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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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JOB 6

JOB'S REPLY TO ELIPHAZ:

JOB DEFENDS THE RASHNESS OF HIS LAMENT

Job 6:1-7

Then Job answered and said,

Oh that my vexation were but weighed,

And all my calamity laid in the balances!

For now it would be heavier than the sand of the seas;

Therefore have my words been rash.

For the arrows of the Almighty are within me,

The poison whereof my spirit drinketh up:

The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.

Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass?

Or loweth the ox over his fodder?

Can that which hath no savor be eaten without salt?

Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?

My soul refuseth to touch them;

They are as loathsome food to me."

These words of Job are, "Strong and coherent, contrasted with those of Eliphaz, which are incoherent and without the backbone of any clear conviction, turning hither and thither."F1 These words of Job were spoken out of deep disappointment and pain in what Eliphaz had said. Eliphaz had applied such words as fool, godless man, confounded and impatient to Job,"F2 bringing him no comfort whatever.


 
Verses 1-7
Then Job answered and said, Oh that my vexation were but weighed, And all my calamity laid in the balances! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the seas: Therefore have my words been rash. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, The poison whereof my spirit drinketh up: The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? Or loweth the ox over his fodder? Can that which hath no savor be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg? My soul refuseth to touch [them]; They are as loathsome food to me.
(Job 6:1). Job's contention here is that the weight of his vexations greatly outweighs the alleged rashness and impatience of his words.F3

The arrows of the Almighty are within me
(Job 6:4). Job here, for the first time, distinctly names God as the author of his afflictions.F4 The perplexity and distress of Job came from his bewilderment concerning why God was wounding him. The evil-doer knows why he suffers; the martyr is sustained by the truth for which he suffers; but Job suffered without either support or explanation.F5

Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass
(Job 6:5)? Here Job appealed to the behavior of animals, the cries of which arise from their distress. The same should be accepted as the allowable behavior of men. Job argues that he has the right to bray like a hungry wild ass, or to bellow like a hungry bull.F6

Or is there any taste in the white of an egg
(Job 6:6)? The RSV renders the last five words of this, in the slime of the purslane. But that rendition is a blunder because, Most modern readers never heard of the purslane.F7 The purslane is a plant, the flower of which, as it fades away, resolves into an insipid mucilaginous jelly. It is that tasteless jelly which is alluded to here.F8

My soul refuseth to touch them
(Job 6:7). This refers to the insipid, tasteless food just mentioned; but what did Job mean? Kelly thought that Job was comparing, His flat and tasteless existence,F9 to that tasteless food. Heavenor suggested that Job was comparing his tasteless life to Insipid and saltless food.F10 However, Pope wrote that, The figure of taste is most appropriate as applied to the arguments of Eliphaz;F11 and, although Rawlinson stated that either meaning is appropriate,F12 we strongly prefer Pope's understanding of the place.

JOB REAFFIRMS HIS DESIRE TO DIE

Oh that I might have my request:

And that God would grant me the thing that

I long for!

Even that it would please God to crush me;

That he would let loose his hand and cut me off!

And be it still my consolation,

Yea, let me exult in pain that spareth not,

That I have not denied the words of the Holy One.

What is my strength, that I should wait?

And what is mine end, that I should be patient?

Is my strength the strength of stones?

Or is my flesh of brass?

Is it not that I have no help in me,

And that wisdom is driven quite from me."


 
Verses 8-13
Oh that I might have my request; And that God would grant [me] the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to crush me; That he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! And be it still my consolation, Yea, let me exult in pain that spareth not, That I have not denied the words of the Holy One. What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is mine end, that I should be patient? Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of brass? Is it not that I have no help in me, And that wisdom is driven quite from me?
(Job 6:10). The fearlessness of Job in his contemplation of death is very significant. He had nothing to fear in death; his conscience was clear; and the commandments of God he had never denied.F13

What is my strength that I should wait
(Job 6:11). What Job is saying in this and the next verse is that, I am a human. I am a weak, frail, faltering human;F14 I am not made of brass or stone; this is more than I can bear. Therefore, I pray for God to take me home. Job's resources were all spent; he had no endurance left.F15

JOB LEVELED HIS COMPLAINT AGAINST HIS FRIENDS

To him that is ready to faint kindness should be showed from his friend;

Even to him that forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.

My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook,

As the channel of brooks that pass away;

Which are black by reason of the ice,

And wherein the snow hideth itself.

What time they wax warm, they vanish;

When it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.

The caravans that travel by the way of them turn aside;

They go up into the waste and perish.

The Caravans of Tema looked,

The companies of Sheba waited for them.

They were put to shame because they had hoped;

They came thither and were confounded.

For now ye are nothing;

Ye are a terror, and are afraid.

Did I say, Give unto me?

Or, Offer a present to me of your substance?

Or, Deliver me from the adversary's hand?

Or, Redeem me from the hand of the oppressors?"

In these verses, Job not only replied to Eliphaz, but to all of his comforters.


