Matthew Poole's Commentary
Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?Our times are like those of hirelings, restless and hopeless. Death desirable. His days are as a weaver’s shuttle; his life is as wind; and he was consumed out of this world, and should appear in it no more, Job 7:1-10. Therefore he will speak to God, Job 7:11,12: is tired out and weary of life, Job 7:13-16. Man unworthy of God’s notice, Job 7:17-19. He confesseth his sin, and prayeth for forgiveness, Job 7:20,21.
Is there not a certain and short time limited by God wherein man shall live in this sinful, and vain, and miserable world, after which he shall live in a holier and happier place and state? and is it a crime in me to desire that God would give me some ease and respite for the present, and bring me to that blessed and joyful period?
Like the days of an hireling; whose time is limited and short, being but for a few years, Isaiah 16:14 21:16, and sometimes but for days, Job 14:6 Matthew 20:1,2, and whose condition is full of toil and hardship.
As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work:The shadow, i.e. the sun-set, or the night, the time allotted for his rest and repose, Psalm 104:23. And why may not I also desire the time of my rest?
The reward of his work, Heb. his work; which is oft put for the reward of it, as Leviticus 19:13 Isaiah 40:10 49:4. Or, the end of his work.
So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me.This so respects not so much the desire and expectation of a hired servant, which is expressed Job 7:2, as the ground and reason of it, which is plainly implied there, to wit, his hard toil and service, which makes him thirst after rest.
I am made to possess; God, by his sovereign power and providence, hath given me this as my lot and inheritance. Months; so he calls them rather than days, to note either the irksomeness and tediousness of his affliction, whereby every day seemed a month to him; or their length and continuance, which, as some infer from hence, had now been upon him some months.
Of vanity; empty and unsatisfying, or false and deceitful, not giving me that ease and rest which they promised me, and I expected.
Wearisome nights: he mentions nights, because that is the saddest time for sick and miserable persons; the darkness and solitude of the night being of themselves uncomfortable, and giving them more opportunity for solemn and sorrowful thoughts and reflections upon their own miseries.
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.When I lie down, to get some rest and sleep. The night, Heb. the evening; the part put for the whole, as it is Genesis 1:5.
To and fro; from side to side in the bed, as men in grievous pains of body or anxiety of mind use to be.
Unto the dawning of the day; so this Hebrew word is used also @1 Samuel 30:17; Psalm 119:147.
My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.Clothed, i.e. covered all over as with a garment.
With worms; which oft breed and break forth in divers parts of living bodies, as history and experience witnesseth, and which were easily bred out of Job’s corrupted flesh and sores.
Clods of dust; either the dust of the earth upon which he lay, which his sores would quickly lick up; or the scabs of his sores, which by degrees mouldered away into dust.
My skin is broken, by ulcers breaking forth in all parts of it.
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope.The time of my life hastens to a period; and therefore vain are those hopes which you give me of a restitution to my former prosperity in this world.
A weaver’s shuttle, which passeth in a moment from one end of the web to the other.
Without hope, to wit, of enjoying any good day here.
O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good.He turneth his speech to God, as appears from Job 7:8,12,14.
Wind, i.e. vain, Isaiah 47:13 Hosea 8:7; quickly passing away, so as never to come again, as is said, Psalm 78:39.
See good, i.e. enjoy (for so seeing is sometimes used, as Psalm 34:12 Jeremiah 17:6) good, to wit, in this world, as my friends flatter me. Compare Job 14:12 19:26,27.
The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not.Shall see me no more in this mortal state; I shall never return to this life again.
Thine eyes are upon me, and I am not: either,
1. If thou dost but east one angry look upon me, I am not, i.e. I am a dead man. So that phrase is used Genesis 5:24 42:13 44:20 Psa 103 16 Jer 31:15. Or,
2. When thine eyes shall be upon me (i.e. when thou shalt look for me to do me good, thou wilt find that) I am not, that I am dead and gone, and uncapable of that bounty and goodness which thou givest to men in this world. Compare Job 7:21 Psalm 10:15 Jeremiah 50:20.
As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.The cloud is consumed; being dried up or dissolved by the heat of the sun.
Vanisheth away; never returneth again.
Shall come up no more, to live a natural, mortal life amongst men. For that he doth not deny a future life is manifest from Job 19:25, &c.
