Job 42:3
Who is he that hides counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XLII.

(3) Who is he that hideth counsel?—It is quite obvious that the right way of understanding these verses is, as in Isaiah 63:1-6, after the manner of a dialogue, in which Job and the Lord alternately reply. “Who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge?” were the words with which God Himself joined the debate in Job 38:2; and therefore, unless we assign them to Him here also, we must regard them as quoted by Job, and applied reflectively to himself; but it is far better to consider them as part of a dialogue.

Job 42:3. Who is he that hideth counsel? — What am I, that I should be guilty of such madness? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not — Because my mind was without knowledge, therefore my speech was ignorant and foolish; things which I knew not — I have spoken foolishly and unadvisedly of things far above my reach. “The recollection of Job,” says Dr. Dodd, “in this and the two following verses, is inimitably fine, and begins the catastrophe of the book, which is truly worthy of what precedes. The interrogatory clause in the beginning of this verse is a repetition of what Jehovah had said; the latter part of this verse, and the fourth and fifth verses, are Job’s conclusions.”42:1-6 Job was now sensible of his guilt; he would no longer speak in his own excuse; he abhorred himself as a sinner in heart and life, especially for murmuring against God, and took shame to himself. When the understanding is enlightened by the Spirit of grace, our knowledge of Divine things as far exceeds what we had before, as the sight of the eyes excels report and common fame. By the teachings of men, God reveals his Son to us; but by the teachings of his Spirit he reveals his Son in us, Ga 1:16, and changes us into the same image, 2Co 3:18. It concerns us to be deeply humbled for the sins of which we are convinced. Self-loathing is ever the companion of true repentance. The Lord will bring those whom he loveth, to adore him in self-abasement; while true grace will always lead them to confess their sins without self-justifying.Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? - This is repeated from Job 38:2. As used there these are the words of the Almighty, uttered as a reproof of Job for the manner in which he had undertaken to explain the dealings of God; see the notes at that verse. As repeated here by Job, they are an acknowledgment of the truth of what is there implied, that "he" had been guilty of hiding counsel in this manner, and the repetition here is a part of his confession. He acknowledges that he "had" entertained and expressed such views of God as were in fact clothing the whole subject in darkness instead of explaining it. The meaning is, "Who indeed is it, as thou saidst, that undertakes to judge of great and profound purposes without knowledge? I am that presumptuous man? Ilgen."

Therefore have I uttered that I understood not - I have pronounced an opinion on subjects altogether too profound for my comprehension. This is the language of true humility and penitence, and shows that Job had at heart a profound veneration for God, however much he had been led away by the severity of his sufferings to give vent to improper expressions. It is no uncommon thing for even good people to be brought to see that they have spoken presumptuously of God, and have engaged, in discussions and ventured to pronounce opinions on matters pertaining to the divine administration, that were wholly beyond their comprehension.

3. I am the man! Job in God's own words (Job 38:2) expresses his deep and humble penitence. God's word concerning our guilt should be engraven on our hearts and form the groundwork of our confession. Most men in confessing sin palliate rather than confess. Job in omitting "by words" (Job 38:2), goes even further than God's accusation. Not merely my words, but my whole thoughts and ways were "without knowledge."

too wonderful—I rashly denied that Thou hast any fixed plan in governing human affairs, merely because Thy plan was "too wonderful" for my comprehension.

Who is he? i.e. what am I, that I should dare to do so? Ah silly audacious wretch that I am, that I should be guilty of such madness!

That hideth counsel without knowledge; which words are repeated out of Job 38:2, where they are explained.

Therefore; because my mind was without knowledge, therefore my speech was ignorant and foolish. Or, being sensible of my ignorance and rashness, I think fit to make this humble and ingenuous confession.

Things too wonderful for me, which I knew not; I have spoken foolishly and unadvisedly of things far above my reach, even of God’s infinite and sovereign majesty, and of his deep and unsearchable counsels and providence. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge?.... It may be understood, and supplied, as it is by Cocceius, "thou didst say"; as the Lord had said, or to this purpose; see Gill on Job 38:2; to which Job here replies, I am the foolish man that has done it, I own it with sorrow, shame, and confusion: or it may be interpreted as condemning every other man that should act the like part. Schultens understands this as spoken by Job of God, and renders the words,

"who is this that seals up counsel, which cannot be known?''

the counsels, purposes, and decrees of God are sealed up by him, among his treasures, in the cabinet of his own breast, and are not to be unsealed and unlocked by creatures, but are impenetrable to them, past finding out by them, and not to be searched and pried into; and so the secret springs of Providence are not to be known, which Job had attempted, and for which he condemns himself;

therefore have I uttered that I understood not; concerning the providential dealings of God with men, afflicting the righteous, and suffering the wicked to prosper, particularly relating to his own afflictions; in which he arraigned the wisdom, justice, and goodness of God, as if things might have been better done than they were; but now he owns his ignorance and folly, as Asaph did in a like case, Psalm 73:22;

things too wonderful for me, which I knew not; things out of his reach to search into, and beyond his capacity to comprehend; what he should have gazed upon with admiration, and there have stopped. The judgments of God are a great deep, not to be fathomed with the line of human understanding, of which it should be said with the apostle, "O the depth", Romans 11:33, &c. Job ought to have done as David did, Psalm 131:1; of which he was now convinced, and laments and confesses his folly.

Who is he that hideth counsel without {b} knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, {c} which I knew not.

(b) Is there any but I? for this God laid to his charge, Job 38:2.

