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Bible Commentaries
Job 37

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place.

At this - when I hear the thundering of the Divine Majesty. Perhaps the storm already had begun out of which God was to address Job (Job 38:1).

Verse 2

Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth.

Hear attentively - the thunder ("noise"), etc., and then you will feel that there is good reason to tremble.

Sound - muttering of the thunder.

Verse 3

He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth.

Directeth it - however zig-zag the lighting's course; or, rather, it applies to the peeling roll of the thunder. God's all-embracing power is implied.

Ends - literally, wings, skirts, the habitable earth being often compared to an extended garment (Job 38:13; Isaiah 11:12, "the four corners of the earth").

Verse 4

After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard.

After it - after the lightning the voice roareth. The thunder-clap follows at an interval after the flash.

Stay them - He will not hold back the lightnings (Job 37:3) when the thunder is heard (Maurer). Or, not so well, take 'them' as the usual concomitants of thunder-namely, rain and hail (Umbreit). (Job 40:9.)

Verse 5

God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.

Great things ... which we cannot comprehend - (Job 36:26; Psalms 65:6; Psalms 139:14). The sublimity of the description lies in this, that God is everywhere in the storm, directing it where He will (Barnes). See Psalms 29:1-11, where, as here, the "voice of the Lord" (Yahweh) is repeated with grand effect. The thunder in Arabia is sublimely terrible.

Verse 6

For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.

Be - more forcible than 'fall,' as Umbreit translates (Genesis 1:3). [ hªwee' (H1933), from hawaah (H1933), to fall. But this is the Arabic sense. The Septuagint, as the English version, takes the Hebrew as the same as hªyeeh (H1961), the imperative of haayaah (H1961), to be.]

To the small rain ... - He saith, Be on the earth. The shower increasing from "small" to "great" is expressed by the plural showers (margin) following the singular shower. Winter rain (Song of Solomon 2:11).

Verse 7

He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work.

In winter God stops man's out-of-doors activity.

Sealeth - closeth up (Job 9:7). Man's "hands" are then tied up.

His work - in antithesis to man's own work ("hand"), which at other times engages men so as to be liable to forget their dependence on Cod. Umbreit, more literally, translates, That all men whom He has made (literally, of His making) may be brought to acknowledgment; namely, may know and acknowledge themselves to have been made by Him, and, therefore, to be subject to His will and power.

Verse 8

Then the beasts go into dens, and remain in their places.

Remain - rest in their lairs, It is beautifully ordered that, during the cold, when they could not obtain food, many lie torpid-a state wherein they need no food. The desolation of the fields, at God's bidding, is poetically graphic.

Verse 9

Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the north.

South - literally, chamber; connected with the south [ cheder (H2315)] (cf. note, Job 9:9). The whirlwinds are poetically regarded as pent up by God in His south chambers, whence He sends them forth (so Job 38:22; Psalms 135:7, "He bringeth the wind out of His treasuries"). As to the south whirlwinds, see Isaiah 21:1; Zechariah 9:14: they drive before them burning sands; chiefly from February to May.

The north, [ mimzaariym (H4215)] - literally, scatterings, the scattering north winds; the north winds scatter the clouds.

Verse 10

By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straitened.

Frost - rather, ice.

The breath of God - poetically for the ice-producing north wind.

Straitened - physically accurate: frost compresses or contracts the expanded liquid into a congealed mass (Job 38:29-30; Psalms 147:17-18).

Verses 11-13

Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud:

How the thunder-clouds are dispersed, or else employed by God either for correction or mercy.

By watering - by loading it with water.

Wearieth, [ yaTriyach (H2959)] - burdeneth it, so that it falls in rain: thus "wearieth" answers to the parallel "scattereth" (cf. note, Job 37:9); a clear sky resulting alike from both.

Bright cloud - literally, cloud of His light, i:e., of His lightning. Umbreit, for "watering" [ bªriy (H7377), from riy (H7377), watering], etc., translates, 'Brightness drives away the clouds; His light scattereth the thick clouds.' [The Hebrew is thus from baarar, to make clear.] The parallelism is thus good, but the Hebrew hardly sanctions it.

