Job 3:26
I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
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Job 3:26. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet — Three expressions denoting the same thing, which was also signified in the verse immediately preceding, namely, that even in his prosperous days he never esteemed himself secure, or was perfectly free from the torment of fear and anxiety. Or, his meaning is, I did not misbehave myself in prosperity, abusing it by presumption and security; but I lived circumspectly, walking humbly with God, and working out my salvation with fear and trembling. Yet trouble came — As I feared it would. So that between fear and calamity my whole life has been uncomfortable, and I had reason to repent of it. Therefore, in this sense also his way was hid, and he knew not why God contended with him.

3:20-26 Job was like a man who had lost his way, and had no prospect of escape, or hope of better times. But surely he was in an ill frame for death when so unwilling to live. Let it be our constant care to get ready for another world, and then leave it to God to order our removal thither as he thinks fit. Grace teaches us in the midst of life's greatest comforts, to be willing to die, and in the midst of its greatest crosses, to be willing to live. Job's way was hid; he knew not wherefore God contended with him. The afflicted and tempted Christian knows something of this heaviness; when he has been looking too much at the things that are seen, some chastisement of his heavenly Father will give him a taste of this disgust of life, and a glance at these dark regions of despair. Nor is there any help until God shall restore to him the joys of his salvation. Blessed be God, the earth is full of his goodness, though full of man's wickedness. This life may be made tolerable if we attend to our duty. We look for eternal mercy, if willing to receive Christ as our Saviour.I was not in safety - That is, I have, or I had no peace. שׁלה shâlâh Septuagint, οὔτε εἰρήνευσα oute eirēneusa - "I had no peace." The sense is, that his mind had been disturbed with fearful alarms; or perhaps that at that time he was filled with dread.

Neither had I rest - Trouble comes upon me in every form, and I am a stranger wholly to peace. The accumulation of phrases here, all meaning nearly the same thing, is descriptive of a state of great agitation of mind. Such an accumulation is not uncommon in the Bible to denote any thing which language can scarcely describe. So in Isaiah 8:22 :

And they shall look upward; And to the earth shall they look; And lo!

rouble and darkness, Gloom, oppression, and deepened darkness.

So Job 10:21-22 :

To the land of darkness and the death-shade,

The land of darkness like the blackness of the death-shade,

Where is no order, and where the light is as darkness.

Thus, in the Hamasa (quoted by Dr Good), "Death, and devastation, and a remorseless disease, and a still heavier and more terrific family of evils." The Chaldee has made a remarkable addition here, arising from the general design in the author of that Paraphrase, to explain everything. "Did I not dissemble when the annunciation was made to me respecting the oxen and the asses? Was I not stupid (unalarmed, or unmoved, שדוכית), when the report came about the conflagration? Was I not quiet, when the report came respecting the camels? And did not indignation come, when the report was made respecting my sons?"

Yet trouble came - Or rather, "and trouble comes." This is one of the cumulative expressions to denote the rapidity and the intensity of his sorrows. The word rendered "trouble" (רגז rôgez) means properly trembling, commotion, disquiet. Here it signifies such misery as made him tremble. Once the word means wrath Habakkuk 3:2; and it is so understood here by the Septuagint, who renders it ὀργή orgē.

In regard to this chapter, containing the first speech of Job, we may remark, that it is impossible to approve the spirit which it exhibits, or to believe that it was acceptable to God. It laid the foundation for the reflections - many of them exceedingly just - in the following chapters, and led his friends to doubt whether such a man could be truly pious. The spirit which is manifested in this chapter, is undoubtedly far from that calm submission which religion should have produced, and from that which Job had before evinced. That he was, in the main, a man of eminent holiness and patience, the whole book demonstrates; but this chapter is one of the conclusive proofs that he was not absolutely free from imperfection. From the chapter we may learn,

(1) That even eminently good men sometimes give utterance to sentiments which are a departure from the spirit of religion, and which they will have occasion to regret. Such was the case here. There was a language of complaint, and a bitterness of expression, which religion cannot sanction, and which no pious man, on reflection, would approve.

(2) We see the effect of heavy affliction on the mind. It sometimes becomes overwhelming. It is so great that all the ordinary barriers against impatience are swept away. The sufferer is left to utter language of complaining, and there is the impatient wish that life was closed, or that he had not existed.

