Job 38 Commentary: Verses 34-41 | If my reckoning is right, we’ve seen God ask Job 31 questions so far.
Q1: Who is this?
Q2: Foundations of the Earth
Q3-4: Measuring the Earth
Q5-6: Foundation and Corner Stone of the Earth
Q7: The Sea
Q8: Bring the Morning
Q9-10: Source of the Seas
Q11-12: Death and Darkness
Q14-15: Light and Darkness
Q16-17: Snow and Hail
Q18-19: Lightning and the East Wind
Q20-21: Floods and Thunder
Q22-23: Rain and Dew
Q24-25: Ice and Frost
Q26-27: Pleiades and Orion
Q28-29: Constellations and the Bear
Q30-31 Rules of Heaven on Earth
And so, let’s turn our attention once more to Job, chapter 38. We’ll hopefully cover the end of this chapter and get through verse 12 of chapter 39.
Job 32 Commentary | Q32: Commanding the Clouds
So, the last few questions that God has asked Job concern the heavens. But now – coming back down from the heavens but not quite yet to the earth – the Lord in verse 34 asks Job about whether he can command the clouds to do anything.
34 Canst thou [lift up/raise] thy voice to the clouds,
[that/so that] [an/a…] [abundance/flood] of [waters/water] [may cover/will cover/covers] thee?
And the answer of course is “No.” Job can’t command the clouds to send rain on him.
Job 32 Commentary |Q33: Commanding Lightning
And sometimes out of those clouds that God just asked Job about, lightning comes forth. He just asked if Job is able to command the clouds. The answer is “Negative.” So now, God wants to ask if Job is able to command lightning to do anything in verse 35.
35 Canst thou [send/send forth/send out] [lightnings/lightning bolts], [that/and] they [may go/go],
[and/Will they] say unto thee, Here we are?
So, God pictures the lightning reporting to duty to Job – “here we are!” they say.
But of course, that’s a rather humorous picture in our mind – of lightning bolts coming at Job’s command and registering with him for their assignment.
And it’s funny, because it’s impossible. And Job would have known that.
And if it’s impossible for Job to command clouds and lightning, then Job shouldn’t be surprised that he can’t command matters in his life to conform to what he thinks they should be.
He’s been thinking that – as a righteous man – he should not be suffering. Suffering of this magnitude belongs only to wicked men – Job has thought. So has his three friends.
And so, we’ve seen Job basically command God to come and explain to him his actions in Job’s life. But instead of obeying Job’s command, God has been asking him these impossible questions!
God is turning out to be just as resistant to being bossed around by Job as are the clouds and lightning!
Job 32 Commentary | Q34-35: Wisdom and Understanding in Man
Now, God has spoken of things in the heavens, of things in the clouds, and now he is going to ask Job about wisdom and understanding in humans in verse 36.
36 Who hath put wisdom in the [inward parts/innermost being/heart]?
or [who hath given/given/has imparted] understanding to the [heart/mind]?
So, how does that happen? How does it turn out that you and I can gain wisdom – skill in living this life? Who gives wisdom and understanding? It’s the Lord, of course.
And it’s not up to a man to put wisdom in his own heart – as if someone could get ahold of an instruction manual on how to create wisdom and then how to inject it into a person.
God alone knows how to grant wisdom to his human creatures.
Job 32 Commentary | Q36-37: Numbering Clouds and Sending Rain
And then the Lord lifts Job’s eyes back up to the sky and asks him about numbering the clouds and sending rain. Can Job do that? Verses 37 and 38.
37 Who [->] can [number/count] the clouds [<-] [in/by] wisdom?
[or/and] who can [stay/tip/tip/over] the [bottles/water jars] of heaven,
38 When the dust [groweth into hardness/hardens into a mass],
and the [clods/clumps of earth] [cleave fast/stick] together?
Now, catch that the Lord is again mentioning wisdom here. He asked Job in his last question who puts wisdom into people’s inner beings. And the answer of course was that God alone does that. And Job doesn’t – not even for himself.
