Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?Job 7:1. Is there not, &c. — Job is here excusing what he cannot justify, his passionate longing for death. An appointed time for man upon earth — Hebrews צבא, tzaba, a warfare; or, time of warfare. The Targum is, Chela, militia. The Vulgate, militia est vita hominis, The life of man is a warfare. The heathen had the same thoughts of life: ο δε βιος πολεμος, M. Anton. 50. 2. sec. 17. Comp. Job 14:14. All the days, tzebai, of my appointed time; militiæ meæ, of my warfare. But our own translation appears to be as agreeable to the Hebrew, and to contain as good sense, as any other. Job seems to mean, Is there not a short time, limited by God, wherein man shall live in this sinful and miserable world; that afterward he may live in a more holy and happy place and state? And is it a crime in me to desire that God would bring me to that joyful period? 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. Reader, consider this! Are not his days also like the days of a hireling? — Whose time is short, being but a few years or days, and whose condition is full of toil and hardship.
As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work:Job 7:2. As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow — Of the evening, the sun-set, or the night, the time allotted for his rest and repose. For man goeth forth to his labour until the evening, Psalm 104:23. So, why may not I also desire the time of my rest? The Hebrew, however, ישׁאŠ צל, jishap tzel, is more literally rendered, gapeth, or panteth after the shade. And the meaning probably is, As a servant, labouring in the heat of the sun, earnestly desires a cool, refreshing shade. And as a hireling — Hebrews שׂכיר, sacir, properly, a servant hired for a certain time, whereas, the preceding word, עבד, gnebed, signifies a servant, whose time of service is not fixed or limited: looketh for the reward of his work — As the Hebrews פעל, pognal, according to Buxtorf, signifies both work, and, by a metonymy, the wages of work, and is accordingly translated wages, (Leviticus 19:13,) the words in the Italic character (namely, the reward of) did not need to be added here in the text, but the version might properly have been, As a hireling looketh, or, as Heath renders it, earnestly longeth for his wages.
So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me.Job 7:3. So am I made to possess, &c. — This word, so, respects not so much the desire of a hired servant, as the cause of it, his hard toil and service. He means, God hath allotted me these painful sufferings, as he hath allotted to a hired servant hard labour. Months of vanity — Months empty and unsatisfying, or false and deceitful, not affording me the ease and rest which they promised me, and I expected. He terms them months, rather than days, to signify the tediousness of his affliction. And wearisome nights — He mentions nights, because that is the saddest time for sick and miserable persons; the darkness and solitude of the night being of themselves uncomfortable, and giving them more opportunity for solemn and sorrowful reflections.
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 is broken, and become loathsome.Job 7:5-6. My flesh is clothed with worms — Which were bred out of his corrupted flesh and sores, and which, it seems, covered him all over like a garment. And clods of dust — The dust of the earth on which he lay. My skin is broken — By ulcers breaking out in all parts of it. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle — Which passes in a moment from one side of the web to the other. So the time of my life hastens to a period; and therefore vain are those hopes which you would give me of a restoration to my former prosperity in this world. And are spent without hope — Of enjoying any good day here.
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope.
O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good.Job 7:7-8. O remember — He turns his speech to God; perhaps observing that his friends grew weary of hearing it. If men will not hear us, God will: if men cannot help us, he can: for his arm is not shortened, neither is his ear heavy. The eye, &c., shall see me no more — In this mortal state: I shall never return to this life again. Thine eyes are upon me, and I am not — If thou cast one angry look upon me, I am not; that is, I am a dead man: or, when thine eyes shall be upon me, that is, when thou shalt look for me to do me good, thou wilt find that I am not, that I am dead and gone, and incapable of enjoying that bounty and goodness which thou givest to men in this world.
The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not.
