Job 17


‘My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me. Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility. “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me? You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph. If anyone denounces their friends for reward, the eyes of their children will fail.’ Job 17:1-5

Job Continues With His Response

This chapter appears to be a repeat of another of Job’s main arguments, that is, ‘I want to die’. Job felt he was at the point of death.

The phrase ‘my spirit is broken’ is translated as ‘my breath is corrupt’ in the KJV, which might convey the idea of Job having bad breath. The idea seems to be that Job doesn’t feel as if he will be breathing, that is, living much longer.

His friends are no longer showing any sympathy, Job 2:11-13, and so, he charges his friends with mockery, Deuteronomy 19:15-21. He now goes on to repeat another of his arguments, that is, he wants to speak to God.

He wants someone to be his guarantor, the Hebrew literally reads ‘strike hands with’, indicating the ancient practice of confirming an agreement. Although he is at a low point because of his suffering, he asked God to guarantee his future.

He is really concerned about his friends and believes God somehow is hiding the truth from them. However, that doesn’t excuse his friends from turning against him the way they have. And so, God won’t exalt them, and their children will reap negative benefits because of their actions. They used Job as a reward for their own social benefit.

‘God has made me a byword to everyone, a man in whose face people spit. My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow. The upright are appalled at this; the innocent are aroused against the ungodly. Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways, and those with clean hands will grow stronger.’ Job 17:6-9

Here it appears that Job has lost all respect from other people, he was once honoured and respected but he has seen his reputation plunge to the point where people spit at him.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘My afflictions and calamities have become a subject of general conversation so that my poverty and affliction are proverbial. As poor as Job, As afflicted as Job, are proverbs that have even reached our times and are still in use.’

Job cries so much and shed so many tears that he can’t see clearly anymore, and his body has wasted away into nothing but a shadow, Job 30:30. His friends are appalled at his appearance, they thought this should never happen to a righteous man.

However, a righteous man doesn’t easily give up. If he truly has clean hands, he will increase his strength and become more confident in his resolve and determination to stay true to God, which is exactly what Job is doing.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘He shall take encouragement from my case, stay himself on the Lord, and thus gain strength by every blast of adversity. This is one grand use of the book of Job. It casts much light on seemingly partial displays of Divine providence: and has ever been the great textbook of godly men in a state of persecution and affliction. This is what Job seems prophetically to declare.’

‘But come on, all of you, try again! I will not find a wise man among you. My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near. If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness, if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ where then is my hope—who can see any hope for me? Will it go down to the gates of death? Will we descend together into the dust?” Job 17:10-16

Job here challenges his friends again by telling them that there are no wise people among them. He challenges them in their thinking to come up with another reason as to why he is suffering. The realm of darkness, that is, the grave, was now to be his home and in death, his relatives would be the worms of decay.

Smick, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The counsellors had said that night would be turned to day for Job if only he would get right with God, Job 11:17. In Job 17:12-16 Job made a parody of their advice. It was like going to the grave with the notion that all you have to do is treat it like home where warmth and loved ones are and it will become so.’

We can almost feel the despair of Job’s words as he concludes here. All his plans are shattered, which implies he has lost all hope. He asks, ‘who can see any hope for me?’, he is really asking, is there anyone who really cares about me? Does anyone really care about what I’m going through? Does anyone really want to know the truth as to why all this is happening to him?

Job is trying everything he can possibly do to convince his friends that he was innocent. He’s hoping they see that a truly innocent man wouldn’t go to all these lengths to prove his innocence if he wasn’t truly innocent.

Go To Job 18