Job 20:12
Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue;
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(12) Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth.—He draws a picture of the wicked man after the pattern of a gourmand or glutton, which, if it were intended to apply to Job, was a fresh instance of heartless cruelty, as well as of an entire want of discernment of character, and of unfitness for the office of judge he was so ready to assume. It is possible that the reproach here aimed at Job was that of inordinate love of riches, which Zophar extracts from the bare fact of his having been a wealthy man.

Job 20:12-14. Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth — Though it greatly please him while he is committing it; though he hide it under his tongue — As an epicure doth a sweet morsel, which he keeps and rolls about his mouth, that he may longer enjoy the pleasure of it. Though he be highly pleased with the gratification of his lusts, and cleave to his sinful pleasures in hearty love, resolving to hold them fast, and improve them to the greatest delight and advantage; though he spare it — Will not part with his sin, but gratifies and obeys his sinful inclinations, instead of subduing and mortifying them; but keeps it still within his mouth — That he may enjoy all the sweetness of it. Yet his meat in his bowels is turned — From sweet to bitter; it is the gall of asps within him — Exceeding bitter and pernicious. Gall is most bitter; the gall of serpents is full of poison; and the poison of asps is most dangerous, and, within a few hours, kills without remedy.

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.Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth - Though he has pleasure in committing it, as he has in pleasant food. The sense of this and the following verses is, that though a man may have pleasure in indulgence in sin, and may find happiness of a certain kind in it, yet that the consequences will be bitter - as if the food which he ate should become like gall, and he should cast it up with loathing. There are many sins which, from the laws of our nature, are attended with a kind of pleasure. Such, for illustration, are the sins of gluttony and of intemperance in drinking; the sins of ambition and vanity; the sins of amusement and of fashionable life. To such we give the name of "pleasures." We do not speak of them as "happiness." That is a word which would not express their nature. It denotes rather substantial, solid, permanent joy - such joy as the "pleasures of sin for a season" do not furnish. It is this temporary "pleasure" which the lovers of vanity, fashion and dress, seek, and which, it cannot be denied, they often find. As long ago as the time of Zophar, it was admitted that such pleasure might be found in some forms of sinful indulgence and yet even in his time that was seen, which all subsequent observation has proved true, that such indulgence must lead to bitter results.

Though he hide it under his tongue - It is from this passage, probably, that we have derived the phrase, "to roll sin as a sweet morsel under the tongue," which is often quoted as if it were a part of Scripture. The "meaning" here is, that a man would find pleasure in sin, and would seek to prolong it, as one does the pleasure of eating that which is grateful to the palate by holding it long in the mouth, or by placing it under the tongue.

12. be—"taste sweet." Sin's fascination is like poison sweet to the taste, but at last deadly to the vital organs (Pr 20:17; Job 9:17, 18).

hide … tongue—seek to prolong the enjoyment by keeping the sweet morsel long in the mouth (so Job 20:13).

In his mouth, i.e. to his taste, though it greatly please him for the present.

Though he hide it under his tongue; as an epicure doth a sweet morsel, which he is loth to swallow, and therefore keeps and rolls it about his mouth that he may longer enjoy the pleasure of it: though he be highly pleased with his lusts, and cleave to them in hearty love, and resolve to hold them fast, and improve them to the greatest delight and advantage.

Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth,.... Which may respect some particular sin, and by the context it seems to be the sin of covetousness, or of getting riches in an unlawful way, which is very sweet and pleasing to wicked men, while they are in such pursuits that succeed; and so Mr. Broughton renders it by "wrong"; though it may be applied to sin in general, which is "wickedness", or an evil (q), being contrary to the pure and holy nature, will, and law of God; and it is evil in its effects on men, it having deprived them of the image and glory of God, and exposed them to his wrath, to the curses of his law, and to eternal deaths. Now this is "sweet" to an unregenerate man, who minds and savours the things of the flesh, whose taste is not changed, but is as it was from his birth, and who calls sweet bitter, and bitter sweet; such a man has the same delight in sin as a man has in his food, drinks up iniquity like water, and commits sin with greediness; for it is natural to him, he is conceived, born, and brought up in it; besides, some sins are what are more particularly called constitution sins, which some are peculiarly addicted to, and in which they take a peculiar delight and pleasure; these are like the right hand or right eye, and they cannot be persuaded, at any rate, to part with them:

though he hide it under his tongue; not for the sake of concealing it, nor by denying, dissembling, or excusing it, but for the sake of enjoying more pleasure in it; as a gluttonous man, when he has got a sweet morsel in his mouth, do not let it go down his throat immediately, but rolls it under his tongue, that he may have all the pleasure of it he can; so a wicked man devises sin in his heart, keeps it on his mind, revolves it in his thoughts, and his meditation on it is sweet; and he is so far from hiding it from others, that he openly declares it, freely tells of it, and takes pleasure in so doing: "fools make a mock at sin"; it is their diversion and recreation.