As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.Job 7:9-10. As the cloud is consumed — Being dissolved by the heat of the sun. And vanisheth away — Never to return again. So he that goeth down, &c., shall come up no more — Never until the general resurrection. When you see a cloud, which looked great, as if it would eclipse the sun, of a sudden dispersed and disappearing, say, Just such a thing is the life of man, a vapour that appears for a while and then vanisheth away. He shall return no more to his house — He shall no more be seen and known in his former habitation. It concerns us to secure a better place when we die: for this will own us no more.
He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.
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.Job 7:11. Therefore I will not refrain, &c. — Since my life is so vain and short, and, when once lost, without all hopes of recovery. I will plead with God for pity before I die; I will not smother my anguish within my breast, but will ease myself by pouring out my complaints.
Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?Job 7:12. Am I a sea — Am I as fierce and unruly as the sea, which, if thou didst not set bounds to it, would overwhelm the earth? Or a whale? — Am I a vast and ungovernable sea-monster? that thou settest a watch over me? — That thou must restrain me by thy powerful providence; must shut me up and confine me under such heavy, unexampled, and insupportable sufferings, as these creatures are confined by the shore? “To set a watch over a whale,” says Dr. Dodd, “is certainly a very improper and absurd idea. Hence Houbigant, by a very slight alteration, reads it, Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou raisest a tempest against me? an idea which very well suits with that storm of troubles, wherewith Job was nearly overwhelmed.” We are apt in affliction to complain of God, as if he laid more upon us than there is occasion for: whereas we are never in heaviness but when there is need, nor more than there is need.
When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint;Job 7:13-14. My couch shall ease my complaint — By giving me sweet and quiet sleep, which may take off my sense of pain for that time. Then thou scarest me with dreams — With sad and frightful dreams. And terrifiest me with visions — With horrid apparitions; so that I am afraid to go to sleep, and my remedy proves as bad as my disease. This contributed no little to render the night so unwelcome and wearisome to him. How easily can God, when he pleases, meet us with terror there where we promised ourselves ease and repose. Nay, he can make us a terror to ourselves; and, as we have often contracted guilt, by the rovings of an unsanctified fancy, he can likewise, by the power of our imagination, create us a great deal of grief, and so make that our punishment which has often been our sin. Job’s dreams might probably arise, in part, from his distemper, but, no doubt, Satan also had a hand in them. We have reason to pray, that our dreams may neither defile nor disquiet us; neither tempt us to sin, nor torment us with fear; that he who keeps Israel, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, would keep us when we slumber and sleep. And we ought to bless God if we lie down and our sleep is sweet, and we are not thus scared.
Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions:
So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.Job 7:15. So that my soul chooseth strangling — The most violent death, so it be but certain and sudden, rather than such a wretched life. Hebrews מעצמותי, megnatsmothai, rather than my bones — That is, than my body, the skin of which was everywhere broken, and the flesh almost consumed, so that little remained but bones.
I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.Job 7:16. I loath it — To wit, my life, last mentioned. I would not live alway — In this world, if I might, no not in prosperity; for even such a life is but vanity; much less in this extremity of misery. Let me alone — That is, withdraw thy hand from me, either, 1, Thy supporting hand, which preserves my life, and suffer me to die: or, rather, 2, Thy correcting hand, as this phrase signifies, Job 7:19. For my days are vanity — My life is in itself, and in its best estate, a vain, unsatisfying, uncertain thing, empty of solid comfort, and exposed to real griefs, and therefore I would not be for ever tied to it. And it is a decaying and perishing thing, and will, of itself, quickly vanish and depart, and does not need to be forced from me by such exquisite torments.
What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?Job 7:17. What is man — Enosh, lapsed, fallen man; that thou shouldest magnify him? — What is there in that poor, mean creature called man, miserable man, which can induce thee to take any notice of him, or to make such account of him? Man is not worthy of thy favour, and he is below thy anger. It is too great a condescension in thee, and too great an honour done to man, that thou shouldst contend with him, and draw forth all thy forces against him, as if he were a fit match for thee. Therefore do not, O Lord, thus dishonour thyself or magnify me; and that thou shouldest set thy heart upon him — Shouldst concern thyself so much about him, as though he were a creature of great dignity and worth, or were near and dear to thee.
