Job humbles himself to God. (1-5) The Lord reasons with Job to show his righteousness, power, and wisdom. (6-14) God's power shown in Behemoth. (15-24)
Verses 1-5 Communion with the Lord effectually convinces and humbles a saint, and makes him glad to part with his most beloved sins. There is need to be thoroughly convinced and humbled, to prepare us for remarkable deliverances. After God had shown Job, by his manifest ignorance of the works of nature, how unable he was to judge of the methods and designs of Providence, he puts a convincing question to him; Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? Now Job began to melt into godly sorrow: when his friends reasoned with him, he did not yield; but the voice of the Lord is powerful. When the Spirit of truth is come, he shall convince. Job yields himself to the grace of God. He owns himself an offender, and has nothing to say to justify himself. He is now sensible that he has sinned; and therefore he calls himself vile. Repentance changes men's opinion of themselves. Job is now convinced of his error. Those who are truly sensible of their own sinfulness and vileness, dare not justify themselves before God. He perceived that he was a poor, mean, foolish, and sinful creature, who ought not to have uttered one word against the Divine conduct. One glimpse of God's holy nature would appal the stoutest rebel. How, then will the wicked bear the sight of his glory at the day of judgment? But when we see this glory revealed in Jesus Christ, we shall be humbled without being terrified; self-abasement agrees with filial love.
Verses 6-14 Those who profit by what they have heard from God, shall hear more from him. And those who are truly convinced of sin, yet need to be more thoroughly convinced and more humbled. No doubt God, and he only, has power to humble and bring down proud men; he has wisdom to know when and how to do it, and it is not for us to teach him how to govern the world. Our own hands cannot save us by recommending us to God's grace, much less rescuing us from his justice; and therefore into his hand we must commit ourselves. The renewal of a believer proceeds in the same way of conviction, humbling, and watchfulness against remaining sin, as his first conversion. When convinced of many evils in our conduct, we still need convincing of many more.
Verses 15-24 God, for the further proving of his own power, describes two vast animals, far exceeding man in bulk and strength. Behemoth signifies beasts. Most understand it of an animal well known in Egypt, called the river-horse, or hippopotamus. This vast animal is noticed as an argument to humble ourselves before the great God; for he created this vast animal, which is so fearfully and wonderfully made. Whatever strength this or any other creature has, it is derived from God. He that made the soul of man, knows all the ways to it, and can make the sword of justice, his wrath, to approach and touch it. Every godly man has spiritual weapons, the whole armour of God, to resist, yea, to overcome the tempter, that his never-dying soul may be safe, whatever becomes of his frail flesh and mortal body.
Job 40:1-24 . GOD'S SECOND ADDRESS.
He had paused for a reply, but Job was silent.
1. the Lord--Hebrew, "JEHOVAH."
2. he that contendeth--as Job had so often expressed a wish to do. Or, rebuketh. Does Job now still (after seeing and hearing of God's majesty and wisdom) wish to set God right?
answer it--namely, the questions I have asked.
4. I am (too) vile (to reply). It is a very different thing to vindicate ourselves before God, from what it is before men. Job could do the latter, not the former.
lay . . . hand . . . upon . . . mouth--I have no plea to offer ( Job 21:5 , Judges 18:19 ).
5. Once . . . twice--oftentimes, more than once ( Job 33:14 , compare with Job 33:29 , Psalms 62:11 ):
I have spoken--namely, against God.
not answer--not plead against Thee.
6. the Lord--JEHOVAH.
Since Job has not only spoken against God, but accused Him of injustice, God challenges him to try, could he
govern the world, as God
by His power doth, and punish the proud and wicked ( Job 40:7-14
8. Wilt thou not only contend with, but set aside My judgment or justice in the government of the world?
condemn--declare Me unrighteous, in order that thou mayest be accounted righteous (innocent; undeservingly afflicted).
