Job 3, Exegetical Notes from Abner Chou

Job 3: Job begins to ask Why

The key question in this chapter is Why. Job isn’t asking if God is right to do what He does. He’s already said that (Job 1:21). He has accepted God’s sovereignty; but he asks the question of motives and purpose. And his friends are there seeking the same answer so that they can get away from God and the evil Job is experiencing. They are using his pain for self-protection.

Job 3:1

“cursed his day…” this is the actual word, not the “bless” word (as in Job 1:11 and Job 2:5). The ironic use of blessing is no longer a question on the table; that court is finished. The heavenly court is closed.

Job 3:2

“Job said…” should be translated “Job answered and said…” because everything he does is a response. The irony of this is that Job is wondering why God does what He does, yet even then he is doing what God wants him to do. At the most fundamental level—Why is God doing this? So that he would stop and ask the question of Why.

Job 3:3

This is technically saying “May the day on which I was to be born be destroyed, the night where they said a man is conceived.” This is talking about his conception. One implication is that, for Job, life occurs at conception. Look at the parallelism between Day and Night: he equates the day of his birth with the day of his conception.

Job 3:4

He wishes the darkness (evil, Satan, death) would have won and God would not have intervened. This day was a miraculous event because God won, but Job doesn’t see it that way.

Job 3:5

Focuses on the day turning to darkness.

Job 3:6

Focuses on the night turning to darkness. Job wishes God would have destroyed that entire moment—that darkness would have won.

Job 3:7

Job says God could have made his mom barren, but yet God overcame all these obstacles for good—but Job doesn’t like it. It doesn’t seem like good now, in the midst of all this pain.

Job 3:8

God protected him from curses and monsters, but God could have allowed them to win.

Job 3:9

The stars could have gone out… why does God do all these good things, just to give life—which is fickle, out of our control, and painful?

Job 3:11

Job views conception and birth as a miracle. God does so much good work, and yet Job just suffers. Job doesn’t understand why.

Job 3:11-26

Death, to Job, is a place where all the trials of life stop. He wonders Why God allows him to suffer when death is preferable to this pain. He asks three main questions which his “friends” will address in the following chapters:

  1. Does God have a purpose? (Job 3:17-19)
  2. Is God really nice and compassionate? (Job 3:20-22)
  3. Why doesn’t God reveal his purposes to us? (Job 3:23)1

The entire book now is about this overarching Why question. This is the pregnant yearning which the ensuing debates will attempt to answer.

  1. There is a great irony here because this is the point of the book of Job—to give answers and reveal.