Job 40 Commentary: Let’s turn our attention to Job 40.
So, the Lord has asked Job about 59 questions so far that are all intended to show Job that God knows what he’s doing – both in all Creation and in Job’s specific circumstances.
Job 40 Commentary: God to Job | 1-2
And so now, God is going to take a little break in the questioning of Job about particular phenomena in creation. And the questions that God wants to ask Job now have to do with whether or not Job has seen how foolish he’s been to question God’s goodness and justice.
KJV Job 40:1 [Moreover the/Then the/The] LORD [answered Job, and said/said to Job/answered Job],
2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty [instruct/correct] him?
he that [reproveth/accuses] God, let him [answer it/give him an answer].
And we need to remind ourselves of how foolish it is to do what Job has done and what God is reprimanding him for now. To contend with the All-Mighty! To reprove or accuse God!
Whenever we might find ourselves contending with God and accusing him – we are so wrong.
Do we really feel as though we’re in the position to instruct the all-knowing Instructor?
Here’s one way that we’d know that we’re qualified to instruct God. We would be able to answer all of the questions that God has posed so far – all 59 or so! Can you do that?
Well, since none of us can answer the questions that God has asked Job, that means that none of us is in any position to contend with or accuse God.
Job 40 Commentary: Job to the Lord | 3-5
And that’s exactly what Job realizes as he finally responds to God’s questions in verses 3-5.
3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
4 [Behold/Indeed], I am [vile/insignificant/completely unworthy]; [what/how] [shall/can] I [answer/reply to] thee?
I will [lay/put] mine hand [upon/over] my mouth [to silence myself…].
5 Once have I spoken; but I [will not/cannot/have no] answer:
[yea, twice/even twice/twice]; but I will [proceed no further/add nothing more/say no more].
So, how is that for a response? I’d say it’s just about the only one that’s worthy in this situation.
Job recognizes how insignificant he is. He’s unable to answer any of God’s questions. And so – instead of responding to God’s questions and instead of continuing to question God’s goodness and justice – Job has determined that he would remain silent.
And this certainly isn’t a seething bitter silence. Job is not going to be stewing in anger while he’s biting his tongue. This is a humble and submissive silence that is called-for in the presence of God.
The author of Ecclesiastes tells us that God is in heaven and we are on earth – reminding us of the great chasm that separates us from him – and so Ecclesiastes urges us to let our words be few when it comes to addressing God. And probably the sense behind that admonition is to be careful about what you say – don’t just say any old thing that comes to your mind.
And that’s the course that Job is taking now. He spoke once and twice – and really, we know he spoke much more than that! – and he accused God of wrongdoing.
But now he’s not interested in saying those kinds of things anymore. He will remain silent.
Job 40 Commentary: God to Job | 6-24
And so, that’s the end, right? God made his point. Job yielded. All is well?
That’s what we might think.
And yet, that is not at all what God thinks. God is not done yet with Job. He has more to say to this hushed and quieted man.
6 Then [answered/spoke] the LORD unto Job out of the [whirlwind/storm], and said,
7 [Gird up thy loins now/Get ready for a difficult task/Brace yourself] like a man:
I will [demand of/ask/question] thee,
and [declare thou unto/you instruct/you will inform/you shall answer] me.
So, this is a repetition of what God has said earlier to Job. So, God is not done questioning Job. He’s actually got another section of questions ready for Job. Only in this section, God focuses on a smaller number of topics – with the majority of the material focused on two creatures – Behemoth and Leviathan.
Job 40 Commentary: Q60-61: God Bad, Job Good? | 8
But before the Lord gets to those two creatures, he has some questions for Job concerning the way that Job was thinking about and portraying him both in his own heart and as he spoke with his three friends.
8 [Wilt/Will/Would] thou [also/really/indeed] [disannul/annul/discredit] my [judgment/justice]?
wilt thou [condemn me/declare me guilty], [so…] that thou mayest be [righteous/justified/right/justified]?
And this is exactly what we heard from Elihu earlier – that the effect of Job’s justifying himself was the condemnation of God.
And let’s just remind ourselves of how that worked. Job was suffering. His three friends assumed that he must have sinned to earn such punishment – because of course sinners receive punishment from God.
And in his own defense, Job maintained that he was innocent. But he then expressed great confusion with this scenario because of course innocent people receive blessings from God. At least, that was the conventional wisdom that Job and his friends were working with.
But God wasn’t holding to his end of the bargain. Instead of blessing, he was punishing Job. God seemed to be doing wrong – to Job at least.
And so, in all of his self-justifying, Job was portraying God as if he was mistaken – as if he was being unjust – or ignorant of Job’s true condition, at best.
Job had demanded a day in court with God. And Job expressed that he knew that if he had his day in court, he’d be able to set God straight.
And God’s response that we just saw is something like, “Really?!” “Are you really going to try to discredit my justice in this world?” “Are you really going to try to make me look bad so that you can look good?”
Job 40 Commentary: Q62-63: Being God | 9-14
And then the Lord brings Job through a ridiculous scenario that he’s already hinted at for the last few chapters. God wants to challenge Job to just try to be … God.
9 Hast thou an arm [like/as powerful as that of] God?
or canst thou thunder with a voice like [him/his]?
So, is Job as powerful as God physically? Well, if he isn’t as physically powerful as God – how does his voice compare to the Almighty?
And of course, in both of those questions there is a great deal of sarcasm. God and Job and everyone knows that Job does not compare to God in terms of strength – physically and vocally.
Well, it’s as if God – for the sake of argument – assumes an affirmative answer from Job – yes, he is as powerful as God. Because now the Lord is going to command Job to do things that only God himself can do.