(3) We are not to infer that because a man in affliction makes use of some expressions which we cannot approve, and which are not sanctioned by the word of God, that therefore he is not a good man. There may be true piety, yet it may be far from perfection; there may be in general submission to God, yet the calamity may be so overwhelming as to overcome the usual restraints on our corrupt and fallen nature: and when we remember how feeble is our nature at best, and how imperfect is the piety of the holiest of men, we should not harshly judge him who is left to express impatience in his trials, or who gives utterance to sentiments different from those which are sanctioned by the word of God. There has been but one model of pure submission on earth - the Lord Jesus Christ; and after the contemplation of the best of men in their trials, we can see that there is imperfection in them, and that if we would survey absolute perfection in suffering, we must go to Gethsemane and to Calvary.


26. I was not in safety … yet trouble came—referring, not to his former state, but to the beginning of his troubles. From that time I had no rest, there was no intermission of sorrows. "And" (not, "yet") a fresh trouble is coming, namely, my friends' suspicion of my being a hypocrite. This gives the starting-point to the whole ensuing controversy. The three expressions note the same thing, which also was signified in the next foregoing verse, to wit, that even in his prosperous days he never was secure or at rest from the torment of fear and anxiety. Others, I did not misbehave myself in prosperity, abusing it by presumption, and security, and voluptuousness, whereby I might have provoked God thus to afflict me; but I lived soberly and circumspectly, walking humbly with God, and working out my salvation with fear and trembling, little expecting that God would be so fierce an enemy against me.

Yet trouble came, Heb. and trouble came, as I feared it would. So between fear and calamity my whole life hath been miserable, and I had reason to repent of it.

I was not in safety,.... This cannot refer to the time of his prosperity; for he certainly then was in safety, God having set an hedge about him, so that none of his enemies, nor even Satan himself, could come at him to hurt him:

neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; which also was not true of him before his afflictions, for he did then enjoy great peace, rest, and quietness; he lay in his nest at ease, and in great tranquillity; and thought and said he should die in such a state, see Job 29:18, &c. nor is the sense of these expressions, that he did not take up his rest and satisfaction in outward things, and put his trust and confidence in his riches, and yet trouble came upon him; but this relates to the time of the beginning of his troubles and afflictions, from which time he was not in safety, nor had any rest and peace; there was no intermission of his sorrows; but as soon as one affliction was over, another came:

yet trouble came; still one after another, there was no end of them; or, as Mr. Broughton renders it, "and now cometh a vexation"; a fresh one, a suspicion of hypocrisy; and upon this turns the whole controversy, managed and carried on between him and his friends in the following part of this book.

I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; {q} yet trouble came.

(q) The fear of troubles that would ensue, caused my prosperity to seem to me as nothing, and yet I am not exempted from trouble.

Verse 26. - I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came. Some Hebraists give quite a different turn to this passage, rendering it as follows: "I am not at ease, neither am I quiet, neither have I rest; but trouble cometh" (see the Revised Version, and compare Canon Cook's rendering in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 4. p. 29, "I have no peace, nor quiet, nor rest; but trouble cometh "). Professor Lee, however, certainly one of the most eminent of modern Hebraists, maintains that the far more pregnant meaning of the Authorized Version gives the true sense. "If I rightly apprehend," he says, "the drift of the context here, Job means to have it understood that he is conscious of no instance in which he has relaxed from his religious obligations; of no season in which his fear and love of God have waxed weak; and, on this account, it was the more perplexing that such a complication of miseries had befallen him" ('The Book of Job' pp. 201, 202); and he translates the passage (ibid., p. 121), "I slackened not, neither was I quiet, neither took I rest; yet trouble came." Job's complaint is thus far more pointedly terminated than by a mere otiose statement that, "without rest or pause, trouble came upon trouble."

Job 3:2624 For instead of my food my sighing cometh,

And my roarings pour themselves forth as water.

25 For I fear something terrible, and it cometh upon me,

And that before which I shudder cometh to me.

26 I dwelt not in security, nor rested, nor refreshed myself:

Then trouble cometh.

