Pristine Grace

Job 14:1-5, (GILL)
1  INTRODUCTION TO JOB 14

Job, having turned himself from his friends to God, continues his address to him in this chapter; wherein he discourses of the frailty of man, the shortness of his life, the troubles that are in it, the sinfulness of it, and its limited duration, beyond which it cannot continue; all which he makes use of with God, that he would not therefore deal rigorously with him, but have pity on him, and cease from severely afflicting him, till he came to the end of his days, which could not be long, Job 14:1; he observes of a tree, when it is cut down to the root, yea, when the root is become old, and the stock dies, it will, by means of being watered, bud and sprout again, and produce boughs and branches; but man, like the failing waters of the sea, and the decayed and dried up flood, when he dies, rises not, till the heavens be no more, Job 14:7; and then he wishes to be hid in the grave till that time, and expresses hope and belief of the resurrection of the dead, Job 14:13; and goes on to complain of the strict notice God took of his sins, of his severe dealings with men, destroying their hope in life, and removing them by death; so that they see and know not the case and circumstances of their children they leave behind, and while they live have continual pain and sorrow, Job 14:16.

Man [that is] born of a woman,.... Man, Adam; not the first man, so called, for he was made and created out of the dust of the earth, and not born of a woman; the woman was made out of him, and not he of her; "earthly man", as Mr. Broughton translates it, as every descendant of Adam is; as is the earth, such are they that are earthy, everyone of which is born of a woman; yet not as opposed unto and distinguished from the heavenly One, or the Lord from heaven, for he also as man was made and born of a woman: this, though a proper description of all mankind, there being none but what are born of a woman, see Mt 11:11; yet Job chiefly designs himself; for having spoken of his wasting circumstances in which he was, in Job 13:28, goes on in this to treat of his frailty and mortality, and to improve it into an argument with God for pity and mercy, as appears from Job 14:3; where he speaks of himself in the first person, as here in the third, and all along: he may have respect in this clause to Eve, the mother of all living, from whom all descend, and of whom, in a sense, they may be said to be born; or else to his immediate parent, he and every man being born of a woman; no man, but the first, ever came into the world in any other way; there is one that came into the world without an earthly father, and that is our Lord Jesus Christ, but none without a mother; nor lie, who indeed was born of a virgin, and so in an extraordinary and miraculous manner; and this is observed, not so much on account of natural descent, or to denote that, as being reckoned from the mother, she having so great a concern in the production of man, conceiving, bearing, and bringing him forth; nor to remark the sinfulness of nature, though one born of a sinful woman must needs be so too, since this is expressed clearly in Job 14:4; but the weakness and frailty of man; as is the creature that generates, such is that that is generated; creatures born of strong ones are strong, and of weak ones weak; a creature born of a lion is a strong one; and man, born of a woman, must be weak and feeble, and no wonder he is short lived, as follows:

[is] of few days; or "short of days" [c]; comes short of the days he might have lived, if man had never sinned, and comes short of the days the first man did live, and which those before the flood generally lived, who most of them lived upwards of nine hundred years; whereas now, and ever since the times of Moses, and about which Job lived, the days of the years of man are but threescore and ten; and such are shorter of days still, who live not more than half this time, who are cut off in the bloom and prime of life, the days of whose youth are shortened, who die in their youth, or in their childhood and infancy; and such especially are short of days who are carried from the womb to the grave, or die as soon as born; and those that live the longest, their days are but few, when compared with the days of eternity, or with those men shall live in another world, either good men in heaven, or wicked men in hell, which will be for ever; and especially with respect to God, with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, and therefore the days and age of man are as nothing before him. Job has here also a respect to himself, whose days in his own apprehension were very few, and just at an end, and therefore craves pity and compassion, see Job 10:20; and what aggravates the shortness of man's days is, as it follows:

