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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Job 37

 

 


Verse 1

Job 37:1. At this also my heart trembleth — These are a few of the works of God; and though there be innumerable more, yet this one single effect of his power strikes terror into me, and makes my heart tremble, as if it would leap out of my body and leave me dead. Elihu continues here his speech, which he had begun before, concerning the incomprehensible works of God; and limits himself chiefly, as he had in the foregoing chapter, to the wonders God doeth in the clouds. To which, at last, he subjoins the amazing extent and brightness of the sky; in which the sun shines with a lustre which we are not able to behold. And thence concludes, that the splendour of the Divine Majesty is infinitely more dazzling, and that we must not pretend to give an account of his counsels.


Verse 2

Job 37:2. Hear attentively the noise of his voice — Or, as ברגז קלו, berogez kolo, may properly be rendered, his voice with trembling. The thunder is called God’s voice, because by it God speaks to the children of men to fear before him: and the sound that goeth out of his mouth — That is produced by his word or command. Poole, Henry, and divers other commentators, have thought it probable that, at this time, while Elihu was speaking, it thundered greatly, and that the tempest was begun wherewith God ushered in his speech, as it follows, Job 38:1. And this, they suppose, might occasion Elihu’s return to that subject, of which he had discoursed before. Bishop Patrick thus paraphrases this verse: “Hearken, I beseech you, seriously to the horrible noise which comes out of some of those clouds, and it will astonish you also. The smallest murmurs of it are so dreadful, that it may be fitly styled the voice of God calling men to stand in awe of him.”


Verses 3-5

Job 37:3-5. He directeth it — Namely, his voice, his thunder; under the whole heaven — It is heard far and near, for he darts it through the whole region of the air: and his lightning, &c. — Preceded by terrible, and often most destructive flashes of lightning, which shoot from one end of heaven to the other. After it a voice roareth — After the lightning follow awful claps of thunder, more tremendous than the roarings of a lion; and he will not stay them — They grow louder and louder, till they conclude in a violent tempest of rain or hail. God thundereth marvellously — With a wonderful and terrible noise, and so as to produce, by the accompanying lightning, many wonderful effects, as the breaking down of great and strong trees, or buildings, and the killing of men and beasts in an instantaneous and awful manner. Great things doeth he — Even in the course of nature, and in the visible parts of the creation. Which we cannot comprehend — Which all men see, but of which few or none can give the true and satisfactory reasons. And therefore it is not strange if the secret and deep counsels of divine providence be out of our reach. And it would argue great pride and arrogancy in us if we should take upon us to censure them, because we do not understand them.


Verses 6-8

Job 37:6-8. He saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth — By his powerful will the snow is formed in the air, and falls upon the earth where and when he sees fit. And the great rain of his strength — Those storms of rain which come with great force and irresistible violence. He sealeth up the hand of every man — By these great snows and rains he drives men out of the fields, and seals or binds up their hands from their work, confining them to, and, in a manner, shutting them up in their houses. Or, ביד, bejad, by his hand, or power, (that is, by those powerful works of his hands here mentioned,) he sealeth, or shutteth up, or keepeth close, every man, namely, in his house, as the wild beasts in their dens, Job 37:8. That all men may know his work — That men, being hindered from their own ordinary labour, and perfectly at leisure, may apply themselves to a serious consideration of these and other great and glorious works of God. Then — In great rains or deep snows; the beasts go into dens — For shelter and comfort, and are compelled to continue therein.


Verse 9-10

Job 37:9-10. Out of the south — Hebrew, מן החרד, min ha-chered: εκ ταμειων: de promptuariis, out of the store-houses, LXX.; ab interioribus, from the inner chambers, Vulgate Latin. The same with the chambers of the south, Job 9:9. Or the southern part of the world, so called, because in a great part it was unknown to those of the northern hemisphere, in which Job and his friends lived. Cometh the whirlwind — Violent and stormy winds; which, in those parts, most frequently came out of the south, whence they are called whirlwinds of the south, Zechariah 9:14; Isaiah 21:1. And cold out of the north — That is, cold and freezing winds, which generally come from that quarter. “From one quarter of the heavens blow turbulent winds; and, from the opposite quarter, those cold blasts, which clear and purify the air again.” By the breath of God frost is given, &c. — “By the like sharp blasts God sends the frost; and binds up the waters so fast that they cannot flow.” — Bishop Patrick. Or, as the latter clause, ורחב מים במוצק, verechab maim be-mutzak, may be rendered, He swelleth the waters by the thaw.


