|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 6. - Whose house I have made the wilderness. The Mesopotamian regions inhabited by the Asinus hemippus are those vast stretches of rolling plain, treeless, producing a few aromatic shrubs and much wormwood, which intervene between the Sinjar mountain-range and the Babylonian alluvium. Here the wild ass was seen by Xenophon and the Ten Thousand, in company with ostriches, gazelles, and bustards (Xen., 'Anab.,' 1:5); and here Sir Austin Layard also made its acquaintance ('Nineveh and Babylon,' p. 270). The Asians onager frequents the deserts of Khorassan and Beloochistan, which are even more barren than the Mesepotamian. And the barren land his dwellings; rather, the salt land (see the Revised Version). The great desert of Khorassan is largely impregnated with salt, and in places encrusted with it. The wild ass licks salt with avidity.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Whose house I have made the wilderness,.... Appointed that to be his place of residence, as being agreeable to his nature, at a distance from men, and in the less danger of being brought into subjection by them. Such were the deserts of Arabia; where, as Xenophon (n) relates, were many of these creatures, and which he represents as very swift: and Leo Africanus (o) says, great numbers of them are found in deserts, and on the borders of deserts; hence said to be used to the wilderness Jeremiah 2:24;
and the barren land his dwellings; not entirely barren, for then it could not live there; but comparatively, with respect to land that is fruitful: or "salt land" (p); for, as Pliny (q) says, every place where salt is, is barren.
(n) De Expedition. Cyri, l. 1.((o) Descriptio Africae, l. 9. p. 752. (p) "salsuginem", Montanus; "salsuginosam terram", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (q) Nat. Hist. l. 31. c. 7.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. barren—literally, "salt," that is, unfruitful. (So Ps 107:34, Margin.)
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