Matthew Poole's Commentary
My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.His life a burden; his complaint that he could not see the cause or end of God’s punishment: God delighteth not to oppress; nor was his innocence, though suspected by men, hid from God, Job 10 1-7. He argueth that, being God’s work, in his hands, receiving all from him, God would not destroy him, Job 10:8-13. His sins expose him to God’s wrath, which was terrible upon him, Job 10:14-17; curseth his birth: death desirable to him, Job 10:18-22.
So the sense is, My soul is weary of dwelling in this rotten and miserable carcass. Or, I am from my heart, or with my very soul, weary of my life; and therefore I may be excused if I complain. Or,
My soul is cut off while I live, i.e. I am dead whilst I live; I am in a manner buried alive.
I will leave my complaint upon myself: so the sense is, I will complain, and the burden or hazard of so doing I will take upon myself, and be willing to bear it; I must give my sorrows vent, let come on me what will, as he saith, Job 13:13. But the words may be read interrogatively, Shall I then (or how can I then) leave my complaint (i.e. give over complaining) within or concerning (as the Hebrew al oft signifies) myself? Or they may be rendered thus, I will strengthen (as this verb signifies, Nehemiah 3:8) my complaint against myself; whereby he implies that he would not complain against God so as to accuse him of injustice, but only against himself, or against his own life; or, concerning myself, i.e. I must renew and increase my complaints, as God renews and increases my sorrows.
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul; my extreme misery forceth my complaints from me.
I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.Do not condemn me; or, Pronounce me not to be a wicked man, as my friends do; neither deal with me as such, as I confess thou mightest do by thy sovereign power and in rigorous justice. O discover my integrity by removing this stroke, for which my friends so highly censure and condemn me.
Wherefore, i.e. for what ends and reasons, and for what sins? for I am not conscious to myself of any peculiar and eminent sins by which I have deserved to be made the most miserable of all mortals.
Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?Dost thou take any pleasure in it? Hast thou any advantage or honour by it? Dost thou think it right and just, and becoming the Ruler of the world?
That thou shouldest oppress, by thy absolute and irresistible power, without any regard to that justice, and equity, and clemency by which thou usest to govern mankind.
That thou shouldest despise, i.e. show thy contempt of them, either by denying them common favour and protection, or by destroying them.
The work of thine hands, which every workman loves and maintains.
Shine upon the counsel of the wicked, i.e. by the methods of thy providence seem to favour the courses and practices of wicked men, to whom thou givest prosperity, and success, whilst thou frownest upon me and other good men. This may have reference either to Job’s friends, whose ungodly censures God seemed to approve, by continuing Job’s afflictions upon him; or to the Chaldeans and Sabeans, who had succeeded in their wicked attempts upon Job; but it seems to he more generally meant of wicked men.
Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?Of flesh, i.e. of a man, who is called flesh, as Genesis 6:13 Isaiah 40:6.
Seest thou as man seeth? Man seeth outsides only, and judgeth by appearances, and is liable to many mistakes, and cannot search out secret faults without forcing men by cruel usage to accuse themselves: but thou needest none of these arts; thou seest my heart and mine uprightness, which my friends do not see, who therefore are more excusable in charging me with hypocrisy: but thou knowest all things, thou needest not examine me by tortures, as thou now dost, Job 10:6. For thou knowest that I am not wicked, as he saith, Job 10:7, and therefore do not thou deal with me as if I were wicked.
Are thy days as the days of man? are thy years as man's days,Man’s time is short and uncertain, and therefore he must improve his time whilst he hath it, and diligently search out the crimes of malefactors, and punish them whilst he may, lest by death he lose the opportunity of doing justice, and the criminal get out of his power. But it is not so with thee, thou art eternal and unchangeable, and seest at one view all men’s hearts, and all their actions present and to come; and therefore thou dost not need to proceed with me in this manner, by making so long and so severe a scrutiny into my heart and life.
That thou inquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin?Keeping me so long as it were upon the rack to compel me to accuse myself, as men sometimes do.
Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.I am not wicked, i.e. a hypocrite, or an ungodly man, as my friends account me; and therefore deal not with me as such.
There is none that can deliver out of thine hand: the sense is, either,
1. Thou dost not need to keep me fast in thy prison, lest I should make an escape, or any should rescue me out of thy hands, which none can do; therefore take off thy hand from me. Or,
2. If thou dost not help and deliver me, none else can do it; therefore do not thou fail me; which, considering God’s merciful nature, is a good argument. If any man oppress another, he may have relief from thee, who art higher than his oppressor, Ecclesiastes 5:8; but thou art the supreme and uncontrollable Ruler of the world, and therefore thou must needs do right, Genesis 18:25; and therefore do not thou oppress me. See Poole "Job 10:3". above, Job 10:4.
Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me.Together round about, i.e. all of me; all the faculties of my soul, and all the parts of my body, which are now overspread with sores and ulcers; I am wholly thy creature and workmanship, made by thee and for thee.
Thou dost destroy me, or swallow me up, to wit, without cause, or any eminent provocation of mine; as if thou didst delight in doing and undoing, in making and then destroying thy creatures; which doth not become thy wisdom or goodness.
Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?As the clay, i.e. of the clay; the note of similitude here expressing the truth of things, as it doth John 1:14, and elsewhere, as hath been before observed. Or, as a potter maketh a vessel of the clay; and so this may note both the frailty of man’s nature, which of itself decays and perisheth, and doth not need such violent shocks and storms to overthrow it; and the excellency of the Divine artifice, commended from the meanness of the materials out of which it was made; which is an argument why God should not destroy it.
