If I be wicked - I must meet with that punishment that is due to the workers of iniquity.
If I be righteous - I am only in the state which my duty to my Creator requires me to be in; and I cannot therefore suppose that on this account I can deserve any thing by way of favor from the justice of my Maker.
I am full of confusion - I am confounded at my state and circumstances. I know that thou art merciful, and dost not afflict willingly the children of men; I know I have not wickedly departed from thee; and yet I am treated by thee as if I were an apostate from every good. I am therefore full of confusion. See thou to my affliction; and bring me out of it in such a way as shall at once prove my innocence, the righteousness of thy ways, and the mercy of thy nature.
If I be wicked, woe unto me - The meaning of this in this connection is, “I am full of perplexity and sorrow. Whether I am wicked or righteous, I find no comfort. Whatever is my character, my efforts to be happy are unavailing, and my mind is full of anguish. Woe follows if I have been guilty of sin; and if I am not a sinful man, I am equally incapable of enjoyment. In every way I am doomed to wretchedness.” And if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. That is, with confidence and cheerfulness. The meaning is, that though he was conscious that he was not a hypocrite, yet he did not know what to do. God treated him as if he were wicked, and his friends regarded him as such, and he was overwhelmed with the perplexities of his situation. He could not lift up his head with confidence, though he was certain that he was not a sinner in the sense in which they charged him with being such; and yet since he was treated by God in a manner so similar to the mode in which the wicked are treated, he felt ashamed and confounded. Who has not felt the same thing? Who has not experienced a sense of shame and mortification at being sick, - a proof of guilt, and an expression of the hatred of God against sin? Who has not felt humbled that he must die, as the most vile of the race must die, and that his body must become the “prey of corruption” and “the banquet of worms,” as a demonstration of guilt? Such humiliation Job experienced. He was treated as if he were the vilest of sinners. He endured from God sufferings such as they endure. He was so regarded by his friends. He felt humbled and mortified that he was brought into this situation, and was ashamed that he could not meet the arguments of his friends.
I am full of confusion - Shame, ignominy, distress, and perplexity. On every side there was embarrassment, and he knew not what to do. His friends regarded him as vile, and he could not but admit that he was so treated by God.
Therefore see thou mine affliction - The word rendered here “see” (ראה râ'âh ) in the imperative, Rosenmuller, Gesenius, and others suppose should be regarded as in the infinitive absolute, the finite verb being understood; “seeing I see my affliction,” that is, I certainly see it. So the Chaldee and the Syriac render it, and this agrees better with the connection of the passage. “I see the depth of my affliction. I cannot hide it from myself. I see, and must admit, that God treats me as if I were a sinner, and I am greatly perplexed and embarrassed by that fact. My mind is in confusion, and I know not what to say.”