Job 6 Commentary

Job’s reply to Eliphaz (6:1-7:21)

Eliphaz had rebuked Job for his impatient outburst. In reply Job acknowledges that God is the one who has sent this affliction, but he points out that if Eliphaz knew how great this suffering was he would understand why Job spoke rashly (6:1-4). An animal cries out only with good reason (for example, if it is hungry for food). Job likewise cries out only with good reason. His tormenting thoughts and Eliphaz’s useless words are to him like food that makes him sick (5-7). He still refuses to curse God, and wishes that God would give him his request and kill him, even if the death is painful (8-10). He cannot endure much more suffering; he is not made of rock or bronze (11-13)!

Job expected kindness from his friends but found none. They are like useless streams that overflow with destructive ice and snow in winter, but dry up in summer (14-17). They disappoint all who go to them expecting to find something beneficial (18-21). Job has not asked his friends for money or help, but he had hoped for sympathy (22-23).

Instead Job receives from his friends nothing but rebuke for his rash words. They make no effort to understand what despair must have caused him to make such an outburst. He accuses them of being heartless, and challenges them to show him plainly where he is wrong (24-27). He is being honest with them; in return he wants some understanding. At least he wants their acknowledgment that he can tell the difference between suffering that is deserved and suffering that is not (28-30).

Life for Job has no pleasure. He looks for death as a worker looks for wages or a slave looks for rest at the end of a hard day’s work. Day and night he has nothing but pain (7:1-5). Bitterly Job says that if God is going to help him, he should do it quickly, otherwise Job will soon be dead. It will then be too late for God to do anything (6-10).

This leads Job to an angry outburst addressed to God. Job asks why God must treat him with such severity, as if he were a wild monster (11-12). Tortured with pain by day and horrible dreams by night, he wants only to die (13-16). If God is so great, why doesn’t he leave Job alone? Job complains that God’s torment of him is so constant he does not even have time to swallow his spittle (17-19). He cannot understand why the mighty God is so concerned over the small sins of one person. Surely they are not such a burden. Surely God can forgive. If he does not hurry and forgive soon, it will be too late, because Job will be dead (20-21).

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