Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.CHAPTER 3 Job’s Lament
1. Job curses the day of his birth (Job 3:1-9)
2. He longs for death (Job 3:10-23)
3. The reason why (Job 3:24-26)
Job 3:1-9. The silence is broken by Job. Alas! his lips do not utter praises now, but he cursed the day of his birth. It was a sore trial for Job to look into the faces of these pious friends, in perfect health and strength, and he, even more pious than they, stricken and smitten of God. It was an aggravation of Job’s grief and sorrow.
But let us notice though Job gives way to his feelings in this passionate outburst, he did not renounce God, nor is there a word of rebellion against Him. All through his address in answer to the arguments of his friends he does not lose sight of God, and over and over again expresses confidence in the unseen One, as in that matchless utterance, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust” (13:15).
Unmanned by the presence of his friends he curses the day of his birth. The chapter, and in fact all the chapters which follow, should be read in a good metrical version.
Perish the day when I was born to be,
And the night which said a man-child is conceived.
That day! may it be darkness;
Let not God regard it from above,
Neither let the light shine upon it.
Let darkness stain it and the shade of death.
Let densest clouds upon it settle down.
Let gathering darkness fill it with alarm.
That night--let gloom seize upon it.
Let it not rejoice among the days of the year.
Let it not come into the number of the months.
We give this as a sample of a metrical version. As the full quotation of the text is beyond the compass of our work, we recommend to our readers the translation of the Old Testament made by John Nelson Darby. It is the best we know and all poetical sections are given in this metrical arrangement.
Jeremiah, the great weeping prophet, also broke out in the midst of sorrow and treachery, in a similar lament, which reminds us of Job’s words.
Cursed be the day wherein I was born.
Let not the day in which my mother bare me be blessed.
Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father,
Saying, A man-child is born unto thee, making him glad.
Wherefore came I forth out of the womb
To see labour and sorrow
That my days should be consumed with shame?
Such expressions are the failures of poor, frail man. And He who knoweth our frame and remembereth that we are but dust, is like a father who pitieth His children (Psalm 103:13-14). Since critics associate the sufferings of Job with the suffering Servant of the Lord in Isaiah’s great prediction (Isaiah 53:1-12), we also can make this application, but not as meaning the nation, but our Lord Jesus Christ. What are Job’s sufferings in comparison with the sufferings of our Lord! Job sat upon an ash-heap, but the Son of God was nailed to the cross and then He was forsaken of God. Never did a murmur escape those blessed lips.
(The correct translation of verse 8 is as follows:
Let those engaged in cursing days, curse this day,
Who are ready to rouse Leviathan.
It voices heathen superstitions and myths.)
Job 3:10-23. He next wishes that he had died at the time of his birth and he looks upon death as a great relief and rest, saying:--
There the wicked cease from troubling
And there the wearied are at rest.
We see from these expressions that his mind turned to death as the great emancipator. Moses and Elijah exhibit the same trend of thought and weakness; so did disappointed Jonah when he said, “it is better for me to die.”
Weighed in the light of the New Testament all these expressions are found wanting. Death is not a friend whose visit is to be desired, but an enemy. The hope of God’s people in affliction and sorrow in the light of the gospel is not relief by death, but the coming of the Lord. The promise of the New Testament, “We shall not all sleep but be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1Corinthians 15:52) is unknown in the Old Testament, for it is one of the mysteries hidden in former ages. Job’s language is that of a man in despair; he seems to have quite forgotten the bright and blessed days of the past and fears a hopeless future.
Job 3:24-26. In this final paragraph Job states the reasons for his lament and longing for death to release him. We quote the last two verses.
For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me,
And that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
I was not careless, neither had I quietness
Neither was I at rest; yet trouble came.
He evidently in the days of his prosperity feared that just such calamities might overtake him. He knew the testing times would come and had no quietness. But now as they have come and the three anticipated evils overwhelmed him he would be glad to find the grave.