New European Commentary


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Job 10:1 My soul is weary of my life. I will give free course to my complaint. I will speak in the bitterness of my soul- Job fell into the trap of thinking that his terrible situation somehow allowed him to speak whatever words came into his head. Job felt he hadn’t been ‘fed’ and so he was entitled to “bray” and “low” over his misfortune (Job 6:5). Because of the weight of his sufferings, he thereby justified the fact that "Therefore have my words been rash (Job 6:3). Likewise “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit” (Job 7:11). “I will give free course to my complaint. I will speak in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 10:1 RV). Zophar criticizes Job being “full of talk” and speaking “the multitude of words”, “for thou sayest, my doctrine is pure” (Job 11:1-4)- as if Job felt that because he held true doctrine he was justified in pouring out words as he did. “Why should I not be impatient?” (Job 21:4 RV). “Today is my complaint bitter. My stroke is heavier than my groaning” (Job 23:2)- i.e. his complaining was due to his sufferings. “If I hold my peace, I shall give up the spirit” (Job 13:19 RVmg.). Job felt that the situation he was in forced him to use the words he did, and certainly justified it [we may well have used this reasoning ourselves when justifying the use of bad language]. But in the end, Elihu on God’s behalf rebuked him for his wrong words. And Job himself recognized: “I am vile. I will lay mine hand upon my mouth” in regret of his words (Job 40:4). “Wherefore I loathe my words and repent” (Job 42:6 RVmg.). He realized his mistake: he had thought that the situation justified his words. Now he hung his head and admitted that there was no justification for speaking in the way he had. Especially in the matter of the tongue, we can so easily justify ourselves; ‘I only said / did it [or didn’t do it] because…’. And it is all so child-like. Once we leave off all attempts at self-justification, we will face up to our sins.

Job 10:2 I will tell God, ‘Do not condemn me. Show me why You contend with me-
This somewhat contradicts Job's earlier statements in Job 9 that he is indeed a sinner and therefore fears condemnation. He knows, therefore, why he is worthy of condemnation; but his underlying sense that he is in fact innocent keeps coming out. And this is something we probably can identify with; it is one thing to admit that "I am a sinner", or "We are all sinners"; but quite another to accept the consequences and meaning of that, when compared to society we may appear very righteous.

Job 10:3 Is it good to You that You should oppress, that You should despise the work of Your hands, and smile on the counsel of the wicked?-
Job felt despised or cast away by God (Job 10:14) just as the exiles did, but this wasn't the case; God will not despise or cast away His servant people (Job 36:5; Is. 41:9; Jer. 31:37; 33:26). The grace of it all was that although he wanted to cast away his life (Job 7:16; 9:21), just as God's people cast away His covenant (Is. 8:6; 30:12; Jer. 6:19), God would not cast away His people in their exile and depression (s.w. Lev. 26:44), even if they cast him away.

Here again we see that Job's depression leads him to charge God foolishly. He clearly does not smile on wicked counsel, nor does He despise people. We marvel the more at God's final statement that Job had spoken rightly about Him (Job 42:7,8). That Divine comment may indeed simply be upon Job's statement of repentance. But all the same, we would expect God to clarify that was what He intended, and to offer some note that Job has indeed falsely accused Him. But God doesn't. He doesn't need to. He has completely justified Job by faith, clothing him with imputed righteousness. And His demonstration of His ways has in any case made the required point, and Job recognized that.

Job 10:4 Do You have eyes of flesh? Or do You see as man sees?-
As explained on :5,6, these desires Job had were in a sense legitimate; and they set him up to yearn for a person exactly like the Lord Jesus. The exiles' demand that God be like this was partly answered in the vision of the cherubim, which were covered with a body or "flesh" full of "eyes" (Ez. 10:12). This was to teach that God was in fact legitimately aware of the human perspective of His people in exile.

Job 10:5 Are Your days as the days of mortals, or Your years as man’s years-
LXX "Or is thy life human?". It was to be, in the person of His Son. See on :6.

Job 10:6 that You inquire after my iniquity, and search after my sin?-
The Lord Jesus can execute judgment upon human sin exactly because He is and was "Son of man" (Jn. 5:27); He is the answer to Job's complaint in :5 LXX "Is thy life human?". Job's questions and struggles set him up to need and appreciate the Lord Jesus, although Job died without having seen Him, although probably believing in His future appearance.

Job 10:7 Although You know that I am not wicked, there is no one who can deliver out of Your hand-
This appears to contradict Job's apparent awareness of sin in Job 9. He later confesses his sin; but here he seems to expect God to accept his own view of himself. He was effectively casting God in his own human image and likeness rather than the other way around. Or we could consider the possibility that Job is trying to force a difference between his being a sinner, but not being "wicked", i.e. 'extremely sinful' by the norms of society. This false difference is tackled by Paul in Rom. 1-8 and Job at the end repents, realizing that no such gradation of sin is ultimately acceptable.

