Job 6:4
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.
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(4) The poison whereof drinketh up my spirit.—Rather, the poison whereof my spirit imbibeth, the rendering of the Authorised Version being ambiguous.

Do set themselves in array against me.—Like hosts marshalling themselves for battle. If the ox or the ass will not low or bray so long as he is satisfied, so neither should I complain if I had no valid cause. My groaning is the evidence of a great burden, and consequently the disdainful way in which you treat it is insipid and distasteful to me—my soul refuseth to touch your proffered remedies; they are as loathsome meat to me.” According to some, the words rendered “the white of an egg” mean the juice of purslain.

Job 6:4. The arrows of the Almighty are within me, &c. — The sublimity of style, and beautiful vein of poetry, which run through this verse, are well deserving of the reader’s particular attention. He fitly terms his afflictions arrows, because, like arrows, they came upon him swiftly and suddenly, one after another, and that from on high, and wounded him deeply. And he calls them arrows of the Almighty, not only, generally speaking, because all afflictions come from him, but particularly, because God’s hand was in a singular manner visible and eminent in his sufferings, and especially because they were immediately shot by God into his spirit, so that they were within him, as it follows, not like the external evils mentioned chap. 1., which were passed, but fixed and constant in his very nature, producing sharp pains in his body, and dismal horrors in his mind. The poison whereof drinketh up my spirit — Or, as the Hebrew may be rendered, The poison whereof my spirit drinketh up: which is the construction of Pagninus and the Targum. But our translation is more poetical, and quite agreeable to Moses’s sublime expression, Deuteronomy 32:42, where he represents God as taking vengeance on his enemies, and saying, I will make mine arrows drunk with blood. The words imply, that these arrows were more keen and pernicious than ordinary, being dipped in God’s wrath, as the barbarous nations used to dip their arrows in poison, that they might not only pierce, but burn up and consume the vital parts. Thus did the poison of God’s arrows drink up his spirit, that is, exhaust and consume his life and soul. The terrors of God do set themselves in array — They are like a numerous army invading me on every side. Houbigant renders it, The terrors of the Lord confound me. This was the sorest part of his calamity, wherein he was an eminent type of Christ, who complained most of the sufferings of his soul. Indeed, trouble of mind is the sorest trouble. A wounded spirit, who can bear? “He had patience enough,” says Lord Clarendon, “for the oppression and rapine of his enemies, for the unkindness and reproach of his friends, and for the cunning and malice of the devil; but he was so transported with the sense of God’s anger against him, he could not bear that with temper: the apprehension that all those miseries, of so piercing and destroying a nature in themselves, fell upon him, not only by God’s permission, to try and humble him, but proceeded directly from his indignation and resolution to destroy him, almost confounded him. When they appeared no more the arrows of his enemies levelled and shot at his greatness and prosperity, the enterprises and designs of evil men, suborned by the devil against him; but the artillery which God himself discharged upon him in his greatest displeasure and fury, he was able to stand the shock no longer, and thought he had some reason to pour out his complaints and lamentations with a little more earnestness; and that the grief and trouble of his mind might excuse the want of that order, and method, and deliberation, which the ease, and calm condition, and disputing humour of his friends, who were only healthy spectators of what he suffered, reproachfully required from him.”

6:1-7 Job still justifies himself in his complaints. In addition to outward troubles, the inward sense of God's wrath took away all his courage and resolution. The feeling sense of the wrath of God is harder to bear than any outward afflictions. What then did the Saviour endure in the garden and on the cross, when he bare our sins, and his soul was made a sacrifice to Divine justice for us! Whatever burden of affliction, in body or estate, God is pleased to lay upon us, we may well submit to it as long as he continues to us the use of our reason, and the peace of our conscience; but if either of these is disturbed, our case is very pitiable. Job reflects upon his friends for their censures. He complains he had nothing offered for his relief, but what was in itself tasteless, loathsome, and burdensome.To the shield:

He runneth upon him with outstretched neck,

With the thick bosses of his shields. Job 15:26.

To the methods of attack, and the capture of a walled town:

He set me up for a mark,

His archers came around me;

He transfixed my reins, and did not spare;

My gall hath he poured out upon the ground.

He breaketh me with breach upon breach;

He rusheth upon me like a mighty man. Job 16:12-14.

To the iron weapon and the bow of brass:

He shall flee from the iron weapon,

But the bow of brass shall pierce him through.

4. arrows … within me—have pierced me. A poetic image representing the avenging Almighty armed with bow and arrows (Ps 38:2, 3). Here the arrows are poisoned. Peculiarly appropriate, in reference to the burning pains which penetrated, like poison, into the inmost parts—("spirit"; as contrasted with mere surface flesh wounds) of Job's body.

set themselves in array—a military image (Jud 20:33). All the terrors which the divine wrath can muster are set in array against me (Isa 42:13).

