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Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Job 38

 

 

Verse 1

"Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind": God"s answer to Job was accompanied by a violent windstorm. Sometimes God used storms to dramatize awesome occasions (Exodus 19:16-17; 1 Kings 19:11-13). Notice that God speaks in His own time, He is not drawn into the argument simply like one more contestant,rather God comes as God.


Verse 2

"Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" The first thing that Job hears from God, is a rebuke. Job"s comments and questions had confused the issue rather than shedding any light. "For Job to suggest that God had become his enemy would only confuse others about God" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 767). Note that God will say nothing about Job"s suffering; "no discussion was included about the theology of evil. Instead of answering questions, God asked them" (Zuck p. 163). Neither does God apologize to Job or explain what was happening behind the scenes. The very fact that God is the all-wise Creator of the universe should move people to have complete confidence in what He allows to happen in this world. "Though people cannot understand God"s doings, they can trust Him. Worship should stem from an appreciation of God Himself, not a comprehension of all God"s ways. Though puzzled, people should still praise" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 766).


Verse 3

"Now gird up your loins like a man": "When undertaking a strenuous task such as running, working, or fighting, a man in biblical times would gather up his flowing robe and tuck it into a sash-belt (Exodus 12:11; 1 Kings 18:46). Thus this figure of speech suggests that Job was to be alert and prepared for a difficult task-that of explaining God"s ways in nature" (Zuck p. 165). "And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!" Job the plaintiff has now become Job the defendant. God was not on trial, rather Job was. "From the agony of his seated posture among the ashes-scraping his skin with a potsherd and suffering from the weight of grief over the loss of family, possessions, health, and friends-Job was confronted by the divine Interrogator with more than seventy unanswerable questions whose subject matter ranged from the constellations to the clods, from the beasts to the birds" (Zuck p. 164).

One might be tempted to think that putting Job, a man who has suffered so much, on trial is being very unmerciful, but the unmerciful thing would be for God to allow Job to wallow in self-pity and arrogance. Job is actually going to feel better after this test! God puts Job, and all of us, in our place in these final chapters. Job was shown to be ignorant and impotent in contrast to God"s wisdom and power. If Job could not comprehend or control the natural world, then he had no right to complain about God"s moral care of the universe. Yet this barrage of questions proves that God had not forgotten about, nor had He abandoned Job, for the Lord chastens those whom He loves (Hebrews ff). Let us also remember that the following questions and examples only are the mere fringes of God"s power.


Verse 4

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?": "The creation of the earth was depicted as the construction of a building, with its foundation, dimensions (the meaning of "measurements"), measuring line, footings (the meaning of "bases"), and cornerstone. Of course Job knew that God had created the earth, but the knowledge was not from personal observation" (Zuck p. 166). The argument is that since Job was not around to advise God when He created the earth, how could Job possibly hope to advise God now? Strauss notes that contemporary astro-physics, microscopic physics, and bio-chemistry reinforce this image which conceives of creation in terms of building or erecting the cosmos" (p. 398).

Modern man needs to remember this truth. Being absent from the beginning and the design and construction of the universe means that we do not have a right to criticize what God does in His world.

"When God put the earth into orbit, it was similar to placing parts of a building in place" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 767).


Verse 7

The morning stars could be Venus and Mercury. "The star"s singing is a poetic personification. In Psalm 148:2-3 angels and stars are together commanded to praise the Lord" (p. 767). This reveals that the angels rejoiced when they saw what God had made! Joyful singing was present when the earth was created.


Verse 8

While the origin of the earth was pictured as the construction of a building (38:4-7), the origin of the oceans is described in terms associated with childbirth. "In Mesopotamian and Ugaritic mythology, the sea is pictured as an adversary to be defeated by the gods, a great chaotic monster. But here the sea is not God"s adversary; it is a giant baby, just born, that had to be confined at the moment of birth" (Zuck p. 166). The ocean surges in self-confidence, but God has confined it by clear shorelines. Its limits are described as being like a double-door and a bolt that is like a large gate on a city with a bar across the gate for safety. "The sea, born clothed and confined to its cosmic playpen, is now given the paternal command never to cross the appointed boundaries. Job had nothing to do with this majestic work, which was performed only by God" (Zuck p. 167).


Verse 12

God"s control of the earth is also demonstrated by the daily sequence of dawn and darkness. God brings the dawn every single day, and this is something that Job had never done in his lifetime. The "dawn knows its place", that is, the sun always rises in the east.


Verse 13

The sunrise is described as taking hold of the ends of the earth as if the darkness were a blanket over the globe and shakes the wicked out of it. "Dawn exposes and disperses the evildoers, who prefer darkness to light (John 3:19)" (Zuck p. 167). In addition, evildoers often prefer actual physical darkness to light (Job 24:15).


