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Bible Commentaries
Job 37

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Job Chapter 37

Job 37:1 "At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place." The last lesson ended with a terrible storm, that even frightened the cattle. This was a storm that God had sent. This lesson picks up in the middle of the storm. The storm was as frightening to man as it had been to the cattle. Mankind has never learned to control storms. Storms are actions of God, not man.

Job 37:2 "Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound [that] goeth out of his mouth." God spoke to Moses and the people thought it thundered. It is not unusual for the voice of God to be spoken of as thunder. That is not the voice of God, necessarily, but sometimes the thunder is manifest as His voice. God speaks in a still quiet voice at times. His voice fits the occasion, as His actions do. Elihu was just saying, here, they should listen carefully to everything God had to say.

Job 37:3 "He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth." Lightning and thunder seem to cover the entire heavens in a very bad storm.

Job 37:4 "After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard." The thundering seems to follow the lightning by a few minutes. Some people believe you can tell how far away the lightning struck something on the ground, by the length of time between the lightning flash and the time they hear the thunder. No one can be in a thunder storm of great magnitude, and not be in awe of God. It was God who started the thunderstorm, and it must be God who stops it.

Job 37:5 "God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend." Elihu was in awe of the thunderstorm, and realized how marvelous the workings of God were. He, also, realized that this was beyond the comprehension of mankind.

Job 37:6 "For he saith to the snow, Be thou [on] the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength." Snow is a mystery to all people, and especially the orientals, since they see so little snow. I have been told that no two snowflakes are identical. God is in control of all rain, great or small. He, also, determines whether sleet or snow falls. All the elements of nature are at the command of Almighty God.

Job 37:7 "He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work." The hand symbolizes work. To seal the hand would be to stop the work, then. Perhaps, this Scripture, coupled with the one before could mean that during snow time very little work is done.

Job 37:8 "Then the beasts go into dens, and remain in their places." Many animals hibernate when the snow is on the ground. The bear is a good example of that.

Job 37:9 "Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the north." This was a statement of the laws of nature that God set into motion. The south and the southwest are where many tornados come from. This whirlwind, above, was speaking of a very violent storm.

Job 37:10 "By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straitened." In this particular instance, breath, possibly means the will of God. It is God who brings the frost, and it is God who makes it thaw.

Job 37:11 "Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud:" In the very dry countries of the desert, it is very important to have rain to make the crops grow. It is said that God sends the rain in due season to His children.

Job 37:12 "And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth." We discussed that God is in control of all of nature. Everything and everyone was created by God. The creation must obey the commands of its Creator.

Job 37:13 "He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy." God uses different amounts of rain to bless, or to punish. It was God who caused the flood in Noah’s time. He repented that He had made man. He saved Noah and his family because Noah pleased God.

Job 37:14 "Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God." Elihu had said all of this to prove to Job that everything was in the control of God. He wanted Job to believe that God sent his problems to him, because he was out of fellowship with God. We have said so many times in these lessons, that was not the reason at all for Job’s problems. In fact, the opposite was true. Job’s problems came, because he followed God so closely.

Job 37:15 "Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine?" His word to Job was that he could not know when God gave the command for any of these things.

Job 37:16 "Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?" The answer is no. He knew God and His perfect ways, and that was enough for mere man to know. Job, nor anyone else, does not know the workings of God in the clouds.

Job 37:17 "How thy garments [are] warm, when he quieteth the earth by the south [wind]?" The wind from the north is cold and from the south is warm. We do not know why, only God can give that answer. We could say that is part of the law of nature that God established for the earth.

Job 37:18 "Hast thou with him spread out the sky, [which is] strong, [and] as a molten looking glass?" Elihu was making slight remarks to Job. He was insinuating that Job thought he knew as much as God. Job had never said any such thing.

Job 37:19 "Teach us what we shall say unto him; [for] we cannot order [our speech] by reason of darkness." He was speaking in an insulting way to Job. He said, if you are so smart, why do you not teach us? You claim to be in the light, and we must have our understanding darkened. He had no idea how true his statement really was.

Job 37:20 "Shall it be told him that I speak? if a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up." No one had to tell God what Elihu had said. God had heard every word. Elihu said, if a man spoke directly to God, he would be killed.

Job 37:21 "And now [men] see not the bright light which [is] in the clouds: but the wind passeth, and cleanseth them." The Light of God is so great it outshines the sun. A person cannot look directly at the sun without damaging his eyes. If the Light of God is stronger that the light of the sun, you could see the impossibility of seeing it direct. That Light cleanses everything.

Job 37:22 "Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God [is] terrible majesty." Elihu made a correct observation. Cold weather comes from the north, and generally speaking, fair weather does, too. The majesty of God is beyond the comprehension of man. He is, indeed, a mighty God.