So, it’s impossible for a person to put wisdom into himself. And if that’s the case, then using that wisdom on the scale that God speaks of here is equally out of the reach of humanity.
I think that if you were to go outside on a partly-cloudy day you might have difficulty counting all the clouds that are within your view even. How much harder would it be to count all of the clouds that are hovering over all of the earth at one time?! It would be impossible for us.
And then God pictures himself as doing something with those clouds. He once more sends rain from them. And he speaks of those clouds as if they are bottles that hold water – and he can just tip them over – or hold them back for that matter.
And if he doesn’t allow those metaphorical bottles to tip over and spill out their contents of rain, then the dust on the earth hardens. That’s what happens in a drought.
But once more, God is able to count the clouds and then to send or withhold rain from those clouds. And he does this all by his wisdom.
And God does everything by his wisdom. He knows what to do and when. He has skill in managing this creation.
And it’s that wisdom that we need to trust when we can’t understand God’s ways.
And there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve your situation in life. There’s nothing wrong with seeking God to release you from certain uncomfortable or difficult circumstances in your life. And yet, if God doesn’t move you and he makes it clear to you that where you are is exactly where he wants you to be – then you can sit tight and trust God’s wisdom in your life.
God is the one who gives wisdom to man. He’s the one who uses that wisdom in a way that is beyond our comprehension. You can trust him. You must trust him. He is trustworthy. He’s responsible. He knows what’s going on – in all of creation – and even in your life.
Job 32 Commentary | Q38-39: Feeding Lions
Now, in the rest of this chapter and a good portion of the next chapter, the Lord turns the focus of his questions to the realm of the animal kingdom.
And certainly, Job wouldn’t know the first thing about making sure that lions are fed – verses 39 and 40.
39 [Wilt thou/Can you/Do you] hunt the prey for the [lion/lioness]?
[or/and] [fill/satisfy] the appetite of the [young lions/lions],
40 When they [couch/crouch] in their dens,
and abide in [the covert/the thicket/their lair] to lie in wait?
Now, we don’t have lions in this area, very thankfully. And so, you probably have never seen a lion hunt its prey.
But maybe you’ve seen a video of this happening. Our boys used to love watching that kind of programming. It’s amazing stuff – if not a stark reminder of how Adam’s sin affected even the animals in God’s creation.
But, you might think – as you see that lion stalk and then spring toward the gazelle or whatever other creature – that this is just the natural course of things. That lion is just doing what comes naturally to him.
Yes – but God is taking credit for providing that specific lion with that specific gazelle. God after Adam’s sin – and certainly after the flood created what we know as the Food Chain. And somehow through that system every creature on this planet is sustained.
And that means that God has to juggle the feeding of every single animal in the world.
Job 32 Commentary | Q40: Feeding Ravens
Well, Job might be excused for not knowing how to feed lions. They’re dangerous creatures. But what about a creature that’s smaller and not as potentially harmful? What about the ravens? Can Job feed the ravens? Verse 41.
41 Who [provideth/prepares] for the raven [his food/its nourishment/prey]?
when [his young ones/its young] [cry/cry out] unto God,
[they/and] wander [about…] [for lack of/without] [meat/food].
So, God feeds these birds just like he feeds lions. And God seems to indicate here that he has some compassion – even on these birds. It’s as if God responds to the crying of the young of these birds by ensuring that there is food for them to eat.
And this makes us remember what the Son of God – Jesus Christ – said about birds.
He told us that not even a sparrow – a bird much smaller than a raven – falls dead to the ground apart from our Heavenly Father. God knows about the death of each sparrow. He has some level of concern regarding what happens to them.
And as you remember, Jesus used that reality to remind us that God cares very much about us. We’re not to worry – even in the face of death. We’re not to fear those who can kill only the body – but can’t touch our souls.
And that’s what Job needed to be reminded of – and what we need to remember as well. That in the midst of our trials – the God who is concerned to make sure that ravens are fed will also take care of us. And he’ll do it all according to his wisdom and in his timing.