|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 17. - Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding. There is an Arab proverb - "As stupid as an ostrich" - which the Arabs justify on five grounds:
(1) The ostrich, they say, will swallow iron, stones, leaden bullets, and other things, which injure and sometimes prove fatal to it.
(2) When hunted, it thrusts its head into a hush, and iron,nee that the hunter does not see it.
(3) It allows itself to be captured by transparent devices.
(4) It neglects its eggs.
(5) Its head is small, and contains but a small quantity of brains. To these grounds I may add that in the South-African ostrich-farms, the birds allow themselves to be confined within a certain space by a fence of sticks and string raised about a foot from the ground. They seem to think that they cannot step over it.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Because God hath deprived her of wisdom,.... Or "made her to forget" (d) what she had; an instance of her forgetfulness is mentioned Job 39:15; and so Leo Africanus (e) says of it, that it is of a very short memory, and presently forgets the place where its eggs are laid;
neither hath he imparted to her understanding; many instances are given of its stupidity by historians, as that it will take anything that is offered to it to eat, stones, iron, &c. (f); that it will thrust its head and neck into a thicket, fancying: it is hid and covered, and that none can see it; which Pliny (g) remarks as an instance of its foolishness; though Diodorus Siculus (h) takes this to be a point of prudence, for the preservation of those parts of it which are weakest. Strabo gives (i) another instance of its stupidity, its being so easily deceived by sportsmen, who, by putting the skin of an ostrich on their hands, and reaching out fruits or seeds to it, it will receive them of them, and be taken. Others observe the smallness of their heads, and so of their brains, as an argument of their want of understanding; and it has been remarked, as a proof of their having but few brains, that Heliogabalus, the Roman emperor, had six hundred heads of ostriches dressed at once for his supper, for the sake of their brains (k).
(d) "oblivisci fecit eum", Montanus, Mercerus, Drusius, Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens. (e) Ut supra. (Desciptio. Africae, l. 9. p. 766.) (f) Aelian. ut supra. (de Animal. l. 5. c. 21.) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 1.((g) Ibid. (Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 1.) (h) Ut supra. (Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 133.) (i) Geograph. l. 16. p. 531. (k) Lamprid. Vit. Heliogab. c. 20, 30.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. wisdom—such as God gives to other animals, and to man (Job 35:11). The Arab proverb is, "foolish as an ostrich." Yet her very seeming want of wisdom is not without wise design of God, though man cannot see it; just as in the trials of the godly, which seem so unreasonable to Job, there lies hid a wise design.
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