Job Chapter 7: The Depths of Job’s Depression

Jan 14th, 2010 | By | Category: Job, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Job Chapter 7: The Depths of Job’s Depression

Job 7:1 Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?

“Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth?” What is the thought here?

Comment: The NIV reads, “Does not man have hard service on earth? Are not his days like those of a hired man?”

Comment: The King James margin has, “Is there not a warfare to man upon earth?”

Reply: Yes, that rendering is closer to Job’s line of thinking. When one is committed to service, his life is burdensome and not necessarily happy. Christians are to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12). They are in a kind of warfare against principalities and powers, as well as against the world, the flesh, and the devil (Eph. 6:12). Their warfare involves responsibilities and hardships, but of course joys and blessings are mixed in. Since Job was in a down period at this time, he saw only the negative side, which was rather bleak. He was forgetting the good times he had had previously.

“Are not his days also like the days of an hireling?” After a day’s work, a servant longed for two things. (1) He wanted his wages. As shown in the Parable of the Penny, it was the custom in the Middle East for the employer to pay a wage at the end of each day. (2) Since a servant usually worked during the heat of the day, he looked forward not only to the close of the day, rest, and wages but also to the coolness and shade of the evening. In this mood, or frame of mind, Job began to soliloquize about his condition. He was bordering on a fatalistic viewpoint.

Comment: Rotherham’s translation reads, “Is there not a warfare to a mortal upon earth?”

Reply: Even in the world there is warfare, but, thank God, we can go through life with a higher hope. Our warfare is very instructive and character-building, and we hope for a reward at the end of our life that is quite different from that of the world. The Apostle Peter said we should not be surprised at the trials we have (1 Pet. 4:12). Many of our experiences are the same as the world’s, but our situation is vastly different in that the experiences are educational and beneficial. The world, on the other hand, sees only the dark side. Of course Job lived at a time when there was not as much enlightenment by the Holy Spirit.

Job 7:2 As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work:

Job 7:3 So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me.

Comment: Rotherham uses “calamity” instead of “vanity.”

The “months of vanity” of Job’s life were being contrasted with the “wearisome nights.”

Particularly with Israel, everything was based on the monthly, or lunar, calendar. The so-called Christian world uses a weekly calendar, but a monthly calendar was used in the Middle East. The short, brief nights Job was experiencing seemed to be long and unending. The type of thinking back there was so different from what we are accustomed to today.

Job 7:4 When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.

Comment: When one is in pain and great distress, it seems as if the night will never end.

Reply: Yes, there is a restlessness at night, a tossing to and fro, while one waits for morning.

Comment: With Job continually thinking about his situation, his mind would not shut off. Of course he was in great physical distress, but the inability to sleep is usually caused by an overactive mind.

Q: When we are sick at night, we often hope we will feel better when morning comes. It will then be bright and light, and we will be out of the darkness. Was Job thinking that the night dragged on and on without hope but that hope would come with the dawning of the day?

A: That thinking was part of the situation. Job had hoped each day that perhaps he would improve, but he could not see much progress. His condition was getting to the point where he could no longer endure it.

Job 7:5 My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.

Job must have been a sight to behold. Not knowing the reason for the permission of evil caused extraordinary pressure on Job.

Q: Did the “clods of dust” come from putting ashes on his head or perhaps from rolling in the dust as a sign of mourning?

A: Yes, and in addition, he may have been trying to relieve the itching.

Comment: Open sores cannot be bathed like normal skin. Also, in that climate, dust was blown about by the wind, and the dust would have clung to the oozing sores.

Reply: Impetigo is an infectious, dreadful-looking skin disease.

Comment: Job scraped his boils, or sores, with a potsherd, continually opening them up. He probably wore minimal clothing to avoid unnecessary irritation. And sores made sleeping difficult and uncomfortable.

Job 7:6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope.

Job likened the swiftness, the rapidity, with which a weaver’s shuttle goes back and forth to the swiftly passing days in contrast to the long nights. The days of his life, the months of vanity, were going fast, but he was really zeroing in on his own end-time experience. He was thinking about his present “lifetime” with the loathsome disease and his mental and physical distress.

