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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Job 40

 

 

Verses 1-24

GOD'S CHALLENGE AND JOB'S RESPONSE

(vv.1-5)

Job had said that if God would only listen to him, he would present his whole case in showing how God was unfair in His dealings (ch.33:3-5). Therefore now God gives Job opportunity to do this. He asks Job, "Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it" (v.2). Where were Job's arguments then? How withering were God's words to the unseemly pride of Job!

He says, "Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer; yes, twice, but I will proceed no further" (vv.4-5). Job goes deeper here than apologising for what he has said, for he expresses his judgment of himself personally. Indeed, how true it is that we ourselves, in our sinful nature, are worse than the worst thing we have ever said or done. Then he judges also what he had spoken more than once, and says he lays his hand over his mouth, just as Romans 3:19 says of all mankind, "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."

GOD'S FURTHER QUESTIONS TO JOB

(40:6 - 41:34)

The whirlwind had continued a long time, and is still blowing when the Lord speaks in these verses. The whirlwind itself was intended to impress Job with the fact that every circumstance of swirling troubles and confusion was under the controlling hand of the Creator. "The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet" (Nahum 1:3).

"Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me" (v.7). These questions of the Lord continue through chapter 41, so that Job's answer is found in chapter 42:1-6. But the Lord had deeper work to accomplish in Job's soul, and His questions probe the depths of Job's heart as Job had never expected to be probed.

The Lord had told Job to prepare himself like a man to answer the questions God would ask. Now He asks him first, "Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?" How withering are such words! - but Job needed them, for he had inferred that God was unfair, while he himself was righteous! Such pride needed to be brought down to the dust. At least, power was not on Job's side, but with God. Had he an arm like God?. Could he speak in thunder, as God does? Let him adorn himself with majesty and splendour, with glory and beauty, and disperse the rage of his wrath (vv.10-11). God could do this. Could Job? Rather, at the very thought of such power, Job should be impressed with his own utter impotence. But he is further told, "Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him. Tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together, bind their faces in darkness. Then I will also confess to you that your own right hand can save you" (vv.12-14) The irony of such words is evident; Job needed humbling himself. How could he even hope to humble others? But there are many proud people today. We are helpless to humble any of them, but God will bring down the pride of everyone to the dust.

Could Job's right hand save him? (v.14). No more than that he could humble everyone who is proud. Job had to learn that only the living God is the Saviour, and that He saves, not those who deserve it but those who are humbled to the dust to recognise they deserve nothing but judgment. God saves by grace, through the great value of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus at Calvary. Of course at that time Job knew nothing of that great sacrifice, but he could still know that he was a sinner, dependent only on the grace of God.

BEHEMOTH, A GREAT LAND ANIMAL

(vv.15-24)

Speaking of greatness and power, God draws attention now to a huge animal of great strength, which he calls "behemoth." Some have thought this refers to a hippopotamus, but that animal has a small tail, while behemoth "moves his tail like a cedar" (v.17). Perhaps this animal has now become extinct, for its tail seems to resemble that of a dinosaur. Some think the dinosaurs were destroyed in the flood, others, that some continued after the flood, and later became extinct.

But though behemoth ate grass, like an ox (v.15), his strength was greater than that of the lion, which feeds on meat of other animals. In behemoth every part of his anatomy contributed to his exceptional strength (vv.16-18), his loins, his body, legs and bones and even his tail. Strikingly, we are told, "he is the first of the ways of God" (v.19). God has created him as an object lesson for us of resistless strength. Only the God who made him can bring him down to nothing, symbolically to subject him to the judgment of the sword.

God has supplied food for him also (v.20), while he might lie down without fear of anything, though other beasts practically surrounded him. He is the very picture of self-confident power. Even the river may rage while he is at peace (v.23). He drinks in great amounts of water rather then be drowned in it.

Thus, he is untameable and uncontrollable. Man could do nothing with him as he does with an ox or a horse. Also he was totally selfish: he was of no service to any man or animal. Would Job want to be like this, strong and self-confident, with no real object of being of help to others?

The character of behemoth is similar to that of many strong, capable men, men who know how to subdue others, but have no heart to be of help to them. Does this not remind us of 1 John 2:18, "as you have heard that Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come." Behemoth thus seems to be specially symbolical of Antichrist, since he is a land animal, for Antichrist will rise out of the land (of Israel), as Revelation 13:11 shows us. The first beast of that chapter rises out of the sea (of the Gentile nations), and may well be typified by leviathan, of Job 41:1-34. It is God who has made him, though he refuses to recognise God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 40:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/job-40.html. 1897-1910.

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