Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?
Is there not — Job is here excusing what he cannot justify, his passionate longing for death.
A time — Is there not a time limited by God, wherein man shall live in this sinful, and miserable world? And is it a crime in me, to desire that God would bring me to that joyful period? Our time on earth is limited and short, according to the narrow bounds of this earth. But heaven cannot be measured, nor the days of heaven numbered.
Hireling — Whose time is short, being but a few years, or days, whose condition is full of toil and hardship.
 As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work:
Shadow — That is, the sun-set, the time allotted for his rest.
 So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me.
So — This so respects not so much the desire of an hired servant, as the ground of it, his hard toil and service.
Possess — God, hath given me this as my lot and inheritance.
Months — So he calls them rather than days, to note the tediousness of his affliction.
Vanity — Empty and unsatisfying.
Nights — He mentions nights, because that is the saddest time for sick and miserable persons; the darkness and solitude of the night being of themselves uncomfortable, and giving them more opportunity for solemn and sorrowful reflections.
 My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.
Worms — Which were bred out of Job's corrupted flesh and sores.
Dust — The dust of the earth upon which he lay.
Broken — By ulcers in all parts of it.
 My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope.
Swifter — The time of my life hastens to a period.
Shuttle — Which passes in a moment from one end of the web to the other.
Hope — Of enjoying any good day here.
 O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good.
O — He turns his speech to God. Perhaps observing, that his friends grew weary of hearing it. If men will not hear us, God will: if men cannot help us, he can: for his arm is not shortened, neither is his ear heavy.
 The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not.
No more — In this mortal state: I shall never return to this life again.
Am not — If thou cast one angry look upon me, I am not; thou canst look me into eternity.
 As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.
No more — Never until the general resurrection. When we see a cloud which looked great, as if it would eclipse the sun, of a sudden dispersed and disappearing, say, Just such a thing is the life of man, a vapour that appears for a while and then vanisheth away.
 He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.
Any more — He shall no more be seen and known in his former habitation. It concerns us to secure a better place when we die: for this will own us no more.
 Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
Therefore — Since my life is so vain and short, and when once lost, without all hopes of recovery. I will plead with God for pity before I die; I will not smother my anguish within my breast, but will ease myself by pouring out my complaints.
 Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?
A sea — Am I as fierce and unruly as the sea, which, if thou didst not set bounds to it, would overwhelm the earth? Or, am I a vast and ungovernable sea-monster? Which thou must restrain by thy powerful providence.
That, … — That thou shouldest guard and restrain me with such heavy and unexampled miseries? We are apt in affliction to complain of God, as if he laid more upon us than there is occasion for: whereas we are never in heaviness, but when there is need, nor more than there is need.
 What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?
What, … — What is there in that poor, mean, creature called man, miserable man, as this word signifies, which can induce thee to take any notice of him, or to make such account of him? Man is not worthy of thy favour, and he is below thy anger; that thou shouldest concern thyself so much about him, as one near and dear to thee?
 And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?
And try, … — What is man that vain, foolish creature, that thou shouldest magnify or regard, or visit him, (with thy mercy and blessings, that thou shouldest so far honour and regard him, as by thy visitation to preserve his spirit, or hold his soul in life) and try him, which God doth not only by afflictions, but also by prosperity and both inward and outward blessings? That thou shouldst observe his motions every moment, as in care for him, and jealous over him?
 How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?
How long — How long will it be ere thou withdraw thy afflicting hand? Swallow - That I may have a breathing time: a proverbial expression.
 I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself?
Sinned — Although I am free from those crying sins, for which my friends suppose thou hast sent this judgment upon me, yet, I freely confess I am a sinner, and therefore obnoxious to thy justice.
What, … — To satisfy thy justice, or regain thy favour? Who dost know and diligently observe all mens inward motions, and outward actions; and therefore, if thou shalt be severe to mark mine iniquities, I have not what to say or do unto thee. My case is singular, none is shot at as I am.
 And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.
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.