“My days … are spent without hope.” The shuttle ceases to go back and forth when the thread runs out, when no more material is to be made. It is interesting that tiqvah, the Hebrew word for “hope,” can also be translated “thread.” The weaving of one’s life ends when he dies, when he swallows his spittle or has the death rattle (Job 7:19). We are admonished to be faithful unto death, for character building ceases at death (Rev. 2:10).

Job 7:7 O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good.

Job 7:8 The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not.

Now Job started to give his swan song. In his soliloquy, he began to talk to God. Thinking he was dying, Job was in a down period. At first, he hoped each day would bring a sign of improvement, but now he thought there was no hope and wished his life would end so that his misery would cease.

“O remember that my life is wind.” Job was commenting on the brevity of life. In comparison with everlasting life or eternity, the current life span, even if 80 years long, is like a breath of wind. Job was so depressed that he was asking, “Was anything worthwhile done?”

We, too, have down periods, as well as up periods of happiness and joy. The mixture builds character, as expressed in the Song of Solomon: “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out” (Song 4:16). The informed Christian realizes that the different experiences are actually a Godsend in that they can work out a Christlike character. But it is hard to reason that way when we are in a down period. As the Apostle Paul said, “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11). If we did not have the hope of tutorship in suffering, which Job lacked, how hard the trials would be! What a test of faith Job had! Considering his situation, he was a marvelous character. His faithfulness should shame us into being even more zealous in our walk in the narrow way.

Comment: Job’s trials were an indictment against Satan, for they prove that he enjoys causing misery and despair to those who love God. How desperately wicked and hardened his character is—and without hope of redemption!

Reply: Yes, he was behind the experiences Job was having.

Job 7:9 As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.

Many, particularly Jewish philosophers, erroneously think this verse proves that Job did not believe in a resurrection. In Jesus’ day, there were three types of religious leaders: scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection, and in Israel today, many of the political leaders have this attitude, which then affects the populace as well, so that many are agnostics and/or atheists.

The word “more” is italicized in the King James Version, showing it is a supplied word. In this case, the supplied word should be omitted, as in the Revised Standard Version: the one who “goes down to Sheol does not come up.” Without the word “more,” it is easy to see that Job was talking about the current situation or generation. As reflected in later chapters, Job felt that the resurrection would occur many centuries in the future. To a large extent, the Pastor evaded explaining the Books of Job, Ecclesiastes, and, for the most part, Proverbs because of certain statements along this line. His time-consuming administrative responsibilities kept him from calmly thinking about the death and resurrection Scriptures in these books. Thus, in comparing Reprint and Volume references and other works of his, we find a paucity of comments on Ecclesiastes and Proverbs, which were written by King Solomon. However, the Pastor did explain parts of the Song of Solomon. Generally speaking, because he wrote so little about Job, very few brethren have even read the entire Book of Job. But now the Lord’s people have the benefit of wonderful hindsight, and the light that shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day is clarifying and opening up books and subjects not formerly understood (Prov. 4:18).

“The cloud is consumed and vanisheth away.” Clouds are ethereal like the wind. Since Job did not understand the permission of evil and the meaning of circumstances in life, it was natural for him, even though he was a godly person, to reason and philosophize this way. However, he did have a hope of the future, as will be seen in later chapters.

Q: Since we think of Job as representing the Church, why is there such an emphasis on his lack of understanding of the permission of evil?

A: For one thing, it helps us to realize that we cannot really enter sympathetically into the experiences of the true Church down through the Gospel Age, and particularly during the Dark and Middle Ages, when Christians did not have complete Bibles but had only scraps of the Bible at most. God’s people received an extreme testing. In addition, the persecution was severe, so that many Christians had Job-like experiences. Christians at both ends of the ages live in a time of enlightenment. In the beginning of the Gospel Age, when Jesus and the apostles were on the scene, great happiness and joy existed, but that soon faded away. Now, at the end of the age, much enlightenment and understanding are available—sometimes to our detriment depending on our reaction.

Early Christians went through challenges based on suffering, and their test was to be faithful under those circumstances. The greater part of our experiences thus far in the Laodicean period seems to be standing up for doctrinal differences. Instead of a warfare of physical suffering and persecution for righteousness’ sake, we are persecuted for faithfulness to the truth, to doctrines, and to principles. Therefore, we cannot fully empathize with those who experienced physical suffering with a lack of knowledge.

