Job 38

The LORD Speaks

1 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?
8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?
12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.
16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.
19 “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen?
31 “Can you bind the chains[b] of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons[c]or lead out the Bear[d] with its cubs?
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s[e] dominion over the earth?
34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water?
35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who gives the ibis wisdom[f]or gives the rooster understanding?[g]
37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
38 when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?
39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God 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 71

  • 1. S Job 11:5
  • 2. S Exodus 14:21; S 1 Samuel 2:10; Job 40:6; Isaiah 21:1; Ezekiel 1:4
  • 3. S 1 Kings 22:5; Isaiah 40:13
  • 4. Job 35:16; Job 42:3; S Job 34:35; Mark 10:38; 1 Timothy 1:7
  • 5. Job 40:7; Job 42:4; Mark 11:29
  • 6. S ver 5; S Genesis 1:1; S 1 Samuel 2:8; Psalms 104:5; Proverbs 8:29
  • 7. ver 18; S Job 34:13; Proverbs 30:4
  • 8. ver 4; Psalms 102:25; Proverbs 8:29; Isaiah 40:12; Isaiah 48:13; Jeremiah 31:37
  • 9. Jeremiah 31:39; Zechariah 1:16; Zechariah 4:9-10
  • 10. Proverbs 8:25
  • 11. S Job 26:7
  • 12. S Genesis 1:16
  • 13. Psalms 19:1-4; Psalms 148:2-3
  • 14. S 1 Kings 22:19
  • 15. S Deuteronomy 16:15
  • 16. ver 11; Psalms 33:7; Proverbs 8:29; Jeremiah 5:22
  • 17. S Genesis 1:9-10
  • 18. S Genesis 1:2
  • 19. S Job 28:25; Psalms 33:7; Psalms 104:9; Isaiah 40:12
  • 20. Nehemiah 3:3; Job 7:12; Job 26:10
  • 21. S ver 8
  • 22. Psalms 65:7; Psalms 89:9; Psalms 104:6-9
  • 23. Psalms 57:8
  • 24. Psalms 74:16; Amos 5:8
  • 25. Psalms 104:35
  • 26. S Job 8:22
  • 27. Exodus 28:11
  • 28. S Deuteronomy 28:29; S Job 15:22; S Job 18:5
  • 29. S Genesis 17:14; S Job 4:10; S Job 31:22; Psalms 10:15
  • 30. S Genesis 1:7; S Job 9:8; Psalms 77:19
  • 31. S Job 33:22; Matthew 16:18; Revelation 1:18; Psalms 9:13
  • 32. S Job 7:9
  • 33. S Job 28:24; Isaiah 40:12
  • 34. S ver 4
  • 35. S Genesis 1:4; S Job 28:3; Psalms 139:11-12
  • 36. S Job 24:13; Job 26:10
  • 37. Job 15:7
  • 38. S Job 37:6
  • 39. S Deuteronomy 28:12
  • 40. Psalms 105:32; Psalms 147:17
  • 41. Psalms 27:5; Isaiah 28:17; Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:11
  • 42. Exodus 9:26; Exodus 9:18; Joshua 10:11; Ezekiel 13:13; Revelation 16:21
  • 43. S Job 28:24
  • 44. S Job 27:21
  • 45. Jeremiah 10:13; Jeremiah 51:16
  • 46. Job 28:26
  • 47. Job 36:27
  • 48. Psalms 84:6; Psalms 107:35; Isaiah 41:18
  • 49. S Job 28:26; S Job 37:13; S Psalms 104:14; Psalms 107:35
  • 50. S 2 Samuel 1:21; S Job 5:10; Psalms 147:8; Jeremiah 14:22
  • 51. Psalms 147:16-17
  • 52. Job 37:10
  • 53. Job 9:9; Amos 5:8
  • 54. 2 Kings 23:5; Isaiah 13:10; Isaiah 40:26; Isaiah 45:12; Jeremiah 19:13
  • 55. S Genesis 1:16
  • 56. Psalms 148:6; Jeremiah 31:36
  • 57. S Genesis 1:16
  • 58. S Job 5:10; S Job 22:11; Job 36:27-28
  • 59. S Job 36:32; Job 37:3
  • 60. S Job 9:4; S Job 34:32; James 1:5
  • 61. S Job 12:13; Job 32:8; Psalms 51:6; Ecclesiastes 2:26
  • 62. S Joshua 3:16
  • 63. S Job 22:11
  • 64. S Leviticus 26:19
  • 65. 1 Kings 18:45
  • 66. S Genesis 49:9; Psalms 104:21
  • 67. S Job 37:8
  • 68. S Genesis 49:9
  • 69. S Genesis 1:30
  • 70. S Genesis 8:7; Luke 12:24
  • 71. Psalms 147:9; S Matthew 6:26

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Hebrew "the sons of God"
  • [b]. Septuagint; Hebrew "beauty"
  • [c]. Or "the morning star in its season"
  • [d]. Or "out Leo"
  • [e]. Or "their"
  • [f]. That is, wisdom about the flooding of the Nile
  • [g]. That is, understanding of when to crow; the meaning of the Hebrew for this verse is uncertain.

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

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