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JOB’S WORDS ABOUT A MAN’S LIFE
Victor M. Eskew
In Scripture, we read of the deaths of many men and women. After their deaths, we read various statements made by the living about them. With regard to Abner, David said: “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?” (II Sam. 3:38). Following the death of Judas Iscariot, Peter spoke these words about his ministry: “…from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place” (Acts 1:25). The various words spoken by the living about the dead have so many applications to men and women today who depart from this life.
In the book of Job, Job was afflicted from head to toe with boils. All of his possessions had been removed from him. His children, too, were taken from him. He regretted the day of his birth. He longed for the day of his death. He speaks often as a dying man. In Job 14:1-2, he makes a statement that is packed with meaning with regard to all men. The patriarch said: “Man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.” In Job’s words, we learn five lessons about the life of every man.
First, man’s life springs forth from a woman. Except for Adam and Eve, this has been true of all human beings. From the time of conception until the birth of a child is very special for both mother and child. A relationship develops between the mother and the child that is very precious. There is not another relationship on earth that is as unique and as dear. Mothers are very special to their children. One of the reasons is because a child is born of a woman.
Second, man’s life is very brief. Job said: “Man that is born of woman is of few days…” Psalm 90:10 tells us that the average age of a human being is between 70 and 80 years old. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is there strength labor and sorrow for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” If one lives beyond 80, we say he has lived a long, full life. If one lives less than the age of 70, we believe that life was cut off too soon. All of us know a few individuals who fall into both categories. Most people, however, live an average life. As the day of death approaches and one contemplates his life, he realizes that truly his days have been few.
Third, man’s life is burdensome. Job says it is “full of trouble.” All of our lives are burdensome at times. Life is filled with stress, worry, and sadness. We often experience pain and affliction, both physically and emotionally. There are difficulties with such things as finances, relationships, jobs, health, and with day-to-day living. Some seem to experience more trouble than others. Yet, we all groan in our earthly tabernacle. This groaning serves an important role in our lives. Paul writes about the purpose of our groaning in II Corinthians 5:2-4. “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do grown, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.”
Fourth, man’s life is said to be beautiful. Job confessed that man “cometh forth like a flower.” A flower sprouts, grows, spreads its greenery, and eventually brings forth beautiful blossoms. When it blooms, the flower brings joy to all those who experience it. Life is similar to this. We start in a period of development known as childhood. We grow, however, and mature. In adulthood, our lives bring forth blossoms. In the flower of life, we are strong, beautiful, and productive. We contribute much to our homes, our workplace, and to society. One life can bring much joy and happiness to others.
Fifth, Job reveals that a man’s life is ultimately broken off. Job compares it to a flower that is cut down. He also likens it to a shadow that does not continue. If we live, all of us will eventually die. The writer of Hebrews put it this way: “And as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). This truth has come to pass in every human life, except two, Enoch and Elijah. Both of these men were miraculously translated into the unseen realm of the dead. All others have been broken off through death.
Job expresses so much about man’s life in so few words. He takes us from beginning to end. He covers all that is in between, both burdens and beauty. Where are you within the continuum of life? Are you a youth and still developing? Perhaps you are in the flowering portion of life. Maybe you are reaching the end of life. You can see that your path here is short. You are very aware that your life will soon be cut off from the earth. Regardless of where we are in life, we need to understand that man is of few days and full of trouble. Thus, we need to rely upon the Creator of life to assist us. He can assist us now. He can most assuredly assist us when life comes to an end. Only the foolish would turn their backs on the One who dwells in that eternal place wherein all will dwell when our time on earth is ended.