Job 38

The First Speech of the LORD

1 The LORD spoke to Job out of a storm. He said,
2 "Who do you think you are to disagree with my plans? You do not know what you are talking about.
3 Get ready to stand up for yourself. I will ask you some questions. Then I want you to answer me.
4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you know.
5 Who measured it? I am sure you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 What was it built on? Who laid its most important stone?
7 When it happened, the morning stars sang together. All of the angels shouted with joy.
8 "Who created the ocean? Who caused it to be born?
9 I put clouds over it as if they were its clothes. I wrapped it in thick darkness.
10 I set limits for it. I put its doors and metal bars in place.
11 I said, 'You can come this far. But you can't come any farther. Here is where your proud waves have to stop.'
12 "Job, have you ever commanded the morning to come? Have you ever shown the sun where to rise?
13 The daylight takes the earth by its edges as if it were a blanket. Then it shakes sinful people out of it.
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal. Its features stand out like the different parts of your clothes.
15 Sinners would rather have darkness than light. When the light comes, their power is broken.
16 "Have you traveled to the springs at the bottom of the ocean? Have you walked in its deepest parts?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of darkness?
18 Do you understand how big the earth is? Tell me, if you know all of those things.
19 "Where does light come from? And where does darkness live?
20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their houses?
21 I am sure you know! After all, you were already born! You have lived so many years!
22 "Have you entered the places where the snow is kept? Have you seen the storerooms for the hail?
23 I store up snow and hail for times of trouble. I keep them for days of war and battle.
24 Where does lightning come from? Where do the east winds that blow across the earth live?
25 Who tells the rain where it should fall? Who makes paths for the thunderstorms?
26 They bring water to places where no one lives. They water deserts that do not have anyone in them.
27 They satisfy the needs of dry and empty lands. They make grass start growing there.
28 Does the rain have a father? Who is the father of the drops of dew?
29 Does the ice have a mother? Who is the mother of the frost from the heavens?
30 The waters become as hard as stone. The surface of the ocean freezes over.
31 "Can you tie up the beautiful Pleiades? Can you untie the ropes that hold Orion together?
32 Can you bring out all of the stars in their seasons? Can you lead out the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper?
33 Do you know the laws that govern the heavens? Can you rule over the earth the way I do?
34 "Can you give orders to the clouds? Can you make them pour rain down on you?
35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?
36 Who put wisdom in people's hearts? Who gave understanding to their minds?
37 Who is wise enough to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens?
38 I tip them over when the ground becomes hard. I do it when the dirt sticks together.
39 "Do you hunt for food for mother lions? Do you satisfy the hunger of their cubs?
40 Some of them lie low in their dens. Others lie waiting in the bushes.
41 Who provides food for ravens when their babies cry out to me? They wander around because they do not have anything to eat.

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.

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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