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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Job 37

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Elihu Sees God in the Storm

A. The great voice of God.

1. (Job 37:1-5) The thunder of His voice.

"At this also my heart trembles,
And leaps from its place.
Hear attentively the thunder of His voice,
And the rumbling that comes from His mouth.
He sends it forth under the whole heaven,
His lightning to the ends of the earth.
After it a voice roars;
He thunders with His majestic voice,
And He does not restrain them when His voice is heard.
God thunders marvelously with His voice;
He does great things which we cannot comprehend.

a. Hear attentively the thunder of His voice: Elihu felt that Job needed a good dose of the greatness of God. It was good advice wrongly applied to Job's situation. Elihu did rightly understand that the mighty sound of thunder seems to man to be the voice of God.

i. "Nor is there a sound in nature more descriptive of, or more becoming, the majesty of God, than that of THUNDER. We hear the breeze in its rustling, the rain in its pattering, the hail in its rattling, the wind in its hollow howlings, the cataract in its dash, the bull in his bellowing, the lion in his roar; but we hear GOD, the Almighty, the Omnipresent, in the continuous peal of THUNDER! This sound, and this sound only, becomes the majesty of Jehovah." (Clarke)

ii. "The Bible contains some magnificent descriptions of the thunderstorm. Psalm 29 is the best of these, but Elihu's poem comes a close second." (Andersen)

b. He does great things which we cannot comprehend: This is a repetition of Elihu's theme that Job had transgressed the line that separates God and man, and that Job presumed to know more than he could or should know from God. In this, Elihu was partially correct.

2. (Job 37:6-13) What the voice of God can do.

For He says to the snow,
'Fall on the earth';
Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.
He seals the hand of every man,
That all men may know His work.
The beasts go into dens,
And remain in their lairs.
From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind,
And cold from the scattering winds of the north.
By the breath of God ice is given,
And the broad waters are frozen.
Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds;
He scatters His bright clouds.
And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance,
That they may do whatever He commands them
On the face of the whole earth.
He causes it to come,
Whether for correction,
Or for His land,
Or for mercy."

a. For He says to the snow: Elihu previously spoke of God's voice as being like mighty thunder. Now he considered that the voice of God commanded the snow, the gentle rain, and the heavy rain; His breath makes ice and freezes the broad waters.

b. He seals the hand of every man, that all men may know His work: The idea is that when God sends the cold and the snow, the farmer cannot do his work. His hand is sealed from further effort, and the time away from work makes him reflect on the work of God.

i. "When the Lord seals up a man's hand, he is unable to perform his labor. The Lord has an object in this, namely, 'that, all men may know his work.' When they cannot do their own work, they are intended to observe his works of God." (Spurgeon)

ii. "To Elihu the weather in all its glory is the glory of God, and God stops people from their work so they can see it. . . . Is not the whole book of Job about men who have been stopped from their work? It is about an enormous work stoppage, an enormous inconvenience that has fallen out of the sky and forced five busy people to drop everything they were doing and to turn for a while to a more important task." (Mason)

c. And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance, that they may do whatever He commands them: Elihu wanted Job to not only appreciate the greatness of God, but also the submission of creation. The implication was that unrepentant Job should submit to God the way His creation does.

i. "In many ways a storm serves as an ideal metaphor for the spiritual problems in Job. For while a storm presents all the outward appearance of chaos, of nature run amok, still throughout it all we know that the Creator remains in absolute control of every detail." (Mason)

B. Elihu's final advice to Job.

1. (Job 37:14-18) Elihu to Job: "You don't know as much as you think you do."