He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.He shall return no more, to enjoy his house and possessions again; he shall no more be seen and known in his former habitation and condition by his friends and neighbours. The
place put for the men of the place, as Job 8:18 20:9 Psalm 37:10.
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.Since my life is by the common condition of mankind so vain and short, and, when once lost, without all hopes of recovery, and withal extremely miserable, I will plead with God for pity and relief before I die; knowing that I must now speak, or else for ever after hold my peace, as to requests of this nature. I will not smother my bitter anguish within my own breast, which will make it intolerable, but I will give it vent, and ease myself by pouring forth complaints, and expostulating with my God, who, as I hope, will hear and help me one way or other.
Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?Am I so great, and powerful, and dangerous a creature, that thou needest to use extraordinary power and violence to rule and subdue me? Am I as fierce and unruly as the sea, which, if thou didst not set a watch over it, and bounds to it, would overwhelm the earth, and destroy mankind upon it? Or am I a vast and ungovernable sea monster, which, if thou didst not restrain it by thy powerful providence, would overturn ships, and destroy men in them, and devour all the lesser fishes? Have I behaved myself towards thee, or towards men, with such rage and violence, as to need such chains to be put upon me? Or is my strength so great as that of the sea, which can endure so many and long storms one after another, and yet can subsist under them and after them? or of a whale, that can laugh at darts and spears? as is said, Job 41:29. No, Lord, thou knowest that I am but a poor weak creature, which thou canst crush with the least touch of thy finger, without these violent and unsupportable pains and miseries; and that I have not been so fierce and boisterous in my carriage as to need or deserve these extraordinary calamities.
That thou settest a watch over me; that thou shouldst guard and restrain me with such heavy and unexampled miseries, lest I should break into rebellion against thee, or into cruelty towards men.
When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint;By giving me sweet and quiet sleep, which may take off the sense of my torments for that while.
Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions:With sad and dreadful dreams, arising either from that melancholy humour which is now so fixed in me, and predominant over me, or from the devil’s malice, who by thy permission disturbs me in this manner; so that I am afraid to go to sleep, and my remedy proves as bad as my disease.
Visions are the same thing with dreams; for there were not only day visions, which were offered to men’s sight when they were awake; but also night visions, which were presented to men’s fancy in their sleep and dreams. See Genesis 28:12 41:1,2 Da 2:1,31 4:5,10.
So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.Chooseth; not simply and in itself, but comparatively, rather than such a wretched life.
Strangling; the most violent, so it be but a certain and sudden death.
Rather than my life, Heb. than my bones, i.e. than my body, formerly the soul’s dear and desired companion; or than to be in the body, which commonly consists of skin, and flesh, and bones, but in Job was in a manner nothing but a bundle of boiles; for his skin was every where broken, and his flesh was quite consumed, as he oft complains, and his bones also were not free from pain and torment; for as Satan’s commission reached to Job’s bones, Job 2:5, so doubtless his malice and wicked design would engage him to execute it to the utmost.
I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.I loathe it, to wit, my life, last mentioned. I would not live alway in this world if I might, no, not in prosperity, for even such a life is but vanity, much less in this extremity of misery. Or, let me not live for ever, lingering in this miserable manner, as if thou wouldst not suffer me to die, but hadst a design to perpetuate my torments. Or, let me not live out mine age, or the full time of my life, which by the course of nature I might do; for so the Hebrew word olam is oft used; but cut me off, and that speedily.
Let me alone, i.e. withdraw thy hand from me; either,
1. Thy supporting hand, which preserves my life, and suffer me to die; or rather,
2. Thy correcting hand, as this same phrase is used, 7:19.
My days are vanity; either,
1. My life is in itself, and in its best estate, a most vain, unsatisfying, uncertain thing; do not add this evil to it to make it miserable. Or,
2. My life is a vain, decaying, and perishing thing, it will of itself quickly vanish and depart, and doth not need to be forced from me by such exquisite torments.