Arrows; so he fitly calls his afflictions, because, like arrows, they came upon him swiftly and suddenly, one after another, and that from on high, and they wounded him deeply and deadly.

Of the Almighty; so he calls them, either generally, because all afflictions come from him; or particularly, because God’s hand was in a singular manner eminent and visible in his miseries, Job 1; or yet more especially, because they were immediately shot by God into his spirit, as it follows.

Are within me; besides those evils which are past, Job 1, there are other miseries that are constant and fixed in me, the sharp pains of my body, and dismal horrors of my mind.

The poison whereof; implying that these arrows were more keen and pernicious than ordinary, as being dipped in God’s wrath, as the barbarous nations then and since used to dip their arrows in poison, that they might not only pierce, but burn up and consume the vital parts.

Drinketh up my spirit, i.e. exhausteth and consumeth, either,

1. My vital spirits, together with my blood, the seat of them, and my heart, the spring of them, as poison useth to do. But I doubt the Hebrew word ruach is never used in that sense. Or,

2. My soul, which is commonly the spirit, my mind and conscience. So he tells them, that besides the miseries which they saw, he felt others, and far greater, though invisible, torments in his soul, which if they could see, they would have more pity for him. And in this sense this place is and may very well be otherwise rendered, whose poison my spirit

drinketh up, i.e. my soul sucks in the venom of those calamities, by apprehending and applying to itself the wrath of God manifested and conveyed by them.

The terrors of God; either,

1. Great terrors; or,

2. God’s terrible judgments; or rather,

3. These terrors which God immediately works in my soul, either from the sense of his wrath accompanying my outward troubles, or from the sad expectation of longer and greater torments.

Set themselves in array; they are like a numerous and well-ordered army, under the conduct of an irresistible general, who designs and directs them to invade me on every side.

For the arrows of the Almighty are within me,.... Which are a reason proving the weight and heaviness of his affliction, and also of his hot and passionate expressions he broke out into; which designs not so much outward calamities, as famine, pestilence, thunder and lightning, which are called the arrows of God, Deuteronomy 32:23; all which had attended Job, and were his case; being reduced to extreme poverty, had malignant and pestilential ulcers upon him, and his sheep destroyed by thunder and lightning; and which were like arrows, that came upon him suddenly, secretly, and at unawares, and very swiftly; these arrows flew thick and first about, him, and stuck in him, and were sharp and painful, and wounded and slew him; for he was now under slaying circumstances of Providence; but rather these mean, together with his afflictions, the inward distresses, grief, and anguish of his mind arising from them, being attended with a keen sense of the divine displeasure, which was the case of David, and is expressed in much the same language, Psalm 38:1; Job here considers his afflictions as coming from God, as arrows shot from his bow; and as coming from him, not as a father, in a way of paternal chastisement, and love, dealing with him as a child of his, but accounting him as an enemy, and setting him up as a mark or butt to shoot at, see Job 7:20; yea, not only as the arrows of a strong and mighty man, expert in archery, who shoots his arrows with great strength and skill, so that they miss not, and return not in vain, see Psalm 120:4; but as being the arrows of the Almighty, which come with force irresistible, with the stretching and lighting down of his arm, and with the indignation of his anger intolerable:

the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit; alluding to the custom of some people, that used to dip their arrows in poison, or besmear them with it; so the Persians, as Jarchi observes, and Heliodorus (c) reports of the Ethiopians, that they dipped their arrows in the poison of dragons, and which made them inflammatory, and raised such an heat, and such burning pains, as were intolerable; and now, as such poison presently infected the blood, and penetrated into and seized the animal spirits, and inflamed and soon exhausted them; so the heat of divine wrath, and a sense of it, which attended the arrows of God, his afflictions on Job, so affected him, as not only to take away his breath, that he could not speak, as in Job 6:3, or rather, as to cause those warm and hot expressions to break out from him, but even to eat up his vital spirits, and leave him spiritless and lifeless; which was Heman's case, and similar to Job's, Psalm 88:3,

the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me; the Lord is sometimes compared to a man of war in arms, stirring up his wrath and jealousy, Exodus 15:3; and in this light he was viewed by Job, and so he apprehended him, as coming forth against him, and which was terrible; and his terrors were like an army of soldiers set in battle array, in rank and file, ready to discharge, or discharging their artillery upon him; and which sometimes design the inward terrors of mind, of a guilty conscience, the terrors of God's judgment here, or of a future judgment hereafter, of death and hell, and eternal damnation, through the menaces and curses of the law of God transgressed and broken; but here afflictive providences, or terrible things in righteousness, which surrounded him, attacked him in great numbers, and in a hostile military way, with great order and regularity, and which were frightful to behold; perhaps regard may be also had to those scaring dreams and terrifying visions he sometimes had, see Job 7:14.