That לפני may pass over from the local signification to the substitutionary, like the Lat. pro (e.g., pro praemio est), is seen from Job 4:19 (comp. 1 Samuel 1:16): the parallelism, which is less favourable to the interpretation, before my bread (Hahn, Schlottm., and others), favours the signification pro here. The fut. consec. ויּתּכוּ (Kal of נתך) is to be translated, according to Ges. 129, 3, a, se effundunt (not effuderunt): it denotes, by close connection with the preceding, that which has hitherto happened. Just so v. 25a: I fear something terrible; forthwith it comes over me (this terrible, most dreadful thing). אתה is conjugated by the ה passing into the original א of the root (vid., Ges. 74, rem. 4). And just so the conclusion: then also forthwith רגן (i.e., suffering which disorders, rages and ransacks furiously) comes again. Schlottm. translates tamely and wrongly: then comes - oppression. Hahn, better: Nevertheless fresh trouble always comes; but the "nevertheless" is incorrect, for the fut. consec. indicates a close connection, not contrast. The praett., Job 3:26, give the details of the principal fact, which follows in the fut. consec.: only a short cessation, which is no real cessation; then the suffering rages afresh.

Why - one is inclined to ask respecting this first speech of Job, which gives rise to the following controversy - why does the writer allow Job, who but a short time before, in opposition to his wife, has manifested such wise submission to God's dealings, all at once to break forth in such despair? Does it not seem as though the assertion of Satan were about to be confirmed? Much depends upon one's forming a correct and just judgment respecting the state of mind from which this first speech proceeds. To this purpose, consider (1) That the speech contains no trace of what the writer means by את־האלהים ברך: Job nowhere says that he will have nothing more to do with God; he does not renounce his former faithfulness: (2) That, however, in the mind of the writer, as may be gathered from Job 2:10, this speech is to be regarded as the beginning of Job's sinning. If a man, on account of his sufferings, wishes to die early, or not to have been born at all, he has lost his confidence that God, even in the severest suffering, designs his highest good; and this want of confidence is sin.

There is, however, a great difference between a man who has in general no trust in God, and in whom suffering only makes this manifest in a terrible manner, and the man with whom trust in God is a habit of his soul, and is only momentarily repressed, and, as it were, paralysed. Such interruption of the habitual state may result from the first pressure of unaccustomed suffering; it may then seem as though trust in God were overwhelmed, whereas it has only given way to rally itself again. It is, however, not the greatness of the affliction in itself which shakes his sincere trust in God, but a change of disposition on the part of God which seems to be at work in the affliction. The sufferer considers himself as forgotten, forsaken, and rejected of God, as many passages in the Psalms and Lamentations show: therefore he sinks into despair: and in this despair expression is given to the profound truth (although with regard to the individual it is a sinful weakness), that it is better never to have been born, or to be annihilated, than to be rejected of God (comp. Matthew 26:24, καλὸν ἦ αὐτῷ ει ̓ οὐκ ἐγεννήθη ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖνος). In such a condition of spiritual, and, as we know from the prologue, of Satanic temptation (Luke 22:31; Ephesians 6:16), is Job. He does not despair when he contemplates his affliction, but when he looks at God through it, who, as though He were become his enemy, has surrounded him with this affliction as with a rampart. He calls himself a man whose way is hidden, as Zion laments, Isaiah 40:27, "My way is hidden from Jehovah;" a man whom Eloah has hedged round, as Jeremiah laments over the ruins of Jerusalem, Lamentations 3:1-13 (in some measure a comment on Job 3:23), "I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath ... . He has hedged me round that I cannot get out, and made my chain heavy."

In this condition of entire deprivation of every taste of divine goodness, Job breaks forth in curses. He has lost wealth and children, and has praised God; he has even begun to bear an incurable disease with submission to the providence of God. Now, however, when not only the affliction, but God himself, seems to him to be hostile (nunc autem occultato patre, as Brentius expresses it),

(Note: Fries, in his discussion of this portion of the book of Job, Jahrbb. fr Deutsche Theologie, 1859, S. 790ff., is quite right that the real affliction of Job consists in this, that the inward feeling of being forsaken of God, which was hitherto strange to him, is come upon him. But the remark directed against me, that the feeling of being forsaken of God does not always stand in connection with other affliction, but may come on the favoured of God even in the midst of uninterrupted outward prosperity, does not concern me, since it is manifestly by the dispensations which deprive him of all his possessions, and at last affect him corporeally and individually, that Job is led to regard himself as one forsaken of God, and still more than that, one hated by God; and since, on the other hand also, this view of the tempted does not appear to be absolutely subjective, God has really withdrawn from Job the external proof, and at the same time the feeling, of His abiding love, in order to try the fidelity of His servant's love, and prove its absoluteness.)

we hear from his mouth neither words of praise (the highest excellence in affliction) nor words of resignation (duty in affliction), but words of despair: his trust in God is not destroyed, but overcast by thick clouds of melancholy and doubt.

