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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 37

 

 

Verse 1

CHAP. XXXVII.

Elihu goes on to set forth the greatness and wisdom of the works of God.

Before Christ 1645.


Verse 3

Job 37:3. He directeth it under the whole heaven Its flash is beneath the whole heavens, and its blaze unto the ends of the earth. Schultens and Heath.


Verse 6

Job 37:6. Likewise to the small rain And to the rain dropped plentifully, and to the storms of rain, Be ye violent. The meaning of the next verse is, that, through the violent storm here mentioned, a stop is put to all the labours of man. By the same storm, Job 37:8 the wild beasts are driven into their dens.


Verse 10

Job 37:10. By the breath of God frost is given By the breath of God he giveth ice, and he swelleth the waters by the thaw: Job 37:11. Fair weather also disperseth the cloud; his sun scattereth the cloud abroad; Job 37:12. This also [the sun] by his wisdom performeth its revolution, that men may execute whatever he commandeth them upon the face of the earth.


Verse 13

Job 37:13. He causeth it to come See chap. Job 38:23. It seems to me not improbable, says Bp. Sherlock, that these reflections arose from the methods made use of by Providence (not worn out of memory in the time of the writer of this book) in punishing the old world, in consequence of the purse laid upon the ground. Such methods they are, by which the ground may at any time be cursed, and the toil and labour of men increased to what degree God thinks fit. And it is to be noted, that the blessing promised to Noah, upon the restoration of the earth, is expressed by the regular successions which should continue from that time, of seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter; which is but a promise, in other words, that the hail and snow, and the waters of heaven, should be no longer instruments of judgment, but of mercy. In the 33th chapter God is introduced as setting forth his own great works of wisdom and power; He laid the foundations of the earth; he shut up the sea with doors; he commanded the morning and the day-spring: after which it follows, from the wicked, their light is withholden. This passage might be thought to allude to the Egyptian darkness, did it not refer to a much older date, and stand among the earliest of God's works, as an instance of his power from the beginning. The same reflection occurs in this writer more than once; it is mentioned again, chap. 9: and numbered among the judgments of God: He commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, and sealeth up the stars. Again, chap. 36: after mention made of the clouds, and of light, it follows, By them judgeth he the people. To what ancient piece of history do all these allusions refer? We have nothing remaining upon record to which the application may be made. This only I find, that when God restored the earth, and gave his blessing to Noah, one promise is, day and night shall not cease: a strong intimation that clouds and darkness, storms and tempests, had greatly prevailed before for the punishment of the old world. See Bp. Sherlock on the Use and Intent of Prophecy, p. 218.


Verse 15

Job 37:15. Dost thou know when God disposed them Dost thou know when God fixed his curb upon them, and caused, &c.? See Schultens and Heath. This passage is by Grotius, and many other learned commentators, supposed to refer to the rainbow; when God laid his commands on the elements that they should no more destroy the world by water, and set his bow in the cloud as a sign to man.


Verse 16

Job 37:16. Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, &c.— Art thou acquainted with the balance of the atmosphere, the wonders of perfect wisdom? Heath.


Verse 19

Job 37:19. Teach us what we shall say The author here gives us an evident proof of his great skill in the management of the drama, as he by degrees prepares us for the appearance of the Almighty. His awful harbingers, the thunder and lightning, at a distance had announced his coming. Elihu then trembled, and his heart was ready to leap out of his breast, Job 37:1. But at his nearer approach, he is in the utmost hurry and confusion: he is afraid to open his mouth; he is lost in amazement. The glory of God is too dazzling for mortal eyes to bear. The 20th and 21st verses may be rendered, Could what I say be reported to him? Can a man speak, when he is swallowed up in amazement? Job 37:21. Even now men cannot behold the bright light when the wind passeth over, and scowereth them clean; Job 37:22. And fair weather cometh from the north.—As to God, terrible is the majesty of the Almighty: we cannot, &c. The argument in the 21st verse is to this effect: "Man cannot bear to look at the sun when he shineth in his lustre; how much less on that tremendous blaze of glory which surrounds the throne of the Almighty!" See Schultens and Heath.


