The Word Made Fresh
1The LORD said to Job:
2“Are there any who can find fault with God? Let them tell about it!”
3Job responded to the LORD and said, 4“I know that I am unworthy – how can I answer you? I’ll put my hand over my mouth. 5l spoke once or twice, but that is all – I’ll say no more.”
6Then, out of the whirlwind the LORD answered Job: “Tighten your belt like a man: I’ll ask the questions, and you try to answer. 8Will you try to prove me wrong so that you can justify yourself? 9Is your arm like God’s arm? Can your voice thunder like God’s voice?
10“Try to be majestic and dignified and present your case with honor and splendor. 11Pour out your anger on the proud and put them in their place. 12Bring them down in their pride and chew out the misguided ones where they stand. 13Cover them up together in the dirt and hide their faces in the ground. 14Then I will give you courage and you can preserve your integrity with your own right hand.
15“Consider the hippopotamus. I made it just as surely as I made you. It eats grass like an ox. 16Its strength is in it upper legs and power is in its stomach muscles. 17Its tail can be as stiff as a board. The muscles in its thigh are like ropes. 18Its bones are like tubes of bronze and its limbs like bars of iron. 19It is the largest of the great creatures God made, and only its maker can come near it with a weapon. 20The mountains where the wild animals cavort provide its food. 21It sprawls beneath the lotus plant and rests in the reeds and marsh. 22The lotus tree gives it shade and the willows surround it in the creek beds. 23Even if the river is turbulent the hippopotamus is not afraid. The Jordan can rush against its mouth, but it is not scared. 24Can anyone capture it with hooks in its eyes or nose?
1-2: “The LORD said to Job” – God addresses Job here directly. Some scholars think that perhaps the last two chapters have been aimed not just at Job, but also at Elihu, who has presumed to defend God, and at all the friends. There is no doubt, however, that in this section God has Job on the witness stand.
3-5: Job’s response is total submission.
6-9: Verse 7 repeats 38:3 almost exactly. “Tighten your belt” might be rendered “Get ready to defend yourself.” The repeat of this challenge lends credence to the theory that chapters 38 and 39 are not addressed only to Job. God is indignant. Who is Job that he thinks he can challenge God?
10-14: The gist of this passage is something like, “If you can do the things I have done, you ought to be able to overcome your troubles all by yourself.”
15-24: God describes two mighty creatures; Behemoth and Leviathan. Behemoth is a land animal while Leviathan a sea creature. In commentaries Behemoth is sometimes identified as a hippopotamus or rhinoceros (I have chosen the hippo for “The Word Made Fresh,” which fits better with the description in verse 23), sometimes as an imaginary or mythological beast. The point is that it is futile for Job to question God, who alone is able to create such incredible creatures and who alone can tame them.
The lesson here is a simple one: don’t argue with God. Take life as it comes and instead of trying to figure out why we sometimes suffer, trust that God can turn suffering into a blessing. Remember the cross!