Job finishes his fourth speech in chapter 14. He laments his fate and the fate of all mankind; both are destined to die without any hope for future life.
Job laments the fate of man: “There is hope for a tree; If it is cut down it will renew itself; Its shoots will not cease. If its roots are old in the earth, And its stump dies in the ground, At the scent of water it will bud And produce branches like a sapling. But mortals languish and die; Man expires; where is he?” (vv. 7-10)
III. Important Verses
vv. 1-2: Man born of woman is short-lived and sated with trouble. He blossoms like a flower and withers; He vanishes like a shadow and does not endure.
vv. 7-10: There is hope for a tree; If it is cut down it will renew itself; Its shoots will not cease. If its roots are old in the earth, And its stump dies in the ground, At the scent of water it will bud And produce branches like a sapling. But mortals languish and die; Man expires; where is he?
v. 14: If a man dies, can he live again? All the time of my service I wait Until my replacement comes.
vv. 18-22: Mountains collapse and crumble; Rocks are dislodged from their place. Water wears away stone; Torrents wash away earth; So you destroy man’s hope, You overpower him forever and he perishes; You alter his visage and dispatch him. His sons attain honor and he does not know it; They are humbled and he is not aware of it. He feels only the pain of his flesh, And his spirit mourns in him.
1-6. Man is destined to die
7-22. Man has no existence after death
In chapter 14 Job finishes his fourth speech. Like he has done in previous chapters, Job extends his own situation to that of all mankind (cf. 3:20-23, 7:1-10). He laments the fact that man is destined to die (vv. 1-6). He also laments the fact that there is no hope for man after death (vv. 7-22).
Clines gives an exceptional summary and interpretation of Job’s fourth speech (p. 337): “Something quite new and dramatic has happened in this speech. Standing as it does at the junction between the first and second cycles of speeches it signals a climax in the progress of Job’s emotions and lays down a marker for the future development of the plot of the work as a whole.
“The dramatic development in this speech is that after all his desire to be put out of his misery as soon as possible (6:8–9), after his acknowledgment of the danger—not to say to the impossibility— of calling God to account (9:3, 14, 16), after his conviction that if he goes to law with God he is bound to be found guilty (9:29), after his demand for an assurance of safe conduct if he is to approach God (9:34–35), here he does the unthinkable and acts as he had not imagined himself acting. Here, at the center of the speech, he unequivocally calls on God to provide the evidence on which God would justify his severity toward him. It matters not which of them is to be plaintiff, and which defendant (13:22); what Job seeks is a formal judicial process, in which an obligation is laid upon God to supply a catalogue of Job’s supposed crimes (13:23). This is an utterance which, once made, cannot be unsaid; Job is now committed to confrontation with God, whatever the risks.
“What outcome to this legal battle does Job expect? He has no illusions, and no hope; of one thing he is confident, that his temerity will issue in his death (13:15). But he has not gone to court to plead for his life or to beg for mercy, but to clear his name. He has no faith in the goodness of God, and not a lot in his justice; but he believes so strongly in the rightness of his own cause that he cannot doubt that in the end, whether before or after his death, he will be vindicated (13:18). He seeks the triumph, certainly not of God, and not even of himself, but of truth.”
VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Clines, Proverbs 1-20 (Word Biblical Commentary)
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