to draw we should spend them in the holy gracious breathings of faith and prayer, not in the noisome noxious breathings of sin and corruption. Better die praying and praising than die complaining and quarrelling." —Matthew Henry
[v.13-14] - "We have reason to pray to God that our dreams may neither defile nor disquiet us, neither tempt us to sin nor torment us with fear." —Matthew Henry
[v.15-16] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "Doubtless this was Job's infirmity; for though a good man would not wish to live always in this world, and would choose strangling and death rather than sin, as the martyrs did, yet he will be content to live as long as pleases God, not choose death rather than life, because life is our opportunity of glorifying God and getting ready for heaven."
[v.17-18] - "We mistake God, and the nature of his providence, if we think it any lessening to him to take notice of the meanest of his creatures." —Matthew Henry
[v.17] - Reference, Psalm 8:4, 144:3.
[v.20] - "I have sinned. What shall I do to you, O you preserver of men?" - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "When we are in affliction it is seasonable to confess sin, as the procuring cause of our affliction. Penitent confessions would drown and silence passionate complaints... Are we convinced that we have sinned, and are we brought to own it? We cannot but conclude that something must be done to prevent the fatal consequences of it. The matter must not rest as it is, but some course must be taken to undo what has been ill done. And, if we are truly sensible of the danger we have run ourselves into, we shall be willing to do anything, to take a pardon upon any terms; and therefore shall be inquisitive as to what we shall do (Micah 6:6-7), what we shall do to God, not to satisfy the demands of his justice (that is done only by the Mediator), but to qualify ourselves for the tokens of his favor, according to the tenor of the gospel-covenant. In making this inquiry it is good to eye God as the preserver or Savior of men, not their destroyer. In our repentance we must keep up good thoughts of God, as one that delights not in the ruin of his creatures, but would rather they should return and live."
[v.21] - "When the mercy of God pardons the transgression that is committed by us the grace of God takes away the iniquity that reigns in us. Wherever God removes the guilt of sin he breaks the power of sin." —Matthew Henry