(q) "malum", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.

Though wickedness be {f} sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue;

(f) As poison that is sweet in the mouth brings destruction when it comes into the body: so all vice at the first is pleasant, but God later turns it to destruction.

12. Sin is spoken of under the figure of a dainty which tickles the palate, and which one retains and turns in his mouth with delight.

12–22. His sin changes into his punishment.

Verses 12, 13. - Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth; i.e. though the wicked man delight in his wickedness, and gloat over it, and keep the thought of it in his mind, as a gourmand keeps, so long as he can, a delicious taste in his mouth; though he, as it were, hide it under his tongue, in order not to let it escape him; though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his mouth, yet, notwithstanding all this, disgust and nausea arrive in course of time (see the next two verses). It is, perhaps, the most surprising among the phenomena of wickedness that men can gloat over it, voluntarily recur to it, make a boast of it, recount signal instances of it to their friends, and seem to find a satisfaction in the recollection. One would have expected that shame and self-disapproval and fear of retribution would have led them to dismiss their wicked acts from their thoughts as soon as possible. But certainly the fact is otherwise. Job 20:1212 If wickedness tasted sweet in his mouth,

He hid it under his tongue;

13 He carefully cherished it and did not let it go,

And retained it in his palate:

14 His bread is now changed in his bowels,

It is the gall of vipers within him.

15 He hath swallowed down riches and now he spitteth them out,

God shall drive them out of his belly.

16 He sucked in the poison of vipers,

The tongue of the adder slayeth him.

The evil-doer is, in Job 20:12, likened to an epicure; he keeps hold of wickedness as long as possible, like a delicate morsel that is retained in the mouth (Renan: comme un bonbon qu'on laisse fondre dans la bouche), and seeks to enjoy it to the very last. המתּיק, to make sweet, has here the intransitive signification dulcescere, Ew. 122, c. הכחיד, to remove from sight, signifies elsewhere to destroy, here to conceal (as the Piel, Job 6:10; Job 15:18). חמל, to spare, is construed with על, which is usual with verbs of covering and protecting. The conclusion of the hypothetical antecedent clauses begins with Job 20:14; the perf. נהפּך (with Kametz by Athnach) describes the suddenness of the change; the מרורת which follows is not equivalent to למרורת (Luther: His food shall be turned to adder's gall in his body), but Job 20:14 expresses the result of the change in a substantival clause. The bitter and poisonous are synonymous in the ancient languages; hence we find the meanings poison and gall (Job 20:25) in מררה, and ראשׁ signifies both a poisonous plant which is known by its bitterness, and the poison of plants like to the poison of serpents (Job 20:16; Deuteronomy 32:33). חיל (Job 20:15) is property, without the accompanying notion of forcible acquisition (Hirz.), which, on the contrary, is indicated by the בּלע. The following fut. consec. is here not aor., but expressive of the inevitable result which the performance of an act assuredly brings: he must vomit back the property which he has swallowed down; God casts it out of his belly, i.e., (which is implied in בּלע, expellere) forcibly, and therefore as by the pains of colic. The lxx, according to whose taste the mention of God here was contrary to decorum, trans. ἐξ οἰκίας (read κοιλίας, according to Cod. Alex.) αὐτοῦ ἐξελκύσει αὐτὸν ἄγγελος (Theod. δυνάστης). The perf., Job 20:15, is in Job 20:16 changed into the imperf. fut. יינק, which more strongly represents the past action as that which has gone before what is now described; and the ασυνδέτως, fut. which follows, describes the consequence which is necessarily and directly involved in it. Psalm 140:4 may be compared with Job 20:16, Proverbs 23:32 with Job 20:16. He who sucked in the poison of low desire with a relish, will meet his punishment in that in which he sinned: he is destroyed by the poisonous deadly bite of the serpent, for the punishment of sin is fundamentally nothing but the nature of sin itself brought fully out.

Job 20:12 Interlinear
Job 20:12 Parallel Texts

Job 20:12 NIV
Job 20:12 NLT
Job 20:12 ESV
Job 20:12 NASB
Job 20:12 KJV

Job 20:12 Bible Apps
Job 20:12 Parallel
Job 20:12 Biblia Paralela
Job 20:12 Chinese Bible
Job 20:12 French Bible
Job 20:12 German Bible

Bible Hub

Job 20:11
Top of Page
Top of Page