Job 5:9
Which does great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number:
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Job 5:9. Which doth great things and unsearchable — Here Eliphaz enters upon a discourse of the infinite perfection of God’s nature and works; which he does as an argument to enforce the exhortation to seek and commit his cause to God, Job 5:8, because God was infinitely able either to punish him yet far worse, if he continued to provoke him, or to raise him from the dust, if he humbly addressed himself to him: and that, by a representation of God’s excellence and glory, and of that vast disproportion which was between God and Job, he might convince Job of his great sin in speaking so boldly and irreverently of him. Marvellous things — Which (though common, and therefore neglected and despised, yet) are matter of wonder to the wisest men. The works of nature are mysteries: the most curious searches come far short of full discoveries; and the works of Providence are still more deep and unaccountable.5:6-16 Eliphaz reminds Job, that no affliction comes by chance, nor is to be placed to second causes. The difference between prosperity and adversity is not so exactly observed, as that between day and night, summer and winter; but it is according to the will and counsel of God. We must not attribute our afflictions to fortune, for they are from God; nor our sins to fate, for they are from ourselves. Man is born in sin, and therefore born to trouble. There is nothing in this world we are born to, and can truly call our own, but sin and trouble. Actual transgressions are sparks that fly out of the furnace of original corruption. Such is the frailty of our bodies, and the vanity of all our enjoyments, that our troubles arise thence as the sparks fly upward; so many are they, and so fast does one follow another. Eliphaz reproves Job for not seeking God, instead of quarrelling with him. Is any afflicted? let him pray. It is heart's ease, a salve for every sore. Eliphaz speaks of rain, which we are apt to look upon as a little thing; but if we consider how it is produced, and what is produced by it, we shall see it to be a great work of power and goodness. Too often the great Author of all our comforts, and the manner in which they are conveyed to us, are not noticed, because they are received as things of course. In the ways of Providence, the experiences of some are encouragements to others, to hope the best in the worst of times; for it is the glory of God to send help to the helpless, and hope to the hopeless. And daring sinners are confounded, and forced to acknowledge the justice of God's proceedings.Which doeth great things - The object of this is, to show why Job should commit his cause to God. The reason suggested is, that he had showed himself qualified to govern the world by the great and wonderful acts which he performed. Eliphaz, therefore, proceeds to expatiate on what God had done, and thus states the ancient belief in regard to his sovereignty over the world. This strain of reasoning continues to the end of the chapter. There is great beauty and force in it; and though we have, through the revelations of the New Testament, some more enlarged views of the government of God and of the design of affliction, yet perhaps there can be found nowhere a more beautiful argument to lead people to put confidence in God. The reason here stated is, that God does "great things," and, therefore, we should commit ourselves to him. His works are vast and boundless; they are such as to impress the mind with a sense of his own immensity; and in such a being we should confide rather than in a feeble creature's arm. Who, when he contemplates the vast universe which God has made, and surveys the starry world under the light of the modern astronomy, can doubt that God does "great things," and that the interests which we commit to him are safe?

And unsearchable - Margin, "There is no search." Septuagint ἀνεξιχνίαστα anecichniasta) - "whose footsteps cannot be traced." The Hebrew word חקר chêqer means searching out or examining; and the idea is here, that it is impossible fully to search out and comprehend what God does. See Job 11:7. This is stated as a reason why we should look to him. We should expect things in his administration which we cannot understand. The argument of Eliphaz seems to be, that it was a matter of indisputable fact that there are many things in the government of God which are above our comprehension; and when he afflicts us, we should feel that this is a part of the doings of the incomprehensible God. Such mysterious dealings are to be expected, and they should not be allowed for a moment to shake our confidence in him.

Marvellous things - Things that are wonderful, and are fitted to excite amazement. See the notes at Isaiah 9:6.

