on Job 7 :21
Job 7:21And why dost thou not pardon - These words are spoken after the manner of men. If thou have any design to save me, if I have sinned, why dost thou not pardon my transgression, as thou seest that I am a dying man; and to-morrow morning thou mayest seek me to do me good, but in all probability I shall then be no more, and all thy kind thoughts towards me shall be unavailing? If I have sinned, then why should not I have a part in that mercy that flows so freely to all mankind? That Job does not criminate himself here, as our text intimates, is evident enough from his own repeated assertions of his innocence. And it is most certain that Bildad, who immediately answers, did not consider him as criminating but as justifying himself; and this is the very ground on which he takes up the subject. Were we to admit the contrary, we should find strange inconsistencies, if not contradictions, in Job's speeches: on such a ground the controversy must have immediately terminated, as he would then have acknowledged that of which his friends accused him; and here the book of Job would have ended.
on Job 7 :21
And why dost thou not pardon my transgression? - Admitting that I have sinned Job 7:20, yet why dost thou not forgive me? I shall soon pass away from the land of the living. I may be sought but I shall not be found. No one would be injured by my being pardoned - since I am so short-lived, and so unimportant in the scale of being. No one can be benefited by pursuing a creature of a day, such as I am, with punishment. Such seems to be the meaning of this verse. It is the language of complaint, and is couched in language filled with irreverence. Still it is language such as awakened and convicted sinners often use, and expresses the feelings which often pass through their hearts. They admit that they are sinners. They know that they must be pardoned or they cannot be saved. They are distressed at the remembrance of guilt, and under this state of mind, deeply convicted and distressed, they ask with a complaining spirit why God does not pardon them? Why does he allow them to remain in this state of agitation, suspense, and deep distress? Who could be injured by their being forgiven? Of what consequence to others can it be that they should not be forgiven? How can God be benefited by his not pardoning them? It may not be easy to answer these questions in a manner wholly satisfactory; but perhaps the following may be some of the reasons why Job had not the evidence of forgiveness which he now desired, and why the convicted sinner has not. The main reason is, that they are not in a state of mind to make it proper to forgive them.
(1) There is a feeling that they have a claim on God for pardon, or that it would be wrong for God not to pardon them. When people feel that they have a claim on God for pardon, they cannot be forgiven. The very notion of pardon implies that it must be when there is no claim existing or felt.
(2) There is no proper submission to God - to his views, his terms, his plan. In order that pardon may be extended to the guilty, there should be acquiescence in God's own terms, and time, and mode. The sinner must resign himself into his hands, to be forgiven or not as he pleases - feeling that the whole question is lodged in his bosom, and that if he should not forgive, still it would be right, and his throne would be pure. In particular, under the Christian method of pardon, there must be entire acquiescence in the plan of salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ; a willingness to accept of forgiveness, not on the ground of personal claim, but on the ground of his merits; and it is because the convicted sinner is not willing to be pardoned in this way, that he remains unforgiven. There should be a feeling, also, that it would be right for God to pardon others, if he pleases, even though we are not saved; and it is often because the convicted sinner is not willing that that should be done, because he feels that it would be wrong in God to save others and not him, that he is not forgiven. The sinner is often suffered to remain in this state until he is brought to acquiesce in the right of a sovereign God to save whom he pleases.
(3) There is a complaining spirit - and that is a reason why the sinner is not forgiven. That was manifestly the case with Job; and when that exists, how can God forgive? How can a parent pardon an offending child, when he is constantly complaining of his injustice and of the severity of his government? This very spirit is a new offence, and a new reason why he should be punished. So the awakened sinner murmurs. He complains of the government of God as too severe; of his law, as too strict; of his dealings, as harsh and unkind. He complains of his sufferings, and thinks they are wholly beyond his deserts. He complains of the doctrines of the Bible as mysterious, incomprehensible, and unjust. In this state how can he be forgiven? God often suffers the awakened sinner, therefore, to remain under conviction for sin, until he is willing to acquiesce in all his claims, and to submit without a complaint; and then, and not until then, he extends forgiveness to the guilty and troubled spirit.
For now shall I sleep in the dust - On the word sleep, as applied to death, see the notes at Job 3:13. The meaning is, that he was soon to die. He urges the shortness of the time which remained to him as a reason why his afflictions should be lightened, and why he should be pardoned. If God had anything that he could do for him, it must be done soon. But only a brief period remained, and Job seems to be impatient lest the whole of his life should be gone, and he should sleep in the dust without evidence that his sins were pardoned. Olympiodorus, as quoted by Rosenmuller, expresses the sense in the following manner: "If, therefore, I am so short-lived (or momentary, πρόσκαιρος proskairos) and obnoxious to death, and must die after a short time, and shall no more arise, as if from sleep, why dost not thou suffer the little space of life to be free from punishment?"
And thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be - That is, thou shalt seek to find me after I have slept in the dust, as if with the expectation that I should wake, but I shall not be found. My sleep will be perpetual, and I shall no more return to the land of the living. The idea seems to be, that if God were to show him any favor, it must be done soon. His death, which must happen soon, would put it out of the power even of God to show him mercy on earth, if he should relent and be inclined to favor him. He seems not to doubt that God would be disposed yet to show him favor; that he would be inclined to pardon him, and to relax the severity of his dealings with him, but he says that if it were done it must be done soon, and seems to apprehend that it would be delayed so long that it could not be done. The phrase "in the morning" here is used with reference to the sleep which he had just mentioned.
We sleep at night, and awake and arise in the morning. Job says it would not be so with him in the sleep of death. He would awake no more; he could no more be found. - In this chapter there is much language of bitter complaint, and much which we cannot justify. It should not be taken as a model for our language when we are afflicted, though Job may have only expressed what has passed through the heart of many an afflicted child of God. We should not judge him harshly. Let us ask ourselves how we would have done if we had been in similar circumstances. Let us remember that he had comparatively few of the promises which we have to comfort us, and few of the elevated views of truth as made known by revelation, which we have to uphold us in trial. Let us be thankful that when we suffer, promises and consolations meet us on every hand. The Bible is open before us - rich with truth, and bright with promise.
Let us remember that death is not as dark and dismal to us as it was to the pious in the time of the patriarchs - and that the grave is not now to us as dark and chilly, and gloomy, and comfortless an abode. To their view, the shadow of death cast a melancholy chillness over all the regions of the dead; to us the tomb is enlightened by Christian hope. The empire of Death has been invaded, and his power has been taken away. Light has been shed around the tomb, and the grave to us is the avenue to immortal life; the pathway on which the lamp of salvation shines, to eternal glory. Let us not complain, therefore, when we are afflicted, as if the blessing were long delayed, or as if it could not be conferred should we soon die. If withheld here, it will be imparted in a better world, and we should be willing to bear trials in this short life, with the sure promise that God will meet and bless us when we pass the confines of life, and enter the world of glory.
on Job 7 :21
7:21 Pardon - Seeing thou art so gracious to others, why may not I hope for the same favour from thee? Dust - If thou dost not speedily help me, it will be too late. But I shall not be - It will be to late to shew me favour.