He sealeth up the hand of every man - After all that has been said, and much of it most learnedly, on this verse, I think that the act of freezing is probably intended; that when the earth is bound up by intense frost, the hand, יד yad, labor, of every man is sealed up; he can do no more labor in the field, till the south wind blow, by which a thaw takes place. While the earth is in this state of rigidity, the beasts go into their dens, and remain in their places, Job 37:8, some of them sleeping out the winter in a state of torpor, and others of them feeding on the stores which they had collected in autumn. However, the passage may mean no more than by the severity of the rains beasts are drawn to their covers; and man is obliged to intermit all his labors. The mighty rains are past. Who would have thought that on this verse, as its Scriptural foundation, the doctrine of chiromancy is built! God has so marked the hand of every man by the lines thereon exhibited, that they tell all the good or bad fortune they shall have during life; and he has done this that all men, by a judicious examination of their hands, may know his work! On this John Taisnier, a famous mathematician, lawyer, musician, and poet laureate of Cologne, has written a large folio volume, with more hands in it than fell to the lot of Briareus: - printed at Cologne, 1683.
He sealeth up the hand of every man - That is, in the winter, when the snow is on the ground, when the streams are frozen, and when the labors of the husbandman cease. The idea of “sealing up the hand” is derived from the common purpose of a seal, to make fast, to close up, to secure (compare Job 9:7, note; Job 33:16, note), and the sense is, that the hands can no more be used in ordinary toil. Every man in the snow and rain of winter is prevented from going abroad to his accustomed toil, and is, as it were, sealed up in his dwelling. The idea is exquisitely beautiful. God confines human beings and beasts in their houses or caves, until the winter has passed by.
That all men may know his work - The Septuagint renders this,” That every man may know his own weakness” - ἀσθένειαν astheneian Various interpretations have been given of the passage, but our common version has probably expressed in the main the true sense, that God thus interrupts the labors of man, and confines him in his home, that he may feel his dependence on God, and may recognize the constant agency of his Creator. The Hebrew literally is “For the knowledge of all the men of his making;” that is, that all the people whom he has created may have knowledge. The changing seasons thus keep before us the constant evidence of the unceasing agency of God in his works, and prevent the feeling which we might have, if everything was uniform that the universe was under the control of “fate.” As it is, the succession of the seasons, the snow, the rain, the dew, and the sunshine, all bear marks of being under the control of an intelligent Being, and are so regulated that we need not forget that his unceasing agency is constantly round about us. It may be added, that when the farmer in the winter is laid aside from his usual toil, and confined to his dwelling, it is a favorable time for him to meditate on the works of God, and to acquaint himself with his Creator. The labors of man are thus interrupted; the busy affairs of life come to a pause, and while nature is silent around us, and the earth wrapped in her fleecy mantle forbids the labor of the husbandman, everything invites to the contemplation of the Creator, and of the works of his hands. The winter, therefore, might be improved by every farmer to enlarge his knowledge of God, and should be regarded as a season wisely appointed for him to cultivate his understanding and improve his heart.