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Bible Commentaries
Job 38

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-15

The Manifestation of God's Majesty in Creation

v. 1. Then the Lord answered Job, who had repeatedly challenged Him to explain His manner of acting, Cf 31, 35, out of the whirlwind, the tempest itself being a manifestation of the almighty power of God, and said,

v. 2. Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? In permitting Job to suffer, the Lord was not acting in a capricious, arbitrary way, but according to a plan which He considered good, which Job, however, without a proper understanding of God's motives, was distorting and questioning; hence the challenge of God.

v. 3. Gird up now thy loins like a man, like a hero ready for battle; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou Me. Job should show his wisdom and therefore his right to criticize by the proper explanation of the phenomena which the Lord intended to discuss.

v. 4. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if thou hast understanding. No human being having been present at the creation of the world, no human being can presume to tell God's secrets concerning its making; the finite mind cannot grasp the infinite wisdom of the Creator.

v. 5. Who hath laid the measures thereof if thou knowest? so that Job should know the proportions and plans; for the figure is taken from an architects' plans and sketches. Or who hath stretched the line upon it? The thought implied is this, that the Architect of the universe, who planned and executed such a magnificent building, must be far beyond human comprehension and criticism.

v. 6. Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? That is, on what kind of foundation are its pillars sunken? What takes it stand so firm and safe? Or who laid the corner-stone thereof, with the certainty of a trained builder,

v. 7. when the morning stars, all the heavenly host, creatures of the highest brilliance, sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy, in celebrating the festal occasion? Light and beauty and song attended the creation of the world; the highest and most splendid creatures raised their voices in songs of praise.

v. 8. Or who shut up the sea with doors, penning it up in the bed of the ocean, when it brake forth as if it had issued out of the womb, when order was established out of chaos and the raging and swelling waters were separated from the dry land, Genesis 1, 9?

v. 9. When I made the cloud the garment thereof, wrapping the mighty ocean in swaddling-clothes, like a helpless infant, and thick darkness, that of the heaviest cloud-covering, a swaddling-band for it,

v. 10. and brake up for it My decreed place, setting its bounds in the abysses of the deep , and set bars and doors, as for a wild and unruly creature,

v. 11. and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? God Himself has placed the boundary and the dam for the ocean's pride, and without His permission not one billow can overstep the bounds.

v. 12. Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days, with power to make its light rise in the east ever since he was born, and caused the dayspring, the dawn of the morning, to know his place, so that it knows just where to appear on the horizon in the various seasons of the year,

v. 13. that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, taking hold of them as of the fringes of an outspread carpet, that the wicked might be shaken out of it, as dirt is shaken out of a rug? The allusion is to the fact that the evil-doers of the night season cease to ply their trade with the coming of the morning.

v. 14. It is turned as clay to the seal, the earth's surface changing with the coming of morning like signet-clay, all its contours and forms standing out sharply; and they stand as a garment, all the prairies, hills, valleys, trees, and all other objects being set forth in all the various forms and colors of a beautiful garment.

v. 15. And from the wicked their light is withholden, the darkness which they love and which they need for their sinful pursuits, and the high arm shall be broken, the uplifted arm of violence sinking down as the light of day comes. These are some of the facts of creation which set forth the almighty majesty of God, which no man is able adequately to explain.

Verses 16-27

God's Majesty in the Forces of NatuRev. 16. Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea, the great fountains of the deep, Genesis 7, 11? Or hast thou walked in the search of the depth, to examine the ocean's bottom and discover its secrets?

v. 17. Have the gates of death been opened unto thee, so that Job was familiar with the realm of the dead? Or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death, so that he could examine them and bring back the knowledge which is beyond death?

v. 18. Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth, observing and examining it to its very limits? Declare if thou knowest it all; for God knows all this, and he who would criticize God should have the same understanding.

