He looketh upon men - אנשים anashim, wretched, fallen men. He shines into them, to convince them of sin; and if any, under this convincing light of God, say, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and perverted the right - abused the powers, faculties, mercies, and advantages, which thou didst give me, by seeking rest and happiness in the creature, and it profited me not - it was all vanity and vexation of spirit; לי שוה ולא velo shavah li, "and it was not equal to me," did not come up to my expectation, nor supply my wants: -
He looketh upon men - Margin, “or, he shall look upon men, and say, I have sinned.” Umbreit renders this, Nun singt er jubelnd zu den Menschen - “now he sings joyfully among men.” So Noyes, “He shall sing among men, and say.” Prof. Lee “He shall fully consider or pronounce right to men, so that one shall say, I have sinned.” Coverdale, “Such a respect hath he unto men. Therefore let a man confess and say, I have offended.” The Septuagint renders it, Εἷτα τὸτε άπιμέμψεται ἄνθρωπος άυτος ἑαυτῳ Eita tote apomempsetai anthrōpos autos heautō “then shall a man blame himself,” etc. These various renderings arise from the difference of signification attached to the Hebrew word ישׁר yāshor According to our interpretation, it is derived from שׁיר shı̂yr “to sing,” and then the meaning would be, “he sings before men,” and thus the reference would be to the sufferer, meaning that he would have occasion to rejoice among men. See Gesenius on the word. According to the other view, the word is derived from שׁור shûr “to look round”; “to care for, or regard”; and according to this, the reference is to God, meaning that he carefully and attentively observes people in such circumstances, and, if he sees evidence that there is true penitence, he has compassion and saves. This idea certainly accords better with the scope of the passage than the former, and it seems to me is to be regarded as correct.
And if any say, I have sinned - Hebrew “And says,” that is, if the sufferer, under the pressure of his afflictions, is willing to confess his faults, then God is ready to show him mercy. This accords with what Elihu purposed to state of the design of afflictions, that they were intended to bring people to reflection, and to be a means of wholesome discipline. There is no doubt that he meant that all this should be understood by Job as applicable to himself, for he manifestly means to be understood as saying that he had not seen in him the evidence of a penitent mind, such as he supposed afflictions were designed to produce.
And perverted that which was right - That is, in regard to operations and views of the divine government. He had held error, or had cherished wrong apprehensions of the divine character. Or it may mean, that he had dealt unjustly with people in his contact with them.
And it profited me not - The word used here (שׁוה shâvâh ) means properly to be even or level; then to be equal, or of like value; and here may mean, that he now saw that it was no advantage to him to have done wickedly, since it brought upon him such a punishment, or the benefit which he received from his life of wickedness was no equivalent for the pain which he had been called to suffer in consequence of it. This is the common interpretation. Rosenmuller, however, suggests another, which is, that he designs by this language to express his sense of the divine mercy, and that it means “my afflictions are in no sense equal to my deserts. I have not been punished as I might justly have been, for God has interposed to spare me.” It seems to me, however, that the former interpretation accords best with the meaning of the words and the scope of the passage. It would then be the reflection of a man on the bed of suffering, that the course of life which brought him there had been attended with no advantage, but had been the means of plunging him into deserved sorrows. from which he could be rescued only by the grace of God.