Verse 12. It - the cloud of lightning.

Counsels - guidance (Psalms 148:8) [ tachbuwlowt (H8458)]; literally, steering: the clouds obey God's guidance, as the ship does the helmsman. So the lightning (note, Job 36:31-32); neither is haphazard in its movements.

They - the clouds, implied in the collective singular "it."

Verse 13. Literally, He maketh it (the rain cloud) find place, whether for correction, if (it be destined) for his land

(i:e., for the part inhabited by man, with whom God deals, as opposed to the parts uninhabited, on which rain is at other times appointed to fall Job 38:26-27), or for mercy. 'If it be destined for His land' is a parenthetical supposition (Maurer; who, however, takes "for His land," not as I have suggested above, but for God's earth' - i:e., the whole earth, which is God's). In the English version this clause spoils the even balance of the antithesis between the 'rod' (margin) and "mercy" (Psalms 58:9, is an instance of mercy; Genesis 7:1-24, of the rod).

Verse 14

Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.

(Psalms 111:2.)

Verse 15

Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine? When - rather, how.

Disposed them - lays His charge on [ bªsuwm (H7760) `al (H5921)] these wonders (Job 37:14) to arise.

Light - lightning.

Shine - flash. How is it that light arises from the dark thunder-cloud?

Verse 16

Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?

Hebrew, 'Hast thou understanding of the balancings,' etc., how the clouds are poised in the air, so that their watery gravity does not bring them to the earth? The condensed moisture, descending by gravity, meets a warmer temperature, which dissipates it into vapour (the tendency of which is to ascend) and so counteracts the descending force.

Perfect in knowledge - God: not here in the sense that Elihu uses it of himself (Job 36:4).

Dost thou know - how, etc.

Verse 17

How thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth by the south wind?

Thy garments - i:e., how thy body grows warm, so as to affect thy garments with heat?

South wind - literally, region of the south [ daarowm (H1864)]. 'When He maketh still (and sultry) the earth

(i:e., the atmosphere) by (during) the south wind' (Song of Solomon 4:16).

Verse 18

Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass? Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?

With him - like as he does (Job 40:15).

Spread out - given expanse to.

Strong - firm; whence the term "firmament" (Genesis 1:6; margin, expansion, Isaiah 44:24). Not necessarily meaning solid, as many of the ancients regarded the firmament. At the same time, Elihu describes the works of God according to their phenomenal aspect, rather than their scientific: the Bible being not a treatise on science, but on religion, and therefore, while not contradicting, yet not unfolding science in detail.

Molten looking-glass - image of the bright smiling sky. Mirrors were then formed of molten polished metal, not "glass."

Verse 19

Teach us what we shall say unto him; for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness.

Men cannot explain God's wonders; we ought, therefore, to be dumb, and not contend with God. If Job thinks we ought, let him "teach us what we shall say."

Order - frame.

Darkness - of mind; ignorance. 'The eyes are bewilderingly blinded, when turned in bold controversy with God toward the sunny heavens' (Job 37:18). (Umbreit.)

Verse 20

Shall it be told him that I speak? if a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up.

What I, a mortal, say against God's dealings is not worthy of being told HIM. In opposition to Job's wish to "speak" before God (Job 13:3; Job 13:18-22).

If a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up. The parallelism more favours Umbreit-`Durst a man speak (before Him, complaining), that he is (without cause) being destroyed?'

Verse 21

And now men see not the bright light which is in the clouds: but the wind passeth, and cleanseth them.

