Job 7 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 7. Renewed outburst of despair at the thought of his sorrowful destiny
With a deeper pathos than any that had gone before, this innocence of his and this capacity to form true moral judgments regarding his history (ch. Job 6:28-30) being his starting-point, Job turns to the broad world, to contemplate how helpless man is with these qualities against that fated, inexorable misery called human life. His view is general, though he himself is the centre of it, and his own history gives colour to that of man.
First, Job 7:1-10, his complaint is that human life is short and evil, inexorably short and arbitrarily evil. It is a soldier’s “campaign,” and a hired labourer’s “day,” a time of heavy, forced toil at the stern will of another, in which one longs for discharge, and pants for the shadow, the release and the night of death. The toil of this time and the fated compulsion of it Job chiefly describes in Job 7:2-5; its brevity and the regrets that accompany having lived and ceasing to live, in Job 7:6-10.
Second, Job 7:11-21. It is dangerous dwelling on misery, it usually but adds to it. The misery of feeling we are miserable is exquisite. With too fertile a fancy Job had heaped images together to picture out the fatal brevity of life, the motion of the shuttle ( Job 7:6), the wind ( Job 7:7), the glance of the eye ( Job 7:8), the cloud of vapour gorgeous for a moment but dissolved by the very light that illuminates it ( Job 7:9) and the inexorable “nevermore” that death writes on things, on one’s “home” and “place” ( Job 7:10) when he is carried from it; and these regrets combine with that impatience of coercion natural to the mind and drive him on with a certain recklessness to utter his feelings in the face of that Power whose irresistible constraint presses upon him. He is not unconscious of the meaning of what he is going to do, for that which binds him in such chains of misery is not a power but a Person. Nevertheless he will not be deterred I also will not refrain my mouth ( Job 7:11).
Thus commences a remonstrance with God, who disposes all, which is only saved, if it be saved, from being too bold by that reverential hesitation and half pause which marks the commencement of it. First, he asks if he be dangerous to the peace and stability of the universe that he needs to be so restrained and subdued with plagues by God? In the description of these plagues his tone rises into the sharpest despair and he begs for death, desiring only that God would leave him alone and give him a little respite before he departs, Job 7:11-16.
Then he asks whether man is not too mean a thing for God to torment? appealing to the Almighty’s sense of His own greatness and the unworthiness of distressing so slight a thing as man; and travestying with a surprising acuteness of mind and bitterness of irony the admiring gratefulness of the Psalmist that God “made so much” of man (Psalms 8), Job 7:17-19.
Finally he comes to that to which perhaps he would rather not come at all, the supposition, which he will hazard though scarcely concede, that he has sinned, and asks, If so, what can I do unto thee? how can I by my sin injure thee? Even in hazarding this supposition he casts a side-glance of discontent on God, naming Him watcher or spy of men, as if it was due to Him if not that sin was at least that it was raked to the surface. And he concludes with asking why God does not take away his sin and spare him for soon it will be too late, Job 7:20-21.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".