Job 26:14
See, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?
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(14) These are parts.—Literally, ends—just the merest outskirts. For “is heard” we may render do we hear; and for “the thunder of His power,” the thunder of His mighty deeds. We can only hear the faintest whisper of His glory, and cannot understand or endure the full-toned thunder of His majesty. Here, then, is Job’s final reply to the arguments of his friends. He shows himself even more conscious than they of the grandeur and holiness of God; but that has in no way rendered his position as a sufferer more intelligible—rather the reverse—nor theirs as defenders of the theory of exact retribution. He cannot understand and they cannot explain; but while he rejects their explanations, he rests secure in his own faith.

Job 26:14. Lo, these are parts of his ways — But very small parcels even of those of his works which are visible to us. For it would be a vain and fruitless labour should I undertake to speak of all the wonders of the Creator. His works are so many, so great, and so far surpassing our narrow conceptions, that we can never hope to arrive at a perfect knowledge of them all, or even of any of them. We must be content to stand, as it were, at a distance, and, with profound reverence, take a short, imperfect view of a few mere sketches of the effects of his wonder-working power. But how little a portion is heard of him? — Of his wisdom, and power, and providence. If these his external and visible works be so stupendous, how glorious then must be his invisible, and more internal perfections and operations! For what we see or know of him is nothing in comparison of what we do not know, and of what is in him, or is done by him. But the thunder of his power who can understand? — Either, first, Of his mighty and terrible thunder, which is often mentioned as an eminent work of God. Or, second, Of his almighty power, which is properly compared to thunder, in regard of its irresistible force, and the terror which it causes to wicked men. 26:5-14 Many striking instances are here given of the wisdom and power of God, in the creation and preservation of the world. If we look about us, to the earth and waters here below, we see his almighty power. If we consider hell beneath, though out of our sight, yet we may conceive the discoveries of God's power there. If we look up to heaven above, we see displays of God's almighty power. By his Spirit, the eternal Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters, the breath of his mouth, Ps 33:6, he has not only made the heavens, but beautified them. By redemption, all the other wonderful works of the Lord are eclipsed; and we may draw near, and taste his grace, learn to love him, and walk with delight in his ways. The ground of the controversy between Job and the other disputants was, that they unjustly thought from his afflictions that he must have been guilty of heinous crimes. They appear not to have duly considered the evil and just desert of original sin; nor did they take into account the gracious designs of God in purifying his people. Job also darkened counsel by words without knowledge. But his views were more distinct. He does not appear to have alleged his personal righteousness as the ground of his hope towards God. Yet what he admitted in a general view of his case, he in effect denied, while he complained of his sufferings as unmerited and severe; that very complaint proving the necessity for their being sent, in order to his being further humbled in the sight of God.Lo, these are parts of his ways - This is a small portion of his works. We see only the outlines, the surface of his mighty doings. This is still true. With all the advances which have been made in science, it is still true that we see but a small part of his works. What we are enabled to trace with all the aids of science, compared with what is unseen and unknown, may be like the analysis of a single drop of water compared with the ocean.

But how little a portion is heard of him? - Or, rather, "But what a faint whisper have we heard of him!" Literally, "What a whisper of a word," - דבר וּמח־שׁמץ yuvmah shėmets dâbâr. The word שׁמץ shemets means a transient sound rapidly passing away; and then a whisper; see the notes at Job 4:12. A "whisper of a word" means a word not fully and audibly spoken, but which is whispered into the ear; and the beautiful idea here is, that what we see of God, and what he makes known to us, compared with the full and glorious reality, bears about the same relation which the gentlest whisper does to words that are fully spoken.

The thunder of his power who can understand? - It is probable that there is here a comparison between the gentle "whisper" and the mighty "thunder;" and that the idea is, if, instead of speaking to us in gentle whispers, and giving to us in that way some faint indications of his nature, he were to speak out in thunder, who could understand him? If, when he speaks in such faint and gentle tones, we are so much impressed with a sense of his greatness and glory, who would not be overwhelmed if he were to speak out as in thunder? Thus explained, the expression does not refer to literal thunder, though there is much in the heavy peal to excite adoring views of God, and much that to Job must have been inexplicable. It may be asked, even now, who can understand all the philosophy of the thunder? But with much more impressiveness it may be asked, as Job probably meant to ask, who could understand the great God, if he spoke out with the full voice of his thunder, instead of speaking in a gentle whisper?

14. parts—Rather, "only the extreme boundaries of," &c., and how faint is the whisper that we hear of Him!

thunder—the entire fulness. In antithesis to "whisper" (1Co 13:9, 10, 12).

