Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 38–42:6. The Lord answers Job out of the Storm
We are now to witness the last act of the drama. And to understand it we have to go back to the starting-point and recall the idea of the Poem. This idea is expressed in the question, Doth Job serve God for nought? Or, as otherwise put, the idea is, The trial of the Righteous. This trial has been observed proceeding throughout the whole Book. Now it approaches its conclusion. The Lord, who caused it or permitted it, and has watched it from afar, must now interpose to bring it to an end, and bestow on Job the fruits of it. The trial has been successfully borne: for though Job has sinned under it, his sin has not been of the kind predicted by the Adversary; he has continued to cleave to God, and even sounded deeps of faith profounder than ever he had reached before (ch. 19), and tasted the sweets of righteousness with a keener delight than during his former godly life (ch. Job 17:9).
At the point at which we are now arrived the sole object of interest is Job’s mind in its relations to God. The speculative question discussed between him and his friends concerning the meaning of his sufferings, or the meaning of evil in general in the providence of God, has no importance, except so far as the conclusions which Job has arrived at have left his mind in a condition of perplexity in regard to the ways of God. The Author’s didactic purpose in raising the discussion between Job and his friends has been served (ch. 21, 23–24.). Job himself now remains the problem.
Though the trial has been successfully borne upon the whole, Job has not come out of it scatheless. His demeanour towards God, especially in presuming to contend with Him, has been at many points profoundly blameworthy. And the thought, which he refuses to abandon (ch. Job 27:2-6, Job 31:35 seq.), that God is unjust in His rule of the world, even though he maintains it more as a theory and necessary construction of facts as he observes them, without allowing it much to influence his life, or destroy his larger faith in God, is a thought not only derogatory to God, but one that must cripple every religious movement of Job’s heart. So long as such a feeling remains his trial cannot be said to be ended. But nothing that Job himself can do, nor anything that his friends can urge, is able to remove it. It was God, by His mysterious providence, who raised this dark doubt in His servant’s mind, and He must interpose to drive it away.
It might be supposed at first that the simplest way of restoring Job to peace would have been to reveal to him that his afflictions were not due to his sin, but were the trial of his righteousness, and in this way solve the problem that perplexed him. But the elements of blameworthiness in Job’s conduct forbade this simple treatment. The disease had spread in his mind, and developed moral symptoms, which required a broader remedy. Besides, it is God who now speaks to Job; and in His teaching of men He never moves in the region of the mere understanding, but always in that of the religious life. He may remove perplexities regarding His providence and ways from men’s minds, but He does not do so by the immediate communication of intellectual light, but by flushing all the channels of thought and life with a deeper sense of Himself. Under the flow of this fuller sense of God perplexities disappear, just as rocks that raise an angry surf when the tide is low are covered and unknown when it is full. This is the meaning of God’s manifestation to Job out of the storm. He brings Himself and His full glory near to Job, and fills his mind with such a sense of Him as he had never had before—“Now mine eye seeth thee” (ch. Job 42:5). At this sight of God his heart not only quivers with an unspeakable joy, but he abhors his past thoughts of Him, and his former words, and repents in dust and ashes.
The object of the Lord’s answer to Job out of the storm is twofold, to rebuke Job, and to heal him—to bring home to his heart the blameworthiness of his words and demeanour towards God, and to lift him up out of his perplexities into peace. The two things hardly differ; at least both are effected by the same means, namely by God’s causing all His glory to pass before Job.
The Lord’s answer to Job out of the storm consists of two parts, or contains two questions:—
First, ch. Job 38:1 to Job 40:5, Shall mortal man contend with God?
Second, ch. Job 40:6 to Job 42:6, Shall man charge God with wrong in His rule of the world?
The two questions, however, are hardly kept apart, for the first implies the second, inasmuch as a man’s contention with God will naturally be because of His unjust treatment of himself. And Job, in his final words of penitence (ch. Job 42:1-6), refers back to ch. Job 38:2.