Job 10:8 Your hands have framed me and fashioned me altogether, yet You swallow me up-
GNB "Your hands formed and shaped me, and now those same hands destroy me". This was indeed what happened at the destruction of Judah by God through Babylon; see on Jer. 18:8-10. It was unreasonable of both Job and the exiles to consider that because they were God's created people, therefore they were somehow immune from judgment. Job believed that it was God who was seeking to swallow him up in death (Job 10:8 Heb.) – surely alluding to how Mot, the god of death, was thought to have jaws encompassing the earth and swallowing up people at their death into the underworld. But Job rejected that myth – he saw God as the swallower, and death as a return to the dust, albeit in hope of bodily resurrection at the last day (Job 19:25–27). See on Job 26:6.

Job 10:9 Remember, I beg You, that You have fashioned me as clay. Will You bring me into dust again?-
As noted on :8, it was unreasonable of both Job and the exiles to consider that because they were God's created people, therefore they were somehow immune from judgment. A connection is made between Job and Adam here. This is Gen. 3:19- the curse upon sinful Adam that he would return to the dust. Job seems to be admitting that he is like Adam in that it appeared God was going to end his life as a result of his sin- return him to the dust. But he reasons that this is unfair, seeing he has not sinned (Job 10:7,14,15). Thus he oscillates between saying he has sinned and is like Adam, and then claiming that although he is being treated like Adam this is unfair. See on Job 9:17; 13:20-22.

Job 10:10 Haven’t You poured me out like milk, and curdled me like cheese?-
The original is obscure. Hence GNB: "You gave my father strength to beget me; you made me grow in my mother's womb". Again, as noted on :8,9, Job appears to consider that his being human, having been created by God, means that it is unreasonable of God to find fault with him. This again is leading us up to the final revelation of God, where all such justifications of sin and minimalizing of Divine judgment are taken away.

Job 10:11 You have clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews-
"Knit me together" is the same word as "hedge" when satan complains that God has made a hedge about Job (Job 1:10). Job appears to be aware of the conversation between the satan and the Lord. It therefore makes sense to understand that the gathering of the sons of God and 'satan' was a gathering of the people of God, including the friends and Job, and the conversation was heard by all. Job is therefore saying that actually the only hedge or fence he has is his own physical body. In Job 3:23 and Job 19:8 this hedging seems to be interpreted as a feeling of spiritual restriction- as if like Paul, Job yearned to be released from this body of sin and corruption to "the glorious (spiritual) liberty of the sons of God". Job seems to be saying 'You say  I'm hedged about with blessings. But now the only hedge I've got is this sick body. The only help you give me now is to give me my spirit to keep me alive, only so you can torment me more'. Understandable, if faulty, reasoning in Job's situation.

Job 10:12 You have granted me life and grace. Your visitation has preserved my spirit-
This is the kind of oscillation of feeling which is characteristic of depression. One moment Job sees God as unreasonable, the next, he appreciates the gift of life which he has been saying he doesn't want; and appreciates grace, and that it is God's special and conscious "visitation" which keeps him alive every moment. Divine "visitation" is an idea used for judgment (Jer. 11:23; 23:12; 46:21 etc.). If Job understood it that way, he is coming to see the paradox later made explicit at the end of the book- that the wrath of God is the love of God, His judgment is in fact the preservation of life for those who respond to it; it is in fact His grace. And chesed is the word that features in the description of the promises to Abraham as "mercy and truth" (Gen. 24:14,27 etc.).

Job 10:13 Yet You hid these things in Your heart. I know that this is with You-
LXX "Having these things in thyself, I know that thou canst do all things; for nothing is impossible with thee". Job at the end was to repeat these words in Job 42:2, but really understanding and meaning them as a result of his sufferings.

Job 10:14 If I sin, then You mark me. You will not acquit me from my iniquity-
Job feels here like Cain (Gen. 4:15; see on Job 11:15), marked for his sin and unable to just die as he perhaps initially wanted. Still Job is far from the total confession of sin and repentance which he finally comes to; he accepts he is a sinner, but seem to always qualify it, putting it under some question, and accuses God of unjustly punishing him for sin. But the Hebrew translated "mark" is the common word for 'keeping', e.g. "the way to the tree of life" (Gen. 3:24). Perhaps Job is lamenting that God still keeps him alive and doesn't let him die. 