These are parts, or, the extremities, but small parcels, the outside and visible work. How glorious then are his visible and more inward perfections and operations!

Of his ways, i.e. of his works. Of him, i.e. of his power, and wisdom, and providence, and actions. The greatest part of what we see or know of him, is the least part of what we do not know, and of what is in him, or is done by him.

The thunder of his power; either,

1. Of his mighty and terrible thunder, which is oft mentioned as an eminent work of God; as Job 28:26 40:9 Psalm 29:3 77:18. Or,

2. Of his mighty power, which is aptly compared to thunder, in regard of its irresistible force, and the terror which it causeth to wicked men; this metaphor being used by others in like cases; as among the Grecians, who used to say of their vehement and powerful orators, that they did thunder and lighten; and in Mark 3:17, where powerful preachers are called sons of thunder. Lo, these are parts of his ways,.... This is the conclusion of the discourse concerning the wonderful works of God; and Job was so far from thinking that he had taken notice of all, or even of the chief and principal, that what he observed were only the extremities, the edges, the borders, and outlines of the ways and works of God in creation and providence; wherefore, if these were so great and marvellous, what must the rest be which were out of the reach of men to point out and describe?

but how little a portion is heard of him? from the creatures, from the works of creation, whether in heaven, earth, or sea; for though they do declare in some measure his glory, and though their voice is heard everywhere, and shows forth the knowledge of him; even exhibits to view his invisible things, his eternal power and Godhead; yet it is comparatively so faint a light, that men grope as it were in the dark, if haply they might find him, having nothing but the light of nature to guide them. We hear the most of him in his word, and by his Son Jesus Christ, in whose face the knowledge of him, and his glorious perfections, is given; and yet we know but in part, and prophesy in part; it is but little in comparison of what is in him, and indeed of what will be heard and known of him hereafter in eternity:

but the thunder of his power who can understand? meaning not literally thunder, which though it is a voice peculiar to God, and is very strong and powerful, as appears by the effects of it; see Job 40:9; yet is not so very unintelligible as to be taken notice of so peculiarly, and to be instanced in as above all things out, of the reach of the understanding of men; but rather the attribute of his power, of which Job had been discoursing, and giving so many instances of; and yet there is such an exceeding greatness in it, as not to be comprehended and thoroughly understood by all that appear to our view; for his mighty power is such as is able to subdue all things to himself, and reaches to things we cannot conceive of. Ben Gersom, not amiss, applies this to the greatness and multitude of the decrees of God; and indeed if those works of his which are in sight cannot be fully understood by us, how should we be able to understand things that are secret and hidden in his own breast, until by his mighty power they are carried into execution? see 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Lo, these are parts of his ways: but {m} how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?

(m) If these few things which we see daily with our eyes, declare his great power and providence, how much more would they appear, if we were to comprehend all his works.

14. The verse reads,

Lo these are the outskirts of his ways;

And how small a whisper is that which we hear of him!

But the thunder of his power who can understand?

The power of God is illustrated in the mighty works described in Job 26:5-13. Yet what we see of Him in these is but the ends, the outskirts of His real operations. And what we hear of Him is but as a faint whisper; the thunder of the full unfolding of His power who can understand? The nervous brevity and sublimity of these words are unsurpassable.Verse 14. - Lo, these are parts of his ways; literally, ends of his ways; i.e. the mere outskirts and fringe of his doings. But how small a portion is heard of him? rather, how small a whisper? But the thunder of his power who can understand?, or, the thunder of his mighty deeds. Job implies that he has not enumerated one-half of God's great works - he has just hinted at them, just whispered of them. If they were all thundered out in the ears of mortal man. who could receive them or comprehend them

8 He bindeth up the waters in His clouds,

Without the clouds being rent under their burden.

9 He enshroudeth the face of His throne,

Spreading His clouds upon it.

10 He compasseth the face of the waters with bounds,

To the boundary between light and darkness.

