Resources » Matthew Henry's Commentary » Job » Chapter 37 » Verses 21–24

Verses 21–24

Elihu here concludes his discourse with some short but great sayings concerning the glory of God, as that which he was himself impressed, and desired to impress others, with a holy awe of. He speaks concisely, and in haste, because, it should seem, he perceived that God was about to take the work into his own hands. 1. He observes that God who has said that he will dwell in the thick darkness and make that his pavilion (2 Chron. 6:1; Ps. 18:11) is in that awful chariot advancing towards them, as if he were preparing his throne for judgment, surrounded with clouds and darkness, Ps. 97:2, 9. He saw the cloud, with a whirlwind in the bosom of it, coming out of the south; but now it hung so thick, so black, over their heads, that they could none of them see the bright light which just before was in the clouds. The light of the sun was now eclipsed. This reminded him of the darkness by reason of which he could not speak (Job 37:19), and made him afraid to go on, Job 37:20. Thus the disciples feared when they entered into a cloud, Luke 9:34. Yet he looks to the north, and sees it clear that way, which gives him hope that the clouds are not gathering for a deluge; they are covered, but not surrounded, with them. He expects that the wind will pass (so it may be read) and cleanse them, such a wind as passed over the earth to clear it from the waters of Noah’s flood (Gen. 8:1), in token of the return of God’s favour; and then fair weather will come out of the north (Job 37:22) and all will be well. God will not always frown, nor contend for ever. 2. He hastens to conclude, now that God is about to speak; and therefore delivers much in a few words, as the sum of all that he had been discoursing of, which, if duly considered, would not only clench the nail he had been driving, but make way for what God would say. He observes, (1.) That with God is terrible majesty. He is a God of glory and such transcendent perfection as cannot but strike an awe upon all his attendants and a terror upon all his adversaries. With God is terrible praise (so some), for he is fearful in praises, Exod. 15:11. (2.) That when we speak touching the Almighty we must own that we cannot find him out; our finite understandings cannot comprehend his infinite perfections, Job 37:23. Can we put the sea into an egg-shell? We cannot trace the steps he takes in his providence. His way is in the sea. (3.) That he is excellent in power. It is the excellency of his power that he can do whatever he pleases in heaven and earth. The universal extent and irresistible force of his power are the excellency of it; no creature has an arm like him, so long, so strong. (4.) That he is not less excellent in wisdom and righteousness, in judgment and plenty of justice, else there would be little excellency in his power. We may be sure that he who can do every thing will do every thing for the best, for he is infinitely wise, and will not in any thing do wrong, for he is infinitely just. When he executes judgment upon sinners, yet there is plenty of justice in the execution, and he inflicts not more than they deserve. (5.) That he will not afflict, that is, that he will not afflict willingly; it is no pleasure to him to grieve the children of men, much less his own children. He never afflicts but when there is cause and when there is need, and he does not overburden us with affliction, but considers our frame. Some read it thus: “The Almighty, whom we cannot find out, is great in power, but he will not afflict in judgment, and with him is plenty of justice, nor is he extreme to mark what we do amiss.” (6.) He values not the censures of those who are wise in their own conceit: He respecteth them not, Job 37:24. He will not alter his counsels to oblige them, nor can those that prescribe to him prevail with him to do as they would have him do. He regards the prayer of the humble, but not the policies of the crafty. No, the foolishness of God is wiser than men, 1 Cor. 1:15. (7.) From all this it is easy to infer that, since God is great, he is greatly to be feared; nay, because he is gracious and will not afflict, men do therefore fear him, for there is forgiveness with him, that he may be feared, Ps. 130:1-8 4. It is the duty and interest of all men to fear God. Men shall fear him (so some); sooner or later they shall fear him. Those that will not fear the Lord and his goodness shall for ever tremble under the pourings out of the vials of his wrath.