(c) Ethiopic. l. 9. c. 19.

For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do {c} set themselves in array against me.

(c) Which declares that he was not only afflicted in body, but wounded in conscience, which is the greatest battle that the faithful can have.

4. the arrows of the Almighty] This explains his bearing and excuses it. Everywhere Job says that it is not his afflictions in themselves that terrify him, it is that they come from God; it is the moral problem that lies under his calamities and that God has become his enemy that makes his heart “soft” (ch. Job 23:15 seq.). The “arrows” of God are the plagues, diseases and pains with which He assails men, ch. Job 16:12 seq.; cf. Psalm 38:2 seq.; Deuteronomy 32:23. So Hamlet,

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

the poison whereof drinketh] Rather, the poison of which my spirit drinketh in. God’s arrows are poisoned arrows, the poison of which the spirit sucks in and becomes enervated and paralysed. This is the idea, rather than maddened. The figure in the end of the verse is that of a beleaguering army; this host is composed of “terrors” from God. The reference is again not to Job’s mere physical pains, but to the perplexing thoughts and fears which they occasioned.

Verse 4. - For the arrows of the Almighty are wlthin me (comp. Psalm 38:2, "For thine arrows stick fast in me"). So Shakespeare speaks of "the slings and arrows el outrageous fortune" for calamities generally. The metaphor is a very common one (see Deuteronomy 32:23, 42; Psalm 7:13; Psalm 21:12; Psalm 45:5; Lamentations 3:13, 14). The poison whereof. Poisoned arrows, such as are now employed by the savage tribes of Central Africa, were common in antiquity, though seldom used by civilized nations. Ovid declares that the Scythians of his time made use of them ('Tristia,' 1, 2). Drinketh up my spirit; rather, my spirit drinketh up. Job's spirit absorbs the poison that festers in his wounds, and therefore loses control over itself. This is his apology for his vehemence; he is well-nigh distraught. He adds, The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. Besides actual pains and sufferings, he is assailed by fears. God's terrors, i.e. all the other evils that he has at his disposal, are drawn up against him, as it were, in battle array, and still further agitate and distract his soul. What further troubles may not God bring upon him? Job 6:4 1 Then began Job, and said:

2 Oh that my vexation were but weighed,

And they would put my suffering in the balance against it!

3 Then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea:

Therefore my words are rash.

4 The arrows of the Almighty are in me,

The burning poison whereof drinketh up my spirit;

The terrors of Eloah set themselves in array against me.

Vexation (כּעשׂ) is what Eliphaz has reproached him with (Job 5:2). Job wishes that his vexation were placed in one scale and his היּה (Keri הוּה) in the other, and weighed together (יחד). The noun היּה (הוּה), from הוה (היה), flare, hiare, signifies properly hiatus, then vorago, a yawning gulf, χάσμα, then some dreadful calamity (vid., Hupfeld on Psalm 5:10). נשׂא, like נטל, Isaiah 11:15, to raise the balance, as pendere, to let it hang down; attollant instead of the passive. This is his desire; and if they but understood the matter, it would then be manifest (כּי־עתּה, as Job 3:13, which see), or: indeed then would it be manifest (כּי certainly in this inferential position has an affirmative signification: vid., Genesis 26:22; Genesis 29:32, and comp. 1 Samuel 25:34; 2 Samuel 2:27) that his suffering is heavier than the unmeasurable weight of the sand of the sea. יכבּד is neuter with reference to והיּתי. לעוּ, with the tone on the penult., which is not to be accounted for by the rhythm as in Psalm 37:20; Psalm 137:7, cannot be derived from לעה, but only from לוּע, not however in the signification to suck down, but from לוּע equals לעה, Arab. lagiya or also lagâ, temere loqui, inania effutire, - a signification which suits excellently here.

(Note: ילע, Proverbs 20:25, which is doubly accented, and must be pronounced as oxytone, has also this meaning: the snare of a man who has thoughtlessly uttered what is holy (an interjectional clause equals such an one has implicated himself), and after (having made) vows will harbour care (i.e., whether he will be able to fulfil them).)

His words are like those of one in delirium. עמּדי is to be explained according to Psalm 38:3; חמתם, according to Psalm 7:15. יערכוּני is short for עלי מלחמה יערכי, they make war against me, set themselves in battle array against me. Bttcher, without brachylogy: they cause me to arm myself, put one of necessity on the defensive, which does not suit the subject. The terrors of God strike down all defence. The wrath of God is irresistible. The sting of his suffering, however, is the wrath of God which his spirit drinks as a draught of poison (comp. Job 21:20), and consequently wrings from him, even from his deepest soul, the thought that God is become his enemy: therefore his is an endless suffering, and therefore is it that he speaks so despondingly.

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