Job 38 Commentary

38:1-42:17      GOD’S ANSWER

Control of the natural world (38:1-38)

Possibly an approaching storm was what prompted Elihu’s poetic praise of the God of nature (see 36:27-37:5). If so, that storm now broke, and through it the voice of God spoke to Job. Job had repeatedly challenged God to a contest. God now accepts (38:1-3).

In his reply, God asks Job questions that he cannot answer, in order to show him how little he knows of the mind and activity of the Almighty. God begins his ironical questioning of Job with a poetic description of his work in creating the world, something that he did long before Job or any other human being was born. Only angels witnessed his work (4-7). God separated the waters in the atmosphere from the waters on the earth and caused dry land to appear (8-11).

God asks Job if he is able to make the sun rise, so that those who rely on darkness to do evil are exposed. They are ‘shaken’ out of their hiding places as insects are shaken out of clothing (12-13). Can Job use the rays of the rising sun to create beautiful patterns and colours on the earth’s surface (14-15)? Has Job been to the depths of the sea or the ends of the earth? Does he know where the sun dwells so that he can make it rise each morning and take it to its resting place each evening? He should, if he has such great knowledge as he claims (16-21).

Does Job know how God controls the weather (22-24)? Who is it that makes snow, hail, wind, rain and lightning (25-30)? Can Job control the stars (31-33)? Can he send floods or create drought as he wishes (34-38)?

Control of the animal world (38:39-39:30)

The pressure on Job increases as God continues with his unanswerable questions. From the natural world in general, God moves to the animal world. He draws Job’s attention to animals that sometimes appear to have no purpose so far as human life is concerned, but are still part of God’s ordering of the world.


God asks Job if he is able to order nature by providing wild animals with food (39-41), while protecting timid animals when they give birth and care for their young (39:1-4). God gives freedom to the wild ass, but at the same time controls the animal and its habitat according to his ordering of nature. Can Job do this (5-8)? Or can Job make a wild ox work like a domestic ox, when God has given the wild ox an instinct that makes it impossible to tame (9-12)?

Some things in God’s creation are puzzling to humans. For example, it appears as if the ostrich neglects her eggs and has no concern for her young, because when she is frightened she runs away and leaves them. People may not understand why the ostrich behaves as it does, but God has given each animal its own particular instinct as he sees fit (13-18). God made the horse with an instinct to be trained. This is impressed upon Job with a description of the spectacular yet fearsome sight of war horses in battle (19-25).

Hawks and eagles make their nests in higher places than other birds, but they are not disadvantaged in looking for food. This is because of their remarkable eyesight, which enables them to see the tiniest objects from a great distance. Can Job compete with a Creator whose wisdom foresaw even the smallest detail (26-30)?

Privacy Policy