And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?Job 7:18. And that thou shouldest visit him — Namely, punish or chastise him, as the word visiting is often used; every morning — That is, every day; the word morning, which is the beginning of the day, being put, by a synecdoche, for the whole day, as the evening (Job 7:4) is put for the whole night; and try him every moment — That is, afflict him, which is often called trying, because it does indeed try a man’s faith, and patience, and perseverance. But this and the former verse may possibly be understood of mercies as well as afflictions. Having declared his loathing of life, and his passionate desire of death, and urged it with this consideration, that the days of his life were mere vanity; he may be considered as pursuing his argument with this expostulation, What is man, that vain, foolish creature, that thou shouldest magnify, or regard, or visit him with thy mercy and blessings; that thou shouldest so far honour and regard him, as by thy visitation to preserve his spirit, or hold his soul in life; and try him, which God doth, not only by his afflictions, but also by prosperity, and both inward and outward blessings? That thou shouldest observe his motions every moment, as in care for him, and jealous over him?
How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?Job 7:19. How long wilt thou not depart from me — How long will it be ere thou withdraw thy afflicting hand from me? The Hebrew is literally, How long wilt thou not take thine eyes off me? “This,” says Dodd, “is a metaphor from combatants, who never take their eyes from off their antagonists. The figure is preserved in the next sentence, which represents a combatant seized by his adversary in such a manner as to prevent his swallowing his spittle or fetching his breath.” Till I swallow my spittle? —
For a little while: or, that I may have a breathing time: an Arabic proverb at present in use. See Schultens.
I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself?Job 7:20. I have sinned — Although I am free from those crying sins for which my friends suppose thou hast sent this uncommon judgment upon me; yet I freely confess that I am a sinner, and therefore obnoxious to thy justice. And what shall I do unto thee? — To satisfy thy justice, or regain thy favour. I can do nothing to purchase or deserve it, and therefore implore thy mercy to pardon my sins; O thou Preserver of men — O thou, who, as thou wast the Creator of man, delightest to be, and to be called, the Preserver and Saviour of men; and who waitest to be kind and gracious to men, from day to day: do not deal with me in a way contrary to thy own nature and name, and to the manner of thy dealing with all the rest of mankind. As Job had expressed himself before as if he thought he was treated with severity, Schultens chooses to render נצר, notzer, observer, rather than preserver. This indeed seems to be more agreeable to the context, which intimates that the eye of God was upon Job to observe and watch him as an offender; and this construction may be justified from Jeremiah 4:16, where the same word, in the plural number, is rendered watchers. According to this translation the meaning is, O thou observer of men, who dost exactly know and diligently observe all men’s inward motions and outward actions; if thou shalt be severe to mark mine iniquities, as thou seemest to be, I have not what to say or do unto thee. Why hast thou set me as a mark, &c. — Into which thou wilt shoot all the arrows of thy indignation? So that I am a burden to myself — I am weary of myself and of my life, being no way able to resist or endure the strokes of so potent an adversary.
And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.Job 7:21. Why dost thou not pardon, &c. — Seeing thou art so gracious to others, so ready to preserve and forgive them; why may not I hope for the same favour from thee? For now shall I sleep in the dust — If thou dost not speedily help me it will be too late, I shall be dead, and so incapable of receiving those blessings which thou art wont to give to men in the land of the living; and thou shalt seek me, &c., but I shall not be — When thou shalt diligently seek for me that thou mayest show favour to me, thou wilt find that I am dead and gone, and so wilt lose the opportunity of doing it; help, therefore, speedily. The consideration of this, that we must shortly die, and perhaps may die suddenly, should make us all very solicitous to get our sins pardoned, and our iniquities taken away.