Is my garment changed - There seem to be here plain allusions to the effect of his cruel disease; the whole body being enveloped with a kind of elephantine hide, formed by innumerable incrustations from the ulcerated surface.
It bindeth me about - There is now a new kind of covering to my body, formed by the effects of this disease; and it is not a garment which I can cast off; it is as closely attached to me as the collar of my coat. Or, my disease seizes me as a strong armed man; it has throttled me, and cast me in the mud. This is probably an allusion to two persons struggling: the stronger seizes the other by the throat, brings him down, and treads him in the dirt.
By the great force of my disease - The words “of my disease” are not in the Hebrew. The usual interpretation of the passage is, that in consequence of the foul and offensive nature of his malady, his garment had become discolored or defiled - changed from being white and clear to filthiness and offensiveness. Some have understood it as referring to the skin, and as denoting that it was so affected with the leprosy, that he could scarcely be recognized. Umbreit supposes it to mean, “Through the omnipotence of God has my white robe of honor been changed into a narrow garment of grief” - trauerkleid. Dr. Good renders it, “From the abundance of the acrimony;” that is, of the fierce or acrimonious humor, “it is changed into a garment for me.” Coverdale, “With all their power have they changed my garment, and girded me therewith, as it were with a coat.” Prof. Lee, “With much violence doth my clothing bind me.”
According to Schultens, it means, “My affliction puts itself on in the form of my clothing;” and the whole passage, that without and within, from the head to the feet, he was entirely diseased. His affliction was his outer garment, and it was his inner garment - his mantle and his tunic. The Hebrew is difficult. The phrase rendered “by the great force,” means, literally, “by the multitude of strength” - and may refer to the strength of disease, or to the strength of God, or to the force with which his garment girded him. The word rendered “is changed” - יתחפשׂ yitchâphaś is from חפשׂ châphaś to seek, to search after in the Qal; in the Hithpael, the form used here, to let oneself be sought; to hide oneself; to disguise one‘s self; 1 Kings 20:38. According to this, it would mean that his garment was disquised; that is, its appearance was changed by the force of his disease. Gesenius. Jerome renders it, “In their multitude, my garment is consumed; the Septuagint, “With great force he took hold of my garment.” Of these various interpretations, it is impossible to determine which is the correct one. The prevailing interpretation seems to be, that by the strength of his disease his garment was changed in its appearance, so as to become offensive, and yet this is a somewhat feeble sense to give to the passage. Perhaps the explanation of Schultens is the best, “By the greatness of power, pain or disease has become my garment; it girds me about like the mouth of my tunic.” He has shown, by a great variety of instances, that it is common in Arabic poetry to compare pain, sickness, anxiety, etc., to clothing.
It bindeth me about as the collar of my coat - The collar of my tunic, or under garment. This was made like a shirt, to be gathered around the neck, and the idea is, that his disease fitted close to him, and was gathered close around him.