Without number - Margin, "Until there be no number." The sense is, that it is impossible to estimate the number of those things in the universe over which he presides which are adapted to excite admiration. If the view of the universe entertained in the time of Eliphaz was fitted to overwhelm the mind by its vastness and by the number of the objects which were created, this astonishment is much greater now that the telescope has disclosed the wonders of the heavens above to man, and the microscope the not less amazing wonders of the world beneath him. Leuwenhoeck, by the aid of the microscope, discovered, he supposed, a thousand million animalculae, whose united bulk did not exceed the size of a grain of sand - all of whom are distinct formations, with all the array of functions necessary to life. Of the number also of the larger works of God, much interesting and overpowering truth is presented by the science of modern astronomy.

As an instance of this, we may refer to the Milky Way, or the whitish, irregular zone, that goes round the whole heavens, and that can be seen at any season of the year, but particularly in the months of August, September, and November. "This vast portion of the heavens is found to consist wholly of stars, crowded into immense clusters. On first presenting a telescope of considerable power to this splendid zone, we are lost in astonishment at the number, the variety, and the beautiful configuration of the stars of which it is composed. In certain parts of it, every slight motion of the telescope presents now groups and new configurations; and the new and wondrous scene is continued over a space of many degrees in succession. In several fields of view, occupying a space of not more than twice the breadth of the moon, you perceive more of these twinkling luminaries, than all the stars visible to the naked eye throughout the whole canopy of heaven. The late Sir W. Herschel, in passing his telescope along a space of this zone fifteen degrees long, and two broad, descried at least fifty thousand stars, large enough to be distinctly counted; besides which, he suspected twice as many more, which could be seen only now and then by faint glimpses for lack of sufficient light; that is, fifty times more than the acutest eye can discern in the whole heavens during the clearest night; and the space which they occupy is only the one thousand three hundred and seventy-fifth part of the visible canopy of the sky.

On another occasion this astronomer perceived nearly six hundred stars in one field of view of his telescope; so that in the space of a quarter of an hour, one hundred and sixteen thousand stars passed in review before him. Now, were we to suppose every part of this zone equally filled with stars as the places now alluded to, there would be found in the Milky Way alone, no less than twenty million, one hundred and ninety thousand stars. In regard to the distance of some of these stars, it has been ascertained that some of the more remote are not less than five hundred times the distance of the nearest fixed star, or nearly two thousand billion of miles; a distance so great, that light, which flies at the rate of twelve million miles every minute, would require one thousand six hundred and forty years before it could traverse this mighty interval! The Milky Way is now, with good reason, considered to be the cluster of stars in which our sun is situated; and all the stars visible to the naked eye are only a few scattered orbs near the extremity of this cluster.

Yet there is reason also to believe that the Milky Way, of which our system forms a part, is no mere than a single nebula, of which several thousands have already been discovered, which compose the universe; and that it bears no more proportion to the whole siderial heavens than a small dusky speck which our telescopes enable us to descry in the heavens. Three thousand nebulae have already been discovered. Suppose the number of stars in the whole Milky Way to be no more than ten million, and that each of the nebulae, at an average, contains the same number; supposing further, that only two thousand of the three thousand nebulae are resolvable into stars, and that the other thousand are masses of a shining fluid, not yet condensed by the Almighty into luminous globes, the number of stars or suns comprehended in that portion of the firmament which is within the reach of our telescopes, is twenty thousand million." Yet all this may be as nothing compared with the parts of the universe which we are unable to discover. See in the Christian Keepsake for 1840, an article by Thomas Dick, entitled" An Idea of the Universe;" compare the notes at Job 9:9.

Supplementary Note to Job 5:9

The labors of astronomers, aided by instruments of remarkable accuracy and power, and by improved methods of observation, are ever adding to our knowledge of the "wonderful things without number" which render the mechanism of the heavens such a spectacle of sublimity. Among the most interesting and beautiful of the celestial phenomena are the star clusters and nebulae. A small number of the star-clusters are bright enough to be distinguished by the naked eye, to which they appear as a faint cloudlike patch of light; but it is only when the telescope is used that their real character becomes known, and they are then seen to be vast conglomerations of stars-connected systems of suns. The greater number are of a rounded and apparently globular form, the stars being densely crowded together in the center; though others are very irregular in shape. Those of a globular form often consist of an astonishingly great number of stars. "Herschel has calculated that many clusters contain 5,000 collected in a space, the apparent dimensions of which are scarcely the tenth part of the surface of the lunar disk." "The beautiful cluster in Aquarius, which Sir John Herschel's drawing exhibits as fine luminous dust, when examined through the Earl of Rosse's powerful reflector, appeared like a magnificent globular cluster, entirely separated into stars. But the most beautiful specimen of this kind is without doubt the splendid cluster in Toucan, quite visible to the naked eye, in the vicinity of the smaller Magellanic cloud, in a region of the southern sky entirely void of stars. The condensation at the center of this cluster is extremely decided; there are three perfectly distinct gradations, and the orange red color of the central agglomeration contrasts wonderfully with the white light of the concentric envelopes."

