|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
37:1-13 The changes of the weather are the subject of a great deal of our thoughts and common talk; but how seldom do we think and speak of these things, as Elihu, with a regard to God, the director of them! We must notice the glory of God, not only in the thunder and lightning, but in the more common and less awful changes of the weather; as the snow and rain. Nature directs all creatures to shelter themselves from a storm; and shall man only be unprovided with a refuge? Oh that men would listen to the voice of God, who in many ways warns them to flee from the wrath to come; and invites them to accept his salvation, and to be happy. The ill opinion which men entertain of the Divine direction, peculiarly appears in their murmurs about the weather, though the whole result of the year proves the folly of their complaints. Believers should avoid this; no days are bad as God makes them, though we make many bad by our sins.
Verse 4. - After it a voice roareth. After the lightning-flash has been seen, the thunderclap comes. In their origin they are simultaneous; but, as light travels faster than sound, unless we are close to the flash, then is an interval, the thunder following on the lightning. He thundereth with the voice of his excellency (see the comment on ver. 2). And he will not stay them when his voice is heard. The words are plain, but the meaning is obscure. What will not God stay? His lightnings? His thunderings? His rain? His hail? There is no obvious antecedent. And in what sense will he not "stay" them? Some explain, "He will not slacken their speed; "others, "He will not cause them to Cease."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
After it a voice roareth,.... After the lightning comes a violent crack or clap of thunder, which is like the roaring of a lion. Such is the order of thunder and lightning, according to our sense and apprehension of them; otherwise in nature they are together: but the reasons given why the lightning is seen before, and so the same in the flash and report of a gun, are, because the sense of seeing is quicker than the sense of hearing (y); and the motion of light is quicker than that of sound; which latter is the truest reason (z). The roaring voice of thunder may be an emblem of the thunder of the law; its dreadful volleys of curses, vengeance, and wrath on the breakers of it, as delivered out by Boanergeses, sons of thunder, Mark 3:17, or the loud proclamation of the Gospel, made by the ministers of it; and the alarming awakening sound of the word, when attended with the Spirit and power of God, to sinners asleep and dead in trespasses and sins; upon which they awake, hear, and live;
he thundereth with the voice of his excellency: that is, God thunders with such a voice, an excellent and majestic one; for his voice of thunder is full of majesty, Psalm 29:4. So is the voice of Christ in the Gospel; he spake when on earth as one having authority, and he comes forth and appears in it now with majesty and glory; and speaks in it of the excellent things which he has done, of the excellent righteousness he has wrought out, of the excellent sacrifice he has offered up, and of the excellent salvation he is the author of;
and he will not stay them when his voice is heard; either the thunder and the lightning, as some; which he does not long defer after he has given out the decree concerning them, the order and disposition for them: or rather the rain and hail; these are not stayed, but quickly follow the flash of lightning and clap of thunder: "for when he utters his voice of thunder, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens"; and these quickly come down and are not stopped, Jeremiah 10:13. The word for "stay" signifies "to supplant", or "act deceitfully"; the name of Jacob is derived from this root, because he supplanted his brother, Genesis 25:26; and so it may be rendered here, "he will not supplant", or "deceive them (a), when his voice is heard": that is, either he does not subvert them, the heavens and earth, but preserves them; though he makes them to tremble with his voice of thunder (b): or he does not act the part of a secret, subtle, and deceitful enemy, when he thunders; but shows himself openly as a King, executing his decrees with authority (c): or rather he deceives none with his voice; none can mistake it; all know it to be the voice of thunder when it is heard: so Christ's sheep know his voice in the Gospel, and cannot be deceived; the voice of a stranger they will not follow, John 10:4.
(y) Senec. Nat. Quaest. l. 2. c. 12. so Aristot. Meteorolog. l. 2. c. 9. (z) The noise is commonly about seven or eight seconds after the flash, that is, about half a quarter of a minute; but sometimes much sooner, in a second or two, or less than so, and almost immediately upon the flash: this is when the explosion is very near us. Philosoph. Transact. abridged, vol. 2. p. 183. see vol. 4. p. 398. (a) "non supplantabit ea", Munster; so Schmidt, Michaelis, Gussetius, p. 633. (b) So Schmidt. (c) So Gussetius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. The thunderclap follows at an interval after the flash.
stay them—He will not hold back the lightnings (Job 37:3), when the thunder is heard [Maurer]. Rather, take "them" as the usual concomitants of thunder, namely, rain and hail [Umbreit] (Job 40:9).
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