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Job 7:1-6 – Nights Are Too Long and a Life Is Too Short

Summary

In a very painful lament Job briefly mentions his physical symptoms and talks about a sufferer's perception of time.

Analysis

This passage provides a glimpse into Job's skin condition, providing a few clues for medical types who would like to be able to diagnose his affliction. Various hypotheses have been proposed, none with certainty.

Here Job provides an intriguing look inside the head of a sufferer with regard to the passing of time. The nights seem forever, as one tosses and turns in the loneliness and the dark, longing for the rising of the sun. It is as if the night goes on forever. Those who cannot sleep, perhaps in pain or too full of challenging thoughts or anxieties, can understand what Job says here.

There is a sharp contrast between Job's perception that the night is too long and his impression that life is much too short, passing as quickly as a weaver's shuttle. Persons in the midst of a serious illness, perhaps even in a terminal stage, know all too well what Job is saying. On the one hand, the long night hours can be filled with torment and one wishes that time would pass more quickly. On the other hand, one is well aware that life is getting close to its conclusion and one ought not to wish away the little time that remains.

Job 7:1-6

Job: My Suffering Is without End

7‘Do not human beings have a hard service on earth,
   and are not their days like the days of a labourer?
2 Like a slave who longs for the shadow,
   and like labourers who look for their wages,
3 so I am allotted months of emptiness,
   and nights of misery are apportioned to me.
4 When I lie down I say, “When shall I rise?”
   But the night is long,
   and I am full of tossing until dawn.
5 My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt;
   my skin hardens, then breaks out again.
6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
   and come to their end without hope.*

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10 February 2011

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