Job 42:1
Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
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Job 42:1 - Job 42:10

The close of the Book of Job must be taken in connection with its prologue, in order to get the full view of its solution of the mystery of pain and suffering. Indeed the prologue is more completely the solution than the ending is; for it shows the purpose of Job’s trials as being, not his punishment, but his testing. The whole theory that individual sorrows were the result of individual sins, in the support of which Job’s friends poured out so many eloquent and heartless commonplaces, is discredited from the beginning. The magnificent prologue shows the source and purpose of sorrow. The epilogue in this last chapter shows the effect of it in a good man’s character, and afterwards in his life.

So we have the grim thing lighted up, as it were, at the two ends. Suffering comes with the mission of trying what stuff a man is made of, and it leads to closer knowledge of God, which is blessed; to lowlier self-estimation, which is also blessed; and to renewed outward blessings, which hide the old scars and gladden the tortured heart.

Job’s final word to God is in beautiful contrast with much of his former unmeasured utterances. It breathes lowliness, submission, and contented acquiescence in a providence partially understood. It does not put into Job’s mouth a solution of the problem, but shows how its pressure is lightened by getting closer to God. Each verse presents a distinct element of thought and feeling.

First comes, remarkably enough, not what might have been expected, namely, a recognition of God’s righteousness, which had been the attribute impugned by Job’s hasty words, but of His omnipotence. God ‘can do everything,’ and none of His ‘thoughts’ or purposes can be ‘restrained’ {Rev. Ver.}. There had been frequent recognitions of that attribute in the earlier speeches, but these had lacked the element of submission, and been complaint rather than adoration. Now, the same conviction has different companions in Job’s mind, and so has different effects, and is really different in itself. The Titan on his rock, with the vulture tearing at his liver, sullenly recognised Jove’s power, but was a rebel still. Such had been Job’s earlier attitude, but now that thought comes to him along with submission, and so is blessed. Its recurrence here, as in a very real sense a new conviction, teaches us how old beliefs may flash out into new significance when seen from a fresh point of view, and how the very same thought of God may be an argument for arraigning and for vindicating His providence.

The prominence given, both in the magnificent chapters in which God answers Job out of the whirlwind and in this final confession, to power instead of goodness, rests upon the unspoken principle that ‘the divine nature is not a segment, but a circle. Any one divine attribute implies all others. Omnipotence cannot exist apart from righteousnes’s {Davidson’s Job, Cambridge Bible for Schools}. A mere naked omnipotence is not God. If we rightly understand His power, we can rest upon it as a Hand sustaining, not crushing, us. ‘He doeth all things well’ is a conviction as closely connected with ‘I know that Thou canst do all things’ as light is with heat.

The second step in Job’s confession is the acknowledgment of the incompleteness of his and all men’s materials and capacities for judging God’s providence. Job 42:3 begins with quoting God’s rebuke {Job 38:2}. It had cut deep, and now Job makes it his own confession. We should thus appropriate as our own God’s merciful indictments, and when He asks, ‘Who is it?’ should answer with lowliness, ‘Lord, it is I.’ Job had been a critic; he is a worshipper. He had tried to fathom the bottomless, and been angry because his short measuring-line had not reached the depths. But now he acknowledges that he had been talking about what passed his comprehension, and also that his words had been foolish in their rashness.

Is then the solution of the whole only that old commonplace of the unsearchableness of the divine judgments? Not altogether; for the prologue gives, if not a complete, yet a real, key to them. But still, after all partial solutions, there remains the inscrutable element in them. The mystery of pain and suffering is still a mystery; and while general principles, taught us even more clearly in the New Testament than in this book, do lighten the ‘weight of all this unintelligible world,’ we have still to take Job’s language as the last word on the matter, and say, ‘How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!’

For individuals, and on the wider field of the world, God’s way is in the sea; but that does not bewilder those who also know that it is also in the sanctuary. Job’s confession as to his rash speeches is the best estimate of many elaborate attempts to ‘vindicate the ways of God to man.’ It is better to trust than to criticise, better to wait than to seek prematurely to understand.

Job 42:4, like Job 42:3, quotes the words of God {Job 38:3; Job 40:7}. They yield a good meaning, if regarded as a repetition of God’s challenge, for the purpose of disclaiming any such presumptuous contest. But they are perhaps better understood as expressing Job’s longing, in his new condition of humility, for fuller light, and his new recognition of the way to pierce to a deeper understanding of the mystery, by illumination from God granted in answer to his prayer. He had tried to solve his problem by much, and sometimes barely reverent, thinking. He had racked brain and heart in the effort, but he has learned a more excellent way, as the Psalmist had, who said, ‘When I thought, in order to know this, it was too painful for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I.’ Prayer will do more for clearing mysteries than speculation, however acute, and it will change the aspect of the mysteries which it does not clear from being awful to being solemn-veils covering depths of love, not clouds obscuring the sun.