Cleanseth - i:e., cleareth the air of clouds. When the "light" of the sun (the same Hebrew is translated light here and sun in Job 31:26), previously 'not seen' through "clouds," suddenly shines out from behind them, owing to 'the wind clearing them away,' the effect is dazzling to the eye; so, if God's majesty, now hidden, were suddenly revealed in all its brightness, it would spread 'darkness' over Job's eyes, anxious as he is for it (cf. note, Job 37:19). (Umbreit.) Translate, literally, 'Now men see not the sun (light); it shineth in (i:e., behind) the clouds; but the wind passeth and cleanseth them.' The Hebrew for "bright" [ baahiyr (H925)] is rather 'it shineth.' It is because 'now man sees not the bright sunlight' (God's dazzling majesty), owing to the intervening "clouds" (Job 26:9), that they dare to wish to "speak" before God (Job 37:20), as Job does. Prelude to God's appearance (Job 38:1). The words also hold true in a sense not intended by Elihu, but perhaps included by the Holy Spirit. Job and other sufferers cannot see the light of God's countenance through the clouds of trial; but the wind will soon clear them off, and God shall appear again: let them but wait patiently, because He still shines, though for a time they see Him not (see note, Job 37:23).

Verse 22

Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God is terrible majesty.

Rather, golden splendour. Maurer translates, gold. It is found in northern regions. But God cannot be 'found out,' because of His "majesty." Thus Job 28:1-28 corresponds; the English version is simpler.

The north - brightness is chiefly associated with it (note, Job 23:9). Here, perhaps, because the north wind clears the air (Proverbs 25:23). Thus this clause answers to the last of Job 37:21, as the second of this verse to the first of Job 37:21. Inverted parallelism. See Isaiah 14:13; Psalms 48:2, as to the association of the north with the Deity.

With God - rather, upon God, as a garment (Psalms 104:1-2).

Majesty - splendour.

Verse 23

Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict. Afflict - oppressively, so as to 'pervert judgment,' as Job implied (note, Job 8:3); but see end of note, Job 21:1-34, above [ lo' (H3808) yª`aneh (H6031)]. The reading, 'He answereth not' [ low' (H3808) ya`ªneh (H6030)] - i:e., gives no account of His dealings-is like a transcriber's correction, from Job 33:13, margin. It is supported by some manuscripts of DeRossi, by the Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, and Gesenius.

Verse 24

Men do therefore fear him: he respecteth not any that are wise of heart.

Do - rather, ought.

Wise - in their own conceits.


(1) None of the operations in nature are haphazard-they are all under God's immediate direction (Job 37:3). The lightning flash has its appointed destination, and fulfils God's pleasure, in perfect obedience to His 'guidance' (Job 37:12). Nor is it only in the more awful phenomena of nature that God's glory is to be discerned, but also in the more ordinary and quiet changes of the weather, frost or snow, showers and rain: all of which God uses as instruments either of chastisement or of mercy (Job 37:13).

(2) We can explain perfectly not one of God's wonderful doings in the visible sky (Job 37:15-18): how presumptuous, then, is it not for such ignorant creatures to think of contending with their Almighty Maker! When we cannot as much as gaze at the dazzling light, of the material sun, bursting forth from behind a cloud, how can we imagine that we can for a moment confront the revealed majesty of the infinitely glorious Yahweh! Every mouth must be stopped, every eye blinded, and every understanding bewildered, of those who dare to enter into controversy with Him. The rebels can only call upon the rocks, Hide us from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne! (Job 37:19-21; Revelation 6:16)

(3) Trials, like clouds, will pass away in God's good time, if we patiently wait and believingly pray. The light always shines, but is not always to be seen: the sun's beams are as bright as ever, but clouds intercept them from us. So God's love is ever the same, but sins and sorrows often, through our unbelief, hide from us the light of His countenance. The Spirit of God is the cleansing wind that clears off from the soul the mists of ignorance, unbelief, and sin. And though we cannot find Him out in His infinite perfections, we are sure, if we be His children, "He will not always chide, neither will He keep His anger for ever" (Psalms 103:9): for His character is that "He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men" (Job 37:23; Lamentations 3:32): and while "He respecteth not the wise of heart'' in their own conceits (Job 37:24), He will withdraw the rod from those in whom correction has completed the end designed-deeper penitence, meekness, and humility.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 37". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-37.html. 1871-8.
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