Job 38:1-39:30 God Smacks Back

…the Lord does respond… indignation… answer me… almost comical… God’s doing the interrogating… dramatic effect… testing Job’s understanding… I created wisdom — and you didn’t… takes it to a whole new level… Teach me humility…

Job 38:1-39:30

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

Well, as Elihu promised, the Lord (Y@hovah) does respond (`anah) to those who need instruction.

Who [is] this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

The first thing I noticed is that God echoes Elihu’s complaint about words lacking knowledge (millah da`ath). That certainly supports the theory that Elihu was accurately speaking on behalf of God. Also interesting is the phrase obscured counsel (chasak `etsah); counsel is a big deal in Job, whether it’s of God , Job , or most commonly the wicked (rasha’). God’s first reaction appears to be indignation that Job is muddying the waters.

Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

I must say, this strikes me as almost comical. Job has been going on (and on and on) about how he will confront God, only to become unmanned when God actually shows up. Like a mouse bragging to his friends about how he’ll take on a cat, until he realizes that the cat is actually there, watching. To be fair, I don’t think it was sheer bravado on Job’s part. Rather, it was the only way he knew to maintain his sanity and integrity. He was crying out for God as best he could.

Well, he got Him, except God’s doing the interrogating (sha’al yada`). Then follows a series of questions, along the lines of:

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

I usually read these are rhetorical, with God reeling them off one after another. On the other hand, I can also imagine God actually pausing after each “declare” (nagad) query — mostly for dramatic effect. Either way, its pretty powerful stuff. I might summarize it as God testing Job’s understanding (biynah) by asserting His:

* Pre-existence
* Power
* Sovereignty
* Omniscience
* Control of Natural Laws
* Creation of Animal Nature

There’s probably more, but I think that captures the basic flavor. What’s particularly interesting to me is the various allusions to wisdom (chokmah), a word we’ve seen often in Job, also used to translate understanding (biynah):

Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart? Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,

Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding.

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, [and] stretch her wings toward the south?

God’s implication seems to be:

1. I created wisdom — and you didn’t
2. You lack sufficient wisdom to do what I do
3. I also grant and deprive wisdom to creatures as I see fit

I have to say, in a book full of smack-talkers, God takes it to a whole new level. And He’s just getting started.


Lord, what an amazing God you are. What an amazing world you have made. I am even more amazed that you’re willing to take responsibility for all of it: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Teach me humility, that I may grasp the heights and depths of your wisdom and power — and the limits of my own. Amen.