V.1-10 immediately draw out the miracle that is the born-again nature of the Christian:
“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one (v.4).. For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant. But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he? As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up, so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep.“
Job can immediately see that a man, outside of Christ, has no roots which will but and put out branches like a young plant subject to the waters of the Spirit. Without coming to the fountain of living water (Jeremiah 17:13), without coming to the Blessed Man who trusts in the Lord, who is like a tree planted by water and sends out its roots by the stream (Jeremiah 17:7-8; c.f. Psalm 1), man shall indeed lie down and rise not again. “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come. (v.14)” Job now turns to the only hope, should it be open to him – the Hope in the Gospel which is the work of His hands (v.15), the Hope which could seal up Job’s transgression in a bag, to cover over his iniquity (v.16-17). It would then appear that hiding in Sheol would be of comfort to him, if he is to be resurrected after all (v.13). Adam Clarke substantiates Job’s understanding of the resurrection as shown in these verses:
“Verse 13. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave] Dreadful as
death is to others, I shall esteem it a high privilege; it will be
to me a covert from the wind and from the tempest of this
affliction and distress.
Keep me secret] Hide my soul with thyself, where my enemies
cannot invade my repose; or, as the poet expresses it:-
“My spirit hide with saints above,
My body in the tomb.”
Job does not appear to have the same thing in view when he
entreats God to hide him in the grave; and to keep him secret,
until his wrath be past. The former relates to the body; the
latter to the spirit.
That thou wouldest appoint me a set time] As he had spoken of
the death of his body before, and the secreting of his spirit in
the invisible world, he must refer here to the resurrection; for
what else can be said to be an object of desire to one whose body
is mingled with the dust?
And remember me!] When my body has paid that debt of death which
it owes to thy Divine justice, and the morning of the resurrection
is come, when it may be said thy wrath, appecha, “thy
displeasure,” against the body is past, it having suffered the
sentence denounced by thyself: Dust thou art, and unto dust thou
shalt return, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely
die; then remember me-raise my body, unite my spirit to it, and
receive both into thy glory for ever.
Verse 14. If a man die, shall he live again?] The Chaldee
translates, If a wicked man die, can he ever live again? or, he
can never live again. The Syriac and Arabic thus: “If a man die,
shall he revive? Yea, all the days of his youth he awaits till his
old age come.” The Septuagint: “If a man die, shall he live,
having accomplished the days of his life? I will endure till I
live again.” Here is no doubt, but a strong persuasion, of the
certainty of the general resurrection.
All the days of my appointed time] tsebai, “of my
warfare;” see on Job 7:1.
Will I await till chaliphathi, my renovation, come. This
word is used to denote the springing again of grass, Ps 90:5, 6,
after it had once withered, which is in itself a very expressive
emblem of the resurrection.
Verse 15. Thou shalt call] Thou shalt say There shall be time no
longer: Awake, ye dead! and come to judgment!
And I will answer thee] My dissolved frame shall be united at
thy call; and body and soul shall be rejoined.
Thou wilt have a desire] tichsoph, “Thou wilt pant
with desire;” or, “Thou wilt yearn over the work of thy hands.”
God has subjected the creature to vanity, in hope; having
determined the resurrection. Man is one of the noblest works of
God. He has exhibited him as a master-piece of his creative skill,
power, and goodness. Nothing less than the strongest call upon
justice could have induced him thus to destroy the work of his
hands. No wonder that he has an earnest desire towards it; and
that although man dies, and is as water spilt upon the ground that
cannot be gathered up again; yet doth he devise means that his
banished be not expelled from him. Even God is represented as
earnestly longing for the ultimate reviviscence of the sleeping
dust. He cannot, he will not, forget the work of his hands.
Verse 16. For now thou numberest my steps] ki attah,
bent on my utter destruction, yet thou delightest in mercy, and I
shall be saved.“
Now we come to Eliphaz, the man whose “God is his strength“, a Temanite (i.e. known for its wisdom – Jeremiah 49:7). He questions whether Job has enjoyed the conversation of the “council of God”, of the Trinity and God’s angels (v.8) – whether Job has more knowledge than Eliphaz (indeed – how can anyone have more knowledge than the Temanite!). Ironically, the same man poses the rhetorical question – “What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?” Yet, does Eliphaz not recognise that he is therefore similarly impure and unrighteous? It appears he is an exception, for he is above Job, the man who is not only untrusted (v.15), but also abominable and corrupt (v.16), who drinks injustice like water (v.16). What a lie! Job only seeks to drink the waters of life, not waters of injustice. Eliphaz sees Job as the wicked man who writhes in pain all his days (v.20), that he does not deserve to believe that he will return out of darkness (v.22), challenging Job’s comment that it is better to hide in Sheol and come back resurrected having avoided God’s wrath. Eliphaz considers such a man should not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself (v.31) – standing in the role of he who judges (Matthew 7), presuming himself to be the Judge. Just as Jesus was beaten and tortured till he was nailed on the cross for sins he did not commit, so also Job is being spat upon and judged by the Pharisees of old, embodied in a man of Eliphaz’ nature. Eliphaz does not seem to recognise that the ways of the wicked at times will prosper, that those who are treacherous will at times thrive (Jeremiah 12:1) – just as the lamb was led to slaughter by those who should be destroyed by the Destroyer (v.21).
So Job responds – putting them in their place. They are miserable comforters – the lot of them! Such windy words shall have no end, that they should seek to find answers to things which they clearly do not comprehend (v.3). Carrying on with the typology of crucifixion of Christ, so also Job describes the torment he receives from men (v.10-17) – just as Christ’s prayer was pure, so Job’s was (v.17). Job maintains that his witness is in heaven, that He who testifies for Job is on high (v.19) – despite the scorn of men, Job maintains his worship towards God (v.20), and his innocence by reference to the story of Abel (v.18 – that earth will not cry out the blood that he did not actually shed).