Verse 14

As the sun comes up the contours and features of the earth become evident, causing it to appear "changed" like clay is suddenly changed when impressed by a seal. In addition, daylight changes the features of the earth as if the earth had suddenly put on a new bright and colorful garment.


Verse 15

Day light also stems the purposes or power of evil men. It often prevents them from carrying out their violent purposes or forces them back into their holds until nightfall. Please note that a point about God"s justice is being made here.


Verse 16

Job was equally ignorant of things he could not see, like the true nature of the ocean beds. The bottom of the ocean is not flat and sandy, but filled with deep recesses and subterranean springs. In modern times we have discovered that some of these recesses are over 30,000 feet deep.


Verse 17

Even far more mysterious and hidden is death itself, death here is pictured as having gates that open for its entrants. To this day modern man stands helpless and ignorant of death.


Verse 18

How about the width of the earth?


Verse 19

Light and darkness are pictured as having dwelling-places. Where does light go at night and where does darkness go in the morning? "Their places and dwellings are inaccessible in the sense that Job could not explain how God moved the earth around the sun" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 768).


Verse 21

Here is God"s way of ironically affirming that Job did not know, since he was not around, when God set the earth"s rotation in motion. His years were few compared to God"s eternal nature.

Note that if God came down this hard on Job for merely questioning God"s justice, how is God going to react to those who deny His existence. What sort of rebuke will atheists and evolutionists receive? The great lesson in this chapter is humility. We are finite and limited, to claim that we know more than God about the origin of the universe, right and wrong, and how things should work. is the height of arrogance, yet people are boastfully doing this every day.


Verse 22

God now has various questions about the weather, which man is still unable to control or influence much to this day. Yes, man tries to "seed" the clouds, but even this does not seem to be very successful. Snow and hail appear to be kept in storehouses and released by God when He desires. He uses them in times of distress and war (Joshua 10:11; Exodus 9:22-26).


Verse 24

"Where is the way that the light is divided": "Did he know how light has been distributed around the globe, or how the east wind is scattered" (Jackson p. 80). To this day with all our technology, man still only can try to "predict" the weather. Yet changes in the weather still catch even the experts by surprise.


Verse 25

Job was equally ignorant of how God cuts a channel or path for the rain and the thunderbolt, seeing that no visible "channel" is seen. God"s gracious providence also extends far beyond mankind. God sends rain upon the deserts in which no man lives. God not only cares for the birds (Matthew 6:26), He also waters the plants even in the uninhabited places. Job could not understand why God would send rain on the desert and have grass sprout in such a place.


Verse 28

Job was also ignorant of the origin of rain, dew, and ice. Yes modern man can make ice on a limited scale, but nothing like what is seen in nature. To this man is helpless in the face of drought and a limited snow pack.


Verse 31

Job knew that God had made the constellations, Pleiades, Orion, and the Bear (the big dipper), but where God showed Job his impotence was by asking if he were able to hold together a cluster of stars or loosen them. Notice the expressions "lead forth" and "guide" in verse 32. "The Pleiades appear in the spring and thus herald the advent of that joyous season; Orion is visible in late October and so announces the coming of winter. The question is, therefore, does Job have the power to alter the seasonal changes?" (Jackson p. 81).


Verse 33

Does Job understand the laws or ordinances by which the stars function? If the stars operate on the basis of laws then there must be a lawgiver! "The laws which control the heavenly bodies are the most sublime that are known to man. Astrologers, both ancient and modern, have mistakenly assumed that the stars determine the destinies of individual men" (p. 81). God notes that the stars do not control the choices of men, but rather, divine laws control the stars themselves.


Verse 34

Job clearly cannot command the clouds to unleash their moisture, so much for various "rain dances".


Verse 35

Neither can he command or direct lightning.


Verse 36

This is a difficult verse to translate, for the word "heart" can mean also "cloud-layers" and the word "mind" can mean "celestial phenomenon", yet God seems to be saying that God gives man wisdom; yet man in all his wisdom cannot tabulate the number of the clouds nor bring the rain. "The clouds are so numerous and unending that they cannot be counted. Nor is it possible for anyone to pour out rain as if he were tilting waterskins from the heavens so that the soil would be hardened into mud, and clods would stick together" (Zuck p. 170).

"The 12 animals described here, six beasts, five birds, and an insect all exhibit the creative genius and providential care of God" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 768).


Verse 39

Is Job the author of the instinct that enables lions to hunt for their prey, or does he have the power and wisdom to feed all the lions each day? What a task, to feed the lions every day, yet God does this without asking anyone for help or raising our taxes!


Verse 40

God also cares for the ravens (Luke 12:24), even though the adults often leave the young alone by themselves. The point is that if God cares for lions and ravens, then obviously God cares for Job and has not abandoned him.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 38:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-38.html. 1999-2014.

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