Resources » Matthew Henry's Commentary » Job » Chapter 30 » Verses 15–31

Verses 15–31

In this second part of Job’s complaint, which is very bitter, and has a great many sorrowful accents in it, we may observe a great deal that he complains of and some little that he comforts himself with.

I. Here is much that he complains of.

1. In general, it was a day of great affliction and sorrow. (1.) Affliction seized him, and surprised him. It seized him (Job 30:16): The days of affliction have taken hold upon me, have caught me (so some); they have arrested me, as the bailiff arrests the debtor, claps him on the back, and secures him. When trouble comes with commission it will take fast hold, and not lose its hold. It surprised him (Job 30:27): “The days of affliction prevented me,” that is, “they came upon me without giving me any previous warning. I did not expect them, nor make any provision for such an evil day.” Observe, He reckons his affliction by days, which will soon be numbered and finished, and are nothing to the ages of eternity, 2 Cor. 4:17. (2.) He was in great sorrow by reason of it. His bowels boiled with grief, and rested not, Job 30:27. The sense of his calamities was continually preying upon his spirits without any intermission. He went mourning from day to day, always sighing, always weeping; and such cloud was constantly upon his mind that he went, in effect, without the sun, Job 30:28. He had nothing that he could take any comfort in. He abandoned himself to perpetual sorrow, as one that, like Jacob, resolved to go to the grave mourning. He walked out of the sun (so some) in dark shady places, as melancholy people use to do. If he went into the congregation, to join with them in solemn worship, instead of standing up calmly to desire their prayers, he stood up and cried aloud, through pain of body, or anguish of mind, like one half distracted. If he appeared in public, to receive visits, when the fit came upon him he could not contain himself, nor preserve due decorum, but stood up and shrieked aloud. Thus he was a brother to dragons and owls (Job 30:29), both in choosing solitude and retirement, as they do (Isa. 34:13), and in making a fearful hideous noise as they do; his inconsiderate complaints were fitly compared to their inarticulate ones.

2. The terror and trouble that seized his soul were the sorest part of his calamity, Job 30:15, 16. (1.) If he looked forward, he saw every thing frightful before him: if he endeavoured to shake off his terrors, they turned furiously upon him: if he endeavoured to escape from them, they pursued his soul as swiftly and violently as the wind. He complained, at first, of the terrors of God setting themselves in array against him, Job 6:4. And still, which way soever he looked, they turned upon him; which way soever he fled, they pursued him. My soul (Heb., my principal one, my princess); the soul is the principal part of the man; it is our glory; it is every way more excellent than the body, and therefore that which pursues the soul, and threatens that, should be most dreaded. (2.) If he looked back, he saw all the good he had formerly enjoyed removed from him, and nothing left him but the bitter remembrance of it: My welfare and prosperity pass away, as suddenly, swiftly, and irrecoverably, as a cloud. (3.) If he looked within, he found his spirit quite sunk and unable to bear his infirmity, not only wounded, but poured out upon him, Job 30:16. He was not only weak as water, but, in his own apprehension, lost as water spilt upon the ground. Compare Ps. 22:14; My heart is melted like wax.

3. His bodily diseases were very grievous; for, (1.) He was full of pain, piercing pain, pain that went to the bone, to all his bones, Job 30:17. It was a sword in his bones, which pierced him in the night season, when he should have been refreshed with sleep. His nerves were affected with strong convulsions; his sinews took no rest. By reason of his pain, he could take no rest, but sleep departed from his eyes. His bones were burnt with heat, Job 30:30. He was in a constant fever, which dried up the radical moisture and even consumed the marrow in his bones. See how frail our bodies are, which carry in themselves the seeds of our own disease and death. (2.) He was full of sores. Some that are pained in their bones, yet sleep in a whole skin, but, Satan’s commission against Job extending both to his bone and to his flesh, he spared neither. His skin was black upon him, Job 30:30. The blood settled, and the sores suppurated and by degrees scabbed over, which made his skin look black. Even his garment had its colour changed with the continual running of his boils, and the soft clothing he used to wear had now grown so stiff that all his garments were like his collar, Job 30:18. It would be noisome to describe what a condition poor Job was in for want of clean linen and good attendance, and what filthy rags all his clothes were. Some think that, among other diseases, Job was ill of a quinsy or swelling in his throat, and that it was this which bound him about like a stiff collar. Thus was he cast into the mire (Job 30:19), compared to mire (so some); his body looked more like a heap of dirt than any thing else. Let none be proud of their clothing nor proud of their cleanness; they know not but some disease or other may change their garments, and even throw them into the mire, and make them noisome both to themselves and others. Instead of sweet smell, there shall be a stench, Isa. 3:24. We are but dust and ashes at the best, and our bodies are vile bodies; but we are apt to forget it, till God, by some sore disease, makes us sensibly to feel and own what we are. “I have become already like that dust and ashes into which I must shortly be resolved: wherever I go I carry my grave about with me.”

