Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.…
Never man was better qualified to make just and noble reflections upon the shortness of life and the instability of human affairs than Job was, who had himself waded through such a sea of troubles, and in his passage had encountered many vicissitudes of storms and sunshine, and by turns had felt both the extremes of all the happiness and all the wretchedness that mortal man is heir to. Such a concurrence of misfortunes is not the common lot of many. The words of the text are an epitome of the natural and moral vanity of man, and contain two distinct declarations concerning his state and condition in each respect.
I. THAT HE IS A CREATURE OF FEW DAYS. Job's comparison is that man "cometh forth like a flower." He is sent into the world the fairest and noblest part of God's work. Man, like the flower, though his progress is slower, and his duration something longer, yet has periods of growth and declension nearly the same, both in the nature and manner of them. As man may justly be said to be of "few days," so may he be said to "flee like a shadow and continue not," when his duration is compared with other parts of God's works, and even the works of his own hands, which outlast many generations.
II. THAT HE IS FULL OF TROUBLE. We must not take our account from the flattering outside of things. Nor can we safely trust the evidence of some of the more merry and thoughtless among us. We must hear the general complaint of all ages, and read the histories of mankind. Consider the desolations of war; the cruelty of tyrants; the miseries of slavery; the shame of religious persecutions. Consider men's private causes of trouble. Consider how many are born into misery and crime. When, therefore, we reflect that this span of life, short as it is, is chequered with so many troubles, that there is nothing in this world which springs up or can be enjoyed without a mixture of sorrow, how insensibly does it incline us to turn our eyes and affections from so gloomy a prospect, and fix them upon that happier country, where afflictions cannot follow us, and where God will wipe away all tears from off our faces forever and ever.
Parallel VersesKJV: Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.