(c) I confess in this my ignorance, and that I spoke of what I did not know.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. who is he that hideth] That is, that obscures counsel. The words of the Almighty (ch. Job 38:2) echo through Job’s mind, and he repeats them, speaking of himself. The rest of the verse expands the idea of “obscuring counsel,” or states its consequence. As one that obscured counsel Job had uttered that which he understood not. The reference is to his former judgments regarding God’s operations in the world, and the rashness of his own language.Verse 3. - Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? As these are nearly the words of God in Job 38:2, some suppose that they must be his words again here, and imagine a short dialogue in this place between Job and the Almighty, assigning to Job ver. 2, the latter half of ver. 8, and the whole of vers. 5 and 6, while they assign to God ver. 4 and the first clause of ver. 8. But it is far more natural to regard Job as bringing up the words which God had spoken to him, to ponder on them and answer them, or at any rate to hang his reply upon them, than to imagine God twice interrupting Job in the humble confession that he was anxious to make. We must understand, then, after the word "knowledge," an ellipse of "thou sayest." Therefore have I uttered that I understood not. Therefore, because of that reproof of thine, I perceive that, in what I said to my friends, I "darkened counsel," - I "uttered that I understood not," words which did not clear the matter in controversy, but obscured it. I dealt, in fact, with things too wonderful for me - beyond my compre-hension - which I knew not, of which I had no real knowledge, but only a semblance of knowledge, and on which, therefore, I had better have been silent. 30 His under parts are the sharpest shards,

He spreadeth a threshing sledge upon the mire.

31 He maketh the deep foam like a caldron,

He maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.

32 He lighteth up the path behind him,

One taketh the water-flood for hoary hair.

33 Upon earth there is not his equal,

That is created without fear.

34 He looketh upon everything high,

He is the king over every proud beast.

Under it, or, תּחתּיו taken like תּחת, Job 41:11, as a virtual subject (vid., Job 28:5): its under parts are the most pointed or sharpest shards, i.e., it is furnished with exceedingly pointed scales. חדּוּד is the intensive form of חד (Arab. hadı̂d, sharpened equals iron, p. 542, note), as חלּוּק, 1 Samuel 17:40, of חלק (smooth),

(Note: In Arabic also this substantival form is intensive, e.g., lebbûn, an exceedingly large kind of tile, dried in the open air, of which farm-yards are built, nearly eight times larger than the common tile, which is called libne (לבנח).)

and the combination חדּוּדי חרשׂ (equal the combination חדודי החרשׂים, comp. Job 30:6) is moreover superlative: in the domain of shards standing prominent as sharp ones, as Arab. chairu ummatin, the best people, prop. bon en fait de peuple (Ew. 313, c. Gramm. Arab. 532). lxx ἡ στρωμνὴ αὐτοῦ ὀβελίσκοι ὀξεῖς, by drawing ירפּד to Job 41:30, and so translating as though it were רפידתו (Arab. rifâde, stratum). The verb רפד (rafada), cogn. רבד, signifies sternere (Job 17:13), and then also culcire; what is predicated cannot be referred to the belly of the crocodile, the scales of which are smooth, but to the tail with its scales, which more or less strongly protrude, are edged round by a shallow cavity, and therefore are easily and sharply separated when pressed; and the meaning is, that when it presses its under side in the morass, it appears as though a threshing-sledge with its iron teeth had been driven across it.

The pictures in Job 41:31 are true to nature; Bartram, who saw two alligators fighting, says that their rapid passage was marked by the surface of the water as it were boiling. With מצוּלה, a whirlpool, abyss, depth (from צוּל equals צלל, to hiss, clash; to whirl, surge), ים alternates; the Nile even in the present day is called bahr (sea) by the Beduins, and also compared, when it overflows its banks, to a sea. The observation that the animal diffuses a strong odour of musk, has perhaps its share in the figure of the pot of ointment (lxx ὥσπερ ἐξάλειπτρον, which Zwingli falsely translates spongia); a double gland in the tail furnishes the Egyptians and Americans their (pseudo) musk. In Job 41:32 the bright white trail that the crocodile leaves behind it on the surface of the water is intended; in Job 41:32 the figure is expressed which underlies the descriptions of the foaming sea with πολιός, canus, in the classic poets. שׂיבה, hoary hair, was to the ancients the most beautiful, most awe-inspiring whiteness. משׁלו, Job 41:33, understood by the Targ., Syr., Arab. version, and most moderns (e.g., Hahn: there is not on earth any mastery over it), according to Zechariah 9:10, is certainly, with lxx, Jer., and Umbr., not to be understood differently from the Arab. mithlahu (its equal); whether it be an inflexion of משׁל, or what is more probable, of משׁל (comp. Job 17:6, where this nomen actionis signifies a proverb equals word of derision, and התמשּׁל, to compare one's self, be equal, Job 30:19). על־עפר is also Hebr.-Arab.; the Arabic uses turbe, formed from turâb (vid., on Job 19:25), of the surface of the earth, and et-tarbâ-u as the name of the earth itself. העשׂוּ (for העשׂוּי, as צפוּ, Job 15:22, Cheth. equals צפוּי, resolved from עשׂוּו, ‛asûw, 1 Samuel 25:18, Cheth.) is the confirmatory predicate of the logical subj. described in Job 41:33 as incomparable; and לבלי־חת (from חת, the a of which becomes i in inflexion), absque terrore (comp. Job 38:4), is virtually a nom. of the predicate: the created one (becomes) a terrorless one (a being that is terrified by nothing). Everything high, as the לבלי־חת, Job 41:33, is more exactly explained, it looketh upon, i.e., remains standing before it, without turning away affrighted; in short, it (the leviathan) is king over all the sons of pride, i.e., every beast of prey that proudly roams about (vid., on Job 28:8).

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