It was formerly supposed by many that all nebulae were resolvable into star-clusters, and that it was only the want of instruments of sufficient power that prevented this from being done; but spectrum analysis has now demonstrated what was before conjectured, that although there may be many nebulae that would appear as distinct stars if more powerful instruments were brought to bear upon them, there are others of a different nature, consisting, namely, of glowing masses of gaseous matter. The forms assumed by nebulae are extremely varied, and some of them very remarkable. The round or globular form is very common; others resemble rings, circular or oval; others are conical or fanshaped, resembling the tail of a comet; some consist of spirals, radiating from a common nucleus; while many assume forms so irregular and bizarre as to be difficult to describe. The names given to some of them, such as the Crab Nebula, the Dumb-bell Nebula, the Fish-mouth Nebula (Nebula in Orion, see Plate), sufficiently intimate the striking aspects that they sometimes present.

Many of the nebulae, in which the separate stars could not previously be distinguished, have been resolved by Lord Rosse's great telescope; while others as seen by it have very different shapes from what less powerful instruments gave them. This is the case with the Dumb-bell Nebula in particular, its form as described and figured by Sir John Herschel being considerably different from that in our engraving, which shows its aspect under Lord Rosse's telescope. "Two luminous masses symmetrically placed and bound together by a rather short neck, the whole surrounded with a light nebulous envelope of oval form, gave it a very marked appearance of regularity. This aspect was, however, modified by Lord Rosse's telescope of three feet aperture, and the nebulous masses showed a decided tendency to resolvability. Later still, with the six-feet telescope, numerous stars were observed standing out, however, on a nebulous ground. The general aspect retains its primitive shape, less regular, but striking nevertheless. "With regard to the nebula in Orion we extract the following passage from Guillemin's "The Heavens," edited by John N. Lockyer, F. R. A.S., the work from which the above passages are taken: - "Sir John Herschel compares the brightest portion to the head of a monstrous animal, the mouth of which is open, and the nose of which is in the form of a trunk. Hence, its name, the Fish-mouth Nebula. It is at the edge of the opening, in a space free from nebula that the four brightest of the components of θ (th) (a sevenfold star, that is, a connected system of seven stars which appear to the naked eye a single luminous point) are to be found; around, but principally above the trapezium formed by these four stars is a luminous region, with a mottled appearance, which Lord Rosse and Bond have partly resolved. This region is remarkable on account, not only of the brilliancy of its lights, but also of the numerous centers where this light is condensed, and each of which appears to form a stellar cluster.

The rectangular form of the whole is also worthy of attention. The nebulous masses surrounding it, the light of which is much fainter than that of the central region, are lost gradually; according to Bond they assume a spiral form as indicated in the drawing executed by that astronomer" (from which our engraving is taken). Writing soon after Lord Rosse's observation had resolved the nebula of Orion, Dr. Nichol says: - "The great cluster in Hercules has long dazzled the heart with its splendors; but we have learned now, that among circular and compact galaxies, a class to which the nebulous stars belong, there are multitudes which infinitely surpass it; nay, that schemes of being rise above it, sun becoming nearer to sun, until their skies must be one blaze of light, a throng of burning activities! But far aloft stands Orion, the pre-eminent glory and wonder of the starry universe! - It would seem almost that if all other clusters, hitherto gauged, were collected and compressed into one, they would not surpass this mighty group, in which every wisp, every wrinkle, is a sand heap of stars. There are cases in which, though imagination has quailed, reason may still adventure inquiry, and prolong its speculations; but at times we are brought to a limit across which no human faculty has the strength to penetrate, and where, as if at the very footstool of the secret throne, we can only bend our heads, and silently adore!" "These facts furnish a most impressive commentary upon the words of Eliphaz - which doeth great things and unsearchable, "marvelous things until there be no number" (margin) - and become the more significant from their connection with the constellation of orion, which is more than once mentioned in the book of Job" Job 9:9; Job 38:31.

