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Job 38

Listen to Job 38

The Lord Answers Job

1 Then the LORD 1answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
2 "Who is this that 2darkens counsel by words 3without knowledge?
3 4Dress for action[a] like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.
4 "Where were you when I 5laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements--surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars 6sang together and all 7the sons of God 8shouted for joy?
8 "Or who 9shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb,
9 when I made clouds its garment and 10thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed 11limits for it and set bars and doors,
11 and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your 12proud waves be stayed'?
12 "Have you 13commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 that it might take hold of 14the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be 15shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their 16light is withheld, and 17their uplifted arm is broken.
16 "Have you 18entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have 19the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of 20deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.
19 "Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness,
20 that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern 21the paths to its home?
21 You know, for 22you were born then, and the number of your days is great!
22 "Have you entered 23the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen 24the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I have reserved 25for the time of trouble, 26for the day of battle and war?
24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
25 "Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and 27a way for the thunderbolt,
26 to bring rain on 28a land where no man is, on 29the desert in which there is no man,
27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with 30grass?
28 "Has 31the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb did 32the ice come forth, and who has given birth to 33the frost of heaven?
30 The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is 34frozen.
31 "Can you bind the chains of 35the Pleiades or loose the cords of 36Orion?
32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth[b] in their season, or can you guide 37the Bear with its children?
33 Do you know 38the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?
34 "Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that 39a flood of waters may cover you?
35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, 'Here we are'?
36 Who has 40put wisdom in 41the inward parts[c] or given understanding to the mind?[d]
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
38 when the dust runs into a mass and 42the clods stick fast together?
39 "Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or 43satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 when they crouch in their 44dens or lie in wait 45in their thicket?
41 Who provides for 46the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food?

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Job 38 Commentary

Chapter 38

God calls upon Job to answer. (1-3) God questions Job. (4-11) Concerning the light and darkness. (12-24) Concerning other mighty works. (25-41)

Verses 1-3 Job had silenced, but had not convinced his friends. Elihu had silenced Job, but had not brought him to admit his guilt before God. It pleased the Lord to interpose. The Lord, in this discourse, humbles Job, and brings him to repent of his passionate expressions concerning God's providential dealings with him; and this he does, by calling upon Job to compare God's being from everlasting to everlasting, with his own time; God's knowledge of all things, with his own ignorance; and God's almighty power, with his own weakness. Our darkening the counsels of God's wisdom with our folly, is a great provocation to God. Humble faith and sincere obedience see farthest and best into the will of the Lord.

Verses 4-11 For the humbling of Job, God here shows him his ignorance, even concerning the earth and the sea. As we cannot find fault with God's work, so we need not fear concerning it. The works of his providence, as well as the work of creation, never can be broken; and the work of redemption is no less firm, of which Christ himself is both the Foundation and the Corner-stone. The church stands as firm as the earth.

Verses 12-24 The Lord questions Job, to convince him of his ignorance, and shame him for his folly in prescribing to God. If we thus try ourselves, we shall soon be brought to own that what we know is nothing in comparison with what we know not. By the tender mercy of our God, the Day-spring from on high has visited us, to give light to those that sit in darkness, whose hearts are ( 2 Corinthians. 4:6 ) government of the world is said to be in the sea; this means, that it is hid from us. Let us make sure that the gates of heaven shall be opened to us on the other side of death, and then we need not fear the opening of the gates of death. It is presumptuous for us, who perceive not the breadth of the earth, to dive into the depth of God's counsels. We should neither in the brightest noon count upon perpetual day, nor in the darkest midnight despair of the return of the morning; and this applies to our inward as well as to our outward condition. What folly it is to strive against God! How much is it our interest to seek peace with him, and to keep in his love!

Verses 25-41 Hitherto God had put questions to Job to show him his ignorance; now God shows his weakness. As it is but little that he knows, he ought not to arraign the Divine counsels; it is but little he can do, therefore he ought not to oppose the ways of Providence. See the all-sufficiency of the Divine Providence; it has wherewithal to satisfy the desire of every living thing. And he that takes care of the young ravens, certainly will not be wanting to his people. This being but one instance of the Divine compassion out of many, gives us occasion to think how much good our God does, every day, beyond what we are aware of. Every view we take of his infinite perfections, should remind us of his right to our love, the evil of sinning against him, and our need of his mercy and salvation.

Cross References 46

  • 1. Job 40:6; [Job 13:22]
  • 2. Job 42:3
  • 3. See Job 35:16
  • 4. 1 Kings 18:46
  • 5. Psalms 104:5; [Proverbs 30:4; Isaiah 40:12-14]; See Proverbs 8:24-29
  • 6. [Psalms 19:1-4]
  • 7. See Job 1:6
  • 8. [Luke 2:13, 14]
  • 9. Genesis 1:9; Psalms 33:7; Psalms 104:8, 9; Jeremiah 5:22
  • 10. Job 22:13
  • 11. [ver. 33 (Heb.)]
  • 12. [Psalms 65:7; Psalms 89:9; Psalms 93:4]
  • 13. Psalms 65:8; Psalms 74:16
  • 14. Job 37:3
  • 15. [Nehemiah 5:13]
  • 16. Job 18:5; [Matthew 6:23]; See Job 24:13-17
  • 17. Psalms 10:15; Psalms 37:17; Ezekiel 30:21, 22
  • 18. Psalms 77:19
  • 19. Psalms 9:13; Psalms 107:18; [Isaiah 38:10; Matthew 16:18]
  • 20. See Job 3:5
  • 21. Job 24:13
  • 22. [Job 15:7]
  • 23. [Psalms 135:7]
  • 24. [Psalms 135:7]
  • 25. Joshua 10:11; Isaiah 28:17; Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:11, 13; Ezekiel 38:22; Revelation 16:21; [Job 37:13]
  • 26. Joshua 10:11; Isaiah 28:17; Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:11, 13; Ezekiel 38:22; Revelation 16:21; [Job 37:13]
  • 27. Job 28:26
  • 28. [Job 37:13]
  • 29. Psalms 107:35
  • 30. Genesis 1:11; 2 Samuel 23:4
  • 31. Psalms 147:8; Jeremiah 14:22
  • 32. Psalms 147:16, 17
  • 33. Psalms 147:16, 17
  • 34. [Job 37:10]
  • 35. Job 9:9; Amos 5:8
  • 36. Job 9:9; Amos 5:8
  • 37. [See ver. 31 above]
  • 38. Jeremiah 31:35
  • 39. Job 22:11
  • 40. See Job 32:8
  • 41. Psalms 51:6
  • 42. Job 21:33
  • 43. [Psalms 104:21]
  • 44. Job 37:8
  • 45. Psalms 17:12
  • 46. Psalms 147:9; Luke 12:24; [Matthew 6:26]

Footnotes 4

Chapter Summary


In this chapter the Lord takes up the controversy with Job; calls upon him to prepare to engage with him in it, and demands an answer to posing questions he puts to him, concerning the earth and the fabric of it, Job 38:1-7; concerning the sea, compared to an infant in embryo, at its birth, in its swaddling bands and cradle, Job 38:8-11; concerning the morning light, its spread and influence, Job 38:12-15; concerning the springs of the sea, the dark parts of the earth, the place both of light and darkness, Job 38:16-21; concerning the various meteors, snow, hail, rain, thunder, lightning, and the influences of the stars, Job 38:22-38; and concerning provision for lions and ravens, Job 38:40,41.

Job 38 Commentaries