In the beginning of His first address Jehovah invites Job to enter upon that contention with Him, which he had so often sought, “Gird up thy loins like a man; and I will demand of thee, and answer thou me” (ch. Job 38:3). The point aimed at by the Divine Speaker is the presumption of Job in desiring to contend with the Almighty. Then the Lord causes a panorama of creation, both inanimate and living, to pass before Job (ch. Job 38:4 to Job 39:30). Having done so He demands, “Will he that reproveth the Almighty contend with Him”? (ch. Job 40:2.) Does Job, now that the glory of God has been made to pass before his eyes, continue to desire to contend with Him? To which Job replies, “Behold I am too mean; how shall I answer thee? I lay mine hand upon my mouth” (ch. Job 40:4). The exhibition of the great panorama of creation was but a method of revealing God, not in one attribute but in all His manifoldness and resource of mind. It was designed to abase Job before God, and rebuke his presumption. And this was its effect: “Behold I am too mean”! But the revelation of God had another design besides abasing Job. It was given to Job that he might know God, and be at peace (ch. Job 22:21).
The process, however, is not yet complete. In a second address the Lord again commands Job to gird up his loins and answer Him. But now He is more specific: “Wilt thou condemn me that thou mayest be in the right”? (ch. Job 40:8.) And He ironically invites Job to clothe himself with the attributes of the Supreme Ruler, and conduct the rule of the world himself. The invitation brings home to Job a still deeper feeling of that which the Almighty is, and he exclaims, “I had heard of thee with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee” (ch. Job 42:5). And in this light of God his own past thought of Him seems the darker: “I abhor it, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Thus the solution to Job’s problem given in God’s answer from the storm is a religious solution, not a speculative one. It is a solution to the heart, not to the intellect. It is such a solution as only God could give; a solution which does not solve the perplexity but buries it under the tide of a fuller life and joy in God. It is a solution as broad as Job’s life and not merely the measure of his understanding; the same solution as was given to the doubting Apostle, making him to exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” and teaching him that not through his sense of touch or his eyesight, but through a broader sense, God makes himself felt by man.
Ch. Job 38:1 to Job 40:5. The Lord’s First Answer to Job out of the Storm. Shall mortal Man contend with God?
The passage has three general divisions:
First, ch. Job 38:1-38, a review of inanimate nature, the wonders of earth and sky, all revealing the manifoldness of the Divine mind, and suggesting by contrast the littleness of man.
Second, ch. Job 38:39 to Job 39:30, a review of the world of animal life, having the same object as the former division.
Third, ch. Job 40:1-5, the impression produced on Job by this vision of the glory of God in creation—he is abased and brought to silence.
This first address to Job touches simply the presumption of a man seeking to contend with God. Hence it is taken up with presenting God and man in opposition to one another. The vivid pictures of the inanimate creation, with its wonders, and the world of animal life, with its instincts and properties—all of them originated and bestowed by God—are but the means used for displaying God. And the sharp, ironical questions put to Job, where he was when God laid the foundations of the earth; whether he hunts her prey for the lioness; or combined such contradictory qualities in the ostrich; or created that wonder of beauty and fierceness, the war-horse—these questions but serve to bring out by contrast with God the feebleness and meanness of man.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,1. out of the whirlwind] Rather, out of the storm. Jehovah, even when condescending to speak with men, must veil Himself in the storm cloud, in which He descends and approaches the earth. Even when He is nearest us, clouds and darkness are round about Him. His revelation of Himself to Job, at least, was partly to rebuke him, for he had sinned against His majesty. and He veils Himself in terrors. The storm is not necessarily that which Elihu describes; the Art. is rather generic, the meaning being that thus Jehovah spoke, namely, out of storm.
