It is a melancholy "But now" which this chapter begins with. Adversity
is here described as much to the life as prosperity was in the
foregoing chapter, and the height of that did but increase the depth of
this. God sets the one over-against the other, and so did Job, that his
afflictions might appear the more grievous, and consequently his case
the more pitiable.
I. He had lived in great honour, but now he had fallen into disgrace,
and was as much vilified, even by the meanest, as ever he had been
magnified by the greatest; this he insists much on,
II. He had had much inward comfort and delight, but now he was a terror
and burden to himself
and overwhelmed with sorrow,
III. He had long enjoyed a good state of health, but now he was sick
and in pain,
ver. 17-19, 29, 30.
IV. Time was when the secret of God was with him, but now his
communication with heaven was cut off,
V. He had promised himself a long life, but now he saw death at the
One thing he mentions, which aggravated his affliction, that it
surprised him when he looked for peace. But two things gave him some
1. That his troubles would not follow him to the grave,
2. That his conscience witnessed for him that, in his prosperity, he
had sympathized with those that were in misery,
|Job's Humbled Condition.
||B. C. 1520.|
1 But now they that are younger than I have me in derision,
whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of
2 Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me,
in whom old age was perished?
3 For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the
wilderness in former time desolate and waste.
4 Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for
5 They were driven forth from among men, (they cried after
them as after a thief;)
6 To dwell in the clifts of the valleys, in caves of the
earth, and in the rocks.
7 Among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were
8 They were children of fools, yea, children of base men:
they were viler than the earth.
9 And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword.
10 They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit
in my face.
11 Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have
also let loose the bridle before me.
12 Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my
feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction.
13 They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they have no
14 They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters: in
the desolation they rolled themselves upon me.
Here Job makes a very large and sad complaint of the great disgrace he
had fallen into, from the height of honour and reputation, which was
exceedingly grievous and cutting to such an ingenuous spirit as Job's
was. Two things he insists upon as greatly aggravating his
I. The meanness of the persons that affronted him. As it added much to
his honour, in the day of his prosperity, that princes and nobles
showed him respect and paid a deference to him, so it added no less to
his disgrace in his adversity that he was spurned by the footmen, and
trampled upon by those that were not only every way his inferiors, but
were the meanest and most contemptible of all mankind. None can be
represented as more base than those are here represented who insulted
Job, upon all accounts.
1. They were young, younger than he
who ought to have behaved themselves respectfully towards him for his
age and gravity. Even the children, in their play, played upon him, as
the children of Bethel upon the prophet, Go up, thou bald-head.
Children soon learn to be scornful when they see their parents so.
2. They were of a mean extraction. Their fathers were so very
despicable that such a man as Job would have disdained to take them
into the lowest service about his house, as that of tending the sheep
and attending the shepherds with the dogs of his flock,
They were so shabby that they were not fit to be seen among his
servants, so silly that they were not fit to be employed, and so false
that they were not fit to be trusted in the meanest post. Job here
speaks of what he might have done, not of what he did: he was not of
such a spirit as to set any of the children of men with the dogs of his
flock; he knew the dignity of human nature better than to do so.
3. They and their families were the unprofitable burdens of the earth,
and good for nothing. Job himself, with all his prudence and patience,
could make nothing of them,
The young were not fit for labour, they were so lazy, and went about
their work so awkwardly: Whereto might the strength of their hands
profit me? The old were not to be advised with in the smallest
matters, for in them was old age indeed, but their old age was
perished, they were twice children.
