Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,CHAPTER 40
1. The answer demanded (Job 40:1-2)
2. Job’s answer (Job 40:3-5)
3. Jehovah’s appeal to Job (Job 40:6-14)
4. Behold behemoth! (Job 40:15-24)
Job 40:1-3. Now comes the direct word of Jehovah out of the storm-cloud to Job. He addresses him as “he that reproveth God.” He had contended with the Almighty and now the Almighty Job had judged faces him and demands an answer. Let him answer.
Job 40:3-5. And Job answers; and what an answer it is! It is the answer for which God was waiting. “Lo! I am vile; what shall I answer Thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth.” He acknowledges that he had spoken too much and that now he cannot answer and proceeds no further. He is completely silenced, acknowledges his own nothingness and vileness, that his words were wrong and that he has nothing else to say. He was convinced that such a God who had spoken to him of creation and His creatures, making known His power, wisdom and care, could never be unjust in His dealings with man.
Job 40:6-14. But Jehovah, the searcher of hearts, has not yet finished. Job’s abominable pride must be laid bare. Jehovah asks him the serious question, “Wilt thou disannul My judgment? Wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous? Hast thou an almighty arm like God, or canst thou thunder with a voice like His?” Then he tells him: “Deck thyself now with majesty and glory.” Array thyself with majesty and power. Come and take My place and then thus arrayed let Job be in God’s place, rule and deal with proud man and the evil-doers.
Send far and wide thy overflowing wrath;
And on each proud one look, and bring him low;
Each proud one single out, and humble him;
Yea, crush the evildoers where they stand;
Hide them away together in the dust;
And in the deepest dungeon have them bound.
It is Divine irony, but needed in order to humble Job still more. He who was so proud and had so stubbornly defended his righteousness in self-justification and God-accusation, how could he do what Jehovah asked him to do?
But if he were to do it, then Jehovah would be ready to own to him “that thy right hand to save thee will suffice.” It all strikes home to the proud, self righteous heart of Job.
Job 40:15-24. The Lord asks Job to consider the behemoth; it is undoubtedly the hippopotamus (the Greek for river-horse). A description of this powerful beast follows. He calls the behemoth the “chief of the ways of God,” one of His greatest works in animal creation. The behemoth is one of Job’s fellow-creatures “which I made as thee.” He eateth grass like an ox. He has tremendous strength in his loins and legs. He takes its rest under the shady trees and fears nothing:
Suppose the stream should swell, he will not blench
For he believes that Jordan he can drink.
Shall any take him while he lies on watch?
Or with a ring shall any pierce his nose?
Behemoth then is a powerful, uncontrollable beast which lives for itself. How weak then is man as contrasted with this beast in possession of such marvellous strength. Yet it is only a beast and Job is a man. How abominable then must Job’s pride and boasting appear in the sight of the Lord.