|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
40:1-5 Communion with the Lord effectually convinces and humbles a saint, and makes him glad to part with his most beloved sins. There is need to be thoroughly convinced and humbled, to prepare us for remarkable deliverances. After God had shown Job, by his manifest ignorance of the works of nature, how unable he was to judge of the methods and designs of Providence, he puts a convincing question to him; Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? Now Job began to melt into godly sorrow: when his friends reasoned with him, he did not yield; but the voice of the Lord is powerful. When the Spirit of truth is come, he shall convince. Job yields himself to the grace of God. He owns himself an offender, and has nothing to say to justify himself. He is now sensible that he has sinned; and therefore he calls himself vile. Repentance changes men's opinion of themselves. Job is now convinced of his error. Those who are truly sensible of their own sinfulness and vileness, dare not justify themselves before God. He perceived that he was a poor, mean, foolish, and sinful creature, who ought not to have uttered one word against the Divine conduct. One glimpse of God's holy nature would appal the stoutest rebel. How, then will the wicked bear the sight of his glory at the day of judgment? But when we see this glory revealed in Jesus Christ, we shall be humbled without being terrified; self-abasement agrees with filial love.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Behold, I am vile,.... Or "light" (a); which may have respect either to his words and arguments, which he thought had force in them, but now he saw they had none; or to his works and actions, the integrity of his life, and the uprightness of his ways, which he imagined were weighty and of great importance, but now being weighed in the balances of justice were found wanting; or it may refer to his original meanness and distance from God, being dust and ashes, and nothing in comparison of him; and so the Septuagint version is, "I am nothing"; see Isaiah 40:17; or rather to the original vileness and sinfulness of his nature he had now a sight of, and saw how he had been breaking forth in unbecoming expressions concerning God and his providence: the nature of man is exceeding vile and sinful; his heart desperately wicked; his thoughts, and the imaginations of them, evil, and that continually; his mind and conscience are defiled; his affections inordinate, and his understanding and will sadly depraved; he is vile in soul and body; of all which an enlightened man is convinced, and will acknowledge;
what shall I answer thee? I am not able to answer thee, who am but dust and ashes; what more can I say than to acknowledge my levity, vanity, and vileness? he that talked so big, and in such a blustering manner of answering God, as in Job 13:22; now has nothing to say for himself;
I will lay mine hand upon my mouth; impose silence upon himself, and as it were lay a restraint upon himself from speaking: it looks as if there were some workings in Job's heart; he thought he could say something, and make some reply, but durst not, for fear of offending yet more and more, and therefore curbed it in; see Psalm 39:1.
(a) "levis sum", Cocceius, Michaelis; "leviter locutus sum", V. L.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. I am (too) vile (to reply). It is a very different thing to vindicate ourselves before God, from what it is before men. Job could do the latter, not the former.
lay … hand … upon … mouth—I have no plea to offer (Job 21:5; Jud 18:19).
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