4. They were extremely poor,
They were ready to starve, for they would not dig, and to beg they were
ashamed. Had they been brought to necessity by the providence of God,
their neighbours would have sought them out as proper objects of
charity and would have relieved them; but, being brought into straits
by their own slothfulness and wastefulness, nobody was forward to
relieve them. Hence they were forced to flee into the deserts both for
shelter and sustenance, and were put to sorry shifts indeed, when they
cut up mallows by the bushes, and were glad to eat them, for
want of food that was fit for them,
See what hunger will bring men to: one half of the world does not know
how the other half lives; yet those that have abundance ought to think
sometimes of those whose fare is very coarse and who are brought to a
short allowance of that too. But we must own the righteousness of God,
and not think it strange, if slothfulness clothe men with rags and the
idle soul be made to suffer hunger. This beggarly world is full of the
5. They were very scandalous wicked people, not only the burdens, but
the plagues, of the places where they lived, arrant scoundrels, the
scum of the country: They were driven forth from among men,
They were such lying, thieving, lurking, mischievous people, that the
best service the magistrates could do was to rid the country of them,
while the very mob cried after them as after a thief. Away with such
fellows from the earth; it is not fit they should live. They were
lazy and would not work, and therefore they were exclaimed against as
thieves, and justly; for those that do not earn their own bread by
honest labour do, in effect, steal the bread out of other people's
mouths. An idle fellow is a public nuisance; but it is better to drive
such into a workhouse than, as here, into a wilderness, which will
punish them indeed, but never reform them. They were forced to dwell in
caves of the earth, and they brayed like asses among
See what is the lot of those that have the cry of the country, the cry
of their own conscience, against them; they cannot but be in a
continual terror and confusion. They groan among the trees (so
Broughton) and smart among the nettles; they are stung and
scratched there, where they hoped to be sheltered and protected. See
what miseries wicked people bring themselves to in this world; yet this
is nothing to what is in reserve for them in the other world.
8. They had nothing at all in them to recommend them to any man's
esteem. They were a vile kind; yea, a kind without fame, people that
nobody could give a good word to nor had a good wish for; they were
banished from the earth as being viler than the earth. One would
not think it possible that ever the human nature should sink so low,
and degenerate so far, as it did in these people. When we thank God
that we are men we have reason to thank him that we are not such men.
But such as these were abusive to Job,
(1.) In revenge, because when he was in prosperity and power, like a
good magistrate, he put in execution the laws which were in force
against vagabonds, and rogues, and sturdy beggars, which these base
people now remembered against him.
(2.) In triumph over him, because they thought he had now become like
one of them.
The abjects, men of mean spirits, insult over the miserable,
II. The greatness of the affronts that were given him. It cannot be
imagined how abusive they were.
1. They made ballads on him, with which they made themselves and their
I am their song and their byword. Those have a very base spirit
that turn the calamities of their honest neighbours into a jest, and
can sport themselves with their griefs.
2. They shunned him as a loathsome spectacle, abhorred him, fled far
as an ugly monster or as one infected. Those that were themselves
driven out from among men would have had him driven out. For,
3. They expressed the greatest scorn and indignation against him. They
spat in his face, or were ready to do so; they tripped up his heels,
pushed away his feet
kicked him, either in wrath, because they hated him, or in sport, to
make themselves merry with him, as they did with their companions at
foot-ball. The best of saints have sometimes received the worst of
injuries and indignities from a spiteful, scornful, wicked world, and
must not think it strange; our Master himself was thus abused.
4. They were very malicious against him, and not only made a jest of
him, but made a prey of him--not only affronted him, but set themselves
to do him all the real mischief they could devise: They raise up
against me the ways of their destruction; or (as some read it),
They cast upon me the cause of their woe; that is, "They lay the
blame of their being driven out upon me;" and it is common for
criminals to hate the judges and laws by which they are punished. But
under this pretence,
(1.) They accused him falsely, and misrepresented his former
conversation, which is here called marring his path. They
reflected upon him as a tyrant and an oppressor because he had done
justice upon them; and perhaps Job's friends grounded their
uncharitable censures of him
&c.) upon the unjust and
unreasonable clamours of these sorry people; and it was an instance of
their great weakness and inconsideration, for who can be innocent if
the accusations of such persons may be heeded?
(2.) They not only triumphed in his calamity, but set it forward, and
did all they could to add to his miseries and make them more grievous
to him. It is a great sin to forward the calamity of any, especially of
good people. In this they have no helper, nobody to set them on
or to countenance them in it, nobody to bear them out or to protect
them, but they do it of their own accord; they are fools in other
things, but wise enough to do mischief, and need no help in inventing
that. Some read it thus, They hold my heaviness a profit, though
they be never the better. Wicked people, though they get nothing by
the calamities of others, yet rejoice in them.
5. Those that did him all this mischief were numerous, unanimous, and
They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters, when the dam
is broken; or, "They came as soldiers into a broad breach which they
have made in the wall of a besieged city, pouring in upon me with the
utmost fury;" and in this they took a pride and a pleasure: They
rolled themselves in the desolation as a man rolls himself in a
soft and easy bed, and they rolled themselves upon him with all the
weight of their malice.
