|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:10-22 The miserable condition of the wicked man in this world is fully set forth. The lusts of the flesh are here called the sins of his youth. His hiding it and keeping it under his tongue, denotes concealment of his beloved lust, and delight therein. But He who knows what is in the heart, knows what is under the tongue, and will discover it. The love of the world, and of the wealth of it, also is wickedness, and man sets his heart upon these. Also violence and injustice, these sins bring God's judgments upon nations and families. Observe the punishment of the wicked man for these things. Sin is turned into gall, than which nothing is more bitter; it will prove to him poison; so will all unlawful gains be. In his fulness he shall be in straits, through the anxieties of his own mind. To be led by the sanctifying grace of God to restore what was unjustly gotten, as Zaccheus was, is a great mercy. But to be forced to restore by the horrors of a despairing conscience, as Judas was, has no benefit and comfort attending it.
Verse 14. - Yet his meat in his bowels is turned. Still, a time comes when the self-complacency of the wicked man is shaken. He experiences a failure of health or spirits. Then, suddenly, it is as if the meat that he has swallowed had been turned to poison in his bowels, as if the gall of asps were within him. Compare what Bishop Butler says of the sudden waking up of a man's conscience ('Analogy,' pt. 1. ch. 2. p. 52). The ancients seem to have known that the poison of serpents was a strong acid, and therefore supposed that it was secreted by the gallbladder (see Pliny, 'Hist. Nat.,' 11:37).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Yet his meat in his bowels is turned,.... Or "his bread" (r), to which sin is compared, being what the sinner lives in, and lives upon; what he strengthens himself in and with, and by which he is nourished unto the day of slaughter, and by means of which he grows and proceeds to more ungodliness, though in the issue he comes into starving and famishing circumstances; for this is bread of deceit, and proves to be ashes and gravel stones; it promises pleasure, profit, liberty, and impunity, but is all the reverse; as meat turns in a man's stomach when it does not digest in him, or rather his stomach turns against that, and instead of its being pleasant and agreeable to him, it distresses him and makes him uneasy; sin being compared to meat in the bowels, denotes the finishing of in after it has been conceived in the mind, and completed in the act:
it is the gall of asps within him; which is bitter, though not poison; which yet Pliny (s) suggests, but it seems (t) it is not fact. Sin is an evil and bitter thing, and produces bitter sorrow, and makes bitter work for repentance in good men, Jeremiah 2:19; and fills with distress inexpressible and intolerable in wicked men, as in Cain and Judas in this world, and with black despair, weeping, and gnashing of teeth, and dreadful horrors of conscience, in the world to come, to all eternity; the effect of it is eternal death, the second death, inevitable and everlasting ruin and destruction.
(r) "panis ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Beza, Schmidt. (s) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 37. (t) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 711. Philosoph. Transact. abridged, vol. 2. p. 819.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. turned—Hebrew denotes a total change into a disagreeable contrary (Jer 2:21; compare Re 10:9, 10).
gall—in which the poison of the asp was thought to lie. It rather is contained in a sack in the mouth. Scripture uses popular language, where no moral truth is thereby endangered.
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