Then Jehovah answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel By words without knowledge?
Gird up now thy loins like a man; For I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who determined the measures thereof, if thou knowest?
Or who stretched the line upon it? Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened?
Or who laid the corner-stone thereof, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?Job 38:1-7 ASV
The most perplexing problem in the whole book of Job is in these two verses. Of whom is God speaking in Job 38:2?
The question is not, “To whom does God speak”? That is clear enough. He spoke to Job.
But the question is, “Of whom does he speak”? Scholars are sharply divided on the question. Some commentators have applied Job 38:2 to Job, others to Elihu.
(1) Applying the words to Job is a contradiction of Job 42:7-8. The advocates of that interpretation, however, are not bothered by the contradiction, Because they assign the entire Epilogue to a different author from the poetic Dialogue, making it an argument for multiple authorship of Job.
Although we have interpreted the Epilogue and the Prologue as the work of Moses, who was inspired of God, we cannot believe that his inspired approval of Job’s words regarding God would have been given if God indeed had said in Job 38:2, here, that those words were `without knowledge.’
(2) The verse is profoundly true as an evaluation of the Elihu speeches, as we have frequently noted in the preceding notes.
(3) The application of these words to Job leaves the entire six chapters of the Elihu speeches dangling without any response whatever from any person whomsoever, thus supporting the affirmation that the six chapters are an interpolation. Our acceptance of the unity of Job, as regards the whole of it, except the Prologue and the Epilogue forbids that explanation.
(4) It cannot be denied that God interrupted and terminated Elihu’s tirade. God by that action indicated the same evaluation of Elihu’s words that Job 38:2 declares; and if Job 38:2 were placed in a parenthesis, that fact would be clearly indicated by the punctuation.
We shall not take the space to line up scholars on both sides of the question. The alleged problem disappears if we apply the words as God’s parenthetical and derogatory dismissal of everything Elihu said.
The big thing here is that Almighty God appeared to Job in one of the most remarkable theophanies in the Bible. What did that mean?
It meant that God approved of Job, that Job’s integrity was established in the only place where it mattered, namely, with God Himself.
In Job 31:5, Job had pleaded with God to answer him; and here God did so. That is the colossal fact of these concluding chapters; and it dramatically establishes the truth that God approved of Job, and that God loved him.
God honored him as few men in the history of the world were honored; and the undeniable corollary of this is that Job 38:2 was in no sense whatever addressed to Job, but to Elihu.
May the Almighty answer me (Job 31:35), Job had pleaded; And now God really answers, and indeed out of a storm.
God would at this point speak repeatedly to Job, asking many questions about many different things.
How, beyond all imagination, is the character of such a man elevated and glorified by this most astonishing event, unparalleled by anything else in the history of mankind, Jesus Christ himself alone standing any higher in such a relationship than did Job.
“Then Jehovah answered Job” (Job 38:1). God’s answer, however, is a surprise. He did not answer any of Job’s questions, except in the implications of this reply. “This was not because the questions have no answers.”
He answered Job with a barrage of counter-questions concerning the mysteries of the entire sidereal creation; and it is evident that this brought healing, comfort and satisfaction to Job.
God’s not giving specific answers to Job’s questions suggests that:
(1) It is not possible for man to know all the answers and that,
(2) It is enough to know that God loves him (as evidenced to Job in the very fact of God’s speaking to him).
(3) Also, by God’s not giving Job a list of his transgressions, there is the dramatic affirmation that Job’s misfortunes did not come as punishment for his wickedness; and yet God did not reveal to Job the real secret of what had happened, namely, that exchange between God and Satan in the Prologue.
(4) In this, there is another key discernment, 1e, that it is best for man not to know the reasons why this or that occurs in his life.
“Then Jehovah answered Job out of the whirlwind” (Job 38:1). Job’s troubles started when a great wind killed his children; and now in a whirlwind Job began his return to happiness and prosperity.
This is not the storm that might have been described by Elihu in the previous chapter; because the final paragraph there, “Appears to describe the calm as the storm abates.” The glorious light mentioned in that paragraph indicated the cessation of the storm.
“Gird up now thy loins like a man” (Job 38:3). The word here rendered ‘man’ is translated by Pope as `hero.’ “Gird your loins like a hero.” Here is the true picture of God’s estimate of Job.
In fact, Job is here invited to do the very thing he had longed to do, that is, to plead his case before God; and there is the implication that God considers Job worthy to do such a thing. This, God would most certainly not have done, if he had just finished saying that Job’s words without knowledge were darkening counsel.
All of the questions God asked were not for the purpose of humiliating Job, or mocking him.
In this loving and gentle admonition God was leading Job into the knowledge that the specific answers he sought were impossible for mortal men to know. Note also, that God did not criticize Job for his tearful and aggressive search for such answers.
In the light of these considerations, we do not think that it is necessary to investigate all of these questions one by one. In the aggregate the answers to all of them were impossible for Job to know; and mankind today is no more able to answer all the questions than was he. Every great mystery that science has solved proves not to be the ultimate reality.
Every door which the intelligence of men has unlocked has failed to disclose the Great Truth; but, conversely, has opened upon a corridor reaching into infinity with many doors remaining yet to be unlocked.
Indeed, the Great Truth may not be any fact or formula whatever, but the Great Person, God Himself. This was the marvelous answer that came to Job. Knowing God and being loved and known by Him – that is the Great Answer, the Great Truth, the Great Joy, the Great Salvation, Eternal Life!
“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth, … when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).
“The sons of God” are here the angels, because man was last in the Creation.