|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:14-21 Job is still righteous in his own eyes, ch. 32:1, and this answer, though it sets forth the power and majesty of God, implies that the question between the afflicted and the Lord of providence, is a question of might, and not of right; and we begin to discover the evil fruits of pride and of a self-righteous spirit. Job begins to manifest a disposition to condemn God, that he may justify himself, for which he is afterwards reproved. Still Job knew so much of himself, that he durst not stand a trial. If we say, We have no sin, we not only deceive ourselves, but we affront God; for we sin in saying so, and give the lie to the Scripture. But Job reflected on God's goodness and justice in saying his affliction was without cause.
Verse 21. - Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life. The original is very elliptical and very obscure. The words run, I perfect - I know not myself - I abhor my life which some explain as meaning, "Were I perfect, I should not know it myself; I despise my life under such conditions" (Stanley Loathes); others, "I am perfect" (i.e. guiltless of any plain offence), "but do not understand myself, and care not what becomes of me" (Canon Cook); others again, "Were I perfect, should I not know myself, and, knowing myself, despise my own life?" (Professor Lee). The Septuagint gives us no help, as it plainly follows a different reading. Probably our present text is a corrupt one.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Though I were perfect,.... Really and truly so, not conscious of any sin in thought, word, or deed; this is only a case supposed:
yet would I not know my soul; I would not own myself to be so before God; I would not insist upon such perfection in his presence, as what would justify me before him; since I am sensible the highest perfection of a creature is imperfection when compared with him: or the sense may be, should I say I were "perfect, I should not know my own soul"; I should plainly appear to be ignorant of myself, as all perfectionists are; they do not know their own souls, the plague of their hearts, the evil of their thoughts, the vanity of their minds; they do not take notice of these things, or do not look upon them as sinful; they know not the nature of sin, and the exceeding sinfulness of it:
I would despise my life; even if ever so innocent, perfect, and just; his meaning is, that he would not insist upon the continuance of it on that account; he had no such value for it, such a love of life as to contend with God upon the foot of justice about it; nor did he think it worth asking for, so mean an opinion had he entertained of it, see Job 7:16.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. Literally, here (and in Job 9:20), "I perfect! I should not know my soul! I would despise," [that is], "disown my life"; that is, Though conscious of innocence, I should be compelled, in contending with the infinite God, to ignore my own soul and despise my past life as if it were guilty [Rosenmuller].
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