Job 7:10 He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.

Verse 10 is true. A person who goes into the grave no longer returns to his house, nor does his place know him anymore. No matter how sorrowful a person is for the loss of a dear one, that anguish lessens as time passes. Therefore, time does heal the wound of the loss of people. Those with good leadership qualities who are extremely beneficial to mankind—let us say, like the seven messengers to true Christianity—are missed in a different way, but even they are not usually thought of that much. Verse 10, therefore, is a sobering reflection upon mortality.

Still in a down mood, Job was saying that when he deceased, he knew not only that he would not be returning but also that the memory of him would soon fade away.

Job 7:11 Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Job continued to talk to God. Yes, he was soliloquizing, but he wanted God to hear his words. In other words, Job was thinking out loud. He felt that he could not suppress the anguish and torment of spirit that were engulfing him.

Job 7:12 Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?

Job compared himself to the sea and to a whale (or a sea monster, as some translations say). In trying to reason out and understand why he was receiving such experiences, he was saying to God in effect, “Back in the Creative Days, you set the boundary to the sea so that it would not overflow the land, and you took care of sea and land monsters (leviathans and dinosaurs) so that they would not harm man. Dinosaurs had their value for the time that they existed, and then you dispensed with them. I am not a sea monster but only a tiny mortal, made of clay.

Are you setting a guard for me? You are boxing me up in this experience. Is that your intent? I cannot understand.”

Job was asking, “Why, why, why?” In later chapters, he said that he had previously tried to serve God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength. He revealed intimate thoughts that were very unusual, showing his personal dedication to God. In his anguish, he was saying, “I served you wholeheartedly of my own volition in the past, when I was healthy and the sun was shining on me. Do I now need the trauma that I am going through when I tried to do my very best previously?” Job wanted an answer. Eventually the Lord did give him an answer, as will be seen in later chapters.

Job 7:13 When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint;

Job 7:14 Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions:

Job thought that when he went to bed, he would get rest and relief from the discomfiture and heat of the day and perhaps also some improvement in his health, but instead he had nightmares. Of course Job did not know that Satan was causing the bad dreams.

Job 7:15 So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.

The nightmares were so real and so frightening that Job was depressed and wanted to die. Satan conjured up terrifying dreams in his attempts to break Job down.

Job was very disappointed that his friends did not give him credit for his integrity. What a galling experience for him both mentally and physically! Job would choose death rather than life if this experience was to continue. Christians have these experiences too, for example, in suffering excruciating pain with cancer or another disease. Many have such traumas, but the big difference is that Job was being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Others are often not rightly exercised because their traumas are due to circumstances other than their living a Christian life. And we need a touch of both kinds of experiences—we have to suffer what those in the world go through, as well as what Christians go through.

Q: Although Job did not understand the permission of evil, wouldn’t he have had a knowledge of Satan’s existence through the fall in the Garden of Eden?

A: He would not have understood the way we do. For example, we see that Satan was allowed to intrude into Jesus’ mind, tempting him especially during the 40 days in the wilderness following his baptism. People in past ages did not have such understanding, whereas we have the benefit of hindsight. We have the Gospels and the epistles of the New Testament, as well as the history of the Christian Church. Our knowledge far exceeds what was available in the past.

People in former ages could see the power of the mind over the body, but they lacked other understanding. Very little information and history are available about Job’s day, but as time went on, more and more history was recorded. In past ages, people often lived and died within an area of a few square miles, and they lacked the means of communication outside of their limited area. Job knew about the Flood and about the destruction of the nephilim, for example, but not about Satan’s intrusion into the mind.

Comment: When one has been ill for a long period of time, the thinking can get distorted. And even when we are healthy, we sometimes conscientiously question if our statements were as accurate as they should have been. Our thinking is imperfect when we are healthy, so how much harder it is for a seriously ill person to control his thinking.

Job 7:16 I loathe it; I would not live always: let me alone; for my days are vanity.

Job loathed his life, that is, his present state, or condition. He did not loathe his life previously when he was healthy and had his children.