Verse 11-12

Job 37:11-12. Also by watering — The earth; by causing the clouds first to receive, and then to convey to distant parts, and afterward to pour forth, abundance of water; he wearieth the thick clouds — Alluding to men’s being wearied with carrying burdens, travelling, and labour. By filling and burdening them with much water, and making them go long journeys to water remote countries, and, at last, to spend and empty themselves there, he, as it were, wearies and fatigues them. He scattereth his bright cloud — As for the white and lightsome clouds, he scattereth and dissolveth them by the wind or sun. But here also the Hebrew will easily admit a different translation. If we consider ברי, beri, here rendered by watering, as being one word, derived from barah, signifying serenity, the meaning is, Fair weather also disperseth the cloud; his sun scattereth the cloud abroad. It is turned round about — The cloud, now mentioned, is carried about to this or that place; by his counsels — Not by chance, (though nothing seems more casual than the motions of the clouds,) but by his order and governance. That they way do whatsoever he commandeth them — Either be dispersed and pass away without effect, to the disappointment of the husbandman’s hopes, or be dissolved in sweet and fertilizing showers.


Verse 13

Job 37:13. Whether for correction — Hebrew, אם לשׁבשׂ, im leshebet, whether for a rod, to scourge or correct men by immoderate showers. The word, however, also means, a tribe, for a certain portion of land, which God intends particularly to favour or punish, in that way. Or for his land Hebrew, לארצוle-artzo, for his earth; the whole earth, which is said to be the Lord’s, Psalms 24:1; Psalms 50:12; and so this may denote a general judgment by excessive rains inflicted upon the whole earth, and all its inhabitants, namely, the universal deluge, which came, in a great measure, out of the clouds, and was, in a manner, then fresh in the memories of men. And thus these first two members of the sentence speak of correction, and the last of relief and comfort. Or for mercy — For the benefit of mankind, by cooling and cleansing the air, and refreshing and improving all the fruits of the earth. “It seems not improbable to me,” says Bishop Sherlock, “that these reflections arose from the methods made use of by providence (not worn out of memory in the time of the writer of this book) in punishing the old world, in consequence of the curse laid upon the ground. Such methods they are by which the ground may, at any time, be cursed, and the toil and labour of men increased to what degree God thinks fit.”


Verse 14-15

Job 37:14-15. Hearken unto this, O Job, &c. — Listen diligently unto these things; do not dispute any more with God, but silently consider these his wonderful works, and think, if there be so much matter of wonder in the most obvious works of God, how wonderful must his secret counsels be. Dost thou know when God disposed them? — The things before mentioned, the clouds, rain, snow, and other meteors? Did God acquaint thee with his counsels in the producing and ordering of them? And caused the light of his cloud to shine — Probably the rainbow, seated in a cloud, which may well be called God’s cloud, because therein God puts his bow, Genesis 9:13.


Verse 16-17

Job 37:16-17. Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds? — How God doth, as it were, weigh the clouds in balances; so that, although they are full of water, and heavy, yet they are by his power suspended in the thin air, and kept from falling down upon us in spouts and floods, as sometimes they have done, and generally would do, if not governed by a higher Providence. The works of him who is perfect in knowledge — These are effects and evidences of his infinite power and knowledge. How thy garments are warm — How and why thy garments keep thee warm; or whence it comes, that the air grows mild when the south wind blows.


Verse 18-19

Job 37:18-19. Hast thou, with him, spread out the sky — Wast thou his assistant in spreading out the sky, like a canopy, over the earth? Which is strong — Which, though it be very thin and transparent, yet is also firm, and compact, and steadfast. As a molten looking-glass — Made of brass and steel, as the manner then was. Smooth and polished, without the least flaw. In this, as in a glass, we may behold the glory of God, and the wisdom of his handiwork. Teach us — If thou canst; what we shall say unto him — Of these his wonderful works, or of his divine counsels and ways. For we cannot order our speech — We know neither with what words or matter, nor in what manner, to maintain discourse with him, or plead against him. By reason of darkness — Both because of the darkness of the matter, God’s counsels and ways being a great depth, and far out of our reach; and because of the darkness, or blindness, of our minds.


