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Print Version Main Index : Commentaries : Wesley's Notes : Job Index : Chapter 38

Job, Chapter 38
Chapter 37 | Chapter 39
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Bible Version
Cross Reference
Matthew Henry
JFB Commentary
Wesley's Notes
Geneva Study Bible
View Job 38 in the note window.

God begins with an awakening challenge, ver. 1 - 3. Proceeds to several proofs of Job's inability to contend with him, because of his ignorance and weakness: for he knew nothing of the founding of the earth, ver. 4 - 7. The limiting of the sea, ver. 8 - 11. Of the morning light, ver. 12 - 15. The recesses of the sea and earth, ver. 16 - 21. Of the treasures in the clouds, ver. 22 - 27. He could do nothing toward the making of his own soul, the producing of rain, frost, lightning, or the directing of the stars and their influences, ver. 28 - 38. He could not provide for the lions or the ravens, ver. 39 - 41. How then should he direct God's secret counsels? Here God takes up the argument, begun by Elihu, and prosecutes it in inimitable words, exceeding his, and all other mens in the loftiness of the style, as much as thunder does a whisper.

1: Lord - The eternal word, Jehovah, the same who spake from mount Sinai. Answered - Out of a dark and thick cloud, from which he sent a tempestuous wind, as the harbinger of his presence. In this manner God appears and speaks to awaken Job and his friends, to the more serious attention to his words; and to testify his displeasure both against Job, and them, that all of them might be more deeply humbled and prepared to receive, and retain the instructions which God was about to give them.

2: Counsel - God's counsel. For the great matter of the dispute between Job and his friends, was concerning God's counsel and providence in afflicting Job; which Job had endeavoured to obscure and misrepresent. This first word which God spoke, struck Job to the heart. This he repeats and echoes to, (Job 42:3), as the arrow that stuck fast in him.

3: Gird up - As warriors then did for the battle.

4: Where - Thou art but of yesterday; and dost thou presume to judge of my eternal counsels! When - When I settled it as firm upon its own center as if it had been built upon the surest foundations.

5: Measures - Who hath prescribed how long and broad and deep it should be. Line - the measuring line to regulate all its dimensions.

6: Foundations - This strong and durable building hath no foundations but God's power, which hath marvelously established it upon itself. Cornerstone - By which the several walls are joined and fastened together, and in which, next to the foundations, the stability of a building consists. The sense is, who was it that built this goodly fabrick, and established it so firmly that it cannot be moved.

7: Stars - The angels, who may well be called morning - stars, because of their excellent lustre and glory. Sons of God - The angels called the sons of God, because they had their whole being from him, and because they were made partakers of his Divine and glorious image. Shouted - Rejoiced in and blessed God for his works, whereby he intimates, that they neither did advise or any way assist him, nor dislike or censure any of his works, as Job had presumed to do.

8: Doors - Who was it, that set bounds to the vast and raging ocean, and shut it up, as it were with doors within its proper place, that it might not overflow the earth? Break forth - From the womb or bowels of the earth, within which the waters were for the most part contained, and out of which they were by God's command brought forth into the channel which God had appointed for them.

9: The cloud - When I covered it with vapours and clouds which rise out of the sea, and hover above it, and cover it like a garment. Darkness - Black and dark clouds. Swaddling band - Having compared the sea to a new - born infant, he continues the metaphor, and makes the clouds as swaddling - bands, to keep it within its bounds: though indeed neither clouds, nor air, nor sands, nor shores, can bound the sea, but God alone.

10: Break up - Made those hollow places in the earth, which might serve for a cradle to receive and hold this great and goodly infant when it came out of the womb. And set - Fixed its bounds as strongly as if they were fortified with bars and doors.

12: Morning - Didst thou create the sun, and appoint the order and succession of day and night. Since - Since thou wast born: this work was done long before thou wast born. To know - To observe the punctual time when, and the point of the heavens where it should arise; which varies every day.

13: That - That this morning light should in a moment spread itself, from one end of the hemisphere to the other. Shaken - From the face of the earth. And this effect the morning - light hath upon the wicked, because it discovers them, whereas darkness hides them; and because it brings them to condign punishment, the morning being the usual time for executing judgment.

14: It - The earth. Turned - Is changed in its appearance. By the seal - The seal makes a beautiful impression upon the clay, which in itself hath no form, or comeliness. So the earth, which in the darkness of night lies like a confused heap without either form or beauty, when the light arises and shines upon it, appears in excellent order and glory. They - The men and things of the earth, whether natural, as living creatures, herbs and trees; or artificial, as houses or other buildings. Stand - Present themselves to our view. Garment - Wherewith the earth is in a manner clothed and adorned.