III. All this contempt put upon him was caused by the troubles he was
"Because he has loosed my cord, has taken away the honour and
power with which I was girded
has scattered what I had got together and untwisted all my
affairs--because he has afflicted me, therefore they have let loose
the bridle before me," that is, "have given themselves a liberty to
say and do what they please against me." Those that by Providence are
stripped of their honour may expect to be loaded with contempt by
inconsiderate ill-natured people. "Because he hath loosed his
cord" (the original has that reading also), that is, "because he has
taken off his bridle of restraint from off their malice, they cast away
the bridle from me," that is, "they make no account of my authority,
nor stand in any awe of me." It is owing to the hold God has of the
consciences even of bad men, and the restraints he lays upon them, that
we are not continually thus insulted and abused; and, if at any time we
meet with such ill treatment, we must acknowledge the hand of God in
taking off those restraints, as David did when Shimei cursed him: So
let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him. Now in all this,
1. We may see the uncertainty of worldly honour, and particularly of
popular applause, how suddenly a man may fail from the height of
dignity into the depth of disgrace. What little cause therefore have
men to be ambitious or proud of that which may be so easily lost, and
what little confidence is to be put in it! Those that to-day cry
Hosannah may to-morrow cry Crucify. But there is an
honour which comes from God, which if we secure, we shall find it not
thus changeable and loseable.
2. We may see that it has often been the lot of very wise and good men
to be trampled upon and abused. And,
3. That those who look only at the things that are seen despise those
whom the world frowns upon, though they are ever so much the favourites
of Heaven. Nothing is more grievous in poverty than that it renders men
contemptible. Turba Remi sequitur fortunam, ut semper odit
damnatos--The Roman populace, faithful to the turns of fortune, still
persecute the fallen.
4. We may see in Job a type of Christ, who was thus made a reproach
of men and despised of the people
and who hid not his face from shame and spitting, but bore the
indignity better than Job did.
|Job Complains of His Affliction.
||B. C. 1520.|
15 Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind:
and my welfare passeth away as a cloud.
16 And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of
affliction have taken hold upon me.
17 My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my
sinews take no rest.
18 By the great force of my disease is my garment changed: it
bindeth me about as the collar of my coat.
19 He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and
20 I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and
thou regardest me not.
21 Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou
opposest thyself against me.
22 Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride
upon it, and dissolvest my substance.
23 For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to
the house appointed for all living.
24 Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave,
though they cry in his destruction.
25 Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my
soul grieved for the poor?
26 When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I
waited for light, there came darkness.
27 My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction
28 I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried
in the congregation.
29 I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.
30 My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.
31 My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the
voice of them that weep.
In this second part of Job's complaint, which is very bitter, and has a
great many sorrowful accents in it, we may observe a great deal that he
complains of and some little that he comforts himself with.
I. Here is much that he complains of.
1. In general, it was a day of great affliction and sorrow.
(1.) Affliction seized him, and surprised him. It seized him
The days of affliction have taken hold upon me, have caught me
(so some); they have arrested me, as the bailiff arrests the
debtor, claps him on the back, and secures him. When trouble comes with
commission it will take fast hold, and not lose its hold. It surprised
"The days of affliction prevented me," that is, "they came upon
me without giving me any previous warning. I did not expect them, nor
make any provision for such an evil day." Observe, He reckons his
affliction by days, which will soon be numbered and finished, and are
nothing to the ages of eternity,
2 Corinthians 4:17.
(2.) He was in great sorrow by reason of it. His bowels boiled
with grief, and rested not,
The sense of his calamities was continually preying upon his spirits
without any intermission. He went mourning from day to day,
always sighing, always weeping; and such cloud was constantly upon his
mind that he went, in effect, without the sun,
He had nothing that he could take any comfort in. He abandoned himself
to perpetual sorrow, as one that, like Jacob, resolved to go to the
grave mourning. He walked out of the sun (so some) in dark shady
places, as melancholy people use to do. If he went into the
congregation, to join with them in solemn worship, instead of standing
up calmly to desire their prayers, he stood up and cried aloud,
through pain of body, or anguish of mind, like one half distracted. If
he appeared in public, to receive visits, when the fit came upon him he
could not contain himself, nor preserve due decorum, but stood up and
shrieked aloud. Thus he was a brother to dragons and owls
both in choosing solitude and retirement, as they do
and in making a fearful hideous noise as they do; his inconsiderate
complaints were fitly compared to their inarticulate ones.
