“Is not all human life a struggle?
Struggle. The word in Hebrew is descriptive of military service, hard service. The Latin Vulgate translates, The life of man is a warfare upon earth. The early English Coverdale translation has it, Is not the life of man upon earth a very battle? The Complete Jewish Bible puts it, Human life on earth is like serving in the army. With this Job communicated both the struggle of life, together with the idea that he has been drafted unwillingly into this battle.
Our lives are like that of a hired hand,
2 like a worker who longs for the shade,
like a servant waiting to be paid.
3 I, too, have been assigned months of futility,
long and weary nights of misery.
4 Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’
But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn.
5 My body is covered with maggots and scabs.
My skin breaks open, oozing with pus.
Job Cries Out to God
6 “My days fly faster than a weaver’s shuttle.
They end without hope.
7 O God, remember that my life is but a breath,
and I will never again feel happiness.
Job enriches our language.
Here is a quotation which has become a part of our everyday speech: My life is but a breath.
8 You see me now, but not for long.
You will look for me, but I will be gone.
9 Just as a cloud dissipates and vanishes,
those who die will not come back.
10 They are gone forever from their home—
never to be seen again.
Job’s complaint to God:
11 “I cannot keep from speaking.
I must express my anguish.
My bitter soul must complain.
12 Am I a sea monster or a dragon
that you must place me under guard?
13 I think, ‘My bed will comfort me,
and sleep will ease my misery,’
14 but then you shatter me with dreams
and terrify me with visions.
15 I would rather be strangled—
rather die than suffer like this.
16 I hate my life and don’t want to go on living.
Oh, leave me alone for my few remaining days.
17 “What are people, that you should make so much of us,
that you should think of us so often?
Job, in his distress, wishes that God would leave him alone. But the psalmist is not suffering, so his thoughts on this subject are positive. He marvels that God cares so much for the creature He has made to reflect His own image.
(The Reformation Bible)
Psalm 144:1-4 (ESV)
Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle; (see verse 1 above)
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me.
O Lord, what is man that you regard him,
or the son of man that you think of him?
Man is like a breath;
his days are like a passing shadow.
18 For you examine us every morning
and test us every moment.
19 Why won’t you leave me alone,
at least long enough for me to swallow!
20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
O watcher of all humanity?
Why make me your target?
Am I a burden to you?
21 Why not just forgive my sin
and take away my guilt?
For soon I will lie down in the dust and die.
When you look for me, I will be gone.”
Job’s story gives courage and illumination to us as readers. We know that his questions and complaints are not out of line, and that God is able to answer every one in a perfect way. So when we, centuries after Job, find ourselves in those moments when so much seems dark and confused and lost — when life is so not what we had hoped for — I remind myself that Job found God to be faithful and so will I. Then I turn to this song, one of my favorites by the wonderful Twila Paris. HERE is “I Will Listen.”
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.