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?2. who is this that darkeneth counsel] lit. who then is darkening counsel? The word then merely adds the emphasis of impatience or astonishment to the question, who …? The expression counsel suggests that the Lord had a plan or meaning in Job’s afflictions, which the perverse and ignorant construction put on them by Job obscured. The word might have a wider sense and refer to sound wisdom in general in reference to man’s life, which Job, by his particular utterances on God’s providence, only darkened. The participle darkening is thought by many to imply that the Divine Speaker broke in upon Job when in the act of darkening, that is, when speaking. If so, the speeches of Elihu are an interpolation. If is rather to strain the argument from the use of the participle to say that this must be the meaning.
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.3. for I will demand] Rather, and I will. Jehovah now invites Job to prepare for that contention with Him which he had so often desired, Job 9:35, Job 13:10 seq.; and as Job had said, “Then call thou and I will answer, or let me speak and answer thou me” (ch. Job 13:22), Jehovah, as becomes Him, chooses the former half of the alternative, it may be that when He has “called” Job will be less ready than he thought to “answer” (ch. Job 40:3-5).
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.4. Was Job present, possibly taking part in the operation, when Jehovah laid the foundations of the earth? Let him then “declare” how all was done. The word declare of course refers to the queries in Job 38:5-7.
4–11. Earth and sea.
4–38. A survey of the inanimate creation, the wonders of earth and sky—the earth, Job 38:4-18; the heavens, Job 38:18-38
Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?5. if thou knowest] Rather, that thou shouldest know. Job knew well who laid (rather, fixed) the measures of the earth, but the point of the question is, Was he present to see who fixed them and how they were fixed, so as to be able to speak with knowledge?
Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;6. are the foundations fastened] Or, were the foundations sunk? All the tenses here should be put in the simple past.
The creation of the earth is likened to the rearing of a great edifice, whose extent was determined by line, whose pillars were sunk in their bases, and its corner-stone laid with shoutings and songs of rejoicing among the heavenly hosts (comp. Ezra 3:10 seq., Zechariah 4:7).
Such music, as ’tis said,
Before was never made,
But when of old the sons of morning sung,
While the Creator great
His constellations set,
And the well balanced world on hinges hung;
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.
Hymn on the Nativity.
The stars and the angels are here as usual conjoined, and the morning stars are named as the brightest and most glorious, as also because the earth rose into existence at the morning dawn.
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?8. as if it had issued] Rather, and issued out of the womb.
8–10. The sea.
When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,9. thick darkness] Or, and the thick cloud.
And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,10. brake up for it my decreed place] Rather, and brake for it my bound, i. e. set it my appointed boundary. The expression “brake” may refer to the deep and abrupt precipices which mark the coast line in many places.
The figures in these verses are very splendid. First, the ocean is represented as an infant giant, breaking forth from the womb. (It is not necessary perhaps to ask whether the interior of the earth be thought of as the “womb” of the ocean, or whether “womb” merely belongs to the figure of the ocean’s birth.) Then the infant ocean was swathed in clouds and thick clouds were its swaddling bands. Finally the new-born monster must be tamed by almighty power, and an impassable bound set to its proud fury.
And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?
Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;12. since thy days] i. e. since thou wast born, all thy life. The question, naturally, implies the other query, whether Job be coeval with the dawn?
the dayspring] i. e. the dawn.
12–15. The dawn that daily overspreads the earth.
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?13. ends of the earth] lit. skirts or wings of the earth. The figure is beautiful; the dawn as it pours forth along the whole horizon, on both sides of the beholder, lays hold of the borders of the earth, over which night lay like a covering; and seizing this covering by its extremities it shakes the wicked out of it. The wicked flee from the light. The dawn is not a physical phenomenon merely, it is a moral agent.
It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.14. Another charming figure. Under the light of morn the earth, which was formless in the darkness, takes shape like the clay under the seal.
It is changed as clay under the seal,
And they stand forth as a garment.
In the first clause the words are lit. as seal-clay. All things with clear-cut impression and vivid colouring stand forth under the light, and together form a various, many-coloured garment, in which the earth is robed.