Job 37:23 "[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." Part of Elihu’s statement was true. We cannot find Him out. He is all Power and Judgement and Justice. He does afflict, however. The tenth plague on Egypt was a very good example of that, when all the firstborn of Egypt died. God does not have to answer to man for the actions He takes.

Job 37:24 "Men do therefore fear him: he respecteth not any [that are] wise of heart." All of mankind should fear and respect the God that made them. No man is capable of coming against God. We are nothing compared to His Wisdom, Strength, and Majesty. God should receive our greatest respect. He does not have to answer to man.

Job 37 Questions

1. What was going on when this chapter begins?

2. What was Elihu telling Job to listen attentively to?

3. Lightning and thunder seem to come from where?

4. The thunder seems to follow the lightning by a few _________.

5. How do some people measure how far the lightning is away?

6. Elihu was in awe of the ______________.

7. What is interesting about snowflakes?

8. All the elements of nature are at the command of ___________ _____.

9. The hand symbolizes __________.

10. To seal the hand would be to stop the _________.

11. When do animals hibernate?

12. The whirlwind comes out of the _________.

13. Cold comes out of the _________.

14. Breath, in Job 37:10, possibly, means the ________ of _______.

15. What is very important in the very dry countries of the desert?

16. The creation must obey the ___________.

17. What does God use different amounts of rain for?

18. What did Elihu tell Job to do in Job 37:14?

19. What caused Job’s problems?

20. What is the answer to Job 37:16?

21. What answer does the author give for the south wind being warm?

22. What was Elihu insinuating in Job 37:18?

23. What was he saying to Job in Job 37:19?

24. Who told God what Elihu said?

25. The Light of God is so bright, it outshines the _______.

26. What part of Job 37:23 is true?

27. Who should fear and respect God?

Verses 1-5

Job 37:1-5

Introduction

Job 37

THE CONCLUSION OF ELIHU’S LONG-WINDED REMARKS

This writer cannot accommodate to the opinions of some very respected commentators who understand Elihu’s speeches as not merely commendable, but actually appropriate as an introduction to what God Himself would say in the following chapters.

For example, Meredith G. Kline wrote that: "Though the Speaker from the whirlwind does not mention Elihu by name, He does not ignore him. For by continuing Elihu’s essential argument and endorsing his judgments concerning both Job and his friends, the Lord owns him as his forerunner."

We believe that God did indeed ignore Elihu, not only refusing to mention his name, although mentioning the names of all others named in the book, God also interrupted and terminated Elihu’s remarks with a question addressed to Job, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge"? (Job 38:2). Such an evaluation as that cannot be applied to Job’s words, because God Himself said that, "My servant Job has spoken of me the thing that is right" (Job 42:7-8). Moreover, God specifically stated that the three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar had spoken "folly" (Job 42:8); and Elihu’s words, in almost every particular, are the same as those of the three, only more vituperative and derogatory toward Job. There is no way that we could accept Elihu’s long and ridiculous speeches as any kind of a proper introduction to what the Lord would say out of the whirlwind. God answered Job and his friends by name, and ignored Elihu altogether, except in the derogatory words in the Lord’s opening question to Job.

Also, Kelly in Layman’s Bible Commentary, wrote that, "Elihu, in this chapter, says that God is infinitely great and righteous, and does not himself violate the principle of righteousness in dealing with men. His righteousness, therefore, is unimpeachable; it is not to be called in question but is to become the basis of godly fear in men. A sounder prelude to the speeches of the Lord ... could hardly be imagined." It is true that some of the things Elihu said were true; but it is what he meant by them which is offensive to this writer, For example, when Elihu said that God is not unrighteous in his dealings with men, he means that Job is a dirty sinner and that he should confess it, the same being proved by Job’s sufferings. There can be no wonder that God refused even to mention Elihu, because Elihu’s one motive was that of compelling Job to renounce his integrity.

There are also some very positive and definite traces of pagan mythology in the things Elihu said in this chapter, as pointed out by Pope. See on Job 37:22 in this chapter.

Instead of this chapter being some kind of profound introduction to God who appears in Job 38, "Elihu is like one who is introducing a great man with much elaborate praise; and the great man (God) suddenly interrupts him and accuses the speaker of a lack of knowledge of his subject; and the irony is even greater, because, in Elihu’s case, he did not even know that he was introducing God."