“I would not live always: let me alone.” These are fairly hard words, but Job could not understand why he was having such a strange and severe trial. In reviewing his past, he could not see any reason for his experience, so he was searching for a response. It was almost as though he wanted God to answer him right then and there as he was uttering this expression.

“For my days are vanity.” The word “vanity” comes from the word “vain.” Job’s life seemed to have been wasted. He had made vows to serve God and had fulfilled them to the best of his ability. In addition, he had prayed frequently on behalf of his children that they would not depart from God, so not only did he keep a surveillance on his own life and behavior, but also he was very much concerned for his family. Having done everything dutifully, he could not understand why this horrific experience suddenly came upon him where he lost everything, including his health, appearance, and status. Job was searching for an answer, and certainly Eliphaz did not supply the information he wanted.

Comment: The word for “vanity” in Strong’s is defined as “emptiness or vanity; figuratively something transitory and unsatisfactory.” The idea of emptiness seems to fit nicely because Job had been full with children, flocks, riches, and good health, and now he was empty.

Reply: Yes, the word does mean “empty,” but we were taking the slant of Job’s asking, “Was my life worthwhile? In the days of seeming favor, was the watching of my character in vain?”

In other words, if Job had not made vows and been circumspect, he could have lived for pleasure and self just like the world, and not for God.

Comment: The Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 are similar: “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

Reply: Yes, but Job lacked the understanding and the assurance that Paul had. Paul turned right around and said, “That is not the case, for what we are believing and hoping for is real.”

Job 7:17 What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?

Job continued to reason with God. Verse 17 reminds us of Psalm 8:4, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” The similarity suggests that the words of Job may have come to the Psalmist David’s mind, but David gave them a beneficial slant to magnify and praise God. His wonderment was that the great God, who had created the universe, should be interested in little man, whom He had made down here on the earth.

Comparing Job with David and the Eighth Psalm leads into other avenues of thought. We have contended that Job was the first book of the Bible to be recorded. Next came the Pentateuch, which Moses was privileged to introduce. Job was in a rather unique position, for he lived in the period between the latter part of Joseph’s life and the early years of Moses, and thus was not aware of the Pentateuch. With his wisdom, understanding, and consecration, had he known of the Pentateuch, his mood and expressions would have been different from those that were recorded. A study of the Book of Job gives us an appreciation of the saints of God in the Dark Ages with the relative paucity of information and Scriptures that were available before the Gutenberg press came into existence and Bibles were printed and distributed.

Since Job did not know that Satan was behind the experience he was having, he could only attribute it to God. The first place Satan, as a name, is mentioned in the Bible is in the Book of Job, but Job did not hear the allegorical conversation, so he could not see Satan’s part. Of course the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel contain Scriptures that are sometimes interpreted as referring to Satan, but they were written much later.

Let us put ourselves in Job’s situation. He would have known of the Flood and the conditions that brought about the Flood, that is, about the fallen angels who sinned. But what happened?

When the Flood came, only Noah and his family (eight souls) were preserved. The Nephilim were drowned, and the fallen angels were bound in tartaroo. Because the fallen angels were no longer on the scene, the people thought they had been destroyed and were no longer in existence. Therefore, Job could not have brought Satan into the picture as the one responsible for his circumstance. Moreover, the calamities had come on Job in one day. As he lost the different segments of his goods and possessions, servants came one by one to tell him what had happened. With everything occurring so suddenly, Job concluded that God had permitted the experience. The test on Job was very severe. Had we been in Job’s place, it is questionable as to how we would have reacted.

Comment: In the entire Old Testament, the name Satan appears only four times other than in the Book of Job, so primarily the New Testament uses his name. Satan is mentioned one time in 1 Chronicles, which is before the Book of Job, but timewise, Job was written years earlier.

Reply: Yes, much was brought to light in the New Testament. Of course Isaiah chapter 14 talks about Lucifer, and we read about the sons of the morning in a late chapter of Job. But at this time, Job did not have the understanding.

Comment: Because Satan’s name is not mentioned firmly in the Old Testament, some Jews and even some Christians do not believe in a personal devil. They feel the concept was contrived in the Chaldean and Babylonian captivity, and they do not place the Book of Job in antiquity.

Reply: Yes, the Babylonian history tells about a flood and about fallen angels, and although Satan was given a different name, he was the individual being talked about.