"Listen to this, O Job;
Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.
Do you know when God dispatches them,
And causes the light of His cloud to shine?
Do you know how the clouds are balanced,
Those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge?
Why are your garments hot,
When He quiets the earth by the south wind?
With Him, have you spread out the skies,
Strong as a cast metal mirror?"

a. Listen to this, O Job: Young Elihu again appealed to Job in a very direct and personal way, more personal that the three other friends of Job had.

i. "If there be so much matter of wonder and adoration in the most obvious and sensible works of God, how wonderful must his deep and secret counsels and judgments be! And therefore it would better become thee humbly to admire, and quietly to submit to them, than to murmur or quarrel with them." (Poole)

ii. "Elihu condemns Job sorrowfully, but absolutely; he declares that not only has Job made shipwreck of his faith, but he has become defiant in silencing his friends." (Chambers)

b. Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God: Significantly, God will address Job among similar lines when God begins to speak starting at Job 38 (Do you know … Do you know). Though Elihu here had many of the right ideas, he presented them with a wrong premise, the premise that Job's whole crisis came from his sin.

i. "If Job could not understand how God performs these marvels much less assist him, how then could he understand the far less obvious mysteries of God's providence." (Smick)

ii. "He had convinced Job of his ignorance, and now he will of his impotence and imbecility." (Trapp)

2. (Job 37:19-24) Elihu to Job: "Stop trying to speak to God, and simply fear Him instead."

"Teach us what we should say to Him,
For we can prepare nothing because of the darkness.
Should He be told that I wish to speak?
If a man were to speak, surely he would be swallowed up.
Even now men cannot look at the light when it is bright in the skies,
When the wind has passed and cleared them.
He comes from the north as golden splendor;
With God is awesome majesty.
As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him;
He is excellent in power,
In judgment and abundant justice;
He does not oppress.
Therefore men fear Him;
He shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart."

a. Teach us what we should say to Him: Here Elihu confronted what he believed to be Job's arrogance in saying that man deserved an audience or a justification from God. "Job, if you insist that God owes us an audience, then please teach us what we should say to Him."

i. "He was endeavouring to bring him to realize the impossibility of knowing God perfectly, and the consequent folly of his complainings. The truth so expressed is a great one, and had application to Elihu also. He could not find God out, and he did not understand the mystery of Job's sufferings." (Morgan)

ii. "These chapters intensify the sense of the loneliness and solitude of Job. He stands there, silent and alone, with none to sympathize with him, none to enter into his perplexities; condemned as impious, heretical, and even blasphemous, by the concordant voice of friends and bystanders; alike by his own generation, and by that which was growing up to take its place; yet 'enduring to the end,' contra mundum - contra ecclesiam, we may almost add - unus, and awaiting with trust and confidence the verdict of his God." (Bradley)

iii. He comes from the north as golden splendor: "The meaning is that man by nature is utterly ignorant. He knows nothing of God in heaven above. All is darkness there to him. Yet God is there in all His wondrous glory. And just as when a storm has dispersed all the dark clouds and cleared the air, so, when God reveals Himself, His light and truth are seen." (Bullinger)

b. As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him: Elihu returned to his theme of God's distance and transcendence. He wanted to discourage Job from insisting that God owed him (or anyone else) an audience or an explanation.

i. Significantly, the God whom Elihu believed to be utterly beyond and unreachable by man (we cannot find Him) has come in the storm, and will speak to Job. It seems that God had finally heard enough of the almost-right wisdom of man, and had heard enough of this talk that He was so beyond man that He was beyond reach. God was about to confront not only Job, but his three friends and especially Elihu, with both His words and His presence.

ii. "The rushing mighty wind, for which the description of the thunder and lightning had prepared poor, confounded, astonished Job, proclaims the presence of Yahweh: and out of this whirlwind God answers for and proclaims himself! Reader, canst thou not conceive something of what these men felt? Art thou not astonished, perplexed, confounded, in reading over these descriptions of the thunder of God's power? Prepare, then, to hear the voice of God himself out of this whirlwind." (Clarke)

iii. "In the story of Job, too, the Lord has apparently been sound asleep until now, peacefully curled up in the stern of the boat while Job has been struggling all alone with the wind and the waves. . . . in the case of Job He let the storm rage for 37 chapters, until finally He calmed not the storm itself, but Job's heart." (Mason)

© 2007 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Study Guide for Esther 1 ← Prior Book
Study Guide for Psalm 1 Next Book →
Study Guide for Job 36 ← Prior Chapter
Study Guide for Job 38 Next Chapter →
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