 
Verses 14-23
To him that is ready to faint kindness [should be showed] from his friend; Even to him that forsaketh the fear of the Almighty. My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, As the channel of brooks that pass away; Which are black by reason of the ice, [And] wherein the snow hideth itself: What time they wax warm, they vanish; When it is hot, they are consumed out of their place. The caravans [that travel] by the way of them turn aside; They go up into the waste, and perish. The caravans of Tema looked, The companies of Sheba waited for them. They were put to shame because they had hoped; They came thither, and were confounded. For now ye are nothing; Ye see a terror, and are afraid. Did I say, Give unto me? Or, Offer a present for me of your substance? Or, Deliver me from the adversary's hand? Or, Redeem me from the hand of the oppressors?
(Job 6:14). This was the very thing his three friends had not shown Job. Job even went further and declared that such sympathy and kindness should be extended to a person, `if he had forsaken,' God (Job 6:14). Hesser described this anguished cry as:

"One of the most pathetic lines in literature."F16 This verse carries with it the strong implication that, "Eliphaz had let Job down."F17 "Job's friends had come to him physically, but they had disappointed him because they showed no pity."F18

My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook
(Job 6:15). The type of brook to which Job compared his friends was that intermittent `wash' or wady of the desert, sure to be dry if any one depended on it for water.

The caravans of Tema. companies of Sheba
(Job 6:19). These were probably well known examples of caravans that were lost in the desert because of the untimely failure of such `brooks.' The tragedies that befell them, unknown to us, might have been remembered by many in Job's generation.

DeHoff explained what Job meant by this remarkable simile. "When Job was in prosperity, his friends were loyal to him; but, when he was struck down with suffering, they rejected him."F19 They were just like those undependable `brooks' that had water in the winter time, but none at all when the water was needed.

Ye are nothing
(Job 6:21). That was just Job's way of saying his friends were worthless as far as any benefit to Job was concerned. The prodigal son in the parable also saw all of his friends forsake him when he ran out of money.

Ye see a terror, and are afraid
(Job 6:21). Here Job gives the reason for his friend's refusal to comfort him. Their conduct is dictated by fear that, if they show compassion on Job, God may view it as criticism of his providence and suddenly plague them like Job.F20

Did I say give unto me
(Job 6:21)? In this and the following two verses, Job's friends treat him like he had requested a loan, plenty of advice, but no hard cash.F21 Job desired only one thing of his friends, sympathy; and that he did not get.F22

JOB'S DEMAND THAT HIS FRIENDS IDENTIFY HIS SINS

Teach me, and I will hold my peace;

And cause me to understand wherein I have erred.

How forcible are the words of righteousness!

But your reproof, what doth it reprove?

Do ye think to reprove words,

Seeing that the speeches of one that is desperate are as wind?

Yea, ye would cast lots upon the fatherless,

And make merchandise of your friend.

Now therefore be pleased to look upon me;

For surely I shall not lie to your face.

Return, I pray you, let there be no injustice;

Yea, return again, my cause is righteous.

Is there injustice on my tongue?

Cannot my taste discern mischievous things?"

A paraphrase of this paragraph: "Look, If I am a sinner, tell me what it was in which I sinned. Would I lie to you? Look me in the eye. Don't get up and leave me. Stay here and help me. Am I so ignorant that I don't know what sin is.'? No matter what you think, my trouble is not caused by my wickedness. You have criticized my words; but it is silly to make a case based on the words of a man who is suffering desperately. "Allowances must be made for words uttered in deep distress."F23 "Reconsider my case, for my cause is righteous."F24


 
Verses 24-30
Teach me, and I will hold my peace; And cause me to understand wherein I have erred. How forcible are words of uprightness! But your reproof, what doth it reprove? Do ye think to reprove words, Seeing that the speeches of one that is desperate are as wind? Yea, ye would cast [lots] upon the fatherless, And make merchandise of your friend. Now therefore be pleased to look upon me; For surely I shall not lie to your face. Return, I pray you, let there be no injustice; Yea, return again, my cause is righteous. Is there injustice on my tongue? Cannot my taste discern mischievous things?
(Job 6:29). These words indicate that Job's friends, at this juncture, were on the verge of getting up and departing from him; and Job pleaded with them not to impose such an injustice upon him, still insisting that he had done no wickedness that might have been the cause of his sufferings.


Footnotes for Job 6
1: The Expositor's Bible, Vol. 2, p. 720.
2: The Teachers' Bible Commentary, p. 273.
3: International Critical Commentary, Job, p. 59.
4: Ibid.
5: The Expositor's Bible, op. cit., p. 721.
6: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, Vol., 13, p. 128.
7: Ibid.
8: International Critical Commentary, Job, p. 60.
9: Layman's Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, p. 73.
10: The New Bible Commentary, Revised, p. 426.
11: The Anchor Bible, Job, p. 50.
12: The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 8, p. 104.
13: The New Bible Commentary, Revised, p. 426.
14: J. Allen Blair, Living Patiently (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, p. 53.
15: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, op. cit., p. 130.
16: R. B. Sweet Publishing Company, No. 216, p. 20.
17: The Bible Speaks Today (Downer's Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1976), The Message of Job, p. 72.
18: Edwin Young, The Purpose of Suffering (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1985), p. 49.
19: George DeHoff's Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 22.
20: Wycliffe Old Testament Commentary, Job, p. 468.
21: The New Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 565.
22: International Critical Commentary, Job, p. 65.
23: Preacher's Homiletic Commentary, p. 46.
24: J. R. Dummelow's Commentary, p. 297.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 6". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=job&chapter=006>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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