|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
31:16-23 Job's conscience gave testimony concerning his just and charitable behaviour toward the poor. He is most large upon this head, because in this matter he was particularly accused. He was tender of all, and hurtful to none. Notice the principles by which Job was restrained from being uncharitable and unmerciful. He stood in awe of the Lord, as certainly against him, if he should wrong the poor. Regard to worldly interests may restrain a man from actual crimes; but the grace of God alone can make him hate, dread, and shun sinful thoughts and desires.
Verse 21. - If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless; i.e. if I have in any way oppressed him. When I saw my help in the gate; i.e.. when I had the power to do so - when I saw my friends and hangers-on mustered in force at the gate where causes were being tried. The wrong and robbery which the poor suffer in the East have always been camel, to a large extent, by failure of justice in the courts, where might, and not right, carries the day.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless,.... Either in a menacing way, threatening what he would do to them; which, from a man of wealth and authority, a civil magistrate, a judge, is very terrible to the poor and fatherless; or in order to strike him, which would be to smite with the fist of wickedness; or give a signal to others, by lifting up the hand to smite, as Ananias gave orders to smite the Apostle Paul; or thereby to give his vote against the fatherless wrongly, suffrages being sometimes made by lifting up the hands; or hereby Job signifies, that he was so far from doing the fatherless any real injury, that he had not so much as lifted up his hand, and even a finger against him:
when I saw my help in the gate; in the court of judicature held in the gate of the city, as was usual; though he knew he had the bench of judges for him, or they would give sentence in his behalf, and against the fatherless, if he did but hold up his hand, or lift up a finger to them, so ready would they be take his part and be on his side; yet he never made use of his power and interest to their detriment, or took such an advantage against them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. when—that is, "because."
I saw—that I might calculate on the "help" of a powerful party in the court of justice—("gate"), if I should be summoned by the injured fatherless.
Job 31:21 Parallel Commentaries
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