Behold, I am vile
Or "light" F1; which may have respect either to his words and arguments, which he thought had force in them, but now he saw they had none; or to his works and actions, the integrity of his life, and the uprightness of his ways, which he imagined were weighty and of great importance, but now being weighed in the balances of justice were found wanting; or it may refer to his original meanness and distance from God, being dust and ashes, and nothing in comparison of him; and so the Septuagint version is, "I am nothing"; see ( Isaiah 40:17 ) ; or rather to the original vileness and sinfulness of his nature he had now a sight of, and saw how he had been breaking forth in unbecoming expressions concerning God and his providence: the nature of man is exceeding vile and sinful; his heart desperately wicked; his thoughts, and the imaginations of them, evil, and that continually; his mind and conscience are defiled; his affections inordinate, and his understanding and will sadly depraved; he is vile in soul and body; of all which an enlightened man is convinced, and will acknowledge;
what shall I answer thee?
I am not able to answer thee, who am but dust and ashes; what more can I say than to acknowledge my levity, vanity, and vileness? he that talked so big, and in such a blustering manner of answering God, as in ( Job 13:22 ) ( 31:35-37 ) ; now has nothing to say for himself;
I will lay mine hand upon my mouth;
impose silence upon himself, and as it were lay a restraint upon himself from speaking: it looks as if there were some workings in Job's heart; he thought he could say something, and make some reply, but durst not, for fear of offending yet more and more, and therefore curbed it in; see ( Psalms 39:1 ) .