8. Therefore (as affliction is ordered by God, on account of sin), "I would" have you to "seek unto God" (Isa 8:19; Am 5:8; Jer 5:24). Here Eliphaz enters upon a discourse of the infinite perfection and greatness of God’s nature and works; which he doth partly as an argument to enforce the exhortation to seek and commit his cause to God, Job 5:8, because God was infinitely able, either to punish him yet far worse, if he continued to provoke him, or to raise him from the dust, if he humbly addressed himself to him; and partly that by a true representation of God’s excellency and glory, and of that vast disproportion which was between God and Job, he might both convince Job of his great sin in speaking so boldly and irreverently of him, and prevent his relapse into the same miscarriage.

Unsearchable; either such things as we may not boldly and curiously search into, Deu 29:29 Romans 11:33 Colossians 2:18; or such as by searching we cannot find out, Job 11:7; such as we cannot thoroughly understand, either the works themselves, or God’s way and manner of doing them, or God’s designs or ends in doing them. And therefore, O Job, thou art guilty of great impiety and folly to censure the ways and works of God as unreasonable, Job 3:11,20, because thou dost not fully understand the nature and use of them.

Marvellous things; which (though common, as the following works are, and therefore neglected and despised, yet) are just matter of wonder even to the wisest men. Which doeth great things,.... The things of creation are great things, the making of the heavens and the earth, and all therein, by the word of the Almighty, out of nothing, and which is a display of great power, wisdom, and goodness; the things of Providence are great things, which God is always doing; as the upholding all things in being by the word of his power, governing the whole universe, ordering all things in it, supplying and feeding all creatures, men and beasts; and especially the things of grace are great things, the covenant of grace, and its blessings, redemption by Jesus Christ, the work of grace upon the heart, the quickening and enlightening dead and dark sinners, taking away their hearts of stone and giving them hearts of flesh, and constantly supplying them with his grace for the finishing of it; the consideration of all which is a great encouragement to seek the Lord in time of need, as well as of what follows concerning them:

and unsearchable; the things of nature; many of them are such as puzzle the greatest philosophers, who are not able, with all their sagacity and penetration, to find out the causes and reasons of them; and in providence the way of God is often in the deep, and is not to be tracked and followed; and the dispensations of his grace to the sons of men are so sovereign and distinguishing, that it made the apostle say, speaking of them, "O the depth", &c. Romans 11:33; and there are some things not to be inquired into, nor can they be searched out; secret things belong to God, as his purposes relating to the eternal state of particular persons, and the times and seasons of various future events, as the day of judgment, &c.

marvellous things; in nature, as the formation of man and all creatures; in providence, and it may be respect may be had to the wonders done in Egypt, and the marvellous things in the field of Zoan, the plagues of Egypt, and the deliverance of Israel, and their passage through the Red sea; which were things done much about this time, or before it, as some think, and of which Eliphaz might have heard, and were fresh in his memory; and wonderful things are done in grace, as the effects of marvellous loving kindness: and those

without number; the works of God are manifold, and not to be counted; the stars of heaven, the fowls of the air, the beasts of the field, and cattle on a thousand hills, the fishes of the sea, small and great, see Psalm 104:25; to which may be added, those animalcules, of which a billion do not exceed the size of a small grain of sand, as they may be seen through a microscope (h); the various things done every day in providence, the special blessings of goodness, and the kind thoughts of the heart of God, which, if one attempt to reckon up, they are more than can be numbered, Psalm 40:5.

(h) Leuwenhoeck apud Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 667.

