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Bible: What Does Job 38-42 Teach Us About Divine Wisdom and Sovereignty?

Updated on September 9, 2016

Sovereign Over Waters


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Divine Wisdom

Speaking from the whirlwind, the LORD rebukes Job for his ignorance of divine wisdom (vv. 1-2; cf. 35:16), and commands him to brace himself for a few stiff questions (v. 3).

Centering on God's omnipotence in creation, these inquiries serve to show Job his limited wisdom and knowledge (38:4-39:30).

First, Yahweh inquires if Job knew his own whereabouts when He created the Earth (v. 4).

When speaking about creating the Earth, He uses construction terms to accommodate Himself to Job's limitations.

God seeks to teach him that he does not really understand who he's dealing with: the Creator of all things (vv. 5-7)!

Next, He discusses the limits He has placed upon the sea (vv. 8-11) and the purpose He has for the dawn (vv. 12-15).

More questions concern places Job has never been (the depths of the sea, v. 16, the abodes of light and darkness, vv. 19-20, the dispersion places of lightning and the east wind, v. 24) and a sight he has never seen (the gates of death, v. 17).

Again, God engages in a little sarcasm to make His point (v. 21).

He refers to special storehouses where He is keeping snow and hail on hand for the end-time Tribulation [vv. 22-23].

Verses 25-30 continue water-related phenomena for which God is solely responsible.

He cares for desolate places, so He causes life-giving water to reach them (vv. 25-27).

Yahweh has created water in all its forms (vv. 28-30).

He then mentions His control of the heavenly bodies (vv. 31-33), and of the clouds and lightning (vv. 34-35).

Even man's wisdom has its origin in Him (v. 36).

Only God knows how to restore parched ground by sending rain (vv. 37-38).

He provides food for lions and the raven (vv. 40-41).

[God has the wisdom and knowledge to create and sustain the universe; He wished to impress these facts upon Job's mind with a marvelous list of questions that no human being can answer.

Job stands rebuked, but somehow you know that this scenario is exactly what he wanted to happen for the longest time].

The Animal Kingdom


Sovereign Over Nature

Job 39

The LORD continues His queries, asking Job if he knows when goats and deer give birth and what the rearing instincts of deer are (vv. 1-4).

Yahweh asks," Who made the wild donkey for the wilderness and the wild ox untamable" (vv. 5-12)?

The ostrich He has created uncaring and stupid, so that it does not protect her young (vv. 13-18).

Verses 19-25 depict the awesome strength and fearlessness God has given the horse.

His nature survey concludes with the ways of the eagle and the hawk: their majesty in flight, their mountain homes, their purpose (vv. 26-30).

[Given Job's familiarity with natural things, God emphasizes His sovereignty over them all to teach him lessons about Himself].

A Land Dinosaur



Job 40

The LORD commands a response from Job, His accuser (vv. 1-2).

Confessing his insignificance, the chastened man promises not to speak again (vv. 3-5).

Yahweh launches on another discourse, prefacing His remarks with the same words as before (vv. 6-7; cf. 38:3).

He issues a direct challenge to Job to deck himself out with his divine attributes (v. 10) and to judge the wicked (vv. 11-13), if he seeks to overrule His judgment (vv. 8-9).

If he can do this feat, then God will admit to him that he can save himself (v. 14).

He turns again to an example from the animal kingdom: the behemoth (which may have been a dinosaur) [vv. 15-24].

It is a grass-eating beast (v. 15), having extraordinary strength in its lower body (v. 16), a long, heavy tail (v. 17a), muscular thighs (v. 17b), and a thick, skeletal frame (v. 18).

Though it is one of His first creations, He still controls it (v. 19) and provides its food and shelter (vv. 20-22).

This monster is not bothered by flood (v. 23) or predator (v. 24).

[God continues to teach Job along the same lines as earlier].

A Different Leviathan


Dinosaurs and Mankind

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Job 41

In this final chapter before the epilogue, God describes the creature called the Leviathan, which may have been a large sea dinosaur.

Verses 1-2 illustrate the insufficient means foolish man employs to complete a task; here, using mere hooks and lines to capture a monster.

With His many questions, God seeks to convince Job that Leviathan "plays hard-ball;" it will not make peace (vv. 3-4a), be subjugated (v. 4b), domesticated (v. 5), or killed (v. 6).

Vain and dangerous would be the attempt at landing it; in fact, no one should even dare to bother it (vv. 7-10).

As Leviathan is master of the sea, so God is King of the universe, indebted to no one (vv. 10b-11).

The LORD seems to enjoy describing Leviathan (v. 12), especially its impenetrable hide and scales (vv. 15-17).

Verses 18-21 portray nothing less than a "fire-breathing dragon."

Its horrible strength terrifies everyone (vv. 22, 25); its tough flesh and hard chest area indicate that it is a formidable foe (vv. 23-24).

No weapon of man can harm it (vv. 26-29); even its underbelly is guarded with armor and causes grooves in the earth when it moves (v. 30).

Leviathan greatly affects the sea when it submerges (v. 31a), surfaces (v. 31b), or swims on top of the water (v. 32).

It is unique in that it is fearless (v. 33), the king of animal pride (v. 34).

[God used Leviathan as a parallel to Himself.

As man cannot conquer it, so he cannot approach Him either].

Job and His Friends


Job Repents and Prays For His Friends

Job 42

The epilogue commences with Job confessing God's omnipotence and sovereignty (vv. 1-2).

The phrase "counsel without knowledge" appears again; this time Job acknowledges that his behavior fits the bill (v. 3; cf. 35:16; 38:2).

Job begs just a few last words in response to God's questions (v. 4).

He has heard and seen enough to move him to self-deprecation and repentance (vv. 5-6).

After inducing Job to repent, the LORD turns His gaze upon the three friends, especially Eliphaz as their designated leader, and rebukes them for their wrong words regarding Him (v. 7).

He commands them to sacrifice a burnt offering, while the vindicated Job intercedes for them (vv. 8-9).

The LORD then restores Job to prosperity, even up to twice what he previously enjoyed (v. 10).

Afterwards, all the "fair weather" relatives and friends rejoin Job and give him a token present (v. 11).

Verses 12-15 delineate the doubled blessings of Job, including three new daughters, who are beautiful and soon to be very wealthy.

Job lives another 140 years before he completes his days.

[Interceding for his three friends constituted a test in itself; having passed it, he received a reward].


1. What is "traditional wisdom"? Why is it not always wise?

2. Do you think that Job's complaint was justified? Why, or why not?

3. What did God wish to accomplish by testing Job?

4. What contradictory emotions often exist in the life of a suffering saint?

5. Given the example of Job's friends, how should we comfort a sufferer today?

6. What impressions of God do you receive from reading Job?

7. What might we conclude about men who know all the theological facts, but who still take the position of the comforters?

8. Do you think that Elihu's argument completely answered Job's dilemma?

9. What must believers realize about Job's case?

10. What could the “fire-breathing” dragon represent?

11. Why was Elihu not included when God rebuked the friends?

12. Why does Satan not appear in the epilogue?

© 2014 glynch1


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