4. That which afflicted him most of all was that God seemed to be his enemy and to fight against him. It was he that cast him into the mire (Job 30:19), and seemed to trample on him when he had him there. This cut him to the heart more than any thing else, (1.) That God did not appear for him. He addressed himself to him, but gained no grant—appealed to him, but gained no sentence; he was very importunate in his applications, but in vain (Job 30:20): “I cry unto thee, as one in earnest, I stand up, and cry, as one waiting for an answer, but thou hearest not, thou regardest not, for any thing I can perceive.” If our most fervent prayers bring not in speedy and sensible returns, we must not think it strange. Though the seed of Jacob did never seek in vain, yet they have often thought that they did and that God has not only been deaf, but angry, at the prayers of his people, Ps. 80:4. (2.) That God did appear against him. That which he here says of God is one of the worst words that ever Job spoke (Job 30:21): Thou hast become cruel to me. Far be it from the God of mercy and grace that he should be cruel to any (his compassions fail not), but especially that he should be so to his own children. Job was unjust and ungrateful when he said so of him: but harbouring hard thoughts of God was the sin which did, at this time, most easily beset him. Here, [1.] He thought God fought against him and stirred up his whole strength to ruin him: With thy strong hand thou opposest thyself, or art an adversary against me. He had better thoughts of God (Job 23:6) when he concluded he would not plead against him with his great power. God has an absolute sovereignty and an irresistible strength, but he never uses either the one or the other for the crushing or oppressing of any. [2.] He thought he insulted over him (Job 30:22): Thou lifted me up to the wind, as a feather or the chaff which the wind plays with; so unequal a match did Job think himself for Omnipotence, and so unable was he to help himself when he was made to ride, not in triumph, but in terror, upon the wings of the wind, and the judgments of God did even dissolve his substance, as a cloud is dissolved and dispersed by the wind. Man’s substance, take him in his best estate, is nothing before the power of God; it is soon dissolved.

5. He expected no other now than that God, by these troubles, would shortly make an end of him: “If I be made to ride upon the wind, I can count upon no other than to break my neck shortly;” and he speaks as if God had no other design upon hi 1836 m than that in all his dealings with him: “I know that thou wilt bring me, with so much the more terror, to death, though I might have been brought thither without all this ado, for it is the house appointed for all living,” Job 30:23. The grave is a house, a narrow, dark, cold, ill-furnished house, but it will be our residence, where we shall rest and be safe. It is our long home, our own home; for it is our mother’s lap, and in it we are gathered to our fathers. It is a house appointed for us by him that has appointed us the bounds of all our habitations. It is appointed for all the living. It is the common receptacle, where rich and poor meet; it is appointed for the general rendezvous. We must all be brought thither shortly. It is God that brings us to it, for the keys of death and the grave are in his hand, and we may all know that, sooner or later, he will bring us thither. It would be well for us if we would duly consider it. The living know that they shall die; let us, each of us, know it with application.

6. There were two things that aggravated his trouble, and made it the less tolerable:—(1.) That it was a very great disappointment to his expectation (Job 30:26): “When I looked for good, for more good, or at least for the continuance of what I had, then evil came”—such uncertain things are all our worldly enjoyments, and such a folly is it to feed ourselves with great expectations from them. Those that wait for light from the sparks of their creature comforts will be wretchedly disappointed and will make their bed in the darkness. (2.) That is was a very great change in his condition (Job 30:31): “My harp is not only laid by, and hung upon the willow-trees, but it is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of those that weep.” Job, in his prosperity, had taken the timbrel and harp, and rejoiced at the sound of the organ, Job 21:12. Notwithstanding his gravity and grace, he had found time to be cheerful; but now his tune was altered. Let those therefore that rejoice be as though they rejoiced not, for they know not how soon their laughter will be turned into mourning and their joy into heaviness. Thus we see how much Job complains of; but,

II. Here is something in the midst of all with which he comforts himself, and it is but a little. 1. He foresees, with comfort, that death will be the period of all his calamities (Job 30:24): Though God now, with a strong hand, opposed himself against him, “yet,” says he, “he will not stretch out his hand to the grave.” The hand of God’s wrath would bring him to death, but would not follow him beyond death; his soul would be safe and happy in the world of spirits, his body safe and easy in the dust. Though men cry in his destruction (though, when they are dying, there is a great deal of agony and out-cry, many a sigh, and groan, and complaint), yet in the grave they feel nothing, they fear nothing, but all is quiet there. “Though in hell, which is called destruction, they cry, yet not in the grave; and, being delivered from the second death, the first to me will be an effectual relief.” Therefore he wished he might be hidden in the grave, Job 14:13. 2. He reflects with comfort upon the concern he always had for the calamities of others when he was himself at ease (Job 30:25): Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? Some think he herein complains of God, thinking it very hard that he who had shown mercy to others should not himself find mercy. I would rather take it as a quieting consideration to himself; his conscience witnessed for him that he had always sympathized with persons in misery and done what he could to help them, and therefore he had reason to expect that, at length, both God and his friends would pity him. Those who mourn with them that mourn will bear their own sorrows the better when it comes to their turn to drink of the bitter cup. Did not my soul burn for the poor? so some read it, comparing it with that of St. Paul, 2 Cor. 11:29; Who is offended, and I burn not? As those who have been unmerciful and hard-hearted to others may expect to hear of it from their own consciences, when they are themselves in trouble, so those who have considered the poor and succoured them shall have the remembrance thereof to make their bed easy in their sickness, Ps. 41:1, 3.