With Job living between Joseph and Moses, what was the connecting link whereby the Old Testament was preserved for posterity? Noah lived both before and after the Flood, and so did his three sons. Therefore, they had firsthand experience of what happened before, during, and after the Flood. Noah lived to age 950, so presumably he died first, although we do not know with certainty when Ham and Japheth died. However, we do know how long Shem lived. Therefore, the history of what happened was faithfully recorded, as well as the genealogy of Adam’s children. The whole historical record was carried over, or past, the Flood by Noah and then given to Shem, but since Shem died before Job came into existence, there had to be a connecting link. The Bible names only three individuals who might have preserved the record up to the time of Joseph’s death. Joseph got at least part of the record from Jacob, and we believe the other part was supplied in another fashion. The connecting link between Joseph and Moses was probably Amram, the father of Moses. Jethro, the priest of Midian, was recognized by God in a way, and there was Elihu. Thus three individuals could have been a connecting link. Possibly Jethro had some information, and Amram had the more important information.

With a supporting link, no hiatus occurred in the handing down of the records to posterity, which of course includes us.

With regard to the Pentateuch, the sixth chapter of Genesis contains a link about what happened to Satan without his name being specifically mentioned. The sixteenth chapter of Leviticus speaks of Azazel, and the Balaam account in the twenty-second chapter of Numbers indicates some information was available at that time. Thus there was a paucity of information before Moses, and relatively few people were knowledgeable with regard to the Word of God.

Then, during the time of Moses, a wealth of information exploded upon the scene. In that way, Moses was something like Jesus. When Jesus came on the scene, there was an explosion of knowledge about God that previously was not available.

Comment: The Book of Job was written by Elihu after the fact and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the use of the proper name Satan was in that vein.

Reply: Yes, we hear about the name Satan in the first and second chapters of Job, which were written afterwards. Elihu was a young man at the time, and Job was a very mature person.

Back to verse 17. We can now understand how Job and David wrote from two different perspectives, with David having much more information. Both, however, were addressing God. In the beginning of chapter 7, Job was soliloquizing, and then he began to talk to God.

Some could take the slant that Job was talking to the three comforters here and that he was sarcastically asking why they had set him as a target, but since he had already addressed them in chapter 6, such an interpretation would be repetitious. In chapter 7, Job’s chief complaint was not with God Himself, but it was that God was not telling him the reason for his experience.

Job 7:18 And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?

Notice the wording. Job was speaking about a trial every day and every moment, but he was actually talking about his own experience. He was tried every morning and every evening.

Job 7:19 How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?

Job 7:20 I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself?

Job 7:21 And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? For now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.

In verses 19-21, Job came to the conclusion that maybe he was having this experience because he had sinned, but he did not know what the sin was. Now his mood changed. He felt that he must have sinned, but what was it and why could he not be forgiven? Verse 19 expresses his desire to die and thus end his misery.

Comment: Job wanted to die, yet the Lord, the “preserver of men,” visited him with life every morning.

Then Job added, “Thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.” A comparison of this part of verse 21 with verse 9 shows that some words were supplied by the translators. “He that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more” should be “He that goeth down to the grave shall not come up.” Many scholars have felt that Job did not believe in a resurrection, but that is not true, as proven by later verses. Because of their thinking, those scholars incorrectly supplied certain words. Here “shall” and “be” should be deleted. If a word is to be supplied, verse 21 should read, “Thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I am not.” The italicized words are not warranted. If Job died, then when God came to visit in the morning, he would “not be” at that time. Notice, also, that Job said he would “sleep in the dust.” He knew that death was a state of unconsciousness.

Job’s comments show he thought he was dying, but he wanted death to come faster. Although he did not know the reason for his affliction, he felt it was incurable. He wanted the peace of mind of forgiveness so that he could die with more comfort.

Q: In verse 21, was Job saying he wanted the Lord’s forgiveness before he died, even though he did not know what the sin was?

A: Yes, that is one point, but in asking for forgiveness, he wanted to know what his sin was. He knew he was not a perfect being. All honest people in past dispensations were aware they were not perfect, and they experienced twinges of conscience when they said or did something they regretted.

(2001-2003 Study)

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