and full of trouble; man is born to it, being born in sin; sin and trouble go together, where there is sin there is trouble; sin entered into the world, and death by it, with the numerous train of afflictions and miseries which issue in it: all men have their troubles, some of one sort, and some of another; wicked men are not indeed in trouble as other men, as good men are; they have not the same sort of trouble, yet are not exempt from all; they are "full of commotion" [d] disquietude and uneasiness, as the word signifies; they are restless, and ever in motion; they are like the troubled sea, that cannot rest, but is continually casting up mire and dirt; some are of such tempers and dispositions, that they cannot sleep unless they do mischief; and though they are many of them prosperous in their worldly circumstances, there are others that are reduced to poverty and distress, are attended with diseases and disorders, pains and sores, and blaspheme that God that has power over them; and these are of all men the most miserable, having no interest in God, in his loving kindness, nor any enjoyment of his presence, and so nothing to support them in, and carry them through their troubles; and though they are generally without any sense of sin or danger, have no remorse of conscience, and their hearts are hardened; yet at times they are "full of trembling" [e], as some render the words; are seized with a panic through the judgments of God that are upon them, or are coming upon them, or when death is made the king of terrors to them: and good men they have their troubles; besides those in common with others, they have inward troubles arising from the vanity of their minds and thoughts, the impurity of their hearts, and the power of indwelling sin in them, and especially from the breaking forth of it in words and deeds; from the weakness of their graces, from the hidings of God's face, and the temptations of Satan: in short, Job's meaning is, that men in the ordinary course of things meet with so much trouble, that there is no need of any extraordinary afflictions to be laid on them, such as his were.

[c] Mymy ruq "brevis dierum", Montanus, Schmidt, Michaelis, Schultens; so Beza, Vatablus, Drusius, Mercerus. [d] zgr ebv "satur commotione", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Schmidt, Michaelis. [e] "Saturus tremore", Montanus; "satur trepidi tumultus", Schultens.

2  He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down,.... As the flower comes from the earth, so does man; as it comes out of the stalk, so man out of his mother's womb; as the flower flourishes for a while, and looks gay and beautiful, so man while in youth, in health and prosperity. Job, doubtless, has respect to his own case before his troubles came upon him, when he was possessed of all that substance, which made him the greatest man of the east; when his children were like olive plants around his table, and his servants at his command, and he in perfect health of body: and as a flower flourishes for a little while, and then withers; no sooner is it come to its full blow, but presently decays; such is the goodliness of man, it fades away whenever God blows a blast upon it; yea, he is easily and quickly cut down by death, like a beautiful flower cut with the knife, or cropped by the hand, or trampled upon by the foot, see Ps 103:15;

he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not; either as the shadow of the evening, which is lost when night comes on; or the shadow on a dial plate, which is continually moving on; or, as the Jewish Rabbins say, as the shadow of a bird flying, which stays not, whereas the shadow of a wall, or of a tree, continues: a shadow is an empty thing, without substance, dark and obscure, variable and uncertain, declining, fleeting, and passing away; and so fitly resembles the life of a man, which is but a vapour, a bubble, yea, as nothing with God; is full of darkness, of ignorance, and of adversity, very fickle, changeable, and inconstant, and at most but of a short continuance.

3  And dost thou open thine eyes on such an one,.... So frail and feeble, so short lived and sorrowful, so soon and easily cut down and destroyed: and by opening of his eyes is not meant his providential care of men; whose eyes indeed are everywhere, run to and fro throughout the earth, and are careful of and provident for all sorts of men, which is very wonderful, Ps 8:4; nor the displays of his special grace and favour towards his own peculiar people, on whom his eyes of love, grace, and mercy, are opened, and are never withdrawn from them, which is marvellous lovingkindness; but the exercise of rigorous justice in punishing, afflicting, and chastising with so much severity, as Job thought to be his own case; the eyes of God, as he thought, were set on him for evil, and not for good; he looked wistly on him, and in a very frowning manner; he sharpened his eye upon him, as the phrase is, Job 16:9; and as some render the word [f] here, looked narrowly into all his ways, and watched every motion and every step he took, and pursued him with great eagerness, and used him with great strictness in a way of justice, which he, a poor, weak creature, was not able to bear; which sense is confirmed by what follows:

and bringeth me into judgment with thee? by this it appears Job has a view to himself all along, and to the procedure of God against him, which he took to be in strict justice, and that was what he was not able to bear; he was not a match for God, being such a frail, weak, sinful, mortal creature; nor was God a man as he was, that they should come together in judgment, or be fit persons to contend together upon the foot of strict justice; sinful man can never be just with God upon this bottom, or be able to answer to one objection or charge of a thousand brought against him; and therefore, as every sensible man will deprecate God's entering into judgment with him, so Job here expostulates with God why he should bring him into judgment with him; when, as he fled to his grace and mercy, he should rather show that to him than in a rigorous manner deal with him.

[f] Kynye txqp "super illo acuis oculos tuos", Cocceius; "super hune apertos vibras oculos", Schultens.

