Which alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Waves of the sea.—Literally, high place of the sea: the sea when and where it runs mountains high. The various physical phenomena of earthquake, eclipse, and hurricane are here described as the field of Divine action and the operations of His hands.Job 9:8. Which alone — That is, by his own single power, without any other help. Spreadeth out the heavens — He spread them out like a curtain, Psalm 104:2, when he first created them, and he, in a manner, spreads them again every day; that is, keeps them spread for the comfort and benefit of this lower world, and does not roll and fold them up as he will do in due time. Or, as the same Hebrew word, נשׂה, natah, is rendered, Psalm 18:9, boweth down the heavens; and so it is a further description of a black and tempestuous season, wherein the heavens seem to be brought down nearer to the earth. And treadeth upon the waves of the sea — That is, represseth and ruleth them, when they rage and are tempestuous: for treading upon any thing signifies, in the Scriptures, exercising power and dominion over it.Isaiah 40:22.
And treadeth upon the waves of the sea - Margin, "Heights." So it is in the Hebrew. It means the "high waves;" that is, he walks upon the waves of the ocean when lifted up by a storm. This is spoken of here as a proof of the greatness of God; and the meaning of all is, that he is seen in the storm, in the heaving ocean, when the heavens are black with tempest, and when the earth is convulsed. It may be added here, that the Lord Jesus walked amidst the howling winds on the lake, and thus gave evidence that he was God; Matthew 14:25. "The Egyptian hieroglyphic for what was not possible to be done, was a man walking on the water." Burder. Dr. Good, and some others, render this, "on the mountains." But the more correct rendering is given in the common version. The Hebrew word rendered "waves" (במה bâmâh) indeed properly means a height, a lofty place, a mountain; but the comparison of waves with a mountain, is common in all languages. So we speak of waves "mountain-high," or as high as mountains. So Virgil, Aeneid i.105,
Insequitur cumulo praeruptus aquae mons.
Similar to this, is the expression occurring in Homer, κύματα ἶσα ὄρεσσιν kumata isa oressin; and so Apollonius, i. 521 - ἅλὸς ἄκρον chalos akron. The Septuagint renders it, "who walketh upon the sea as upon a pavement."Alone, i.e. by his own single power, without any other: help.
Spreadeth out the heavens: he spread them out like a curtain, Psalm 104:1,2; and he in a manner spreads them again every day, i.e. keeps them spread for the comfort and benefit of this lower world, and doth not roll and fold them up, as he will do in due time: see Isaiah 34:4 2 Peter 3:10 Revelation 6:14. Or, boweth down the heavens, as the same Hebrew verb is rendered, Psalm 18:9. So it is a further description of a black-and tempestuous season, wherein the heavens seem to be brought down and nearer to the earth.
Treadeth upon the waves of the sea, i.e. represseth and ruleth them when they rage and are tempestuous; for treading upon any thing signifies in Scripture use power and dominion over it; as Deu 33:29 Job 40:12 Psalm 60:12 Psalm 91:13 Luke 10:19Isaiah 40:21; and the allusion may be to a military tent, the pavilion of a general of an army, as Pineda observes, from whence Jehovah plays his artillery upon his enemies, thunder, lightning, hailstones, and coals of fire; see Psalm 18:11; this respects not so much the first creation, or spreading of the air or the heavens, as the continuance thereof; God continues to spread them, or to keep them spread, that they may not be rolled up as a scroll; or folded up as a garment, as they will be, Hebrews 1:12; and this he does alone, without the help of any creature, angels or men; any piece of tapestry or carpet, that is large, is not easily spread alone; but what power must the vast expanse of the heavens require, to be spread alone and continued so? nothing less than infinite; see Isaiah 44:24; some render it, "which boweth the heavens" (c), as the same word is rendered in Psalm 18:9; which he does when he fills them with clouds, so that they seem to hang low, and to be inclined towards the earth:
and treadeth upon the waves of the sea (d); which he did at the first creation, when the waters that covered the face of the earth were, by his order, collected into one place, and there shut up, and restrained from overflowing the earth; and which restraint, as it is an act of power over them, is designed by treading upon them, and a continued act may be the rather meant here; see Genesis 1:8; and when the waves of it are lifted up as high as they sometimes are, by strong and stormy winds, the Lord on high is mightier than they, he treads upon them and represses them; he rules their raging, stills their noise, and makes them smooth, calm, and quiet, Psalm 65:7; this none but God can do: the Egyptian hieroglyphic of doing a thing impossible was a man's walking upon water (e); the Heathens chose not to describe even their god of the sea, Neptune, by walking on it, as being too great for him, but by swimming (f); of Christ's walking upon the sea, see Matthew 14:25; it may be rendered, "the high places of the sea": the waves of it, when mounted to a great height by the wind; so Mr. Broughton, "the high waves of the sea", see Psalm 107:25; there is a copy, as the lesser Massorah observes, which reads, "upon the high places of the cloud" (g), see Isaiah 14:14; and Gersom interprets these high places, of the heavens, and of God's giving rain from thence.
