Job reproves Bildad. (1-4) Job acknowledges the power of God. (5-14)
Verses 1-4 Job derided Bildad's answer; his words were a mixture of peevishness and self-preference. Bildad ought to have laid before Job the consolations, rather than the terrors of the Almighty. Christ knows how to speak what is proper for the weary, ( Isaiah 50:4 ) ; and his ministers should not grieve those whom God would not have made sad. We are often disappointed in our expectations from our friends who should comfort us; but the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, never mistakes, nor fails of his end.
Verses 5-14 Many striking instances are here given of the wisdom and power of God, in the creation and preservation of the world. If we look about us, to the earth and waters here below, we see his almighty power. If we consider hell beneath, though out of our sight, yet we may conceive the discoveries of God's power there. If we look up to heaven above, we see displays of God's almighty power. By his Spirit, the eternal Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters, the breath of his mouth, ( Psalms 33:6 ) , he has not only made the heavens, but beautified them. By redemption, all the other wonderful works of the Lord are eclipsed; and we may draw near, and taste his grace, learn to love him, and walk with delight in his ways. The ground of the controversy between Job and the other disputants was, that they unjustly thought from his afflictions that he must have been guilty of heinous crimes. They appear not to have duly considered the evil and just desert of original sin; nor did they take into account the gracious designs of God in purifying his people. Job also darkened counsel by words without knowledge. But his views were more distinct. He does not appear to have alleged his personal righteousness as the ground of his hope towards God. Yet what he admitted in a general view of his case, he in effect denied, while he complained of his sufferings as unmerited and severe; that very complaint proving the necessity for their being sent, in order to his being further humbled in the sight of God.
Job 26:1-14 . JOB'S REPLY.
2, 3. without power . . . no strength . . . no wisdom--The negatives are used instead of the positives, powerlessness, &c., designedly (so Isaiah 31:8 , Deuteronomy 32:21 ). Granting I am, as you say ( Job 18:17 , 15:2 ), powerlessness itself, &c. How hast thou helped such a one?"
3. plentifully . . . the thing as it is--rather, "abundantly--wisdom." Bildad had made great pretensions to abundant wisdom. How has he shown it?
4. For whose instruction were thy words meant? If for me I know the subject (God's omnipotence) better than my instructor Job 26:5-14 is a sample of Job's knowledge of it.
whose spirit--not that of God ( Job 32:8 ); nay, rather, the borrowed sentiment of Eliphaz ( Job 4:17-19 , 15:14-16 ).
5-14. As before in the ninth and twelfth chapters, Job had shown himself not inferior to the friends' inability to describe God's greatness, so now he describes it as manifested in hell (the world of the dead), Job 26:5 Job 26:6 ; on earth, Job 26:7 ; in the sky, Job 26:8-11 ; the sea, Job 26:12 ; the heavens, Job 26:13 .
Dead things are formed--Rather, "The souls of the dead (Rephaim) tremble." Not only does God's power exist, as Bildad says ( Job 25:2 ), "in high places" (heaven), but reaches to the region of the dead. Rephaim here, and in Proverbs 21:16 and Isaiah 14:9 , is from a Hebrew root, meaning "to be weak," hence "deceased"; in Genesis 14:5 it is applied to the Canaanite giants; perhaps in derision, to express their weakness, in spite of their gigantic size, as compared with Jehovah [UMBREIT]; or, as the imagination of the living magnifies apparitions, the term originally was applied to ghosts, and then to giants in general [MAGEE].
