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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

Job 38

 

 

Verses 1-38

V. THE LORD’S TESTIMONY TO JOB AND CONTROVERSY WITH Him

CHAPTER 38:1-38

1. The Lord speaks to Job (Job 38:1-3)

2. The questions of the Lord (Job 38:4-38)

Job 38:1-3. The voice of man is hushed; the voice of the Lord begins to speak. The Almighty, the Creator, the Lord of All comes now upon the scene. He too, like Elihu, had been the silent listener; He heard Job’s complaint and wailing and the babblings of his friends. Elihu’s wonderful utterance, inspired by the Lord, was ended. The thunderstorm is on, no doubt a literal storm, the dark clouds gather--

Then from the North there comes a golden light.

God appears in wondrous Majesty (Job 37:22).

The golden light of God’s own presence and glory overshadows the scene. Out of the whirlwind His own voice is heard. It is that voice which David in the “thunderstorm-Psalm” (Psalms 29:1-11) so wonderfully describes. The voice which is upon the waters--full of majesty, the voice which breaketh the cedars; the voice which divideth the flames of fire. When David thus extolled the voice of the Lord, he shows the demands of that voice. “Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the Glory due unto His Name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” And that voice, though terrible in majesty, will bring peace. “The LORD will bless His people with peace.” What a scene it must have been there in the land of Uz, when the voice of the LORD spoke out of the whirlwind! We can imagine how good Elihu stepped aside and covered his face. And Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, terror-stricken, fell on their faces in the dust, while silent Job, awe-struck, dares not to look up. And what He speaks is for the one great purpose to humble Job, to bring him in the dust.

Job’s last utterance was this: “Oh, that the Almighty would answer me” (31:35). He answers him now. “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” What a blunder expositors have made of speaking of Elihu’s gentle words, and true words, as “a harsh judgment” and that God rebukes him in this verse. No; God does not rebuke Elihu who had exalted His Name and His works. He rebukes Job. He had darkened counsel by the multitude of his senseless words. God answers Job. He is going to ask him questions.

Job 38:4-38. If we were to examine these questions minutely, which the compass of our work does not allow, we would have to write many pages. There are 40 questions which the Lord asks of Job, His creature, concerning His own works in creation. They relate to the earth and its foundations upon which all rests. the bounds of the sea--

When I decreed for it My boundary

And set its bars and doors and to it said,

Thus far-no farther, ocean, thou shalt come:

And here shall thy proud waves be stayed.

He asks about the morning light and the unknown depths, the unexplored depths of the sea, with their hidden secrets, and the gates of death. He questions as to the elements, the treasuries of the snow, the storehouse of hail, the rain, the winds and the ice--

Whose is the womb whence cometh forth the ice?

And heaven’s hoar-frost, who gave it its birth?

As turned to stone, the waters hide themselves;

The surface of the deep, congeal’d, coheres.

And what about the things above, the stars and their wonderful constellations?

Canst thou bind fast the cluster Pleiades?

Or canst thou loosen great Orion’s bands?

Canst thou lead forth the Zodiac’s monthly signs?

Or canst thou guide Arcturus and his sons?

And then the rain clouds, the lightnings and their control. What questions these are. They cover every department of what man terms “natural sciences”--geology, meteorology, geography, oceanography, astronomy, etc. Job had not a single answer to these questions and if he had spoken his words would have been folly. And we, 3000 years or more after, with all our boasted progress, scientific discoveries of the great laws of nature, are still unable to answer these questions in a satisfactory way. All the boastings of science of getting at the secrets of creation are nothing but foam. One breath of the Almighty and man’s speculations, apart from Him and His Word, are scattered to the winds. But what is the aim of the Lord in putting these questions? To show that God is greater than man and to humble man, to bring Job to the needed true knowledge of himself and to deliver him from the pride of his heart.


Verse 39

CHAPTERS 38:39--39:30

1. The beasts of prey (Job 38:39-41)

2. The wild goats, the ass, the unicorn and the ostrich (Job 39:1-18)

3. The horse, the hawk and the eagle (Job 39:19-30)

Job 38:39-41. God’s own wisdom and power in nature, as witnessed to by Himself, is followed by His witness as to the sustenance of His creatures, how mercifully He provides for their need. This section begins with the query, “Knowest thou?” Could he hunt the prey of the lion, or fill the ravenous appetite of their young? God considers the young, even so unclean a bird as the raven has its food provided by God. Wonderful it is to read that the young ravens in their helplessness cry to God. The beasts acknowledge the Creator by their instincts and look to Him for food, though it be not the sweet song of a lark, but only the croak of a raven. How it reminds us of the witness of the same Creator who speaks here, when He was clothed in creature’s form. “Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them. How much more are ye better than the fowls” (Luke 12:24). And striking it is that He begins by calling Job’s attention to the wild beasts first, though they are now man’s enemy through man’s sin. God in His infinite wisdom and benevolence cares for them.

Job 39:1-18. Then what about the goats of the rock and their young? His omniscient eye beheld them out in the desert rocks and He watched over their young. Could He then not watch the footsteps of His higher creature, even His offspring, man? Then the wild ass, also a desert animal. He cannot be tamed. God made him so. The unicorn (the aurochs) with his strength is known to God also. He has the power to make him the willing slave; man cannot do it. And the peacock with its goodly wings and the ostrich, which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust. Who takes care of these hidden eggs, which the foot might crush and wild beasts break? It would be amusing, if it were not so sad, when critics declare that the author of “the poem” made a mistake when he speaks of the eggs of the ostrich. But it is not an “author” who speaks, but the Creator Himself and He knows more about His creatures than all the “scientists” in the world.

Job 39:19-30. Next the description of the noble horse. Did Job give the war horse his strength or clothe the neck with the rustling mane, or make him leap like the locust? The picture of the war horse in battle is sublime also. God shows to Job a glimpse of His works, and the wisdom which has created them, as well as His care in keeping them. Such a God is He whom Job has maligned.

The hawk too may teach him a lesson. Is it by Job’s instructions that the hawk soars high into the air, and is it by his command that the eagle mounts and builds his nest in the dizzy heights, from where he spys his prey? No answer could Job give. His silence is assent. God is great and unsearchable and Job but the rebellious worm of the dust.

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Job 38:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/job-38.html. 1913-1922.

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