v. 19. Where is the way where light dwelleth? Could Job explain the phenomenon of light and tell where it originally came from? And as for darkness, where is the place thereof,

v. 20. that thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, tracing both light and darkness to the place where they originated, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof? In spite of the most careful investigations the secrets connected with light and darkness have not been revealed.

v. 21. Knowest thou it because thou wast then born? Was Job present at the creation of light, so that he understood all its secrets, or because the number of thy days is great? In a sharply ironical veil the Lord reminds Job of the fact that he is not eternal and therefore could not possess the information to which reference is here made.

v. 22. Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Did Job have access to the immense storehouses from which it came in such immeasurable quantities? Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,

v. 23. which I have reserved against the time of trouble, for seasons of distress upon mankind, against the day of battle and war? For both snow and hail sometimes serve the purposes of the divine government in the world.

v. 24. By what way is the light parted, that is, what road leads there, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? Both the light and the east wind defy the calculation of men in the swiftness of their changes and in many other points connected with their phenomena.

v. 25. Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, conducting the rain-torrents through the thick masses of cloud to such portions of the earth as the Lord intended to moisten, or a way for the lightning of thunder,

v. 26. to cause it to rain on the earth where no man is, in uninhabited regions, where human beings have no interests; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man, none to be personally interested, God's providence alone having such a wide range of vision;

v. 27. to satisfy the desolate and waste ground, the wilderness being thought of as a parched wanderer, and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? Not only in inhabited districts of the world does God exhibit His providential care, but also in such about which the average person never or rarely thinks: so much greater is He than mere man.

Verses 28-38

God's Majesty in the Wonders above the Earth

v. 28. Hath the rain a father, as it drops down from the clouds of the sky? Or who hath begotten the drops of dew, which assemble from the vapor of the atmosphere above, and are therefore also brought into direct relation to God?

v. 29. Out of whose womb came the ice? A mother is assumed here because ice is associated with the earth. And the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?

v. 30. The waters are hid as with a stone, drawing themselves together in a rigid mass as the frost takes hold of them, and the face of the deep is frozen, hanging together in a solid mass.

v. 31. Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, the band of that constellation of springtime, in the larger constellation of Taurus, or loose the bands of Orion, the cords which hold this constellation to its place in the heavens, causing the stars to fall to the ground?

v. 32. Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth, a very bright constellation, in his season? Or canst thou guide Arcturus, the Great Bear of the northern sky, with his sons?

v. 33. Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven, the laws which guide the stars in their courses? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? Did Job possess the authority and power to regulate the influence of the heavens and their stars upon earthly destinies?

v. 34. Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, in commanding them to yield their moisture, that abundance of waters may cover thee?

v. 35. Canst thou send lightnings that they may go, at the command of Job, and say unto thee, Here we are, namely, at his disposal, ready to do his bidding?

v. 36. Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts, teaching the dark clouds how to perform their work in the world? Or who hath given understanding to the heart, to the creatures of the atmosphere, so that the clouds know their arrangement in the various circumstances?

v. 37. Who can number the clouds in wisdom, appointing to them their number and extent? Or who can stay the bottles of heaven, who tilts them, who pours out their liquid contents,

v. 38. when the dust groweth into hardness, becoming a firm mass as in the rain-water molds its particles together, and the clods cleave fast together, caking into a hard mass? In all these things God is supreme, all the forces of the atmosphere and of the sky being subject to Him, by whose laws they are guided. The insignificance of man stands out all the more strongly by contrast.

Verses 39-41

God's Power in the Animal Kingdom

v. 39. Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion, or the lioness, or fill the appetite of the young lions, appeasing their constant craving for food,

v. 40. when they crouch in their dens, in the thickets where they have their lairs, and abide in the covert to lie in wait, always on the lookout for possible prey?

v. 41. Who provideth for the raven his food when his young ones cry unto God? They wander for lack of meat, their voracious appetite never being satisfied. Cf Psalms 147:9. God performs as a matter of course what all men could never hope and undertake to do, this providential care placing Him far above all creatures.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 38". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/job-38.html. 1921-23.
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