from under--UMBREIT joins this with the previous word "tremble from beneath" (so Isaiah 14:9 ). But the Masoretic text joins it to "under the waters." Thus the place of the dead will be represented as "under the waters" ( Psalms 18:4 Psalms 18:5 ); and the waters as under the earth ( Psalms 24:2 ). MAGEE well translates thus: "The souls of the dead tremble; (the places) under the waters, and their inhabitants." Thus the Masoretic connection is retained; and at the same time the parallel clauses are evenly balanced. "The inhabitants of the places under the waters" are those in Gehenna, the lower of the two parts into which Sheol, according to the Jews, is divided; they answer to "destruction," that is, the place of the wicked in Job 26:6 , as "Rephaim" ( Job 26:5 ) to "Hell" (Sheol) ( Job 26:6 ). "Sheol" comes from a Hebrew root--"ask," because it is insatiable ( Proverbs 27:20 ); or "ask as a loan to be returned," implying Sheol is but a temporary abode, previous to the resurrection; so for English Version "formed," the Septuagint and Chaldee translate; shall be born, or born again, implying the dead are to be given back from Sheol and born again into a new state [MAGEE].
6. ( Job 38:17 , Psalms 139:8 , Proverbs 5:11 ).
destruction--the abode of destruction, that is, of lost souls. Hebrew, Abaddon ( Revelation 9:11 ).
no covering--from God's eyes.
7. Hint of the true theory of the earth. Its suspension in empty space is stated in the second clause. The north in particular is specified in the first, being believed to be the highest part of the earth ( Isaiah 14:13 ). The northern hemisphere or vault of heaven is included; often compared to a stretched-out canopy ( Psalms 104:2 ). The chambers of the south are mentioned ( Job 9:9 ), that is, the southern hemisphere, consistently with the earth's globular form.
8. in . . . clouds--as if in airy vessels, which, though light, do not burst with the weight of water in them ( Proverbs 30:4 ).
9. Rather, He encompasseth or closeth. God makes the clouds a veil to screen the glory not only of His person, but even of the exterior of His throne from profane eyes. His agency is everywhere, yet He Himself is invisible ( Psalms 18:11 , 104:3 ).
10. Rather, "He hath drawn a circular bound round the waters" ( Proverbs 8:27 , Psalms 104:9 ). The horizon seems a circle. Indication is given of the globular form of the earth.
until the day, &c.--to the confines of light and darkness. When the light falls on our horizon, the other hemisphere is dark. UMBREIT and MAURER translate "He has most perfectly (literally, to perfection) drawn the bound between light and darkness" (compare Genesis 1:4 Genesis 1:6 Genesis 1:9 ): where the bounding of the light from darkness is similarly brought into proximity with the bounding of the waters.
11. pillars--poetically for the mountains which seem to bear up the sky ( Psalms 104:32 ).
astonished--namely, from terror. Personification.
his reproof--( Psalms 104:7 ). The thunder, reverberating from cliff to cliff ( Habakkuk 3:10 , Nahum 1:5 ).
12. divideth--( Psalms 74:13 ). Perhaps at creation ( Genesis 1:9 Genesis 1:10 ). The parallel clause favors UMBREIT, "He stilleth." But the Hebrew means "He moves." Probably such a "moving" is meant as that at the assuaging of the flood by the wind which "God made to pass over" it ( Genesis 8:1 , Psalms 104:7 ).
the proud--rather, "its pride," namely, of the sea ( Job 9:13 ).
13. UMBREIT less simply, "By His breath He maketh the heavens to revive": namely, His wind dissipates the clouds, which obscured the shining stars. And so the next clause in contrast, "His hand doth strangle," that is, obscures the north constellation, the dragon. Pagan astronomy typified the flood trying to destroy the ark by the dragon constellation, about to devour the moon in its eclipsed crescent-shape like a boat ( Job 3:8 , Margin). But better as English Version ( Psalms 33:6 ).
crooked--implying the oblique course, of the stars, or the ecliptic. "Fleeing" or "swift" [UMBREIT] ( Isaiah 27:1 ). This particular constellation is made to represent the splendor of all the stars.
14. parts--Rather, "only the extreme boundaries of," &c., and how faint is the whisper that we hear of Him!
thunder--the entire fulness. In antithesis to "whisper" ( 1 Corinthians 13:9 1 Corinthians 13:10 1 Corinthians 13:12 ).