Job Wished He Could Die

Armand M. Nicholi, M. D. , professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explains that Sigmund Freud died at the age of 83, a bitter and disillusioned man. Tragically, this Viennese physician, one of the most influential thinkers of our time, had little compassion for … More


This chapter records the first great outpouring of complaint by Job, and not one of his visitors, that broke the seven days of silence. As he spoke, it was not with a casual greeting to his friends or small talk. His former positive manner has turned to bitterness, his patience to self-pity, and his integrity to ingratitude. There are two things Job is saying in this chapter. He wishes that he had never been born. However, having been born (vv. 1-10), he wishes that he had died at birth vv. 11-19). He finds no relief from his misery. Job had been living in peace and prosperity in the land of Uz. Now trouble has come upon him and he does not understand at all why it should have come (vv. 20-26).

Compared with the patient and positive Job we met in chapters 1-2, these are strange words, indeed, flowing from his mouth as he expresses his wishes that he had never been born). There was no rest, peace, nor quiet for Job. He is so low physically, mentally, and emotionally, that if he had been allowed to die he would have rejoiced with enthusiasm. To Job, it seemed that God didn’t care about him anymore. However, he never doubted that He was in control. He had been elevated to the highest peak and then dragged into the deepest pit. It is at this point that God will begin to help Job to put his life back together.

As unlikely as it may seem, many people in sorrow have found consolation in this chapter, as they have walked through dark valleys and have gone on to the light and joy on the other side. Job is mostly verbalizing his innermost thoughts and feelings in an outburst of anguish, misery and despair.


I can learn from this passage of Scripture that if there was hope for someone as stricken with calamity as Job, there is certainly hope for someone like me.

Job 3:1-26 (English Standard Version)

After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job said: "Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, 'A man is conceived.' Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, nor light shine upon it. Let gloom and deep darkness claim it. Let clouds dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. That night--let thick darkness seize it! Let it not rejoice among the days of the year; let it not come into the number of the months. Behold, let that night be barren; let no joyful cry enter it. Let those curse it who curse the day, who are ready to rouse up Leviathan. Let the stars of its dawn be dark; let it hope for light, but have none, nor see the eyelids of the morning, because it did not shut the doors of my mother's womb, nor hide trouble from my eyes. "Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? For then I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept; then I would have been at rest, with kings and counselors of the earth who rebuilt ruins for themselves, or with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver. Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light? There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. There the prisoners are at ease together; they hear not the voice of the taskmaster. The small and the great are there, and the slave is free from his master. "Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, who rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they find the grave? Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? For my sighing comes instead of my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water. For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes."

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