Job Chapter Seventeen
In this chapter Job reflects upon the harsh treatment that his friends have brought upon him and views himself as a dying man. He appeals to God, and begs him to quickly appear for him, make things right, because his friends have wronged him and he doesn’t know how to make that right himself. But he hopes that though it would be a surprise to him; that it would not be a stumbling block for people to see him abused in the fashion that he has been abused. He reflects upon the vain hopes that he will yet have good days and that with his body all of his vain hopes should be buried in the dust. The fact that his friends turned on him has grieved him greatly. With that on top of all of his other afflictions he sees comfort only in death and the grave.
In this chapter Job’s discourse is somewhat broken up, interrupted and he jumps from one subject to another.
Read Job 17:1-9
v1. “MY BREATH IS CORRUPT, MY DAYS ARE EXTINCT, THE GRAVES are ready FOR ME.”
The ASV translates this as “MY SPIRIT IS CONSUMED”. Job declares here that he is a dying man. His days are extinct and the grave is ready. Our time is coming when our days will be extinct. It concerns us therefore to carefully redeem our days, our time (Colossians 4:5), and to spend it in getting ready for the days of eternity, which will never be extinct.
v2. “are there NOT MOCKERS WITH ME? AND DOTH NOT MINE EYE CONTINUE IN THEIR PROVOCATION?”
His friends have mocked him, they have abused him. They consider that the calamities that have befallen him are just and proper for him as a sinner. They are mockers. They insult him because he has been brought low. They are so set to abuse him to his face, pretending friendship in their visit, but intending mischief. He cannot get clear of them; they are continually tearing at him, and they will not be wrought upon, either by reason or by pity.
v3. “LAY DOWN NOW, PUT ME IN A SURETY WITH THEE; WHO is HE that WILL STRIKE HANDS WITH ME?”
Now he appeals from them to God. Job would desire no more than to know that God will take the hearing and determining of the cause of his affliction into his own hands. Job is just as we should be if our hearts do not condemn us, if we know that our relationship with God is right. When we can know that; then what other men may think or say does not matter.
v4. “FOR THOU HAST HID THEIR HEART FROM UNDERSTANDING: THEREFORE SHALT THOU NOT EXALT them.”
Job says here that his friend’s hearts have been hidden from understanding and perhaps that is the reason that they have not done anything to console him. Their wisdom has departed from them. Wisdom is a gift of God, which he grants to some and withholds from others, grants at some times and withholds at other times. Those that are void of compassion are, so far, also void of understanding. God should not allow those to be honored or exalted that are void of understanding, whose hearts are hidden from understanding.
v5. “HE THAT SPEAKETH FLATTERY TO his FRIENDS, EVEN THE EYES OF HIS CHILDREN SHALL FAIL.”
Remember back at the beginning that they had made promises to Job. They promised that if he would hear and heed their words that he would be happy. Now all these promises Job knows were just empty words, like words of flattery. Then Job goes on to state that the man who wrongs his friends will really put a curse upon his children. Those who forfeit the bonds of friendship, those who violate the laws of friendship forfeit the benefit of that friendship, not only for themselves but for the offspring that follow them. When their children look for comfort and compassion from their own and their father’s friends, they will look in vain and be as disappointed as Job is in his friends.
v6. “HE HATH MADE ME ALSO A BYWORD OF THE PEOPLE; AND AFORETIME I WAS AS A TABRET.”
Job has been made a despised man, he’s the talk of the countryside, a laughing stock to many, a gazing stock to all, a reproach of men. They made ballads of him; his name became a proverb; and it still is. Has anyone here heard the expression to be as poor as Job? Aforetime, or in times before, he was a tabret. The word translated tabret literally means “darling of the people” or one who was looked up to, one whom everyone was pleased with, one who enjoyed high honor among people.
v7. “MINE EYE ALSO IS DIM BY REASON OF SORROW, AND ALL MY MEMBERS are AS A SHADOW.”
that he’s wept so much that he’s almost lost his sight. He’s grieved so much that he has fretted all
the flesh away and become a perfect skeleton, nothing but skin and bones. He’s become so poor and thin that he should
not be called a man but rather the shadow of a man. In one of the Psalms of David, he says:
Psalms 6:6-7 “I AM WEARY WITH MY GROANING; ALL THE NIGHT MAKE I MY BED TO SWIM; I WATER MY COUCH WITH MY TEARS. MINE EYE IS CONSUMED BECAUSE OF GRIEF; IT WAXETH OLD BECAUSE OF ALL MINE ENEMIES.”
v8-9. “UPRIGHT men SHALL BE ASTONIED AT THIS, AND THE INNOCENT SHALL STIR UP HIMSELF AGAINST THE HYPOCRITE. THE RIGHTEOUS ALSO SHALL HOLD ON HIS WAY, AND HE THAT HATH CLEAN HANDS SHALL BE STRONGER AND STRONGER.”
