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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Job 14

 

 

Verses 1-22

MAN'S DECAY AND DEATH

(vv.1-12)

What Job had said in chapter 3:28 he expands upon in these verses, giving a vivid description of the evanescent character of man's life on earth. This is generally true of all mankind, though men do everything in their power to alleviate this condition. "Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble" (v.1) Though Job himself lived 140 years after his bitter experience, yet when it was finished, it was only "few days." Like a flower, man comes forth and fades away. Like a shadow he does not continue (v.2). In view of this brevity of life, Job wondered why God troubles Himself to bring him to judgment, as he thought God was doing.

"Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one! This is impossible for any human being. Yet God is able to purify man's hearts, cleansing them through the blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7), by faith (Romans 3:25). But this is found only in the New Testament, so Job did not understand such a marvellous gospel.

He recognises that God has determined the length of a man's life, and man cannot overstep his limits. But why did Job not at this time fully submit to the superior work of God, and not chafe at the limits God had placed him under? (v.5). "Look away from him that he may rest," Job says. Did he mean he wanted God to relax the limits, so he could rest comfortably? For he was only like a hired man: could he not finish his day's work in peace?

In verses 7-10 Job contrasts himself to a tree, which can sprout again after being cut down. This is often seen, that a new tree begins to grow out of the stump of one cut down. Though the stump is dead, yet with moisture a new tree will sprout. "But man dies and is laid away Indeed he breathes his last and where is he?" (v.10). However, the fact is that, though man's body is totally decayed in the grave, yet the new sprouting of a tree is a comparison, not a contrast to the eventual "sprouting" of a new body from the old. Man's resurrection is longer delayed, but it is just as certain. In fact, Job knew this, as he declares in chapter 19:26, but in chapter 14 he is too concerned about the immediate future to take into proper consideration the distant future.

In verses 11-12 he likens man's death to water evaporating from the sea or a river becoming dried up. "So man lies down, and does not rise till the heavens are no more." This is an exaggeration because the time seemed so long to Job, as though death was the end of everything.

ANOTHER PLEA FOR DEATH

(vv.13-17)

Though he has inferred that death is the end of everything, Job pleads with God that he might die, thinking that he might thus be hidden until God's anger had subsided. For he thought that his troubles stemmed from the wrath of God (v.13). In this he was totally mistaken. If only God would set a definite time where He might relax His trying dealings with Job, then Job would understand. But if he died, would he live again? (v.14). We have seen that he answered this himself in chapter 19:26-27, but his words show the state of confusion he was in, which caused him to often speak inconsistently.

He says, "All the days of my hard service I will wait till my change comes," that is, wait for death - but not wait patiently! Meanwhile God was numbering Job's steps, but Job did not want Him to watch over his sins, which he considered "sealed up in a bag," not apparent, only needing covering by God Himself, for he did rightly think God could do this.

JOB THINKS GOD PREVAILS AGAINST MAN

(vv.18-22)

Not only does Job recognise that man dies, but in this life Job saw the evidence of God's power being used to break man down to the dust. Is this what God thinks of His creation? Does He take pleasure in demolishing the work of His hands? "As a mountain falls and crumbles away, and as a rock is moved from its place; as water wears away stones, and as torrents wash away the soil of the earth; so You destroy the hope of man." Why is God not content with letting man die, rather than to make him suffer before death?

Job sees only power on God's side, God prevailing against man without man having any chance of recovery: man passes on. God changes His countenance (from pleasant to depressing) and sends man away (v.20), left alone to wander in misery Yet in reality God was dealing in pure love toward Job, not merely in power. Whether man's sons come to honour or whether they are brought low, the father is so reduced as not to perceive it (v.21). Of course, before this Job's sons had all been killed, but he thinks of this situation as a general truth, that man can find no pleasure in his family, no more than in himself. Rather, his flesh will be in pain and his soul will mourn (v.22). How painful and dismal is the picture he portrays!

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 14:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/job-14.html. 1897-1910.

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