The centre of all Job’s confession is in Job 42:5, which contrasts his former and present knowledge of God, as being mere hearsay before, and eyesight now. A clearer understanding, but still more, a sense of His nearness, and an acquaintance at first hand, are implied in the bold words, which must not be interpreted of any outward revelation to sense, but of the direct, full, thrilling consciousness of God which makes all men’s words about Him seem poor. That change was the master transformation in Job’s case, as it is for us all. Get closer to God, realise His presence, live beneath His eye and with your eyes fixed on Him, and ancient puzzles will puzzle no longer, and wounds will cease to smart, and instead of angry expostulation or bewildered attempts at construing His dealings, there will come submission, and with submission, peace.

The cure for questionings of His providence is experience of His nearness, and blessedness therein. Things that loomed large dwindle, and dangers melt away. The landscape is the same in shadow and sunshine; but when the sun comes out, even snow and ice sparkle, and tender beauty starts into visibility in grim things. So, if we see God, the black places of life are lighted; and we cease to feel the pressure of many difficulties of speculation and practice, both as regards His general providence and His revelation in law and gospel.

The end of the whole matter is Job’s retractation of his words and his repentance. ‘I abhor’ has no object expressed, and is better taken as referring to the previous speeches than to ‘myself.’ He means thereby to withdraw them all. The next clause, ‘I repent in dust and ashes,’ carries the confession a step farther. He recognises guilt in his rash speeches, and bows before his God confessing his sin. Where are his assertions of innocence gone? One sight of God has scattered them, as it ever does. A man who has learned his own sinfulness will find few difficulties and no occasions for complaint in God’s dealings with him. If we would see aright the meaning of our sorrows, we must look at them on our knees. Get near to God in heart-knowledge of Him, and that will teach our sinfulness, and the two knowledges will combine to explain much of the meaning of sorrow, and to make the unexplained residue not hard to endure.

The epilogue in prose which follows Job’s confession, tells of the divine estimate of the three friends, of Job’s sacrifice for them, and of his renewed outward prosperity. The men who had tried to vindicate God’s righteousness are charged with not having spoken that which is right; the man who has passionately impugned it is declared to have thus spoken. No doubt, Eliphaz and his colleagues had said a great many most excellent, pious things, and Job as many wild and untrue ones. But their foundation principle was not a true representation of God’s providence, since it was the uniform connection of sin with sorrow, and the accurate proportion which these bore to each other.

Job, on the other hand, had spoken truth in his denials of these principles, and in his longings to have the righteousness of God set in clear relation to his own afflictions. We must remember, too, that the friends were talking commonplaces learned by rote, while Job’s words came scalding hot from his heart. Most excellent truth may be so spoken as to be wrong; and it is so, if spoken heartlessly, regardless of sympathy, and flung at sufferers like a stone, rather than laid on their hearts as a balm. God lets a true heart dare much in speech; for He knows that the sputter and foam prove that ‘the heart’s deeps boil in earnest.’

Job is put in the place of intercessor for the three-a profound humiliation for them and an honour for him. They obeyed at once, showing that they have learned their lesson, as well as Job his. An incidental lesson from that final picture of the sufferer become the priest requiting accusations with intercession, is the duty of cherishing kind feelings and doing kind acts to those who say hard things of us. It would be harder for some of us to offer sacrifices for our Eliphazes than to argue with them. And yet another is that sorrow has for one of its purposes to make the heart more tender, both for the sorrows and the faults of others.

Note, too, that it was ‘when Job prayed for his friends’ that the Lord turned his captivity. That is a proverbial expression, bearing witness, probably, to the deep traces left by the Exodus, for reversing calamity. The turning-point was not merely the confession, but the act, of beneficence. So, in ministering to others, one’s own griefs may be soothed.

The restoration of outward good in double measure is not meant as the statement of a universal law of Providence, and still less as a solution of the problem of the book. But it is putting the truth that sorrows, rightly borne, yield peaceable fruit at the last, in the form appropriate to the stage of revelation which the whole book represents; that is, one in which the doctrine of immortality, though it sometimes rises before Job’s mind as an aspiration of faith, is not set in full light.

To us, living in the blaze of light which Jesus Christ has let into the darkness of the future, the ‘end of the Lord’ is that heaven should crown the sorrows of His children on earth. We can speak of light, transitory affliction working out an eternal weight of glory. The book of Job is expressing substantially the same expectation, when it paints the calm after the storm and the restoration in double portion of vanished blessings. Many desolate yet trusting sufferers know how little such an issue is possible for their grief, but if they have more of God in clearer sight of Him, they will find empty places in their hearts and homes filled.

