Chapter 38

In most disputes the strife is who shall have the last word. Job’s friends had, in this controversy, tamely yielded it to Job, and then he to Elihu. But, after all the wranglings of the counsel at bar, the judge upon the bench must have the last word; so God had here, and so he will have in every controversy, for every man’s judgment proceeds from him and by his definitive sentence every man must stand or fall and every cause be won or lost. Job had often appealed to God, and had talked boldly how he would order his cause before him, and as a prince would he go near unto him; but, when God took the throne, Job had nothing to say in his own defence, but was silent before him. It is not so easy a matter as some think it to contest with the Almighty. Job’s friends had sometimes appealed to God too: “O that God would speak!” Job 11:7. And now, at length, God does speak, when Job, by Elihu’s clear and close arguings was mollified a little, and mortified, and so prepared to hear what God had to say. It is the office of ministers to prepare the way of the Lord. That which the great God designs in this discourse is to humble Job, and bring him to repent of, and to recant, his passionate indecent expressions concerning God’s providential dealings with him; and this he does by calling upon Job to compare God’s eternity with his own time, God’s omniscience with his own ignorance, and God’s omnipotence with his own impotency. I. He begins with an awakening challenge and demand in general, Job 38:2, 3. II. He proceeds in divers particular instances and proofs of Job’s utter inability to contend with God, because of his ignorance and weakness: for, 1. He knew nothing of the founding of the earth, Job 38:4-7. 2. Nothing of the limiting of the sea, Job 38:8-11. 3. Nothing of the morning light, Job 38:12-15. 4. Nothing of the dark recesses of the sea and earth, Job 38:16-21. 5. Nothing of the springs in the clouds (Job 38:22-27), nor the secret counsels by which they are directed. 6. He could do nothing towards the production of the rain, or frost, or lightning (Job 38:28-30, 34, 35, 37, 38), nothing towards the directing of the stars and their influences (Job 38:31-33), nothing towards the making of his own soul, Job 38:36. And lastly, he could not provide for the lions and the ravens, Job 38:39-41. If, in these ordinary works of nature, Job was puzzled, how durst he pretend to dive into the counsels of God’s government and to judge of them? In this (as bishop Patrick observes) God takes up the argument begun by Elihu (who came nearest to the truth) and prosecutes it in inimitable words, excelling his, and all other men’s, in the loftiness of the style, as much as thunder does a whisper.