Summary: 1) Life before Death (Job 14:1-6) 2) Life after Death (Job 14:7-14)
One of the most difficult situations to deal with is the time of suffering and death. Not only is the situation difficult to comprehend, it can be difficult to help others in distress. Currently, the Bothwell’s are dealing with the apparent immanent death of Scott’s mom. We have been praying for them. This event is a really a wake up call to the most serious event that each of us will handle: the reality of death.
In Job 14:1-14, Job makes several remarkable statements. To the reader of today they may sound too pessimistic, but are they? Let’s put ourselves in Job’s place. He had lost his property and children, and now he was suffering indescribable pain, intense anxiety, and deep loneliness. He received no help from his unfeeling friends. Their visit rather increased his distress. His friend Zophar had assured Job that there was hope for him if only he would acknowledge his sins and repent (Job 11:13–20). From Job’s point of view, his future was bleak. Job used several images to illustrate the hopeless condition of man in this world. He was tempted to feel that even God had forsaken him (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be patient. An Old Testament study. (51). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.).
When you consider your present condition, do you know where you will spend eternity? Even if this is settled, do you know when you will enter the afterlife? If you knew if was tomorrow, or next week, would you live your life any different? How do we deal with these realities either for ourselves or others?
1) Life before Death (Job 14:1-6)
Job 14:1-6 [14:1]"Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not. And do you open your eyes on such a one and bring me into judgment with you? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one. Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass, look away from him and leave him alone, that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day.
From verses one we see that every person’s life is filled with sorrow from birth. The language in these verses is generic, applying to both men and woman. The word for man is ʾāḏām, which serves as the name of the first man, Adam. This term connotes that man is “from the ground” (ʾăḏāmâ) and is thus limited and weak by nature. Three short phrases further underscore human limitations: born of woman, few of days/short-lived, and full of trouble/ turmoil. Since a person is born of woman, he or she is conditioned by their origin (cf. 15:14; 25:4; Sir. 10:18; Matt. 11:11; Luke 7:28). Some interpret this phrase as emphasizing frailty (e.g., Rowley), while others find a reference to the ritual impurity that attends birth (e.g., Tur-Sinai). The latter view is anchored in the cultic laws that regulate the uncleanness of the mother after she gives birth, seven days for a male child and fourteen days for a female child (Lev. 12:2–5). Since bodily discharges were categorically treated as unclean, the discharges that attend the birth process led to the declaration of the new mother as ritually unclean.
• Certainly the ritual made the parents aware that both the mother and the child had to prepare themselves to enter God’s presence.
• In the context of the challenges of life, “born of woman” is a poetic way of saying “everyone.” Contrary to the claims of Job’s friends (8:12–13), the situation described here applies to righteous and wicked alike (Alden, R. L. (2001). Vol. 11: Job (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (165). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).
At best a person’s life is few of days/short-lived. During the person’s brief stay on earth their days will full of trouble/ turmoil (rōḡez; cf. 3:26). The verb form of the noun translated “trouble” means “tremble/quake” as in an earthquake (9:6; 1 Sam 14:15). It also describes persons trembling because of inner turmoil (2 Sam 18:33; Isa 14:2; 32:10–11) (Alden, R. L. (2001). Vol. 11: Job (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (165). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).
• Everyone will have to bear the emotional anguish that results from many ailments and difficult circumstances.
The analogies in verse two of a flower and a shadow illustrate well a person’s short life span. In Palestine after the spring rains, flowers bloom in abundance and the fields glow from their splendor. But they last for only a moment. They soon fade from the hot desert winds (cf. Isa. 40:6–8; Ps. 103:15; 90:5–6).