|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 16. - He shall suck the poison of asps. Probably Zophar does not affix any very distinct meaning to his threats. He is content to utter a series of fierce-sounding but vague menaces, which he knows that Job will regard as launched against himself, and does not care whether they are taken metaphorically or literally. Job will be equally distressed in either ease. The viper's tongue shall slay him. It is really the viper's tooth, and not his tongue, that slays; but Zophar is not, any more than Job (Job 27:18), an accomplished naturalist.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He shall suck the poison of asps,.... Or "the head of asps" (u); for their poison lies in their heads, particularly in their "teeth" (w); or rather is a liquor in the gums, yellow like oil (x); according to Pliny (y), in copulation the male puts his head into the mouth of the female, which she sucks and gnaws off through the sweetness of the pleasure, then conceives her young, which eat out her belly; this is to be understood not of the man's sin, then it would have been expressed either in the past or present tense, as if that was sweet unto him in the commission of it, sucked in like milk from the breast, or honey from the honeycomb; such were his contrivances and artful methods, and the success of them in getting riches, but in the issue proved like the poison of asps, pernicious and deadly to him, which caused him to vomit them up again; for poison excites vomiting: but of the punishment of his sin; for putting men to death by the poison of asps was a punishment inflicted by some people upon malefactors; and however, it is certain death, and immediately and quickly dispatches, and without sense; so the wages of sin is death, and there is no avoiding it, and it comes insensibly on carnal men; they are not aware of it, and in no pain about it, until in hell they lift up their eyes as the rich man did:
the viper's tongue shall slay him; though it is with its teeth it bites, yet, when it is about to bite, it puts out its tongue, and to it its poison is sometimes ascribed; though it is said (z) to be quite harmless, and therefore not to be understood in a literal sense, but figuratively of the tongue of a detractor, a calumniator and false accuser, such an one as Doeg; but cannot be the sense here, since the fall of the person here described would not be by any such means; but the phrase, as before, denotes the certain and immediate death of such a wicked man; for the bite of a viper was always reckoned incurable, and issued in sudden death, see Acts 28:3.
(u) "caput aspidum", V. L. Montanus. (w) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 37. Aelian. Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 4. (x) Philosoph. Transact. ut supra. (abridged, vol. 2. p. 819.) (y) Ib. c. 62. (z) Scheuchzer, ut supra, (Physic. Sacr. vol. 4.) p. 712.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. shall suck—It shall turn out that he has sucked the poison, &c.
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