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Job 40:4

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Behold, I am vile - I acknowledge my inward defilement. I cannot answer thee.

I will lay mine hand upon my mouth - I cannot excuse myself, and I must be dumb before thee.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Behold, I am vile: what shall I answer thee? - “Instead of being able to argue my cause, and to vindicate myself as I had expected, I now see that I am guilty, and I have nothing to say.” He had argued boldly with his friends. He had, before them, maintained his innocence of the charges which they brought against him, and had supposed that he would be able to maintain the same argument before God. But when the opportunity was given, he felt that he was a poor, weak man; a guilty and miserable offender. It is a very different thing to maintain our cause before God, from what it is to maintain it before people; and though we may attempt to vindicate our own righteousness when we argue with our fellow-creatures, yet when we come to maintain it before God we shall be dumb. On earth, people vindicate themselves; what will they do when they come to stand before God in the judgment?

I will lay mine hand upon my mouth - An expression of silence. Catlin, in his account of the Mandan Indians, says that this is a common custom with them when anything wonderful occurs. Some of them laid their hands on their mouths and remained in this posture by the hour, as an expression of astonishment at the wonders produced by the brush in the art of painting; compare Job 21:5, note; Job 29:9, note.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Communion with the Lord effectually convinces and humbles a saint, and makes him glad to part with his most beloved sins. There is need to be thoroughly convinced and humbled, to prepare us for remarkable deliverances. After God had shown Job, by his manifest ignorance of the works of nature, how unable he was to judge of the methods and designs of Providence, he puts a convincing question to him; Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? Now Job began to melt into godly sorrow: when his friends reasoned with him, he did not yield; but the voice of the Lord is powerful. When the Spirit of truth is come, he shall convince. Job yields himself to the grace of God. He owns himself an offender, and has nothing to say to justify himself. He is now sensible that he has sinned; and therefore he calls himself vile. Repentance changes men's opinion of themselves. Job is now convinced of his error. Those who are truly sensible of their own sinfulness and vileness, dare not justify themselves before God. He perceived that he was a poor, mean, foolish, and sinful creature, who ought not to have uttered one word against the Divine conduct. One glimpse of God's holy nature would appal the stoutest rebel. How, then will the wicked bear the sight of his glory at the day of judgment? But when we see this glory revealed in Jesus Christ, we shall be humbled without being terrified; self-abasement agrees with filial love.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 310.2

In the Word of God many queries are raised that the most profound scholars can never answer. Attention is called to these subjects to show us how many things there are, even among the common things of everyday life, that finite minds, with all their boasted wisdom, can never fully comprehend. 3SM 310.2

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