Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
In this chapter Job reaches the climax of his complaint, which leaves him in the land of thick darkness, where the light is as darkness.
My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.(1) I will leave.—Or, according to some, I will give free vent to the complaint that is upon me. (Comp. Job 9:27 of the last chapter)
I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.(2) I will say unto God . . .—This is a model of prayer for all, combining the prayer of the publican (Luke 18:13), and a prayer for that light for which we long so earnestly in times of affliction and darkness.
Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.(7) That I am not wicked.—The meaning is rather, that I shall not be found guilty. It is not like the appeal of Peter (John 21:17). See the language borrowed by the Psalmist (Psalm 119:73).
Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?(9) Into dust.—Comp. Psalm 22:15.
Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?(10) Poured me out as milk.—An allusion to the embryo. (See Psalm 139:13-16.)
And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is with thee.(13) These things hast thou hid in thine heart.—Job implies that his sense of God’s goodness is embittered by the thought that while showing him such kindness, He had in reserve for him the trials and sorrows under which he was then labouring: while showering good upon him, He intended eventually to overwhelm him with affliction. This was the purpose He had hidden in His heart.
If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.(14) If I sin . . .—“If I had sinned Thou wouldst have marked me for punishment, and from mine iniquity Thou wouldst not acquit me. If I had been guilty, woe unto me 1 and if righteous, I must not lift up my head like an innocent person. I am full of shame, therefore behold Thou mine affliction, for only by Thy taking note of it can I find relief.”
For it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again thou shewest thyself marvellous upon me.(16) For it increaseth.—This verse is very obscure. Some understand it thus: “But is it so glorious a thing that Thou shouldst hunt me like a fierce lion, and then again show Thyself mysterious and wonderful towards me? hunting me like a lion, and yet hiding alike Thy person and Thy motive from me?” Or the subject is the head of the former verse, “And if it exalt itself, Thou huntest me,” &c. Or again, as in the Authorised Version, the subject is the affliction, “For it increaseth: Thou huntest me,” &c.
Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me.(17) Thou renewest thy witnesses against me.—Some understand this of the sores on Job’s person, which his friends regarded as witnesses—proofs of his guilt; but it seems more probable that the figure is forensic: “Thou still bringest fresh witnesses against me, and multipliest thine anger against me, so that relays of them, even a host, are against me; for they come upon me host after host—these witnesses of Thine anger, the ministers of Thy vengeance.” The sublimity of this indictment against God is only equalled by the sense of terrific awe with which one reads it. The language is Job’s, and so far has the sanction of Holy Writ; but we may surely learn therefrom the condescension as well as the loving-kindness of the Most High.
Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!(18) Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth?—Here Job reverts to the strain of his original curse (Job 3:11, &c.).
Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little,(20) Cease then, and let me alone.—According to another reading, “Let him cease, and let me alone.” In reading this reply of Job’s, one cannot but feel that it moves upon the very verge of blasphemy, and is only redeemed therefrom by its pervading reverence and deep undertone of faith. Job never gives up his faith in God, though, like Jacob, he wrestles with Him in the dark, and the issue shows that God is not displeased with such an unburdening of the soul that keeps close to the straight line of truth, which is, after all, one of the many manifestations of God.