"In this chapter, Elihu is arguing that nature itself teaches that God rewards and punishes men according to their deeds." But of course, that is not true at all. He also argues in Job 37:13 b that, "The lightning can be regarded as an instrument of God’s love." Pope also noted that, "It is hard to see how this could be regarded as true," adding that, "Maybe it could be argued that the love and mercy is toward the people that the lightning misses"! Of course, this must be added to a fantastic list of things that Elihu said that had no relation whatever to the truth. Nature reveals nothing whatever of God’s love, mercy, truth or justice. Knowledge of such things is found only in Divine Revelation.

As we have stressed all along, "Nature is red in tooth, and fang and claw," and there’s absolutely nothing in nature that supports Elihu’s vain arguments. And look at the irony in these two chapters (Job 36-37). In the very middle of Elihu’s speech about nature’s endorsement of his evil notion that Job was a wicked sinner, "Even while Elihu is arguing ... God suddenly appears in nature and demands to know who is darkening counsel without knowledge."

Job 37:1-5

ELIHU’S DESCRIPTION OF THE APPROACHING STORM

"Yea, at this my heart trembleth.

And is moved out of its place.

Hear, oh, hear the noise of his voice,

And the sound that goeth out of his mouth.

He sendeth it forth under the whole heaven,

And his lightning to the ends of the earth.

After it a voice roareth;

He thundereth with the voice of his majesty;

And he restraineth not the lightnings when his voice is heard.

God thundereth marvelously with his voice;

Great things doeth he which we cannot understand."

"Hear, oh, hear the noise of his voice" (Job 37:2). Elihu’s notion that God is speaking to men by lightning and thunder could be true only in the most indirect sense. Paul reminds us that "God’s everlasting power and divinity are clearly seen since the creation of the world, being perceived through the things that are made (the wonders of the natural creation)" (Romans 1:20); but, of course, the natural creation has no personal word whatever for mankind regarding such things as God’s love, mercy and redemption from sin.

Yes, the breath-taking excitement of a violent thunderstorm reminds men of the almighty power and glory of God, in exactly the same manner as a sunrise, an earthquake, or the sudden eruption of a volcano; but the only true communication between God and man comes via the sacred scriptures. "It is Elihu’s error here that he regards natural phenomena as supernatural."

It seems likely that Elihu delivered the remarks of this chapter at the very time that he and the others were watching the approach of a storm. And from thoughts of the storm, he then proceeded to mention snow, rain, and other natural phenomena. " Job 37:1-5 elaborate the picture of the storm; and Job 37:6-13 deal with new evidences, the ice, snow and cold of winter, etc."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 37:1. This refers to the great things ascribed to God in the closing verses of the preceding chapter. Elihu meant that his heart was all in a fiutter over it. Verse 2. The personal pronouns in this and several following verses refer to God. (Job 36:26.) Elihu was exhorting Job to give attention to the voice of God.

Job 37:3. It refers to the sound of the previous verse and denotes the thunder that God sends throughout the heavens. This thunder was preceded by his lightning which was the cause of the sound.

Job 37:4. This verse is a follow-up of the preceding one. After it means after the lightning of the other verse. The voice which follows this lightning is then plainly called thunder. We know that a downpour of rain often follows a loud peal of thunder, which is the meaning of the last sentence.

Job 37:5-6. This paragraph is a repetition of the preceding ones. We have the specific information that Elihu was talking about God since his name was used.

Verses 6-13

Job 37:6-13

Job 37:6-13

REGARDING OTHER NATURAL PHENOMENA

"For he saith to the snow, Fall thou on the earth;

Likewise to the shower of rain,

And to the showers of the mighty rain.

He sealeth up the hand of every man,

That all men that he hath made may know it.

Then the beasts go into coverts,

And remain in their dens.

Out of the chamber of the south cometh the storm,

And cold out of the north.

By the breath of God ice is given;

And the breadth of the waters is straitened.

Yea, he ladeth the thick cloud with moisture;

He spreadeth abroad the cloud of his lightning:

And it is turned around by his guidance,

That they may do whatever he commandeth them

Upon the face of the habitable world,

Whether it be for correction, or for his land,

Or for lovingkindness, that he cause it to come."

"He sealeth up the hand of every man" (Job 37:7). Rawlinson interpreted this to mean that, "In winter time and in periods of heavy rain, God puts an end to ordinary out-of-doors labor, that during the time of their enforced idleness, men may have leisure for reflection, and that they may employ it in meditating upon God and his marvelous work."

"By the breath of God, ice is given; and the breadth of the waters is straitened" (Job 37:10). Driver wrote that the possible meaning here is: "The cold wind freezes the streams and pools."

Job 37:11-13 is rendered as follows in the Anchor Bible:

"He hurls lightning from the nimbus,

Scatters his light from the clouds.

It changes direction as he wills,

Doing whatever he commands

All over his inhabited earth.