The clouds consist of masses of water rolled together, which, if they were suddenly set free, would deluge the ground; but the omnipotence of God holds the waters together in the hollow of the clouds (צרר, Milel, according to a recognised law, although it is also found in Codd. accented as Milra, but contrary to the Masora), so that they do not burst asunder under the burden of the waters (תּחתּם); by which nothing more nor less is meant, than that the physical and meteorological laws of rain are of God's appointment. Job 26:9 describes the dark and thickly-clouded sky that showers down the rain in the appointed rainy season. אחז signifies to take hold of, in architecture to hold together by means of beams, or to fasten together (vid., Thenius on 1 Kings 6:10, comp. 2 Chronicles 9:18, מאחזים, coagmentata), then also, as usually in Chald. and Syr., to shut (by means of cross-bars, Nehemiah 7:3), here to shut off by surrounding with clouds: He shuts off פּני־כסּה, the front of God's throne, which is turned towards the earth, so that it is hidden by storm-clouds as by a סכּה, Job 36:29; Psalm 18:12. God's throne, which is here, as in 1 Kings 10:19, written כּסּה instead of כּסּא (comp. Arab. cursi, of the throne of God the Judge, in distinction from Arab. 'l-‛arš, the throne of God who rules over the world),

(Note: According to the more recent interpretation, under Aristotelian influence, Arab. 'l-‛rš is the outermost sphere, which God as πρῶτον κινοῦν having set in motion, communicates light, heat, life, and motion to the other revolving spheres; for the causae mediae gradually descend from God the Author of being (muhejji) from the highest heaven into the sublunary world.)

is indeed in other respects invisible, but the cloudless blue of heaven is His reflected splendour (Exodus 24:10) which is cast over the earth. God veils this His radiance which shines forth towards the earth, פּרשׁז אליו עננו, by spreading over it the clouds which are led forth by Him. פּרשׁו is commonly regarded as a Chaldaism for פּרשׁז (Ges. 56, Olsh. 276), but without any similar instance in favour of this vocalizaton of the 3 pr. Piel (Pil.). Although רענן and שׁאנן, Job 15:32; Job 3:18, have given up the i of the Pil., it has been under the influence of the following guttural; and although, moreover, i before Resh sometimes passes into a, e.g., ויּרא, it is more reliable to regard פרשז as inf. absol. (Ew. 141, c): expandendo. Ges. and others regard this פרשז as a mixed form, composed from פרשׁ and פרז; but the verb פרשׁ (with Shin) has not the signification to expand, which is assumed in connection with this derivation; it signifies to separate (also Ezekiel 34:12, vid., Hitzig on that passage), whereas פרשׂ certainly signifies to expand (Job 36:29-30); wherefore the reading פּרשׂז (with Sin), which some Codd. give, is preferred by Br, and in agreement with him by Luzzatto (vid., Br's Leket zebi, p. 244), and it seems to underlie the interpretation where פרשז עליו is translated by עליו (פּרשׂ) פרש, He spreadeth over it (e.g., by Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, Ralbag). But the Talmud, b. Sabbath, 88 b (פירש שדי מזיו שכינתו ועננו עליו, the Almighty separated part of the splendour of His Shechina and His cloud, and laid it upon him, i.e., Moses, as the passage is applied in the Haggada), follows the reading פּרשׁז (with Shin), which is to be retained on account of the want of naturalness in the consonantal combination שׂז; but the word is not to be regarded as a mixed formation (although we do not deny the possibility of such forms in themselves, vid., supra, p. 468), but as an intensive form of פרשׂ formed by Prosthesis and an Arabic change of Sin into Shin, like Arab. fršḥ, fršd, fršṭ, which, being formed from Arab. frš equals פּרשׂ (פּרשׂ), to expand, signifies to spread out (the legs).

Job 26:10 passes from the waters above to the lower waters. תּכלית signifies, as in Job 11:7; Job 28:3; Nehemiah 3:21, the extremity, the extreme boundary; and the connection of תּכלית אור is genitival, as the Tarcha by the first word correctly indicates, whereas אור with Munach, the substitute for Rebia mugrasch In this instance (according to Psalter, ii. 503, 2), is a mistake. God has marked out (חן, lxx ἐγύρωσεν) a law, i.e., here according to the sense: a fixed bound (comp. Proverbs 8:29 with Psalm 104:9), over the surface of the waters (i.e., describing a circle over them which defines their circuit) unto the extreme point of light by darkness, i.e., where the light is touched by the darkness. Most expositors (Rosenm., Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm., and others) take עד־תכלית adverbially: most accurately, and refer חג to אור as a second object, which is contrary to the usage of the language, and doubtful and unnecessary. Pareau has correctly interpreted: ad lucis usque tenebrarumque confinia; עם in the local sense, not aeque ac, although it might also have this meaning, as e.g., Ecclesiastes 2:16. The idea is, that God has appointed a fixed limit to the waters, as far as to the point at which they wash the terra firma of the extreme horizon, and where the boundary line of the realms of light and darkness is; and the basis of the expression, as Bouillier, by reference to Virgil's Georg. i. 240f., has shown, is the conception of the ancients, that the earth is surrounded by the ocean, on the other side of which the region of darkness begins.

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