Verse 23

Job 37:23. He will not afflict He oppresseth not. Heath. He will not be controuled. Houb. The words wise of heart, at the end of the next verse, may be rendered, wise in their own conceit. It is a sarcasm of the same kind with that in the 4th verse of the former chapter. Mr. Peters thinks that our translation, He will not afflict, is right. The expression is absolute, and wants some little explication. The prophet Jeremiah gives it us, and that a very just and beautiful one, by the addition of a word; Lamentations 3:22. God doth not afflict willingly, or from his heart: he takes no pleasure in the doing of it: it is his work indeed, but a strange work, as Isaiah elegantly terms it, chap. Job 28:21. It seems extremely plain, that Jeremiah borrowed his expression from Job.

And now Elihu, having set forth God's omnipotence in the strongest colours that he was able, concludes with an observation very applicable to the subject of dispute before them; that God and his ways are incomprehensible by us; that, nevertheless, as he is infinitely powerful and just, we are to conclude that he never sends affliction without cause; and that our duty, therefore, is to fear him, and to submit implicitly to his will; for that all human wisdom is nothing in respect to the wisdom of God. As this speaker performs the part of a moderator, he seems to have observed the errors on both sides, and to have hit upon the point where the controversy ought to rest; namely, the unsearchable depth of the divine wisdom; with a persuasion, that God, who is acknowledged on all hands to be infinitely powerful and just, will certainly find a way to clear up all the irregularities, as they now appear to us, in the methods of his providence, and bring this intricate and perplexed scene at last to a beautiful and regular close. The great fault of the speech seems to be this; that he bears too hard upon Job; and his reproofs, though there were some grounds for them, are nevertheless too harsh and severe. Nay, where he endeavours to repeat what Job had said, he gives it for the most part a wrong turn, or sets it in some very disadvantageous light. The silence of this good man, therefore, during this long speech of Elihu, may be considered as none of the least remarkable instances of his patience; but as he was convinced that one part of the charge brought against him was but too true, (namely, that he had been now and then too hasty and intemperate in his expressions,) he was resolved not to increase the fault by entering anew into the controversy: but by his silence and attention here, and suffering his passions to subside, he was the better prepared to receive the following speech from Jehovah, with that profound humility and that absolute submission which became him.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, If, as is by some suggested, at this time the rolling thunders were at a distance heard, with lightnings flashing round, and thickening clouds portending the approaching storm, there will be something more peculiarly beautiful and applicable in this description of Elihu.

1. He professes his own reverential fear at the awful scene, and addresses Job to pay attention to the voice which these mighty thunders uttered. Note; There is something in thunder inexpressibly awful, and it should ever remind us of that glorious God who maketh the thunder.

2. He describes the tremendous appearance. God himself directs the storm, bids the lightnings flash, the thunders roll, and points the mark against which these instruments of destruction are levelled; and in every nation this voice is heard. The flash precedes, and gives the warning of the terrible explosion; and the interval is, according to the distance of the cloud, proportionably longer or shorter, the motion of light being so much swifter than of sound. And he will not slay them when his voice is heard, torrents of rain usually succeeding. Thus doth God speak to the astonished world, marvellous in his works and above our comprehension; how little need we wonder then, if in his providence mysteries appear which we cannot fathom!