Which {l} doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:

(l) He counsels Job to humble himself to God to whom all creatures are subject and whose works declare that man is inexcusable unless he glorifies God in all his works.

9. This description of God as great in power and wonderful in working supports the implied exhortation in Job 5:8. Eliphaz in Job’s place would commit his cause, or exactly as we say colloquially, his case, unto God, for He, being great and wonderful in His ways, is capable of dealing with it, perplexed and mysterious though it be. A touch of humanity seems here almost to get the better of the moral and religious severity of Eliphaz.Verse 9. - Which doeth great things and unsearchable. These are reasons why Job should "seek unto God." "Great things are those which he has done." There is none like unto him. His ways are "unsearchable;" no one may think fully to search them and seek them out (comp. Job 9:10; Job 37:5; Psalm 145:3: Romans 11:33). It may be that, if Job will appeal to him, a result will follow that at present seems impossible. For he doeth marvellous things without number (comp. Psalm 40:5; Psalm 72:18; Psalm 77:14; Psalm 136:4). Eliphaz proceeds to mention some of them. 1 Call now, - is there any one who will answer thee?

And to whom of the holy ones wilt thou turn?

2 For he is a fool who is destroyed by complaining,

And envy slays the simple one.

3 I, even I, have seen a fool taking root:

Then I had to curse his habitation suddenly.

4 His children were far from help,

And were crushed in the gate, without a rescuer;

5 While the hungry ate his harvest,

And even from among thorns they took it away,

And the intriguer snatched after his wealth.

The chief thought of the oracle was that God is the absolutely just One, and infinitely exalted above men and angels. Resuming his speech from this point, Eliphaz tells Job that no cry for help can avail him unless he submits to the all-just One as being himself unrighteous; nor can any cry addressed to the angels avail. This thought, although it is rejected, certainly shows that the writer of the book, as of the prologue, is impressed with the fundamental intuition, that good, like evil, spirits are implicated in the affairs of men; for the "holy ones," as in Psalm 89, are the angels. כּי supports the negation implied in Job 5:1 : If God does not help thee, no creature can help thee; for he who complains and chafes at his lot brings down upon himself the extremest destruction, since he excites the anger of God still more. Such a surly murmurer against God is here called אויל. ל is the Aramaic sign of the object, having the force of quod attinet ad, quoad (Ew. 310, a).

Eliphaz justifies what he has said (Job 5:2) by an example. He had seen such a complainer in increasing prosperity; then he cursed his habitation suddenly, i.e., not: he uttered forthwith a prophetic curse over it, which, though פּתאם might have this meaning (not subito, but illico; cf. Numbers 12:4), the following futt., equivalent to imperff., do not allow, but: I had then, since his discontent had brought on his destruction, suddenly to mark and abhor his habitation as one overtaken by a curse: the cursing is a recognition of the divine curse, as the echo of which it is intended. This curse of God manifests itself also on his children and his property (Job 5:4.). שׁער is the gate of the city as a court of justice: the phrase, to oppress in the gate, is like Proverbs 22:22; and the form Hithpa. is according to the rule given in Ges. 54, 2, b. The relative אשׁר, Job 5:5, is here conj. relativa, according to Ges. 155, 1, c. In the connection אל־מצּנּים, אל is equivalent to עד, adeo e spinis, the hungry fall so eagerly upon what the father of those now orphans has reaped, that even the thorny fence does not hold them back. צנּים, as Proverbs 22:5 : the double praepos. אל־מן is also found elsewhere, but with another meaning. עמּים has only the appearance of being plur.: it is sing. after the form צדּיק, from the verb צמם, nectere, and signifies, Job 18:9, a snare; here, however, not judicii laqueus (Bttch.), but what, besides the form, comes still nearer - the snaremaker, intriguer. The Targ. translates לסטיסין, i.e., λησταί. Most modern critics (Rosenm. to Ebr.) translate: the thirsty (needy), as do all the old translations, except the Targ.; this, however, is not possible without changing the form. The meaning is, that intriguing persons catch up (שׁאף, as Amos 2:7) their wealth.

Eliphaz now tells why it thus befell this fool in his own person and his children.

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