Job Pleads for Comfort (Job 6-7) February 27-28
Job begins his response with an admission that, due to his severe circumstances, his words have been rash (6:3). It seems that his point here is to inform his friends that they should not pick over everything he says, as much of it is just anguish and venting.
Eliphaz, we may recall, had told Job to turn to God (5:8). Yet Job had no doubt spent much time in prayer. By this point, however, Job has come to regard his situation as one of being pierced through with poison arrows from God. Thus, relief did not seem to immediately lie in that direction (6:4). Instead, he saw a need for relief and comfort from his friends.
In verse 5 Job pointed out that donkeys and oxen cried out when they were hungry. He was, by analogy, saying that he himself was crying out because he was in need of nourishment—the nourishment in his case being the relief and comfort he sought. Yet the tasteless "food" that Eliphaz had thus far provided turned Job's stomach (verses 6-7).
In verses 8-9 Job again wishes for God to bring him the sure relief of death. Verse 10, in which the translation is disputed, seems to be saying that if he died right now, Job would still find comfort beyond death because he did not live apart from God's words in his life. The implicit concern, though, is that if his present circumstances continue, he may indeed reject God and lose his future reward. For how, he wonders, can he go on (verses 11-13).
In verse 14, Job says that a suffering person's friends should treat him kindly even when that friend turns from God. That is, while it might look like there is a pressing need to "save" a suffering sinner by preaching to him and warning him, the more immediate need is actually for compassion. This does not mean there is no place for spiritual advice. But it must come with proper tact and timing—and wisdom.
Job likens his companions to desert wadis that look promising as sources of water from afar but evoke great disappointment when they are found dried up (verses 15-21). He had not asked them for some great thing like a ransom or military help to rescue him (verses 22-23). All he was asking for was simple human kindness. The arguments he had heard thus far were not only worthless to him, but accusatory and unjust (verses 24-30)—and not at all what he needed right now.
In chapter 7, Job sinks back into lamenting his condition. He views himself like a weary laborer in drudgery and toil beneath the heat of the sun looking for shade or the end of the workday (verses 1-2). Yet the end of the day, when night comes, is no relief to him at all as he struggles with the unceasing agony of his illness, which he has suffered with for months (verses 3-5).
Job perceives his days as running out fast. And in the time he has left, he wants some answers from God (verses 6-11). Why, he prays, are You doing this to me? What have I done to deserve this? (verses 12-20). Why, he asks, won't You forgive me? It looks like You are going to let me die unrepentant without showing me what I need to repent of—so that I will be lost forever (verse 21).
As The Expositor's Bible Commentary notes regarding the dispute of chapters 3-27, "Job repeatedly struggles over God's justice and his own vindication." This will get worse as we go along. How is it then that God will later proclaim Job right and his friends wrong? The commentary continues: "A significant difference between their speeches comes from a difference in relationship with God. Job is determined to be absolutely honest with God. Job tells God everything, every tear and every doubt. They tell God nothing. They only talk about God, never to him. This should be kept in mind as we become impatient with Job. We should also keep in mind that despite all the hair-raising things Job will say, he never asks for restoration. His main concern is about his relationship with God, and that is why he puts so much stress on vindication. Without vindication all that he is suffering is proof God is his enemy. So when Job calls God his enemy, the reader must remember these are words of poetic passion used analogically as the total context proves."
Job was not penning a theological treatise in what he was saying. Rather, he was pouring out his heart in a flood of emotion. And he was pouring it out in the right direction. For if one is going to complain (7:11), God is the proper "complaint department," as He is the One who has the power to resolve any and all complaints. What is most remarkable about Job is that despite the fact that he sees his grief and suffering as coming from God, he is nevertheless determined to "hang in there" with God. Hoping when there is no hope. Believing beyond seeing.