2nd, Elihu recounts other instances of the deep and unsearchable wonders which God works. At his word the snow covers the earth; the rain, obedient to his will, descends in gentle dews, or like dreadful cataracts. Driven from the plough, and the road, the traveller seeks the covert, and the labourer retires. Yea, the very beasts fly to their dens, till the tempest be overpast. From the south, or from his chamber, the resistless whirlwind rushes, and bleak northern blasts bring winter's cold. The straitened waters feel the freezing breath of God, and, bound in crystal fetters, cease to flow. Thick clouds arise, when the dissolving frost emits more copious vapours; and in vast bodies the collected waters float on air till, wearied with watering, exhausted of their stores in wintry showers, they are dissipated before the vernal sun. Then bright clouds appear, not charged with storm or rain, but scattered light over the blue expanse. All things are ordered by his counsels, and come and go at his pleasure; sometimes as instruments of mercy; and sometimes as instruments of judgment, sent for correction, when inclement seasons, black with famine, spread their baneful influence, and inundations rising threaten a returning deluge: Again, they are sent on errands of mercy to the land, when sun and clouds, and rain and snow, conspire to fertilize the soil, and crown the happy spot on which his favour rests, with overflowing vats of wine and oil, or vallies thick with corn. Note; (1.) Since every kind of weather comes from a Divine providence and from unerring wisdom, it is sinful to complain. (2.) Shall beasts be wise to fly for shelter against the storm, and shall not man, a sinner, more provident, seek under the shadow of Jesus a covert from the deluge of divine wrath? (3.) Do all the creatures, thus obedient to the will of God, fulfil his pleasure, and shall we be the only rebels in the creation, and refuse his government and guidance? (4.) If fruitful seasons glad the year, may we never abuse the plenty; but in the gifts behold the giver! If for correction the heavens are made as brass over us; and the earth as iron beneath us refuse to yield its increase, let us hear the rod, and who hath appointed it. Elihu calls upon Job to attend diligently to his speech, and with solemn consideration to weigh well what he had spoken of their wondrous works of God, as an argument for submission to every dispensation; which, however strange to us, is ordered by him whose understanding is infinite. God alone is all-wise, and perfect in knowledge; but as to us, even the wisest, how small a part of his ways can we understand? Dost thou know how God fills the air with his stores of rain, or snow, or vapours? when or where they shall descend? how the rays of light became so beautifully painted on the cloud in the rainbow by the refrangibility of their colours, and by other secondary causes? by what mechanism these floating bodies are suspended, nor rush at once in cataracts to the earth? how our garments are warm, when, after winter's cold, the milder breath of summer stills the earth? These, with innumerable other things, however obvious in their effects, have mysteries in them which no human wisdom can unfold; and, as none can comprehend these wonders, none can pretend to have shared with God in any of his works. Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, firm, and permanent; and as a molten looking-glass, bright and clear, without a flaw, reflecting the glory of the great Creator. Lost in the immensity and unfathomable abyss of God's wondrous work, he bids Job speak, if he dared pretend to fathom these mysteries, where the wisdom of man gropes for the wall as blind, and we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness. Both darkness of the fallen mind within, and darkness in the mysterious subject without, prevent our conceiving or expressing ourselves with any precision or clearness on the subject. Far, therefore, from wishing that God should be told how well he had spoken, he trembles for himself, conscious how insufficient the best that he could say must appear, where the depth of the matter swallowed up the speaker. Or this last verse declares his disclaiming all attempt to vindicate Job's cause, where the wisest advocate must be immediately confounded. Note; When we speak of God, his being and perfections, we are all lost in astonishment: if we contemplate his works of creation or providence, our shallow line is quickly run out; if we look into his mysteries of grace, and attempt to speak of them, we find a height and length, and breadth and depth, which passeth created knowledge.

3rdly, Perceiving probably the appearance of the glorious God, enveloped with dark clouds of the sky, and clothed with the whirlwind, Elihu hastens to conclude.

1. He observes, that the sun is darkened with clouds, but the wind disperses them, and from the north cometh fair weather. So, though God approached in terrible majesty, the storm would blow over, and Job's afflictions issue in the sun-shine of prosperity.

2. He closes his discourse with some short but weighty considerations. God's glory is infinite: his perfections unsearchable; his power almighty; his judgments righteous; and all his dispensations display infinite justice; so that none has the least reason of complaint. He delights not in man's sufferings, will never afflict him beyond his deserts, and ever with a design to do him good, where good can be done. Most justly therefore do good men reverence, fear, and submit to him. He respecteth not any that are wise of heart, who, instead of humble submission, indulge their proud reasonings: their censures he disregards, and, instead of altering his procedure, they may expect to be continued under the marks of his displeasure.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 37:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-37.html. 1801-1803.

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