10 [Deck/Adorn] thyself [now/then] with [majesty/eminence/glory] and [excellency/dignity/splendor];
and [array/clothe] thyself with [glory/honor] and [beauty/majesty/honor].
So, Job is commanded by God to assume the physical appearance of deity. How easy and realistic is that?!
But God continues and orders Job to deal with the wicked like God really does ultimately deal with them.
11 [Cast abroad/Pour out/Scatter abroad/Unleash] the [rage/overflowings/abundance/fury] of thy [wrath/anger]:
and [behold/look at] every [one that is proud/proud man], and [abase him/make him low/bring him low].
So, Job has been questioning God’s dealings with the wicked. Job has maintained that God is incorrectly treating him as if he were wicked. And at the same time, Job maintains that there are times when God ignores the wicked and their evil – and he just kind of turns a blind eye to them.
In short, Job is not all that satisfied with how God deals with wicked people.
But God – as it were – hands Job the keys to the car and in effect says, “Alright, then you try it.”
And really, God defends how he deals with the wicked even as he instructs Job on how to deal with the wicked. God asserts that he pours out wrath on them. And he admits that he does indeed humble those who are proud.
So, far from ignoring the wicked – God affirms that his anger and humbling effects do catch up with them.
And the Lord continues his command to Job to deal with the wicked the way that only God can and does.
12 Look [on/at] every [one that is proud/proud man], and [bring him low/humble him/abase him];
[and tread down/crush] the wicked [in their place/were they stand/on the spot].
So, once more, God admits to humbling the proud and crushing the wicked on the spot.
And as he commands Job to do this, of course, the irony is thick. There’s no way that Job could ever do this.
And so certainly Job wouldn’t be able to execute the death sentence against these people, either.
13 [Hide/Bury] them [all…] in the dust together;
[and bind their faces/bind them/imprison them/shroud their faces] in [secret/the hidden place/the grave].
And this is yet again another way in which Job would have no idea how to do what God does. Job wouldn’t know the first thing about bringing wicked people to the grave.
So, God has brought out several ways in which Job is unable to be God. But if Job somehow were able to do these things, then the following would be the case…
14 Then will I [also/myself] [confess/acknowledge/admit] unto thee
that thine own right hand can save thee.
And this is a way for God to speak of Job as if he were self-sufficient – that his right could save him. Several times in the Psalms, the author speaks of God saving him with his right hand. This is something that God alone can do.
And so then of course, it’s also something that Job cannot do.
And this kind of reminds me of something that happened this weekend. Watertown, where we live, has a nice Park and Recreation league for youth soccer. It’s actually very large in my estimation and gets many many young people involved from 4 year olds to 8th grade.
The problem is that that many kids requires a number of coaches. Volunteer coaches. But most parents start out like me – they think they wouldn’t be able to do it.
But for me, it only took one year of seeing my son being coached by a high school girl who never played soccer to realize that I can do at least what she was doing! So, I’ve been coaching our oldest son for two years and now I’m coaching our youngest son this season.
And at the level I’m coaching, the coaches are the referees as well. We ref and coach, which maybe explains why I’m so tired these days!
Anyway, the other team we were playing this weekend had no coach for a while into the season. None of the parents were willing to step forward. They all want their son in soccer – but none of them were willing to make that possible by being the coach.
Well, finally someone did step up and took that responsibility. But I don’t know who that is because for whatever reason yesterday he scheduled an oil change during the game. So it was just me – coaching and ref’ing two teams of around seven 1st graders each with numerous family members of these kids sitting and watching the proceedings.
And all of that was fine. But the most frustrating part of the whole ordeal was that a sizeable section of the fans was actually rather critical of me. They were challenging my calls. They were calling out penalties that they thought I should have called, but didn’t.
And of course I am liable to make bad calls and to miss good calls. But I was struck with the combination of two realities at work with these “fans.” The first, is that they have no desire – or perhaps even ability – to put themselves in my position as a referee. And second, despite their total lack of interest in being a creative part of a solution, they feel like somehow they have the ability to make all the right calls at the right time.
Isn’t it amazing how that works? Sometimes, the things that we are least able or even inclined to do, sometimes we get the idea that we are fully capable of doing. That we could do better than what’s currently being done – even though we have no interest whatsoever in doing anything!
And that’s just where Job finds himself. He has been making some very strong statements. He has been calling God to court to explain himself. He has been insinuating that God has been unjust to him.
And God is now coming to him and is in effect saying what I would like to have said to those couch potato fans at that game yesterday – “You want to give this a try? Be my guest!”
Only, the difference between God and myself in that illustration is that God is fully capable of filling his position whereas I’m just an amateur who’s willing to be a fool for the sake of my kids.
And God is willing to be a little “foolish” for the sake of his child Job. If Job thinks that he can do a better job than the Almighty Lord of Heaven and Earth – well, then, God says, “Go for it!”
And when faced with that offer from God – of course, Job is going to have to decline. God is God. And Job is a limited man – limited in terms of power and of knowledge. Job is Job – and not God.
And therefore, Job and we ourselves do well to allow God to be God in our lives. We don’t need to go through the same thing that we see in Job’s life. You don’t need God to throw you the keys to the universe and say, “Good luck!”
What we need is what Job needed. We need to trust God’s wisdom. Not only when things make sense – that’s when it’s easy to trust God wisdom. But we need to trust him even when things are hard – when God’s ways don’t make sense to us. That’s especially when we need to trust his wisdom.
So, may the Lord help us to do just that this week.