|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:17-21 Job reasons with God concerning his dealings with man. But in the midst of this discourse, Job seems to have lifted up his thoughts to God with some faith and hope. Observe the concern he is in about his sins. The best men have to complain of sin; and the better they are, the more they will complain of it. God is the Preserver of our lives, and the Saviour of the souls of all that believe; but probably Job meant the Observer of men, whose eyes are upon the ways and hearts of all men. We can hide nothing from Him; let us plead guilty before his throne of grace, that we may not be condemned at his judgment-seat. Job maintained, against his friends, that he was not a hypocrite, not a wicked man, yet he owns to his God, that he had sinned. The best must so acknowledge, before the Lord. He seriously inquires how he might be at peace with God, and earnestly begs forgiveness of his sins. He means more than the removing of his outward trouble, and is earnest for the return of God's favour. Wherever the Lord removes the guilt of sin, he breaks the power of sin. To strengthen his prayer for pardon, Job pleads the prospect he had of dying quickly. If my sins be not pardoned while I live, I am lost and undone for ever. How wretched is sinful man without a knowledge of the Saviour!
Verse 19. - How long wilt thou not depart from me? rather, Wilt thou not look away from me? (see the Revised Version). Job does not go so far as to ask that God should "depart from" him. He knows, doubtless, that that would be the extreme of calamity. But he would have God sometimes turn away his eyes from him, and not always regard him so intently. There is something of the same tone of complaint in the psalmist's utterance., "Thou art about my path, and about my bed, and spiest out all my ways" (Psalm 139:3, Prayer-book Version). Nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? Even, i.e., for the shortest space of time passible. A proverbial expression.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
How long wilt thou not depart from me,.... From wrestling and contending with him, and afflicting of him; the Lord was too hard a combatant for job, and therefore he chose to be rid of him, and was impatient of it; or "look off from me" (u); so Mr. Broughton renders it, "how long wilt thou not look from me?" this is to be understood not of a look of love, which Job would never have desired to have averted from him; but a frowning and angry look, such as the Lord put on in this dispensation of his providence towards him; the allusion may be to that sharp and constant look, which antagonists in wrestling have upon each other while conflicting together, and so the metaphor before used is still carried on:
nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? some think Job has reference to his disease which affected his throat, that being so dried up, or having a quinsy in it, that he could not swallow his spittle, or it was with great difficulty he did it; or rather it is a proverbial expression, signifying that his afflictions were incessant, that he had no respite nor intermission, had not space enough given him to swallow down his spittle, or take his breath, as in Job 9:18; so Schultens observes, that with the Arabians this was a proverbial form of speech, when they required time for anything, "give me time to swallow my spittle"; or when they had not proper time, or any intermission, used to say, "you will not give me time to swallow my spittle"; and one being asked a multitude of questions, replied, "suffer me to swallow my spittle", that is, give me time to make an answer: or the sense is, that his antagonist in wrestling with him held him so fast, and kept him so close to it, and so twisted him about, and gave him fall upon fall, so that he had no time to swallow his spittle; or he so collared him, and gripped him, and almost throttled him, that he could not swallow it down; all which intends how closely and incessantly Job was followed with one affliction upon another, and how severe and distressing they were to him.
(u) "respicis a me?" Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Schmidt, Michaelis; "avertis oculum a me?" Schultens.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. How long (like a jealous keeper) wilt thou never take thine eyes off (so the Hebrew for "depart from") me? Nor let me alone for a brief respite (literally, "so long as I take to swallow my spittle"), an Arabic proverb, like our, "till I draw my breath."
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