Verse 20

Job 37:20. Shall it be told him that I speak? — Does he need to be informed of any thing? Is any thing that I have said of him worth his hearing? Will any one report it to him? Will any man dare to approach him? But the Hebrew, אדבר, adabber, should rather be rendered, I should, or I will, speak. Shall I send, or who dare carry, a challenge from me to God, or a message that I am ready and desirous to debate with him concerning his proceedings? This, indeed, thou hast done, in effect, but far be such presumption from me. If a man speak — If a man should be so bold and venturous as to enter the lists with God, surely he shall be swallowed up With the sense of his infinite majesty and spotless purity.


Verse 21

Job 37:21. And now — Or, for now, as the particle ו, vau, is often rendered; the following words containing a reason of those which precede; men see not the bright light, &c. — Men are not able to look upon the brightness of the sun when it shines in the heavens, after the winds have swept away the clouds which before obscured the clear sky. And therefore it is not strange if we cannot see God, or discern his counsels and ways.


Verses 22-24

Job 37:22-24. Fair weather cometh out of the north — From the northern winds, which scatter the clouds and clear the sky. Elihu concludes with some short, but great sayings, concerning the glory of God. He speaks abruptly and in haste, because, it should seem, he perceived God was approaching, and presumed he was about to take the work into his own hands. With God is terrible majesty — Those glorious works of his, which I have described, are testimonies of that great and terrible majesty which is in him; which should cause us to fear and adore him, and not to behave ourselves so irreverently and insolently toward him as Job hath done. We cannot find high out — Namely, to perfection, as it is expressed Job 11:7. We cannot comprehend him; his power, wisdom, justice, and his counsels proceeding from them, are past our finding out. He is excellent in power — Therefore as he doth not need any unrighteous action to advance himself, so he cannot do any, because all such things are acts and evidences of weakness. And in judgment — In the just administration of judgment, he never did nor can exercise that power unjustly, as Job seemed to insinuate. And in plenty of justice — In great and perfect justice, such as no man can justly reproach. He will not afflict — Namely, without just cause, or above measure. He doth not afflict willingly, or from his heart, Lamentations 3:33. He takes no pleasure in doing it. It is his work, indeed, but a strange work, as Isaiah elegantly terms it, Job 28:21. Men do therefore fear him — Hebrew, לכן, lachen, for this cause, namely, because of God’s infinite and excellent perfections, and especially those mentioned in the foregoing verse, men do, or should, fear, or reverence him, and humbly submit to him, and not presume to quarrel or dispute with him. He respecteth not — Hebrew, לא יראה, lo jireh, he doth not, or will not, behold, namely, with respect or approbation; any that are wise of heart — That is, such as are wise in their own eyes, that lean to their own understanding, and despise other men in comparison of themselves, and reject their counsels; or, that are so puffed up with the opinion of their own wisdom, that they dare contend with their Maker, and presume to censure his counsels and actions: which he hereby intimates to be Job’s fault, and to be the true reason why God did not respect nor regard him, nor his prayers and tears, as Job complained. And so this is also a tacit advice and exhortation to Job to be humble and little in his own eyes, if ever he expected any favour from God.

Thus Elihu, having set forth God’s omnipotence in the strongest colours he was able, concludes with an observation very applicable to the subject of dispute before them. “As this speaker,” says Dr. Dodd, “performs the part of a moderator, he seems to have observed the errors on both sides, and to have hit upon the point where the controversy ought to rest, namely, the unsearchable depth of the divine wisdom; with a persuasion that God, who is acknowledged on all hands to be infinitely powerful and just, will certainly find a way to clear up all the irregularities, as they now appear to us, in the methods of his providence, and bring this intricate and perplexed scene, at last, to a beautiful and regular close. The great fault of the speech seems to be this; that he bears too hard upon Job; and his reproofs, though there were some grounds for them, are nevertheless too harsh and severe. Nay, where he endeavours to repeat what Job had said, he gives it, for the most part, a wrong turn, or sets it in some very disadvantageous light. The silence of this good man, therefore, during this long speech of Elihu, may be considered as none of the least instances of his patience; but as he was convinced that one part of the charge brought against him was but too true, namely, that he had been now and then too hasty and intemperate in his expressions, he was resolved not to increase the fault by entering anew into the controversy; but by his silence and attention here, and suffering his passions to subside, he was the better prepared to receive the following speech from Jehovah with that profound humility, and that absolute submission, which became him.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 37:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-37.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, August 5th, 2020
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18
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