On the face of it, the book of Job is about the troubles of one man.
Of course we understand him as a representative. We regard the story as a debate about the origins of human troubles.
Strictly speaking, why bad things happen to good people instead of being limited to bad people.
I believe the original question may have been why God’s people Israel were allowed to suffer at the hands of the Babylonians.
The troubles of Job were described in the first two chapters.
Job feels a sense of grievance, arising out of these troubles, which will develop into what amounts to a lawsuit against God.
Like any other lawsuit, this case begins with a complaint (ch3).
Job’s wife told him bluntly that he should “curse God and die”, after all the troubles that had been brought upon him.
He piously refused to take her advice, but in this chapter he comes very close to the line.
He is obviously very tempted to curse God; not for giving him troubles, but for giving him life in a world where trouble could occur.
Even this would be going too far, so as a substitute he curses the “day” which gave him life.
He wishes bad things upon it.
Let it die.
“Let the day perish wherein I was born” (v3).
Let it feel the absence of God.
“Let God above not seek it, nor light shine upon it” (v4).
Let it know (therefore) a deep darkness with a complete absence of light.
May it be “terrified” by the blackness of the day- in effect, by its own blackness.
Let it be excluded from the society of other days, rejected from their number.
“Let it not rejoice among the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months” (v6).
Let it be barren, deprived of the joy of children (one of the conditions which people in the Old Testament feared the most).
“Let no joyful cry be heard in it” (v7).
Let those who have the skill raise up Leviathan against it, probably referring to the monster of popular mythology which threatens the sun in eclipses
Let the day “hope” for a light which does not come, waiting impatiently for the morning.
All this, because the day allowed him to be born and exposed him to the trouble that followed.
In short, he wants to transfer to “the day of his birth” all the despair which he has been feeling himself.
But of course a day cannot suffer despair.
So then he turns to asking “Why?”, which is really a question directed against God himself.
Firstly, why did he not die at birth, or even before birth?
He believes that this would have brought him into a state of rest; “For then I would have lain down and been quiet (v13)”.
Indeed he would have shared the company of the kings and other great men of the earth, who are all brought down to the same level.
In that place, nobody is threatened by the violence of others.
“There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest” (v17)
That would be the state of “peace”, which is the great aspiration of the Old Testament.
Job is coming to the conclusion that ultimate peace can be found only in death.
So this expands to the generalised question; why is life given to those who are in misery? (v20)
As the fact of life precedes the misery of life, this really breaks down into three possible questions.
Why is life given at all, when the Lord knows that it is going to be miserable?
Why is misery inflicted upon those who are living already?
And why is life not taken away from those who have reached such a state of misery that death would be preferable?
Job is most focussed on the last version of this question, which is his immediate issue.
The light of life remains for one “whose way is hid, whom God has hedged in” (v23).
Such people long for death but cannot find it, which implies a condition of despair even more intense than simply longing for death.
This does get a little closer to blaming God for the situation that he wants to escape.
In Revelation, this despair has become the condition of the world in general (Revelation ch9 v6).
Finally, he sums up his present condition (vv24-26).
His main symptom is a permanent state of grief;
“My groanings are poured out like water”.
The cause of his grief is that all his dread has been fulfilled;
“The thing that I fear comes upon me”.
It would seem that he had known fear of a possible collapse of his fortune even at its peak.
This kind of anticipation would weaken the immediate shock of the event, but it would also make the event feel more like the climax of his troubles
than their beginning.
And the outcome is that he is deprived of peace;
“I am not at ease, nor am I quiet…”
That is almost a definition of the Old Testament understanding of the worst possible condition of life.
There lies the burden of Job’s complaint.
His questions are also his grievance.
Has the plaintiff made out a valid case?
edit on 29-9-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)