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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Job 14

 

 

Verses 1-22

Job"s despair ch14

In this melancholic lament Job bewailed the brevity of life ( Job 14:1-6), the finality of death ( Job 14:7-17), and the absence of hope ( Job 14:18-22).

"Born of woman" ( Job 14:1) reflects man"s frailty since woman who bears him is frail. Job 14:4 means, "Who can without God"s provision of grace make an unclean person clean?" (cf. Job 9:30-31; Job 25:4). God has indeed determined the life span of every individual ( Job 14:5).

It seemed unfair to Job that a tree could come back to life after someone had cut it down, but a person could not ( Job 14:7-10). As I mentioned before, Job gives no evidence of knowing about divine revelation concerning what happens to a human being after death. He believed in life after death ( Job 14:13) but he did not know that there would be bodily resurrection from Sheol, the place of departed spirits ( Job 14:12). [Note: See Hartley, pp235-37.] He longed for the opportunity to stand before God after he entered Sheol ( Job 14:14), to get the answers from God that God would not give him on earth.

Essentially, "Sheol" in the Old Testament is the place where the dead go. There was common belief in the continuing personal existence of one"s spirit after death. When the place where unrighteous people go is in view, the reference is to hell. When the righteous are in view, Sheol refers to either death or the grave. [Note: See A. Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and the Old Testament Parallels, ch3: "Death and Afterlife."]

God later revealed that everyone, righteous and unrighteous, will stand before Him some day ( Acts 24:15; Hebrews 9:27; et al.), and God will resurrect the bodies of the dead ( 1 Corinthians 15). Job believed he would stand before God, though he had no assurance from God that he would ( Job 14:16). Evidently Job believed as he did because it seemed to him that such an outcome would be right. He evidently believed in the theoretical possibility of resurrection but had no assurance of it. [Note: See James Orr, "Immortality in the Old Testament," in Classical Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation, pp259.] When he finally had his meeting with God, Job was confident that God would clear him of the false charges against him.

The final section ( Job 14:18-22) contains statements that reflect the despair Job felt as he contemplated the remainder of his life without any changes or intervention by God. All he could look forward to, with any "hope" or "confidence," was death.

This reply by Job was really his answer to the major argument and several specific statements all three of his companions had made so far. Job responded to Zophar ( Job 12:3), but his words in this reply (chs12-14) responded to statements his other friends had made as well.

 


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 14:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/job-14.html. 2012.

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