Whether for discipline, or for grace,

Or for mercy, he makes it find its mark."

(See Pope’s comment on this in the chapter introduction.)

E.M. Zerr:

Job 37:5-6. This paragraph is a repetition of the preceding ones. We have the specific information that Elihu was talking about God since his name was used.

Verse 7. Sealeth means "to stop," and the thought is that the great storm just produced put a stop to the activities of man for the moment.

Job 37:8. The storm drives the beasts into their shelters. Verse 9. The usual weather conditions were described in this verse and were considered as the work of God.

Job 37:10. This verse describes the effects of cold. It brings frost and by freezing the waters they are straitened or held in check.

Job 37:11. Weareth means to overburden. By reducing the vapor to water the cloud disappears and the rain comes down.

Job 37:12. God has full control of the weather.

Job 37:13. Sometimes a storm comes for correction, such as in Job 1:19. Elihu implied that God sent the storm upon Job’s children as a punishment for sins.

Verses 14-20

Job 37:14-20

Job 37:14-20

ELIHU CHARGES JOB WITH IGNORANCE

"Hearken unto this, O Job:

Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.

Dost thou know how God layeth his charge upon them,

And causeth the lightning of his cloud to shine?

Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds,

The wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge?

How thy garments are warm,

When the earth is still by reason of the south wind?

Canst thou with him spread out the sky,

Which is strong as a molten mirror?

Teach us what we shall say unto him;

For we cannot set our speech in order by reason of darkness.

Shall it be told him that I would speak?

Or should a man wish that he were swallowed up?"

"The wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge" (Job 37:16). Some of the writers assume that Elihu is here speaking of God; but back in the previous chapter, (Job 36:4 b), Elihu speaks of himself as "one who is perfect in knowledge." One of inexcusable features of Elihu’s tirade is the unqualified arrogance and egotism of it; and it appears that Elihu is here contrasting Job’s ignorance not with God’s wisdom, but with that of Elihu! Pope also noticed that in this chapter (Job 37:20), "Elihu intimates that he has more sense than to do what Job has (allegedly) done, challenge God to an argument."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 37:14-17. How unnecessary were all these assertions about God’s works! Job knew about them and had never denied it.

Job 37:18. Glass as we understand the word was unknown in olden times. The word means "mirror" and the object was produced by polishing the surface of fine grained metal. It was here used to compare the brightness of the sky.

Job 37:19. Elihu called upon Job to suggest something to say about God; that It was difficult on account of human darkness or ignorance.

Job 37:20-22. This paragraph merely stated some facts about God’s control of the elements.

Verses 21-24

Job 37:21-24

Job 37:21-24

THE EVIDENCE OF PAGAN MYTHOLOGY IN ELIHU’S SPEECH

"And now men see not the light which is bright in the skies;

But the wind passeth and cleareth them.

Out of the north cometh golden splendor:

God hath upon him terrible majesty.

Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out:

He is excellent in power;

And in justice and plenteous righteousness, he will not afflict.

Men do therefore fear him:

He regardeth not any that are wise of heart."

"This conclusion of Elihu’s speech is exceedingly obscure and ambiguous ... We cannot discern with any certainty allusions to certain remarkable observations or theories of natural phenomena."

This is the paragraph which in all probability exposes Elihu’s speech as having elements of pagan mythology in it.

"Out of the north cometh golden splendor" (Job 37:22). The sun does not rise out of the north; and this verse has puzzled translators for centuries; but Pope has this: "With the recovery of the Ugaritic mythological texts, we are now in a better position to understand this. A major motif of the Baal cycle of myths is the building of a splendiferous place of gold, silver and lapis lazuli on the height of mount Zaphon. The golden splendor mentioned in this verse, ... suggesting the glory of the lightning that comes from the mythical golden palace of the storm god on Mount Zaphon. This mythological `Mount Zaphon’ was supposed to be located in the far north; and Pope rendered Job 37:22 thus:

"From Zaphon comes gold; Around God is awful majesty."

C. F. Keil confirmed that the word "golden" in this verse is literally gold, thus supporting in that particular Pope’s rendition.

This writer does not presume to accept Pope’s translation here; but if true, it is fully in keeping with our low estimate of the value of Elihu’s speeches.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 37:20-22. This paragraph merely stated some facts about God’s control of the elements.

Job 37:23. The power of the Almighty is beyond the comprehension of man. He will not afflict did not express the complete thought of Elihu. He meant that God would not send affliction unless there existed a cause for it. In the case at hand the affliction was caused by the sins of Job.

Job 37:24. God will not favor the man who is wise of heart. This was a true statement but had no bearing on the subject that Elihu pretended to be discussing.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 37". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/job-37.html.
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