Upright men, men that are honest and sincere, would be astonished at what has befallen Job. They, like Job, are innocent, not perfectly innocent, but innocent of great wrong doing. They’re the kind of men that David asked God to help him to become:
Psalms 19:13 “KEEP BACK THY SERVANT ALSO FROM PRESUMPTUOUS sins; LET THEM NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER ME: THEN SHALL I BE UPRIGHT, AND I SHALL BE INNOCENT FROM THE GREAT TRANSGRESSION.
Job’s condition would amaze them, they would wonder to hear that so good a man as Job should be so grievously afflicted in body, name, and estate. They would marvel that God should lay his hand so heavily on him and that his friends, who ought to have comforted him, should add to his grief. They would be amazed that such a remarkable saint should be such a despicable sufferer, and so useful a man should be brought to such uselessness.
Read Job 17:10-16
v10. “BUT AS FOR YOU ALL, DO YE RETURN, AND COME NOW: FOR I CANNOT FIND one WISE man AMONG YOU.”
Job’s friends had pretended to comfort him with the hope that he would be returned to a prosperous state again, now he tells them that it was foolish for them to talk so. Come on now, be convinced that you are in error, you are wrong; let me persuade you to be of my mind. You’re not wise. I can’t find one wise man among you. What about those who do go wisely about trying to bring comfort to those that are afflicted? If we know someone is dying should we speak to them of the joys of living, or should we speak to them of being prepared to stand before God? Would it not be better to comfort ourselves, and others, in distress, with that which will not fail? Comfort them with the promise of God, his love and grace, and a well-grounded, valid hope of eternal life?
v11-12. “MY DAYS ARE PAST, MY PURPOSES ARE BROKEN OFF, even THE THOUGHTS OF MY HEART. THEY CHANGE THE NIGHT INTO DAY: THE LIGHT is SHORT BECAUSE OF DARKNESS.”
Job says that in his prosperity, he often pleased himself both with projects of what he should do and prospects of what he should enjoy; but now he looked upon these days as past, or drawing to a close. All those purposes have now been broken off and all those expectations have been destroyed. Are we not the same? What about our thoughts of enlarging our borders, increasing our wealth, settling our children and many other things. What about our plans for promoting the worship of the true God, for comforting those who are grieved, for reaching those who are lost, for relieving the poor? Won’t there come a time when these hopes, just as Job thinks his are now, will be in vain. Will there not come a time to all of us; when we will no longer be able to do the things that we want or would do? The words of the song say “work for the night is coming” when we can work no more and that is so true.
v13. “IF I WAIT, THE GRAVE is MINE HOUSE: I HAVE MADE MY BED IN THE DARKNESS.”
At this point he counts on no house but the grave. I have made my bed in the darkness, he says, my lot is cast, my destiny is sure. If I wait, if there be any place where I shall ever be at ease again, surely it must be in the grave. I should deceive myself if I should count upon any outlet from my troubles but what death will give me. NOTE: In all of our prosperity it is good to keep death in proper prospective. Whatever we expect we should expect death; for death may prevent many of our other plans from taking place. But nothing will prevent death except the coming of Christ again before we die.
v14. “I HAVE SAID TO CORRUPTION, THOU art MY FATHER: TO THE WORM, thou art MY MOTHER, AND MY SISTER.”
He sees the grave as being more agreeable with him than his current condition. Job saw no fear in dying. So my body goes to corruption and returns to the clay from which it came. There is nothing there that would make me fear death and cling to life. Especially a life such as I am consigned to at this point.
v15-16. “AND WHERE is NOW MY HOPE? AS FOR MY HOPE, WHO SHALL SEE IT? THEY SHALL GO DOWN TO THE BARS OF THE PIT, WHEN our REST TOGETHER is IN THE DUST.”
Where is my hope? Where is your hope? Is it in the prosperity and wealth of this world? If it is, then it is misplaced. Is it in living long years troubled by pains, afflictions, diseases and cares of this world? Job says the hopes that you have tried to lift me up with, they shall go down with me into the bars of the pit. You are dying men, and cannot make good your promises. I am as a dying man, and cannot enjoy the good you promise. Since, therefore, our rest will be together in the dust, let us lay aside the thoughts of this world and set your hearts upon the world to come. We shall rest there. We shall all rest together there.