4  Who can bring a clean [thing] out of an clean?.... Either produce a clean person from an unclean one: it is not to be expected that one, perfectly free from sin, should be generated by, or brought out of, one that is defiled with it; which is the case of all men; the first man, though made upright, sinned, and by sinning defiled himself, and all human nature in him: and so those that immediately descended from him were polluted likewise, and so on in all generations, every man being conceived and shaped in iniquity; so that it is not possible that man that is born of a woman, sinful and unclean, should be clean himself, or be free from sin; by which it is manifest, that the sinfulness of human nature is unavoidable; it is natural and necessary, and cannot be otherwise, such being the case and circumstances of immediate parents, from whom men descend; and that this is the case of all men that come into the world by ordinary and natural generation; there is none righteous or pure from sin: no,

not one; and things being so, Job thought it hard that he should be singled out, and so severely chastised, when the sinfulness of nature was from and by his birth, and was natural and unavoidable, and when there was not a single person on earth free from it. There never was but one instance of one clean being brought out of an unclean person, and that was our Lord Jesus Christ of the Virgin Mary; which was not in the ordinary way of generation, but by a supernatural and extraordinary production of his human nature, through the power of the Holy Ghost, whereby it escaped the original contagion and pollution of mankind: or else, in consequence of this, the sense is, who can bring forth or produce a good work from an impure person? or how can it be expected that a man that is defiled with sin should do a good work perfectly pure? for there is not even a just and good man that doth good and sinneth not; and much less is it to be looked for, that men in a mere state of nature, that are as they come into the world, sinful and impure, should ever be able to perform good works; it may as well be thought that grapes are to be gathered of thorns, or figs of thistles; men must be born again, created in Christ Jesus, have faith in him, and the Spirit of God in them, before they can do that which is truly good from right principles, and with right views; and man at most and best must be an imperfect creature, and deficient in his duty, and cannot bear to be strictly examined, and rigorously prosecuted: or the meaning is, "who can make" [g] an unclean man a clean one? "no, not one"; a man cannot make himself clean by anything he can do, by his repentance and humiliation, by his good works, duties, and services; none can do this but God; and to this sense some render the words, "who can--is there one" [h]? there is, that is, God, he can do it, and he only: though men are exhorted to cleanse themselves, this does not suppose a power in them to do it; this is only designed to convince them of the necessity of being cleansed, and to awaken a concern for it; and such as are made sensible thereof will apply to God to purge them, and make them clean, and create a clean heart within them: and this God has promised to do, and does do; he sprinkles the clean water of his grace, and purifies the heart by faith in the blood of Jesus, which cleanses from all sin, and is the fountain opened to wash in for sin and uncleanness; the Targum is,

"who can give a clean thing out of a man that is defiled with sins, except God who is one, and can forgive him?''

none can pardon sin but God, or justify a sinner besides him; and he can do both in a way of justice, upon the foot of the blood and righteousness of Christ.

[g] Nty ym "quis potest facere?" V. L. "dabit", i.e. "faciet", Vatablus; "sistet aut efficiet", Michaelis; "quis efficiet?" Cocceius. [h] dxa al "nonne tu qui solus est?" V. L. "annon unus?" sc. Mediator, Cocceius.

5  Seeing his days [are] determined,.... Or "cut out" [i], exactly and precisely, how many he shall live, and what shall befall him every day of his life; whose life, because of the shortness of it, is rather measured by days than vents:

the number of his months [are] with thee; before him, in his sight, in his account, and fixed and settled by him:

thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; the boundaries of his life the period of his days, beyond which he cannot go; the term of man's life is so peremptorily fixed by God, that he cannot die sooner, nor live longer, than he has determined he should; as the time of a man's birth, so the time of his death is according to the purpose of God; and all intervening moments and articles of time, and all things that befall a man throughout the whole course of his life, all fall under the appointment of God, and are according to his determinate will; and when God requires of man his soul, no one has power over his spirit to retain it one moment; yet this hinders not the use of means for the preservation and comfort of life, since these are settled as well as the end, and are under the divine direction: the word for bounds signifies sometimes "statutes" [k]: though not to be understood of laws appointed by God, either of a moral or ceremonial nature; but here it signifies set, stated, appointed times [l] Seneca [m] says the same thing;

"there is a boundary fixed for every man, which always remains where it is set, nor can any move it forward by any means whatsoever.''

[i] Myuwrx "exacte praefiniti sunt", Tigurine version. [k] wqx "statuta ejus", V. L. Mercerus, Schmidt. [l] "Stata tempora", Beza. [m] Consolat. ad Marciam, c. 20.

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