Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?
The peculiar circumstances of Job had, no doubt, something to do with eliciting from him this aspiration, otherwise its spirit would scarcely accord with the general tone of the patriarchs and of the saints of the Old Testament dispensation. For they evidently, as in the case of Hezekiah, had a great desire for long life. And it was no wonder, for it was held out as a special token of God's favour and a reward for upright conduct, and was therefore highly estimated and greatly coveted among the ancient pious Jews.
I. Life should be considered by the Christian as a possession greatly to be cherished. To esteem lightly and wish to abridge life is wrong. The desire to be with Christ—the attractive end of the magnet—cannot be too strong; but the weariness of this world, the longing to escape from it—the repulsive end—may easily run into excess. The present state of existence is the only one in which we shall ever glorify God by patience and the resistance of evil, or, as far as we know, by extending His kingdom upon earth. And therefore let us not be in haste to quit the field; for it may be the only field we shall ever have where we can glorify God for these high ends.
II. To the majority of people, however, the danger lies on the other side. They are unwilling to die. Notwithstanding all warnings and preparations which God is sending every day, the real spirit of their mind is, "I would live alway." It is because they are so encased and absorbed with the present life that they have no room for another.
III. When our sins are once cancelled, our nature spiritualised, ourselves "meetened for the inheritance of the saints in light," who would not say, with the patriarch, "I would not live alway"? We know and are sure that another life is awaiting us, to which this life is but as death" and our arms stretch out to that life. "We would not live alway."
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 10th series, p. 168.
References: Job 7:17.—J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 397; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 20. Job 7:17, Job 7:18.—J. Keble, Sermons for the Christian Year: Christmas and Epiphany, p. 170.
Job 7:20The great design of the book of Job, leaving out all detail and the undercurrents of the story, appears to be twofold: (1) to show that a good man, and because he is good, may yet receive at the hand of the God he loves and serves the severest discipline of pain and sorrow; (2) to illustrate that, however high the moral level of a man may be, he needs further sanctification, and specially that nothing avails before God, nothing has reached its necessary standard, without great humiliation and a very deep sense of sin.
I. There is no doubt that Job was a good man. He was a man of prayer. He had attained a spiritual knowledge far beyond his age, and he had many direct revelations from heaven. His want was a clearer insight into his own heart; juster views of the holiness of God; a truer estimate of sin, its nature and its vileness; a more personal conviction of the wickedness which, nothwithstanding all his virtues, still lived and reigned in him.
II. We see in the history of Job God's method by which He gives penitence to a good, but not yet humbled, man: the school of suffering, the greatnesses of His own majesty and power, the inworking of the convicting Spirit, revelations of Jesus, and the ministrations of His messenger.
III. Why is it needful for a good man to say, "I have sinned"? (1) Because it is true; (2) because it places him in a right relation to God; (3) because it puts Jesus in His proper place. The Cross is the centre of God's universe. Everything revolves around the Cross. Everything must minister to the Cross.
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 7th series, p. 104.
References: Job 7:20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 113; Expositor, 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 284; Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Genesis to Proverbs, p. 121. Job 8:4.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iv., p. 129.
As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work:
So am I made to possess months of vanity, 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 is broken, and become loathsome.
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.
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.
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.
Am I a sea, or a whale, 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 my life.
I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.
What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?
And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?
How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?
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?
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.