42:1-6 Job was now sensible of his guilt; he would no longer speak in his own excuse; he abhorred himself as a sinner in heart and life, especially for murmuring against God, and took shame to himself. When the understanding is enlightened by the Spirit of grace, our knowledge of Divine things as far exceeds what we had before, as the sight of the eyes excels report and common fame. By the teachings of men, God reveals his Son to us; but by the teachings of his Spirit he reveals his Son in us, Ga 1:16, and changes us into the same image, 2Co 3:18. It concerns us to be deeply humbled for the sins of which we are convinced. Self-loathing is ever the companion of true repentance. The Lord will bring those whom he loveth, to adore him in self-abasement; while true grace will always lead them to confess their sins without self-justifying.He beholdeth all high things - That is, he looks down on everything as inferior to him.

He is a king over all the children of pride - Referring, by "the children of pride," to the animals that are bold, proud, courageous - as the lion, the panther, etc. The lion is often spoken of as "the king of the forest," or "the king of beasts," and in a similar sense the leviathan is here spoken of as at the head of the animal creation. He is afraid of none of them; he is subdued by none of them; he is the prey of none of them. The whole argument, therefore, closes with this statement, that he is at the head of the animal creation; and it was by this magnificent description of the power of the creatures which God had made, that it was intended to impress the mind of Job with a sense of the majesty and power of the Creator. It had the effect. He was overawed with a conviction of the greatness of God, and he saw how wrong it had been for him to presume to call in question the justice, or sit in judgment on the doings, of such a Being. God did not, indeed, go into an examination of the various points which had been the subject of controversy; he did not explain the nature of his moral administration so as to relieve the mind from perplexity; but he evidently meant to leave the impression that he was vast and incomprehensible in his government, infinite in power, and had a right to dispose of his creation as he pleased. No one can doubt that God could with infinite ease have so explained the nature of his administration as to free the mind from perplexity, and so as to have resolved the difficulties which hung over the various subjects which had come into debate between Job and his friends. "Why" he did not do this, is nowhere stated, and can only be the subject of conjecture. It is possible, however, that the following suggestions may do something to show the reasons why this was not done:

(1) We are to remember the early period of the world when these transactions occurred, and when this book was composed. It was in the infancy of society, and when little light had gleamed on the human mind in regard to questions of morals and religion.

(2) In that state of things, it is not probable that either Job or his friends would have been able to comprehend the principles in accordance with which the wicked are permitted to flourish and the righteous are so much afflicted, if they had been stated. Much higher knowledge than they then possessed about the future world was necessary to understand the subject which then agitated their minds. It could not have been done without a very decided reference to the future state, where all these inequalities are to be removed.

(3) It has been the general plan of God to communicate knowledge by degrees; to impart it when people have had full demonstration of their own imbecility, and when they feel their need of divine teaching; and to reserve the great truths of religion for an advanced period of the world. In accordance with this arrangement, God bas been pleased to keep in reserve, from age to age, certain great and momentous truths, and such as were particularly adapted to throw light on the subjects of discussion between Job and his friends. They are the truths pertaining to the resurrection of the body; the retributions of the day of judgment; the glories of heaven and the woes of hell, where all the inequalities of the present state may receive their final and equal adjustment. These great truths were reserved for the triumph and glory of Christianity; and to have stated them in the time of Job, would have been to have anticipated the most important revelations of that system. The truths of which we are now in possession would have relieved much of the perplexity then felt, and solved most of those questions; but the world was not then in the proper state for their revelation.

(4) It was a very important lesson to be taught to people, to bow with submission to a sovereign God, without knowing the reason of his doings. No lesson, perhaps, could be learned of higher value than this. To a proud, self-confident, philosophic mind, a mind prone to rely on its own resources, and trust to its own deductions, it was of the highest importance to inculcate the duty of submission to "will" and to "sovereignty." This is a lesson which we often have to learn in life, and which almost all the trying dispensations of Providence are fitted to teach us. It is not because God has no reason for what he does; it is not because he intends we shall never know the reason; but it is because it is our "duty" to bow with submission to his will, and to acquiesce in his right to reign, even when we cannot see the reason of his doings. Could we "reason it out," and then submit "because" we saw the reason, our submission would not be to our Maker's pleasure, but to the deductions of our own minds.

Hence, all along, he so deals with man, by concealing the reason of his doings, as to bring him to submission to his authority, and to humble all human pride. To this termination all the reasonings of the Almighty in this book are conducted; and after the exhibition of his power in the tempest, after his sublime description of his own works, after his appeal to the numerous things which are in fact incomprehensible by man, we feel that God is great - that it is presumptuous in man to sit in judgment on his works - and that the mind, no matter what he does, should bow before him with profound veneration and silence. These are the great lessons which we are every day called to learn in the actual dispensations of his providence; and the "arguments" for these lessons were never elsewhere stated with so much power and sublimity as in the closing chapters of the book of Job. We have the light of the Christian religion; we can look into eternity, and see how the inequalities of the present order of things can be adjusted there; and we have sources of consolation which neither Job nor his friends enjoyed; but still, with all this light, there are numerous cases where we are required to bow, not because we see the reason of the divine dealings, but because such is the will of God. To us, in such circumstances, this argument of the Almighty is adapted to teach the most salutary lessons.