And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.15. shall be broken] Rather, is broken. The “light” of the wicked is the darkness, ch. Job 24:17. The “high arm” is the arm already uplifted to commit violence. Again the moral meaning of the dayspring is expressed.
Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?16. hast thou entered] Perhaps, didst thou enter? The whole passage seems under the influence of the first question, Job 38:4, Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Did Job then explore the abysses of the deep, and enter the gates of the underworld? Did he then survey all parts of the new-born world?
walked in the search] Rather, in the recesses.
16–17. The deep and the underworld.
Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?17. have the gates of death] Or, were the gates? Death is personified; it is Sheol, the place of the dead, ch. Job 28:22. This is a lower deep than the recesses of the sea; Job, no doubt, went down there also.
hast thou seen] Or, didst thou see?
Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.18. Final query, Whether Job surveyed the whole earth, and comprehended its breadth.
hast thou perceived] Rather perhaps, didst thou comprehend?
Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,19. The first clause reads,
What is the way to where light dwelleth?
Light and darkness are here regarded as things independent of one another; they are both real agents, each of which has its place or abode, from which it streams forth over the earth, and to which it is again taken back (Job 38:20).
19–21. Light and darkness.
19–38. The wonders of the heavens.
That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?20. take it to the bound thereof] The second clause, the path to its house, suggests that the bound or border of light is not the furthest limit to which it flows forth, but its own place of abode, the bound between it and darkness, from which it issues. Job is asked if he knows the way to the dwelling-place of light and darkness, so that he might take them back to the place of their abode.
Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?21. The verse is ironical,
Thou knowest; for thou wast then born,
And the number of thy days is great.
The words “thou knowest” refer to the question, Job 38:19, Which is the way …? Job knows the way to the place of light, for he was born contemporary with it; he is as old as the dayspring which morning by morning has overspread the earth since creation’s dawn.
“Light is considered here, as in Genesis 1, to be a natural force, with an independent existence, apart from the heavenly luminaries that transmit it. And in this, as is well known, modern investigation coincides with the direct perceptions of antiquity” (Schlottmann, Comm. on Job, p. 468). To this remark it has to be added that in the present passage “darkness” also, no less than light, is regarded as a natural force, with an independent existence, and a “place” where it abides, contiguous to light. Science, to which Scripture is taught to look so humbly for approval, will no doubt confirm this representation also.
Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,22. the treasures] That is, the treasuries, the magazines. Snow and hail are represented as having been created and laid up in great storehouses in the heavens or above them, from whence God draws them forth for the moral ends of His government (Job 38:23). The idea may be suggested by observation of the vast masses in which snow falls. Job, no doubt, has inspected these treasuries, or was present when at creation the Almighty filled them.
22, 23. Snow and hail.
Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?23. Compare such passages as Joshua 10:11; Psalm 68:14; Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:13.
By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?24. The verse seems to mean:
Which is the way to where the light is parted,
And the east wind spreadeth over the earth?
The phrase in clause first is the same as in Job 38:19. The words may mean by which way, or road, is light parted? The “light” was already referred to in Job 38:19, and some consider the word to mean lightning here. This, however, comes from above and is spoken of in Job 38:25. More probably the reference is to the wonderful diffusion of light over the whole earth, and the query concerns the way or path by which this takes place. Such a path appears to lie in the East, from whence also the stormy wind spreads over the earth; hence the two are brought into connexion. Job, of course, knows the way along which this diffusion of light and wind takes place.
24–27. The stormy wind, rain and lightning.
Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;25. for the overflowing of waters] Rather, for the rain-flood. The second clause indicates that by the “watercourse” is meant the conduit (Isaiah 7:3) or channel cut through the arch of the heavens, down which the rain-flood pours to the earth. In like manner the lightning follows a track or path prepared for it through the heavens.