15: Withheld - That light which enjoyed by others is withholden from them, either by their own choice, because they chuse darkness rather than light; or by the judgment of God, or the magistrate, by whom they are cut off from the light of the living. Arms - Their great strength which they used to the oppression of others.

16: Springs - Heb. the tears; the several springs out of which the waters of the sea flow as tears do from the eyes. Walked - Hast thou found out the utmost depth of the sea, which in divers places could never be reached by the wisest mariner? And how then canst thou fathom the depths of my counsels?

17: Death - Hast thou seen, or dost thou know the place and state of the dead; the depths and bowels of that earth in which the generality of dead men are buried. Death is a grand secret? We know not when or by what means we shall be brought to death: by what road we must go the way, whence we shall not return. We cannot describe what death is; how the knot is untied between soul and body, or how the spirit goes "To be we know not what, and live we know not how." With what dreadful curiosity does the soul launch out into an untried abyss? We have no correspondence with separate souls, nor any acquaintance with their state. It is an unknown, undiscovered region, to which they are removed. While we are here in a world of sense, we speak of the world of spirits, as blind men do of colours, and when we remove thither, shall be amazed to find how much we were mistaken.

18: Breadth - The whole compass and all the parts of it?

19: Dwelleth - Hath its constant and settled abode. Whether goes the sun when it departs from this hemisphere? Where is the tabernacle and the chamber in which he is supposed to rest? And seeing there was a time when there was nothing but gross darkness upon the face of the earth, what way came light into the world? Which was the place where light dwelt at that time, and whence was it fetched? And whence came that orderly constitution and constant succession of light and darkness? Was this thy work? Or wast thou privy to it, or a counsellor, or assistant in it?

20: Take it - Bring or lead it: and this it refers principally to the light, and to darkness, as the consequent of the other. Bound - Its whole course from the place of its abode whence it is supposed to come, to the end of its journey. Know - Where thou mayst find it, and whence thou mayst fetch it.

22: Treasures - Dost thou know where I have laid up those vast quantities of snow and hail which I draw forth when I see fit?

23: Trouble - When I intend to bring trouble upon any people for their sins.

24: Distributed - In the air, and upon the face of the earth. This is variously distributed in the world, shining in one place and time, when it doth not shine in another, or for a longer time, or with greater brightness and power than it doth in another. All which are the effects of God's infinite wisdom and power, and such as were out of Job's reach to understand. Which - Which light scattereth, raises the east - wind, and causes it to blow hither and thither upon the earth? For as the sun is called by the poets, the father of the winds, because he draws up those exhalations which give matter to the winds, so in particular the east - wind is often observed to rise together with the sun.

25: Overflowing - For the showers of rain which come down orderly, and gradually, as if they were conveyed in pipes or channels; which, without the care of God's providence, would fall confusedly, and overwhelm the earth. Lightning - For lightning and thunder? Who opened a passage for them out of the cloud in which they were imprisoned? And these are joined with the rain, because they are commonly accompanied with great showers of rain.

26: To cause - That the clouds being broken by lightning and thunder might pour down rain. No man - To water those parts by art and industry, as is usual in cultivated places.

27: To bring forth - Hitherto God has put such questions to Job, as were proper to convince him of his ignorance. Now he comes to convince him of his impotence. As it is but little that he can know, and therefore he ought not to arraign the Divine counsels, so it is but little he can do; and therefore he ought not to oppose Divine providence.

28: Father - Is there any man that can beget or produce rain at his pleasure?

31: Bind - Restrain or hinder them. Pleiades - The seven stars, which bring in the spring. Bands - By which it binds up the air and earth, by bringing storms of rain and hail or frost and snow. Orion - This constellation rises in November, and brings in winter. Both summer and winter will have their course? God indeed can change them when he pleases, can make the spring cold, and so bind the influences of Pleiades, and the winter warm, and so loose the bands of Orion; but we cannot.

32: Bring forth - Canst thou make the stars in the southern signs arise and appear? Arcturus - Those in the northern. His sons - The lesser stars, which are placed round about them; and attend upon them, as children upon their parents.

33: Ordinances - The laws which are firmly established concerning their order, motion, or rest, and their powerful influences upon this lower world. Didst thou give these laws? Or dost thou perfectly know them? Canst thou - Manage and over rule their influences.

34: Cover thee - Thy land when it needs rain.

38: Mire - By reason of much rain.

39: Hunt - Is it by thy care that the lions who live in desert places are furnished with necessary provisions? This is another wonderful work of God.

41: Raven - Having mentioned the noblest of brute creatures, he now mentions one of the most contemptible; to shew the care of God's providence over all creatures, both great and small. Their young ones are so soon forsaken by their dams, that if God did not provide for them in a more than ordinary manner, they would be starved to death. And will he that provides for the young ravens, fail to provide for his own children.

Chapter 37 | Chapter 39
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