2. The terror and trouble that seized his soul were the sorest part of
(1.) If he looked forward, he saw every thing frightful before him: if
he endeavoured to shake off his terrors, they turned furiously upon
him: if he endeavoured to escape from them, they pursued his soul as
swiftly and violently as the wind. He complained, at first, of the
terrors of God setting themselves in array against him,
And still, which way soever he looked, they turned upon him; which way
soever he fled, they pursued him. My soul (Heb., my principal
one, my princess); the soul is the principal part of the man; it is
our glory; it is every way more excellent than the body, and therefore
that which pursues the soul, and threatens that, should be most
(2.) If he looked back, he saw all the good he had formerly enjoyed
removed from him, and nothing left him but the bitter remembrance of
it: My welfare and prosperity pass away, as suddenly,
swiftly, and irrecoverably, as a cloud.
(3.) If he looked within, he found his spirit quite sunk and unable to
bear his infirmity, not only wounded, but poured out upon him,
He was not only weak as water, but, in his own apprehension, lost as
water spilt upon the ground. Compare
My heart is melted like wax.
3. His bodily diseases were very grievous; for,
(1.) He was full of pain, piercing pain, pain that went to the bone, to
all his bones,
It was a sword in his bones, which pierced him in the night
season, when he should have been refreshed with sleep. His nerves
were affected with strong convulsions; his sinews took no rest.
By reason of his pain, he could take no rest, but sleep departed from
his eyes. His bones were burnt with heat,
He was in a constant fever, which dried up the radical moisture and
even consumed the marrow in his bones. See how frail our bodies are,
which carry in themselves the seeds of our own disease and death.
(2.) He was full of sores. Some that are pained in their bones, yet
sleep in a whole skin, but, Satan's commission against Job extending
both to his bone and to his flesh, he spared neither. His skin was
black upon him,
The blood settled, and the sores suppurated and by degrees scabbed
over, which made his skin look black. Even his garment had its colour
changed with the continual running of his boils, and the soft clothing
he used to wear had now grown so stiff that all his garments were
like his collar,
It would be noisome to describe what a condition poor Job was in for
want of clean linen and good attendance, and what filthy rags all his
clothes were. Some think that, among other diseases, Job was ill of a
quinsy or swelling in his throat, and that it was this which bound him
about like a stiff collar. Thus was he cast into the mire
compared to mire (so some); his body looked more like a heap of
dirt than any thing else. Let none be proud of their clothing nor proud
of their cleanness; they know not but some disease or other may
change their garments, and even throw them into the mire,
and make them noisome both to themselves and others. Instead of
sweet smell, there shall be a stench,
We are but dust and ashes at the best, and our bodies are vile bodies;
but we are apt to forget it, till God, by some sore disease, makes us
sensibly to feel and own what we are. "I have become already
like that dust and ashes into which I must shortly be
resolved: wherever I go I carry my grave about with me."
4. That which afflicted him most of all was that God seemed to be his
enemy and to fight against him. It was he that cast him into
and seemed to trample on him when he had him there. This cut him to the
heart more than any thing else,
(1.) That God did not appear for him. He addressed himself to him, but
gained no grant--appealed to him, but gained no sentence; he was very
importunate in his applications, but in vain
"I cry unto thee, as one in earnest, I stand up, and cry,
as one waiting for an answer, but thou hearest not, thou regardest
not, for any thing I can perceive." If our most fervent prayers
bring not in speedy and sensible returns, we must not think it strange.
Though the seed of Jacob did never seek in vain, yet they have often
thought that they did and that God has not only been deaf, but angry,
at the prayers of his people,
(2.) That God did appear against him. That which he here says of God is
one of the worst words that ever Job spoke
Thou hast become cruel to me. Far be it from the God of mercy
and grace that he should be cruel to any (his compassions fail not),
but especially that he should be so to his own children. Job was unjust
and ungrateful when he said so of him: but harbouring hard thoughts of
God was the sin which did, at this time, most easily beset him. Here,
[1.] He thought God fought against him and stirred up his whole
strength to ruin him: With thy strong hand thou opposest
thyself, or art an adversary against me. He had better thoughts of
when he concluded he would not plead against him with his great
power. God has an absolute sovereignty and an irresistible
strength, but he never uses either the one or the other for the
crushing or oppressing of any.