To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;26, 27. Man is not, as he might think, the only object of God’s regard. God is great and His providence very wide. His goodness is over all His works. He satisfies with rain the thirsty wilderness where no man is, that the tender grass may be refreshed.
To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?
Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?28. the rain a father] That is, a human father; does any man, Job perhaps, beget the rain or the drops of dew?—They are marvels of God’s creative power.
28–30. Rain, dew, frost and ice.
Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?29. who hath gendered it] Rather, brought it forth, or borne it (Isaiah 49:21), as the parallelism of the first clause requires.
The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.30. as with a stone] lit. the waters hide themselves like a stone, that is, becoming like stone.
is frozen] lit. cleaveth together. The phenomenon of ice, rare in the East, naturally appeared wonderful.
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?31. canst thou bind] Rather, dost thou bind? The questions addressed to Job, throughout the chapter, mean in general, Is it he that effects what is observed to be done? not, Can he undo what is done, or do what is not done? Hence the questions here imply that the Pleiades are bound and that Orion is loosed, and Job is asked whether it be he that binds in the one case and looses in the other.
the sweet influences] The idea suggested by “influences” is that man’s life on the earth is ruled by the stars, as Shakespeare calls the moon
the moist star,
Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire hangs.
There is, however, no trace of this idea in the original word. Those who retain this translation suppose the reference to be to the genial influence of spring, of which this cluster of stars, when appearing before the sun in the east, was a joyful herald. Such a reference is too remote; neither does it allow any just meaning to “bind.” Besides, the exegetical tradition is that the word rendered “sweet influences “has the same sense as “bands” in the second clause (so Sept. δεσμόν), as the parallelism requires. The verse rather means,
Dost thou bind the bands of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?
It is not certain that these are the stars meant, and the allusions are obscure. As “loosing the cords” or bands of Orion cannot mean dissolving the constellation and separating its stars from one another, so, if the parallelism is exact, “binding the bands” of the Pleiades ought not to refer to the fact that the stars of this constellation always appear as a group in the same form, although this is the idea which most writers consider to be expressed. The word in the second clause, being from a root always meaning to draw (ch. Job 41:1, Isaiah 5:18, Hosea 11:4), ought to have some such sense as cords,—that by which anything is drawn, rather than that by which it is bound. The reference is probably to the motion of the constellation in the heavens. An Arabic poet, bewailing the slowness of the hours of a night of sorrow, says that, in their immobility and tardiness to turn towards their setting-place, “its stars seem bound by cords to a rock.” The same poet, however, compares the Pleiades, including perhaps Orion under the name, when it appears upon the horizon, to a girdle studded with jewels; and some have supposed that the sense in the present passage is similar, rendering, Dost thou bind into a band (or fillet) the Pleiades? This is an improbable conceit. So far as the mere language is concerned, the first clause most naturally refers to some star or constellation which appears bound to one place, whether it be that it stands always high in the heavens or is unable to rise much above the horizon; and the second clause to some star or group whose motion in the heavens is free, whether it be that it is able to rise high or that it sets and disappears.
31–38. The direction of the regular movements of the heavens, and their influence upon the earth.
Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?32. canst thou bring forth] Rather, dost thou …? and similarly, dost thou guide? The meaning of Mazzaroth is uncertain. The word has been supposed to be another form of Mazzaloth, 2 Kings 23:5, which is thought to mean the signs of the Zodiac. The connexion as well as the parallelism of the next clause suggests that some single star or constellation is meant. Others would render the bright stars; the planets, perhaps, or some of them being referred to.
Arcturus with his sons] Or, the bear with her young. The reference is supposed to be to the constellation of the Great Bear. Her “young” are the stars that project from the square; or, taking the popular conception of the constellation as a “plough,” they are the bright stars that form the “beam.”
Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?33. canst thou set] Rather, as before, dost thou set? The idea is that the heavens and the stars exercise an influence over the earth and the destinies of man.
Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?34, 35. For canst thou it is better, as before, to read, dost thou?
Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?
Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?36. The verse is obscure, owing to the terms “inward parts” and “heart” being of uncertain meaning. The translation of the A.V. may be certainly set aside, (1) because the introduction of a reference to the “inward parts” and “heart” of man in the middle of a description of celestial phenomena is not to be thought of; and (2) any laudatory reference to man is out of keeping with the whole drift of the speech, the purpose of which is to abase man before the wonders of God’s creation and His operations outside the sphere of man’s life. The word rendered “inward parts” may be the same as that so rendered, Psalm 51:6. There the parallel word is “hidden part,” and the reference may be to the dark and deep cloud-masses. The word “heart” does not occur again; it may mean, form, figure, and refer to the manifold cloud formations or phenomena. These fulfilling the purposes of God seem themselves endowed with wisdom. If this be the sense, the best commentary on the verse would be the words of Elihu, ch. Job 37:12, “And it (the cloud) turneth about every way by His guidance, that it may do whatsoever He commandeth it upon the face of the whole earth.”
Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,37. The verse carries on the thought of the preceding.
who can number] Or, who numbereth in wisdom? Who musters or counts off the clouds, that they be sufficient and not in excess for the purpose required of them?
The second clause means,
Or who poureth out the bottles of the heavens?
When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?
Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,39, 40. The lion.
wilt thou hunt] Rather, dost thou hunt the prey for the lioness? That the lioness is enabled to catch her prey is due to some power which brings it into her hand. Is it Job, perhaps, that finds it for her?
Ch. Job 38:39—Ch. Job 39:30. The manifoldness of the Divine Mind as displayed in the world of animal life
The instances chosen are the lion and the raven (Job 38:39-41); the wild goats and the hinds (ch. Job 39:1-4); the wild ass (Job 38:5-8; the wild ox (Job 38:9-12); the ostrich (Job 38:13-18); the war horse (Job 38:19-25); the hawk and the eagle (Job 38:26-30).
These brilliant pictures from the animal world have the same purpose as those given before (Job 38:4-38) from inanimate nature; they make God to pass before the eye of Job. They exhibit the diversity of the animal creation, the strange dissimilarity of instinct and habit in creatures outwardly similar, the singular blending together of contradictory characteristics in the same creature, and the astonishing attributes and powers with which some of them are endowed; and all combines to illustrate the resources of mind and breadth of thought of Him who formed them and cares for them, the manifold play of an immeasurable intelligence and power in the world.
Yet though each of these pictures utters the name of God with an increasing emphasis, and though the Poet presents them in the first instance that we may hear this name from them, it is evident that his own eye follows each of the creatures which he describes with a delighted wonder and love. The Poet felt like a later poet,
He prayeth best who loveth best all things both great and small,
For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all.
The words of Carlyle might be quoted, who says of the Book of Job and of these descriptions in particular, “so true every way; true eyesight and vision for all things; material things no less than spiritual” (Heroes, Lect. ii), were it not that this writer’s raptures are so often founded on intellectual mistake and imperfect appreciation of facts, and are therefore, like all such ideal raptures, only nauseous.
When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?
Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.41. The raven. The question extends to the end of the verse,
Who provideth for the raven his food,
When his young ones cry unto God,
And wander without meat?
The raven is one of the commonest birds in Palestine; by its incessant croaking it presses itself upon the attention, and is often alluded to in Scripture. The cry of its young is an appeal unto God (Joel 1:20), and the feeding of it is proof of His universal providence, which does not overlook even the least of His creatures (Psalm 147:9, Luke 12:24). The lion and the raven are here associated perhaps by way of contrast, the one being the most powerful and the other one of the least of God’s creatures. Their natures too are most dissimilar,—the silent, subtle, self-reliance of the one, couching patiently in his lair, and the clamorous outcry and appeal of the other, wandering over the land in search of food. The raven, of course, is a general name, covering the whole Crow tribe.