It is indeed inconceivable that a New Testament believer, even under the strongest temptation, should utter such imprecations, or especially such a question of doubt as in Job 3:20 : Wherefore is light given to the miserable? But that an Old Testament believer might very easily become involved in such conflicts of belief, may be accounted for by the absence of any express divine revelation to carry his mind beyond the bounds of the present. Concerning the future at the period when the book of Job was composed, and the hero of the book lived, there were longings, inferences, and forebodings of the soul; but there was no clear, consoling word of God on which to rely, - no θεῖος λόγος which, to speak as Plato (Phaedo, p. 85, D), could serve as a rescuing plank in the shipwreck of this life. Therefore the πανταχοῦ θρυλλούμενον extends through all the glory and joy of the Greek life from the very beginning throughout. The best thing is never to have been born; the second best, as soon as possible thereafter, to die. The truth, that the suffering of this present time is not worthy of the glory which shall be revealed in us, was still silent. The proper disposition of mind, under such veiling of the future, was then indeed more absolute, as faith committed itself blindfold to the guidance of God. But how near at hand was the temptation to regard a troublous life as an indication of the divine anger, and doubtingly to ask, Why God should send the light of life to such! They knew not that the present lot of man forms but the one half of his history: they saw only in the one scale misery and wrath, and not in the other the heaven of love and blessedness to be revealed hereafter, by which these are outweighed; they longed for a present solution of the mystery of life, because they knew nothing of the possibility of a future solution. Thus it is to be explained, that not only Job in this poem, but also Jeremiah in the book of his prophecy, Job 20:14-18, curses the day of his birth. He curses the man who brought his father the joyous tidings of the birth of a son, and wishes him the fate of Sodom and Gomorrha. He wishes for himself that his mother might have been his grave, and asks, like Job, "Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, and that my days should be consumed in shame?" Hitzig remarks on this, that it may be inferred from the contents and form of this passage, there was a certain brief disturbance of spirit, a result of the general indescribable distress of the troublous last days of Zedekiah, to which the spirit of the prophet also succumbed. And it is certainly a kind of delirium in which Jeremiah so speaks, but there is no physical disorder of mind with it: the understanding of the prophet is so slightly and only momentarily disturbed, that he has the rather gained power over his faith, and is himself become one of its disturbing forces.

Without applying to this lyric piece either the standard of pedantic moralizing, or of minute criticism as poetry, the intense melancholy of this extremely plaintive prophet may have proceeded from the following reasoning: After I have lived ten long years of fidelity and sacrifice to my prophetic calling, I see that it has totally failed in its aim: all my hopes are blighted; all my exhortations to repentance, and my prayers, have not availed to draw Judah back from the abyss into which he is now cast, nor to avert the wrath of Jehovah which is now poured forth: therefore it had been better for me never to have been born. This thought affects the prophet so much the more, since in every fibre of his being he is an Israelite, and identifies the weal and woe of his people with his own; just as Moses would rather himself be blotted out form the book of life than that Israel should perish, and Paul was willing to be separated from Christ as anathema if he could thereby save Israel. What wonder that this thought should disburden itself in such imprecations! Had Jeremiah not been born, he would not have had occasion to sit on the ruins of Jerusalem. But his outburst of feeling is notwithstanding a paroxysm of excitement, for, though reason might drive him to despair, faith would teach him to hope even in the midst of downfall; and in reality, this small lyric piece in the collective prophecy of Jeremiah is only as a detached rock, over which, as a stream of clear living water, the prophecy flows on more joyous in faith, more certain of the future. In the book of Job it is otherwise; for what in Jeremiah and several of the psalms is compressed into a small compass, - the darkness of temptation and its clearing up, - is here the substance of a long entanglement dramatically presented, which first of all becomes progressively more and more involved, and to which this outburst of feeling gives the impulse. As Jeremiah, had he not been born, would not have sat on the ruins of Jerusalem; so Job, had he not been born, would not have found himself in this abyss of wrath. Neither of them knows anything of the future solution of every present mystery of life; they know nothing of the future life and the heavenly crown. This it is which, while it justifies their despair, casts greater glory round their struggling faith.


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