Job 10:15 If I am wicked, woe to me. If I am righteous, I still shall not lift up my head, being filled with disgrace, and conscious of my affliction-
Perhaps Job has in mind the two possible outcomes of his final judgment; the "woe" of condemnation if indeed he is finally judged wicked, and yet the "disgrace" he would still feel if declared righteous. We see here how he has no clear faith in salvation at this point, and dislikes the way future salvation has to come through accepting "disgrace". The final revelation of God at the end elicits both his disgrace, and also his final acceptance that God has counted him as righteous. "Righteous" is the word for "just", used in the common question and theme of the book: "How can a man be just with God?" (Job 4:17; 9:2). What Job had to recognize was that righteousness was a gift from God by grace, and by attempting to establish his own righteousness according to his works, he was effectively condemning God (s.w. Job 40:8). We can also reason that Job's confusion is because even if he is personally righteous, he still will feel the "disgrace" or shame of condemnation- the very term used of the "disgrace" of Israel in their condemnation and rejection (Jer. 13:26; Hos. 4:7 etc.). And again we see the representative nature of Job as the suffering servant. He was righteous, but bore the shame / disgrace of Judah's condemnation. This confused and depressed him, but the Lord learnt from this; feeling our condemnation on account of His total identity with us, and yet being personally righteous.

Job 10:16 If my head is held high, You hunt me like a lion. Again You show Yourself wonderful to me-
As noted on :15, Job struggles with what seem contradictory movements of God toward him. On one hand, he is hunted as prey being chased by a lion; but then this same God, manifest through the lion, shows tender grace to him. And again, this is how things were to be with the representative suffering servant. It was God's people who were hunted by God, acting like a lion manifest in Babylon / Assyria. And yet that same God was "wonderful to me" personally, for Job was a righteous man. It was only when he was called upon to pray for his friends and to save them that he appreciated this; and thereby became established as a wonderful prototype of the Lord Jesus.

Job 10:17 You renew Your witnesses against me, and increase Your indignation on me. Changes and warfare are within me-
This continues the theme of :16, that one moment God shows Himself "wonderful to me", and the next, He has Job in the dock calling all manner of witnesses against him, and reading out the judgment of His "indignation". And this "change" or tension, this struggle or "warfare", was "within me", deeply absorbed into Job's struggling soul. The Lord Jesus generally appeared to have none of this, until the final struggling appeal "My God, why have You forsaken me?", 'Me, the righteous one' (Mt. 27:46). That struggle is shown resolved in Job.

Job 10:18 ‘Why, then, have You brought me forth out of the womb? I wish I had given up the spirit, and no eye had seen me-
This despising of his own life was because (as explained on :15-18), Job had yet to appreciate that his sufferings were not just for himself; they were because he was representative of others, and his prayer for the friends would be for their salvation. This is Paul's message in 2 Cor. 1- that suffering is in order for us to help others, and to mediate to them the grace God gives us in our sufferings. But without that sharing further, suffering is perceived by the sufferer as solely personal. And they therefore wish to die, because suffering for our own sake seems pointless. And so the simplistic explanation of the book of Job to the effect that 'through suffering Job became a better man' is missing the point, and is a one cent answer to million dollar questions.

Job 10:19 I should have been as though I had not been. I should have been carried from the womb to the grave-
Job doesn't wait to hear the answer to his question to God of :18- Why...? had he been born. The answer to that was that he was to become a representative sufferer who would be prepared for a point where he could pray for his friends and save them. Without this aspect of evangelism, of pastoral effect upon others, then all human experience and suffering, even life itself, is ultimately meaningless.

Job 10:20 Aren’t my days few? Cease then. Leave me alone, that I may find a little comfort-
Job didn't want comfort, he wanted God to leave him alone; and this was just how the exiles felt, in effect. Hence the message of the restoration prophets was that God's people were to be comforted (Is. 40:1 etc.). By grace, God didn't answer Job's request, and pushed forward His saving plan with him, as He sought to do with the exiles. These words were later on the lips of David (Ps. 39:10-13), perhaps at the time of his illness after his sin with Bathsheba. But that period was the one when he wrote the Psalms which are most clearly prophetic of the feelings of the Lord Jesus upon the cross. And Job was being led toward the spirit of Christ.

Job 10:21 before I go where I shall not return from, to the land of darkness and of the shadow of death-
At this point Job has apparently no faith in a resurrection. But already he has reasoned that the suffering of the righteous means that there must be a day of future judgment, involving personal resurrection. And by Job 19:25-27 he is clear about this. His faith, like ours, went up and down in the short term, but progressing towards the final acceptance of Divine salvation, grace and restoration at the end. 

Job 10:22 the land dark as midnight, of the shadow of death, without any order, where the light is as midnight’
- The lack of "order" and darkness suggests a return to the situation as described before the creation of Genesis 1. Job is failing to perceive that his 'decreation' or 'uncreation', like the destruction of Judah's kingdom and temple, was all a necessary prelude to the new creation promised in the restoration prophecies. And it was the essence of that which Job experienced in his own restoration. And this is why
Job 12:22 is such a significant breakthrough in Job's thinking, when he starts to accept that "He uncovers deep things out of darkness, and brings out to light the shadow of death".