|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
39:1-30 God inquires of Job concerning several animals. - In these questions the Lord continued to humble Job. In this chapter several animals are spoken of, whose nature or situation particularly show the power, wisdom, and manifold works of God. The wild ass. It is better to labour and be good for something, than to ramble and be good for nothing. From the untameableness of this and other creatures, we may see, how unfit we are to give law to Providence, who cannot give law even to a wild ass's colt. The unicorn, a strong, stately, proud creature. He is able to serve, but not willing; and God challenges Job to force him to it. It is a great mercy if, where God gives strength for service, he gives a heart; it is what we should pray for, and reason ourselves into, which the brutes cannot do. Those gifts are not always the most valuable that make the finest show. Who would not rather have the voice of the nightingale, than the tail of the peacock; the eye of the eagle and her soaring wing, and the natural affection of the stork, than the beautiful feathers of the ostrich, which can never rise above the earth, and is without natural affection? The description of the war-horse helps to explain the character of presumptuous sinners. Every one turneth to his course, as the horse rushes into the battle. When a man's heart is fully set in him to do evil, and he is carried on in a wicked way, by the violence of his appetites and passions, there is no making him fear the wrath of God, and the fatal consequences of sin. Secure sinners think themselves as safe in their sins as the eagle in her nest on high, in the clefts of the rocks; but I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord, #Jer 49:16". All these beautiful references to the works of nature, should teach us a right view of the riches of the wisdom of Him who made and sustains all things. The want of right views concerning the wisdom of God, which is ever present in all things, led Job to think and speak unworthily of Providence.
Verse 16. - She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers. This is a deduction from what has preceded, and discloses no new fact. Recent careful observation of the habits of the ostrich indicates that the parental instinct is not wanting, though it may be weaker than in most birds. Both the male and the female incubate at night, and, when the nest is approached by the hunter, the parent bird or birds will leave it, and try to draw him away from it by running on in front of him, or feigning to attack him, much as peewits do in our own country. Her labour is in vain without fear; or, though her labour is in vain, she is without fear (see the Revised Version); i.e. though she is often disappointed of her immediate hope of offspring, through her eggs being crushed and destroyed, yet she grows no wiser, she does not fear for the future.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers,.... Hence said to be cruel, Lamentations 4:3; not against the young ones she hatches, for Aelianus (c) reports her as very tender of her young, and exposing herself to danger for the preservation of them; but being a very forgetful creature, having laid its eggs in the sand, where it leaves them, forgets where it has laid them; and finding other eggs sits on them and hatches them, and regards the young as its own, and is hardened against its true and real young, as not belonging to her;
her labour is in vain without fear; in laying her eggs and leaving them in the dust, without fear of their being crushed and broken, which yet they are, and so her labour is in vain; or her labour in hatching the eggs of others, without any fear or care of their belonging to others, which yet they do, and so she labours in vain.
(c) Ut supra. (Vid. Aelian. l. 4. c. 37.)
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. On a slight noise she often forsakes her eggs, and returns not, as if she were "hardened towards her young."
her labour—in producing eggs, is in vain, (yet) she has not disquietude (about her young), unlike other birds, who, if one egg and another are taken away, will go on laying till their full number is made up.
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