9. arm--God's omnipotence ( Isaiah 53:1 ).
thunder--God's voice ( Job 37:4 ).
10. See, hast thou power and majesty like God's, to enable thee to judge and govern the world?
11. rage--rather, pour out the redundant floods of, &c.
behold--Try, canst thou, as God, by a mere glance abase the proud ( Isaiah 2:12 , &c.)?
12. proud--high ( Daniel 4:37 ).
in their place--on the spot; suddenly, before they can move from
13. ( Isaiah 2:10 ). Abase and remove them out of the sight of men.
bind . . . faces--that is, shut up their persons [MAURER]. But it refers rather to the custom of binding a cloth over the faces of persons about to be executed ( Job 9:24 , Esther 7:8 ).
in secret--consign them to darkness.
14. confess--rather, "extol"; "I also," who now censure thee. But since thou canst not do these works, thou must, instead of censuring, extol My government.
thine own . . . hand . . . save--( Psalms 44:3 ). So as to eternal salvation by Jesus Christ ( Isaiah 59:16 , 63:5 ).
15-24. God shows that if Job cannot bring under control the lower animals (of which he selects the two most striking, behemoth on land, leviathan in the water), much less is he capable of governing the world.
behemoth--The description in part agrees with the hippopotamus, in part with the elephant, but exactly in all details with neither. It is rather a poetical personification of the great Pachydermata, or Herbivora (so "he eateth grass"), the idea of the hippopotamus being predominant. In Job 40:17 , "the tail like a cedar," hardly applies to the latter (so also Job 40:20 Job 40:23 , "Jordan," a river which elephants alone could reach, but other hand, Job 40:21 Job 40:22 are characteristic of the amphibious river horse. So leviathan (the twisting animal), Job 41:1 , is a generalized term for cetacea, pythons, saurians of the neighboring seas and rivers, including the crocodile, which is the most prominent, and is often associated with the river horse by old writers. "Behemoth" seems to be the Egyptian Pehemout, "water-ox," Hebraized, so-called as being like an ox, whence the Italian bombarino.
with thee--as I made thyself. Yet how great the difference! The manifold wisdom and power of God!
he eateth grass--marvellous in an animal living so much in the water; also strange, that such a monster should not be carnivorous.
16. navel--rather, "muscles" of his belly; the weakest point of the elephant, therefore it is not meant.
17. like a cedar--As the tempest bends the cedar, so it can move its smooth thick tail [UMBREIT]. But the cedar implies straightness and length, such as do not apply to the river horse's short tail, but perhaps to an extinct species of animal
wrapped--firmly twisted together, like a thick rope.
18. strong--rather, "tubes" of copper [UMBREIT].
19. Chief of the works of God; so "ways" ( Job 26:14 , Proverbs 8:22 ).
can make his sword to approach--rather, "has furnished him with his sword" (harpe), namely, the sickle-like teeth with which he cuts down grain. English Version, however, is literally right.
20. The mountain is not his usual haunt. BOCHART says it is sometimes found there (?).
beasts . . . play--a graphic trait: though armed with such teeth, he lets the beasts play near him unhurt, for his food is grass.
21. lieth--He leads an inactive life.
shady trees--rather, "lotus bushes"; as Job 40:22 requires.
22. shady trees--Translate: "lotus bushes."
23. Rather, "(Though) a river be violent (overflow), he trembleth not"; (for though living on land, he can live in the water, too); he is secure, though a Jordan swell up to his mouth. "Jordan" is used for any great river (consonant with the "behemoth"), being a poetical generalization have been a Hebrew as UMBREIT asserts, or he would not adduce the Jordan, where there were no river horses. He alludes to it as a name for any river, but not as one known to him, except by hearsay.
24. Rather, "Will any take him by open force" (literally, "before his eyes"), "or pierce his nose with cords?" No; he can only be taken by guile, and in a pitfall ( Job 41:1 Job 41:2 ).