But Job answered and said,…
It was —
I. UNAPPRECIATED BY MEN. This is the meaning of the first five verses. Eliphaz had no conception of the profundity and poignancy of Job's suffering. There are two things indicated here in relation to them.
1. They were unutterable. "My words are swallowed up." His whole humanity was in torture.
(1) He suffered in body. "He was smitten with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of the head, and he took a potsherd to scrape himself withal, and sat down amongst the ashes."(2) He suffered in mind. "The arrows of the Almighty were within him, whose poison drank up his spirits."
2. They were irrepressible. "Doth the wild ass bray when tie hath grass? Or loweth the ox over his fodder?" The idea here is, I cannot but cry; my cries spring from my agonies. Had not the wild ass his grass, he would bray with a ravenous hunger; and had not the ox his fodder, he too would low in an agony for food; this is nature, and my cries are natural — I cannot help them. Who can be silent in torture? His suffering was —
II. MISUNDERSTOOD BY FRIENDS. "Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?" This language seems to me to point to Job's impression of the address which Eliphaz had delivered to him. Job seemed to feel —
1. That the address of Eliphaz was utterly insipid. "Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt?" As if he had said, your speech lacks that which can make it savoury to me; it does not apply: you misunderstand my sufferings: I suffer not because I am a great sinner, as you seem to imply: my own conscience attests my rectitude: nor because I need this terrible chastisement, as you have said: you neither understand the cause nor the nature of my sufferings, therefore your talk is beside the mark.
2. That the address of Eliphaz was truly offensive. "The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meats." Does not this mean what Dr. Bernard says, "the things you speak — your unmeaning, insipid words and similes — are as the loathsomeness of my food, or are as loathsome to my soul as food now is to my body"? You intrude remarks on me that are not only tasteless, because of their unsuitability, but that are as disgusting as loathsome food.
III. INTOLERABLE TO HIMSELF. He longed for death; he believed that in the grave he would have rest.
1. Though his life was unbearable, he would not take it away himself. He felt that he Was not the proprietor, only the trustee of his life.
2. He was not forgetful of his relation to his Maker. "I have not concealed the words of the Holy One." I have not shunned to declare my attachment to Himself and His cause. His sufferings did not obliterate his memory of his Creator, drive him from His presence, or impel him to blasphemy or atheism. No, he still held on. God was the Great Object in his horizon; he saw Him through the thick hot steam of his fiery trials.
3. Though his life was unbearable, he knew that it could not last long. "What is my strength that I should hope? and what is mine end that I should prolong my life?" etc. Whether God will loose His hand and cut me off, and thus put an end to my existence or not, I cannot endure long. I am not made "of stone or brass," and I cannot stand these sufferings long. However powerful the human frame may be, great sufferings must sooner or later break it to pieces.
4. Though his life was unbearable, he was conscious of an inner strength. "Is not my help in me? And is wisdom driven quite from me?" No strength like this, physical strength is good, intellectual strength is better, but moral strength is the best of all.
Parallel VersesKJV: But Job answered and said,
WEB: Then Job answered,