Job 42:1-6. Job's Penitent Reply.Job’ s humiliation and repentance, Job 42:1-6. God preferring Job’s cause, reproveth his friends, for whom Job must intercede, and God will accept him, Job 42:7-9. God magnifieth and blesseth Job, Job 42:10-15. His age and death, Job 42:16,17.

No text from Poole on this verse.

Then Job answered the Lord, and said. For though he had said he would answer no more, Job 40:5; yet he might mean not in the manner he had, complaining of God and justifying himself; besides he might change his mind without any imputation of falsehood or a lie; see Jeremiah 20:9; to which may be added, that he had then said all he had to say, and did not know he should have more: he then confessed as much as he was convinced of, but it was not enough; and now through what the Lord had since said to him he was more convinced of his ignorance, mistakes, and sins, and had such a sight of God and of himself, that he could not forbear speaking; moreover an injunction was laid upon him from the Lord to speak again, and therefore he was obliged to give in his answer; see Job 40:7. Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
Ch. Job 42:1-6. Job’s reply to the Lord’s Second Address from the Storm

The Lord’s words make Job feel more deeply than before that greatness which belongs to God alone, and with deep compunction he retracts his past words and repents in dust and ashes.

Verses 1-17. - This concluding chapter divides into two parts. In the first part (vers. 1-6) Job makes his final submission, humbling himself in the dust before God. In the second (vers. 7-17) the historical framework, in which the general dialogue is set, is resumed and brought to a close. God's approval of Job is declared, and his anger denounced against the three friends, who are required to expiate their guilt by a sacrifice, and only promised forgiveness if Job will intercede on their behalf (ver. 8). The sacrifice takes place (ver. 9); and then a brief account is appended of Job's after life - his prosperity, his reconciliation with his family and friends, his wealth, his sons and daughters, and his death in a good old age, when he was "full of days" (vers. 10-17.). The poetic structure, begun in Job 3:3, is continued to the end of ver. 6, when the style changes into prose of the same character as that employed in ch.. 1. 2, and in Job 32:1-5. Verses 1, 2. - Then Job answered the Lord, and said, I know that thou caner do every thing; i.e. I know and acknowledge thy omnipotence, which thou hast set forth so magnificently before me in ch. 38-41. It is brought home to me by the grand review of thy works which thou hast made, and the details into which thou hast condescended to enter. I know also and acknowledge that no thought can be with-holden from thee; i.e. I confess also thy omniscience - that thou knowest even the thoughts of all created beings (comp. Psalm 44:21; Psalm 139:2; Hebrews 4:13, etc.). Job 42:1 1 Then Job answered Jehovah, and said:

2 Now I know that Thou canst do all things,

And no plan is impracticable to Thee.

3 "Who then hideth counsel -

Without knowledge?"

Thus have I judged without understanding,

What was too wonderful for me, without knowing.

He indeed knew previously what he acknowledges in Job 42:2, but now this knowledge has risen upon him in a new divinely-worked clearness, such as he has not hitherto experienced. Those strange but wondrous monsters are a proof to him that God is able to put everything into operation, and that the plans according to which He acts are beyond the reach of human comprehension. If even that which is apparently most contradictory, rightly perceived, is so glorious, his affliction is also no such monstrous injustice as he thinks; on the contrary, it is a profoundly elaborated מזמּה, a well-digested, wise עצה of God. In Job 42:3 he repeats to himself the chastening word of Jehovah, Job 38:2, while he chastens himself with it; for he now perceives that his judgment was wrong, and that he consequently has merited the reproof. With לכן he draws a conclusion from this confession which the chastening word of Jehovah has presented to him: he has rashly pronounced an opinion upon things that lie beyond his power of comprehension, without possessing the necessary capacity of judging and perception. On the mode of writing ידעתּ, Cheth., which recalls the Syriac form med'et (with the pronominal suff. cast off), vid., Ges. 44, rem. 4; on the expression Job 42:2, comp. Genesis 11:6. The repetition of Job 38:2 in Job 42:3 is not without some variations according to the custom of authors noticed in Psalter, i. 330. הגּדתּי, "I have affirmed," i.e., judged, is, Job 42:3, so that the notion of judging goes over into that of pronouncing a judgment. The clauses with ולא are circumstantial clauses, Ew. 341, a.

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