Wilt thou bring me into dust again? wilt thou now causelessly and violently destroy thy own work? But the words are and may be read without an interrogation, and
thou wilt bring me into dust again, out of which I was made: I must die by the course of nature, and by the sentence of thy law; and therefore whilst I do live give me some ease and comfort.
Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?Thus he modestly and accurately describes God’s admirable work in making man out of a small and liquid, and as it were milky, substance, by degrees congealed and condensed into that exquisite frame of man’s body.
Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.Clothed me, i.e. covered my inward and more noble parts; which, as philosophers and physicians observe, are first formed. So he proceeds in describing man’s formation gradually.
With bones and sinews; which are the stay and strength of the body; and some of them, as the skull and ribs, enclose and defend its vital and most noble parts.
Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.Thou didst not only give me a curious body, but also a living and a reasonable soul: thou didst at first give me life, and then maintain it in me; both when I was in the womb, (which is a marvellous work of God,) and afterward, when I was unable to do any thing to preserve my own life.
Favour, or benignity, or bounty, or mercy, or kindness; which is here, as oft elsewhere, put for its fruits or effects. Thou didst not give a mere life, but many other favours necessary, or convenient, or belonging to it, such as nourishment by the breast, education, knowledge, and instruction, &c.
Thy visitation, i. e. the care of thy providence watching over me for my good, and visiting me in mercy; as God’s visiting is understood, Exodus 4:31 Luke 1:78, though elsewhere it is an act of punishment.
My spirit, i.e. my soul or life, which is liable to manifold casualties and dangers, if God did not watch over us and guard us every day and moment. Thou hast hitherto done great things for me, given me life, and the blessings of life, and daily preservations and deliverances; and wilt thou now undo all that thou hast done? and shall I, who have been such an eminent monument of thy mercy, now be made a spectacle of thy vengeance, and that without cause?
And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is with thee.This place may be understood either,
1. Of Job’s present afflictions. So the sense is this, Yet in the midst of all those manifestations of thy grace and kindness to me, thou didst retain a secret purpose of changing thy course and carriage towards me, and of bringing these dreadful calamities upon me. Or rather,
2. Of his former mercies,
these things, to wit, last mentioned;
thou hast hid them in thy heart, i.e. thou dost exactly remember them, as this phrase is used, Psalm 119:11 Luke 2:51. So the argument is this, Let the remembrance of thy former great favours vouchsafed to me move thee to give me further blessings, and a speedy deliverance. For this is usual both with God and men, to choose and delight to do more good to those to whom they have done much good already; which is the ground of that known passage, Matthew 13:12. To him that hath shall be given. With thee, i.e. in thy mind and heart; thou hast not forgot it: so the same thing is here repeated in other words.
If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.If I commit the least sin, (as who is there that liveth, and sinneth not?) thou dost not wink at or pass by my sins, as thou usually dost other men’s, but dost severely and diligently observe them all, that thou mayst punish them: compare Job 14:16 31:4.
Thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity; I perceive thou art resolved to punish me with rigour, and that thou wilt not pardon, and pity, and help me: words of great impatience and distrust.
If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction;If I be wicked, i.e. an ungodly hypocrite, as my friends esteem me, then I am truly and extremely, and must be eternally, miserable.
Righteous, i.e. an upright and good man: so, whether good or bad, all comes to one; I have no relief.
Yet will I not lift up my head; or, yet can I not, &c; the future tense being used potentially; yet I have no comfort, nor confidence, or hopes of any good. Lifting up the head or face is oft mentioned as a sign of comfort and confidence, as Psalm 3:3 Luke 21:28; as, on the contrary, grief and shame are described by its dejection or casting down.
Confusion, or reproach, from my friends, and from others, Job 30:1, &c., and from God too, who casts me off, and makes me contemptible. I have abundance of shame in the disappointment of all my hopes, and the continuance and aggravation of my misery, notwithstanding all my prayers to God to remove or mitigate it; and I am confounded within myself, not knowing what to say or do. Let my extremity move thee to pity and help me.
For it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again thou shewest thyself marvellous upon me.As a fierce lion; which hunteth after his prey with great eagerness, and when he overtakes it, falls upon it with great fury.
And again thou showest thyself marvellous upon me, Heb.
and thou returnest and showest thyself marvellous upon, or in, or against me. The lion tears its prey speedily, and so ends its torments; but thou renewest my calamities again and again, and makest my plagues wonderful, both for kind, and extremity, and continuance.
Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me.Thy witnesses, i.e. thy judgments, which are the witnesses and evidences, both of my sins, and of thy wrath. Thy indignation, i.e. my miseries, the effects of thine anger. These words are added to explain what he meant by renewing witnesses.
Changes and war; or, changes and an army; which may be a figure called hendiadis, for the changes of an army, i.e. many miseries succeeding one another, like companies of the soldiers of an army in battle; or changes may note the various kinds, and an army the great numbers, of his afflictions.
Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!To wit, alive, i.e. that I had never been born alive.
I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.I should have been, or, Oh that I had been! and so in the following branch,
Oh that I had been carried! For why should not these verbs of the future tense be so rendered here, as that Job 10:18 is, the reason being wholly the same?
Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little,My life is short, and of itself hastens apace to an end; there is no need that thou shouldst push it forward, or grudge me some ease for so small a moment.
Let me alone; or, lay aside, or remove, thy hand or anger from me.
Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death;To the place whence I shall not return into this world and life: see Job 7:9,10.
Darkness and the shadow of death, i.e. a dark and dismal shade: See Poole "Job 3:5".
A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.A land of darkness; either in things, without any succession of day and night, winter and summer; or among persons, where great and small are in the same condition, Job 3:19.
Where the light is as darkness; where there is no difference between light and darkness, where the day is as dark as the night, where there is nothing but perpetual and uninterrupted darkness.