What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?What is there in that poor, mean, contemptible creature called man, miserable man, as this word signifies, which can induce or incline thee to take any notice of him, to show him such respect, or to make such account of him? Man is not worthy of thy favour, and he is below thy anger. It is too great a condescension to thee, and too great an honour for man, that thou wilt contend with him, and draw forth all thy forces against him, as if he were a fit match for thee; whereas men use to neglect and slight mean adversaries, and will not do them the honour to fight with them. Compare 1 Samuel 24:14. Therefore do not, O Lord, thus dishonour thyself, nor magnify me. I acknowledge that even thy corrections are mercies and honours; but, Lord, let me be no more so honoured.
Set thine heart upon him, i.e. have any regard to him, so far as to afflict him, which though it be grievous in itself, especially when it is aggravated as mine is, yet unto thy people it is a great mercy and blessing, as being highly necessary and useful to humble them, and purge them from sin, and prepare them for glory; as, on the contrary, those wicked men whom thou dost despise and hate, and design to destroy, thou dost forbear to punish or afflict them.
And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?Visit him; to wit, punish or chasten him, as the word to visit, or visiting, is oft used, as Exodus 20:5 32:34 34:7. Every morning, i.e. every day. But he mentions the morning, either because that is the beginning of the day, and so is put synecdochically for the whole day, as the evening, Job 7:4, is put for the whole night; or he speaks of God after the manner of men, who rest and sleep in the night, but in the morning rise and go about their business, and visit or inspect those persons and things which they have a respect for or care of.
Try him, i.e. afflict him, which is oft called trying, because it doth indeed try a man’s faith, and patience, and perseverance. But this and the former verse may possibly be otherwise understood, not of afflictions, but of mercies. Having declared his loathing of life, and his passionate desire of death, and urged it with this consideration, that the days of his life were mere vanity, he now pursues it with this expostulation. What is man, that vain, foolish creature, that thou shouldst magnify, or regard, or visit him, (to wit, with thy mercy and blessings, of which those words are commonly used, i.e. that thou shouldst so far honour and regard him, as by thy visitation to preserve his spirit, or hold his soul in life,) and
try him? which God doth not only by afflictions, but also by prosperity and outward blessings, which commonly detect a man’s hypocrisy, and discover that corruption which before lay hid in his heart. Therefore, O Lord, do not thus magnify and visit me with thy mercy, but take away my life.
How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?How long will it be ere thou withdraw thy afflicting hand from me?
Till I swallow down my spittle, i.e. for a little time; or that I may have a breathing time: a proverbial expression, like that Spanish proverb, I have not time or liberty to spit out my spittle. Or this expression may have respect to Job’s distempered and calamitous condition, wherewith he was so overwhelmed, that he either had not strength, or could not take heed, to spit out his spittle, as he should have done, but swallowed it down, as sick and melancholy persons often do.
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?I have sinned: although I am innocent and free from those crying sins, for which my friends suppose thou hast sent this uncommon judgment upon me; yet if thou be strict to mark what is amiss, I freely confess that I am a sinner, and therefore obnoxious to thy justice, and I humbly beg thy pardon for it, as it follows, Job 3:21; and therefore accept of this confession.
What shall I do unto thee, to satisfy thy justice, or regain thy favour? I can do nothing to purchase or deserve it, and therefore implore thy mercy to pardon my sins. O thou preserver of men; O thou who, as thou wast the Creator of man, delightest to be, and to be called, the Preserver and Saviour of men; and that waitest to be kind and gracious to men from day to day, as occasion requires; do not deal with me in a way contrary to thy own nature and name, and to the manner of thy dealing with all the rest of mankind. Otherwise, O thou observer of men; thou who dost exactly know and diligently observe all men’s inward motions and outward actions; and therefore if thou shalt be severe to mark mine iniquities, as thou seemest to be, I have not what to say or do unto thee: compare Job 9:3,15,29 14:4.
As a mark against thee; into which thou wilt shoot all the arrows of thy indignation.
I am a burden to myself, i.e. I am weary of myself, and of my life, being no way able to resist or endure the assaults of so potent an adversary.
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.Seeing thou art so gracious to others, so ready to preserve and pardon them, why may not I hope for the same favour from thee? If thou dost not speedily help me, it will be too late, I shall be dead, and so uncapable of those blessings which thou usest to give to men in the land of the living. When thou shalt diligently seek for me, that thou mayst show favour to me, thou wilt find that I am dead and gone, and so wilt lose thy opportunity: help therefore speedily.