(c) "inclinat coelum", Piscator. (d) "super excelsa maris", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. "summitates maris", Tigurine version; "celsos vertices maris", Schultens. (e) Orus Apollo, apud Bolduc. (f) Cicero de Natura Deorum, l. 2.((g) "Legitur et" "pro" i.e. "super excelsas nubes", Vatablus.Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. The point lies in the gigantic power of God who “alone” and of Himself stretched out the heavens; cf. the expression of the same idea of power, Isaiah 40:12; Isaiah 44:24. In Isaiah 40:22 it is said that God stretches out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in. Our “firmament” is a relic of a false astronomy for which scripture is not responsible.
waves of the sea] lit. heights of the sea, cf. heights of the earth, Amos 4:13. The “sea” here is scarcely the celestial waters, Psalm 29:3. God is represented as walking on the sea when its waves mount up to heaven, and His voice may be heard in the thunder.Verse 8. - Which alone spreadeth out the heavens (comp. Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22). The heavens are regarded as spread out over the whole earth, like a curtain or awning over a tent, everywhere overshadowing and promoting it. This "stretching" or "spreading out" is felt to be one of the mightiest and most marvellous of the Creater's works, and is constantly put forward in Scripture as a special evidence of his omnipotence (see, besides the pasages above quoted, Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 45:12; It. 13; Jeremiah 10:12). It adds to the marvellousness that God did it all "alone," or "by himself" (comp. Isaiah 44:24). And treadeth upon the waves of the sea; literally, the heights of the sea; i.e. the waves, which run mountains-high. God plants his feet upon these, to crush them in their proud might (comp. Psalm 93:5).
2 Yea, indeed, I know it is thus,
And how should a man be just with God!
3 Should he wish to contend with God,
He could not answer Him one of a thousand.
4 The wise in heart and mighty in strength,
Who hath defied Him and remained unhurt?
Job does not (Job 9:1) refer to what Eliphaz said (Job 4:17), which is similar, though still not exactly the same; but "indeed I know it is so" must be supposed to be an assert to that which Bildad had said immediately before. The chief thought of Bildad's speech was, that God does not pervert what is right. Certainly (אמנם, scilicet, nimirum, like Job 12:2), - says Job, as he ironically confirms this maxim of Bildad's, - it is so: what God does is always right, because God does it; how could man maintain that he is in the right in opposition to God! If God should be willing to enter into controversy with man, he would not be able to give Him information on one of a thousand subjects that might be brought into discussion; he would be so confounded, so disarmed, by reason of the infinite distance of the feeble creature from his Creator. The attributes (Job 9:4) belong not to man (Olshausen), but to God, as Job 36:5. God is wise of heart (לב equals νοῦς) in putting one question after another, and mighty in strength in bringing to nought every attempt man may make to maintain his own right; to defy Him (הקשׁה, to harden, i.e., ערף, the neck), therefore, always tends to the discomfiture of him who dares to bid Him defiance.
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