[2.] He thought he insulted over him
Thou lifted me up to the wind, as a feather or the chaff which
the wind plays with; so unequal a match did Job think himself for
Omnipotence, and so unable was he to help himself when he was made to
ride, not in triumph, but in terror, upon the wings of the wind, and
the judgments of God did even dissolve his substance, as a cloud
is dissolved and dispersed by the wind. Man's substance, take him in
his best estate, is nothing before the power of God; it is soon
5. He expected no other now than that God, by these troubles, would
shortly make an end of him: "If I be made to ride upon the wind, I can
count upon no other than to break my neck shortly;" and he speaks as if
God had no other design upon him than that in all his dealings with
him: "I know that thou wilt bring me, with so much the more
terror, to death, though I might have been brought thither
without all this ado, for it is the house appointed for all
The grave is a house, a narrow, dark, cold, ill-furnished house, but it
will be our residence, where we shall rest and be safe. It is our long
home, our own home; for it is our mother's lap, and in it we are
gathered to our fathers. It is a house appointed for us by him that has
appointed us the bounds of all our habitations. It is appointed for
all the living. It is the common receptacle, where rich and poor meet;
it is appointed for the general rendezvous. We must all be brought
thither shortly. It is God that brings us to it, for the keys of death
and the grave are in his hand, and we may all know that, sooner or
later, he will bring us thither. It would be well for us if we would
duly consider it. The living know that they shall die; let us,
each of us, know it with application.
6. There were two things that aggravated his trouble, and made it the
(1.) That it was a very great disappointment to his expectation
"When I looked for good, for more good, or at least for the
continuance of what I had, then evil came"--such uncertain
things are all our worldly enjoyments, and such a folly is it to feed
ourselves with great expectations from them. Those that wait for light
from the sparks of their creature comforts will be wretchedly
disappointed and will make their bed in the darkness.
(2.) That is was a very great change in his condition
"My harp is not only laid by, and hung upon the willow-trees,
but it is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of those
that weep." Job, in his prosperity, had taken the timbrel and
harp, and rejoiced at the sound of the organ,
Notwithstanding his gravity and grace, he had found time to be
cheerful; but now his tune was altered. Let those therefore that
rejoice be as though they rejoiced not, for they know not how
soon their laughter will be turned into mourning and their
joy into heaviness. Thus we see how much Job complains of; but,
II. Here is something in the midst of all with which he comforts
himself, and it is but a little.
1. He foresees, with comfort, that death will be the period of all his
Though God now, with a strong hand, opposed himself against him, "yet,"
says he, "he will not stretch out his hand to the grave." The
hand of God's wrath would bring him to death, but would not follow him
beyond death; his soul would be safe and happy in the world of spirits,
his body safe and easy in the dust. Though men cry in his
destruction (though, when they are dying, there is a great deal of
agony and out-cry, many a sigh, and groan, and complaint), yet in the
grave they feel nothing, they fear nothing, but all is quiet there.
"Though in hell, which is called destruction, they cry, yet not
in the grave; and, being delivered from the second death, the first to
me will be an effectual relief." Therefore he wished he might be
hidden in the grave,
2. He reflects with comfort upon the concern he always had for the
calamities of others when he was himself at ease
Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? Some think he herein
complains of God, thinking it very hard that he who had shown mercy to
others should not himself find mercy. I would rather take it as a
quieting consideration to himself; his conscience witnessed for him
that he had always sympathized with persons in misery and done what he
could to help them, and therefore he had reason to expect that, at
length, both God and his friends would pity him. Those who mourn with
them that mourn will bear their own sorrows the better when it comes to
their turn to drink of the bitter cup. Did not my soul burn for the
poor? so some read it, comparing it with that of St. Paul,
2 Corinthians 11:29,
Who is offended, and I burn not? As those who have been
unmerciful and hard-hearted to others may expect to hear of it from
their own consciences, when they are themselves in trouble, so those
who have considered the poor and succoured them shall have the
remembrance thereof to make their bed easy in their sickness,