Verses 1–7

Here is, I. A passionate resolution to persist in his complaint, Job 10:1. Being daunted with the dread of God’s majesty, so that he could not plead his cause with him, he resolves to give himself some ease by giving vent to his resentments. He begins with vehement language: “My soul is weary of my life, weary of this body, and impatient to get clear of it, fallen out with life, and displeased at it, sick of it, and longing for death.” Through the weakness of grace he went contrary to the dictates even of nature itself. We should act more like men did we act more like saints. Faith and patience would keep us from being weary of our lives (and cruel to them, as some read it), even when Providence has made them most wearisome to us; for that is to be weary of God’s correction. Job, being weary of his life and having ease no other way, resolves to complain, resolves to speak. He will not give vent to his soul by violent hands, but he will give vent to the bitterness of his soul by violent words. Losers think they may have leave to speak; and unbridled passions, as well as unbridled appetites, are apt to think it an excuse for their excursions that they cannot help them: but what have we wisdom and grace for, but to keep the mouth as with a bridle? Job’s corruption speaks here, yet grace puts in a word. 1. He will complain, but he will leave his complaint upon himself. He would not impeach God, nor charge him with unrighteousness or unkindness; but, though he knew not particularly the ground of God’s controversy with him and the cause of action, yet, in the general, he would suppose it to be in himself and willingly bear all the blame. 2. He will speak, but it shall be the bitterness of his soul that he will express, not his settled judgment. If I speak amiss, it is not I, but sin that dwells in me, not my soul, but its bitterness.

II. A humble petition to God. He will speak, but the first word shall be a prayer, and, as I am willing to understand it, it is a good prayer, Job 10:2. 1. That he might be delivered from the sting of his afflictions, which is sin: “Do not condemn me; do not separate me for ever from thee. Though I lie under the cross, let me not lie under the curse; though I smart by the rod of a Father, let me not be cut off by the sword of a Judge. Thou dost correct me; I will bear that as well as I can; but O do not condemn me!” It is the comfort of those who are in Christ Jesus that, though they are in affliction, there is no condemnation to them, Rom. 8:1. Nay, they are chastened of the Lord that they may not be condemned with the world, 1 Cor. 11:32. This therefore we should deprecate above any thing else, when we are in affliction. “However thou art pleased to deal with me, Lord, do not condemn me; my friends condemn me, but do not thou.” 2. That he might be made acquainted with the true cause of his afflictions, and that is sin too: Lord, show me wherefore thou contendest with me. When God afflicts us he contends with us, and when he contends with us there is always a reason. He is never angry without a cause, though we are; and it is desirable to know what the reason is, that we may repent of, mortify, and forsake the sin for which God has a controversy with us. In enquiring it out, let conscience have leave to do its office and to deal faithfully with us, as Gen. 42:21.

III. A peevish expostulation with God concerning his dealings with him. Now he speaks in the bitterness of his soul indeed, not without some ill-natured reflections upon the righteousness of his God.

1. He thinks it unbecoming the goodness of God, and the mercifulness of his nature, to deal so hardly with his creature as to lay upon him more than he can bear (Job 10:3): Isa. it good unto thee that thou shouldst oppress? No, certainly it is not; what he approves no in men (Lam. 3:34-36) he will not do himself. “Lord, in dealing with me, thou seemest to oppress thy subject, to despise thy workmanship, and to countenance thy enemies. Now, Lord, what is the meaning of this? Such is thy nature that this cannot be a pleasure to thee; and such is thy name that it cannot be an honour to thee. Why then dealest thou thus with me? What profit is there in my blood?” Far be it from Job to think that God did him wrong, but he is quite at a loss how to reconcile his providences with his justice, as good men have often been, and must wait until the day shall declare it. Let us therefore now harbour no hard thoughts of God, because we shall then see there was no cause for them.

2. He thinks it unbecoming the infinite knowledge of God to put his prisoner thus upon the rack, as it were, by torture, to extort a confession from him, Job 10:4-6. (1.) He is sure that God does not discover things, nor judge of them, as men do: He has not eyes of flesh (Job 10:4), for he is a Spirit. Eyes of flesh cannot see in the dark, but darkness hides not from God. Eyes of flesh are but in one place at a time, and can see but a little way; but the eyes of the Lord are in every place, and run to and fro through the whole earth. Many things are hidden from eyes of flesh, the most curious and piercing; there is a path which even the vulture’s eye has not seen: but nothing is, or can be, hidden from the eye of God, to which all things are naked and open. Eyes of flesh see the outward appearance only, and may be imposed upon by a deceptio visus—an illusion of the senses; but God sees every thing truly. His sight cannot be deceived, for he tries the heart, and is a witness to the thoughts and intents of that. Eyes of flesh discover things gradually, and, when we gain the sight of one thing, we lose the sight of another; but God sees every thing at one view. Eyes of flesh are soon tired, must be closed every night but the keeper of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps, nor does his sight ever decay. God sees not as man sees, that is, he does not judge as man judges, at the best secundum allegata et probata—according to what is alleged and proved, as the thing appears rather than as it is, and too often according to the bias of the affections, passions, prejudices, and interest; but we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth, and that he knows truth, not by information, but by his own inspection. Men discover secret things by search, and examination of witnesses, comparing evidence and giving conjectures upon it, wheedling or forcing the parties concerned to confess; but God needs not any of these ways of discovery: he sees not as man sees. (2.) He is sure that as God is not short-sighted, like man, so he is not short-lived (Job 10:5): “Are thy days as the days of man, few and evil? Do they roll on in succession, or are they subject to change, like the days of man? No, by no means.” Men grow wiser by experience and more knowing by daily observation; with them truth is the daughter of time, and therefore they must take time for their searches, and, if one experiment fail, must try another. But it is not so with God; to him nothing is past, nothing future, but every thing present. The days of time, by which the life of man is measured, are nothing to the years of eternity, in which the life of God is wrapped up. (3.) He therefore thinks it strange that God should thus prolong his torture, and continue him under the confinement of this affliction, and neither bring him to a trial nor grant him a release, as if he must take time to enquire after his iniquity and use means to search after his sin, Job 10:6. Not as if Job thought that God did thus torment him that he might find occasion against him; but his dealings with him had such an aspect, which was dishonourable to God, and would tempt men to think him a hard master. “Now, Lord, if thou wilt not consult my comfort, consult thy own honour; do something for thy great name, and do not disgrace the throne of thy glory,” Jer. 14:21.

3. He thinks it looked like an abuse of his omnipotence to keep a poor prisoner in custody, whom he knew to be innocent, only because there was none that could deliver him out of his hand (Job 10:7): Thou knowest that I am not wicked. He had already owned himself a sinner, and guilty before God; but he here stands to it that he was not wicked, not devoted to sin, not an enemy to God, not a dissembler in his religion, that he had not wickedly departed from his God, Ps. 18:21. “But there is none that can deliver out of thy hand, and therefore there is no remedy; I must be content to lie there, waiting thy time, and throwing myself on thy mercy, in submission to thy sovereign will.” Here see, (1.) What ought to quiet us under our troubles—that it is to no purpose to contend with Omnipotence. (2.) What will abundantly comfort us—if we are able to appeal to God, as Job here, “Lord, thou knowest that I am not wicked. I cannot say that l am not wanting, or I am not weak; but, through grace, I can say, I am not wicked: thou knowest I am not, for thou knowest I love thee.”