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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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JOB 7

THE CONCLUSION OF JOB'S SECOND SPEECH

Job, in his agony and suffering, is not altogether coherent in this speech. Having affirmed his righteousness (Job 6:29), yet he wonders why God has not forgiven his transgression, some iniquity, perhaps, of which he has no knowledge (Job 7:20).

He stated here that those who go down into Sheol shall come up no more (Job 7:9); but afterward he would declare that after death, "in my flesh, I shall see God" (Job 19:26 KJV).

His reference to his flesh being clothed with worms (Job 7:5), "Could be either a figure of speech or literally true. We do not know; but, in any case, Job's body had become loathsome, and he suffered intense pain."F1 "In the first part of this chapter, Job justifies himself in his desire for death, and, in the latter part of it, he turns to God in prayer."F2

Job 7:1-10

Is there not a warfare for man upon earth?

And are not his days like the days of an hireling?

As a servant that earnestly desireth the shadow,

And as a hireling that looketh for his wages:

So am I made to possess months of misery,

And wearisome nights are appointed to me.

When I lie down, I say,

When shall I arise, and the night be gone?

And I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.

My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust;

My skin closeth up and breaketh out afresh.

My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle,

And are spent without hope.

Oh remember that my life is a breath:

Mine eye shall no more see good.

The eye of him that seeth me shall behold me no more;

Thine eyes shall be upon me, but I shall not be.

As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away,

So he that goeth down to Sheol shall come up no more.

He shall return no more to his house,

Neither shall his place know him anymore."


 
Verses 1-10
Is there not a warfare to man upon earth? And are not his days like the days of a hireling? As a servant that earnestly desireth the shadow, And as a hireling that looketh for his wages: So am I made to possess months of misery, And wearisome nights are appointed to me. When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? And I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day. My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; My skin closeth up, and breaketh out afresh. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, And are spent without hope. Oh remember that my life is a breath: Mine eye shall no more see good. The eye of him that seeth me shall behold me no more; Thine eyes shall be upon me, but I shall not be. As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away, So he that goeth down to Sheol shall come up no more. He shall return no more to his house, Neither shall his place know him any more.
(Job 7:1)? We like Adam Clarke's explanation of this. Human life is a state of probation, a time of exercise to train us for eternal life. It is a warfare; we are enlisted in the Church Militant and must accomplish our time of service.F3 And there is no discharge in that war (Ecclesiastes 8:8).

As the servant. desireth the shadow, and ... an hireling looketh for his wages
(Job 7:2). Jamieson has the best comment on this we have seen. If the servant longs for the evening when his wages are paid, why may not Job long for the close of his life of hard service, when he shall enter on his reward?F4 This proves that Job did not, as many maintain, regard the grave as the end of everything, in spite of what he said later in Job 7:9.

When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise
(Job 7:4). Paul Sherer explained Job's words in these verses thus: What on earth was there to live for? With his days as long as empty months, and no shadow of the evening to bring him a little respite, there's nothing but tossings to and fro from dusk till dawn. Would God it were day! And every night, would God it were dawn!F5

He that goeth down to Sheol shall come up no more
(Job 7:9). Job does not, in these words, abandon all hope after death, but merely states a well-known truth that the dead do not return to their houses, nor are they seen any more by their contemporaries.

THE BITTERNESS OF JOB'S COMPLAINT

Therefore I will not refrain my mouth;

I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;

I will complain in the bitterness of my soul

Am I a sea, or a sea-monster,

That thou settest a watch over me?

When I say, My bed shall comfort me,

My couch shall ease my complaint;

Then thou scarest me with dreams,

And terrifiest me through visions:

So that my soul chooseth strangling, And death rather than these my bones.

I loathe my life; I would not live alway:

Let me alone, for my days are vanity."

The recurrence of the word `thou' (Job 7:12,14) indicates that we have a prayer here in which Job pours out the bitterness of his complaint to God Himself. The terrible dreams and nightmares that came to Job are thought by some to have been characteristic of the disease of Elephantiasis. This may nor may not have been the case.

One of the most significant things in Job is the frequency and persistence in which Job turns again and again to God. Even though Job recognizes God as his antagonist, "He still addresses him as Friend, the Unseen, the Author of his sorrows; but, through all of these agonized protests, there runs the perception that God cannot be entirely against him,"F6 and that God alone is the answer to all our misfortunes.


 
Verses 11-16
Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I a sea, or a sea-monster, That thou settest a watch over me? When I say, My bed shall comfort me, My couch shall ease my complaint; Then thou scarest me with dreams, And terrifiest me through visions: So that my soul chooseth strangling, And death rather than [these] my bones. I loathe [my life]; I would not live alway: Let me alone; for my days are vanity.
(Job 7:15). Nevertheless, Job does not contemplate suicide. The case of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23) is the only bona fide case of suicide in the Old Testament. The instances of two warriors resorting to suicide (Judges 9:54; 1 Sam. 31:4) in order to escape dishonor are not quite the same as deliberate and premeditated suicide.F7

MORE OF JOB'S ANQUISHED CRY TO GOD

What is man that thou shouldest magnify him,

That thou shouldest set thy mind upon him?

And that thou shouldest visit him every morning,

And try him every moment.

How long wilt thou not look away from me,

Nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?

If l have sinned, what do I unto thee,

O thou watcher of men?

Why hast thou set me as a mark for thee,

So that I am a burden to myself?.

And why dost thou not pardon my transgression,

And take away mine iniquity?

For now shall I lie down in the dust;

And thou shalt seek me diligently, but I shall not be."

"Once again the angry questions pour out. Why, why, why?"F8


 
Verses 17-21
What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him, And that thou shouldest set thy mind upon him, And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, And try him every moment? How long wilt thou not look away from me, Nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? If I have sinned, what do I unto thee, O thou watcher of men? Why hast thou set me as a mark for thee, So that I am a burden to myself? And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? For now shall I lie down in the dust; And thou wilt seek me diligently, but I shall not be.
(Job 7:17). Job here demands to know why God concerns himself to interfere with so insignificant a being as man.F9

"The language of Job 7:17 is too much like Ps. 8 to be a coincidence; and some think that Job was twisting the Psalm into a parody";F10 but we reject this as absolutely impossible of any proof. It is far more likely that the author of the Psalm was changing the expression from what he read in Job. Besides that, the resemblance of the two passages might very well be pure coincidence.

Till I swallow down my spittle
(Job 7:19). This is a figurative expression with the meaning of `a mere moment.'F11 A similar rude proverb from West Texas is, time to spit on his hands.


Footnotes for Job 7
1: George DeHoff's Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 23.
2: Matthew Henry's Commentary, Vol. III, p. 43.
3: Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible (London: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1837), Vol. III, p. 47.
4: Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary, p. 315.
5: Interpreter's Bible. Vol. III, p. 962.
6: Layman's Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, p. 74.
7: The Anchor Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1982), Job, p. 61.
8: The Bible Speaks Today (Downer's Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1976), p. 73.
9: J. R. Dummelow's Commentary, p. 297.
10: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, Vol. 13, p. 138.
11: The Anchor Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1982), op. cit., p. 62,

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 7". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=job&chapter=007>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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