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Deeper Commentary

Job 37:1 Yes, at this my heart trembles, and is moved out of its place- Elihu has in view the approaching thunderstorm (see on Job 36:27,33). He says that just as the animals are trembling and moved because of it, so is he (Job 36:33).

Job 37:2 Hear, oh, hear the noise of His voice, the sound that goes out of His mouth-
Elihu asks Job to hear the voice of the thunderstorm (see on :1). Of course Job could hear it physically, but Elihu has the idea that there is a Divine voice within it. And this is indeed true, Elihu functions to introduce the appearance and speaking of God which begins in the next chapter.  

Job 37:3 He sends it forth under the whole sky, and His lightning to the ends of the earth-
God was appealing not just to Job but to the ends of the eretz, the land promised to Abraham. This was the potential scenario possible at the restoration. The restoration prophets envisage the supernatural destruction of Babylon coinciding with the repentance of the exiles and leading to the repentance of a minority of the Gentiles at "the ends of the earth"; the borders of the eretz promised to Abraham where they were located, in Babylon and Assyria. The idea was that they would together form a new multi-ethnic people of God in the land, under a new covenant. But this potential didn't happen. For they didn't hear the voice of God.

Job 37:4 After it a voice roars. He thunders with the voice of His majesty. He doesn’t hold back anything when His voice is heard-
Elihu perceives there is a voice, a Divine voice, far beyond the literal roar of noise associated with the thunderstorm (see on :2). If that voice was "heard", as Elihu exhorts Job to hear it (:2), then nothing will be 'held back'. God is willing to do marvellous things (:5). This was of great relevance to the exiles. Had they heard / obeyed that prophetic voice, then the great potentials prophesied as possible in the restored Kingdom would have come true. God would have held nothing back. The Kingdom of God would again have been established in Israel.

Job 37:5 God thunders marvellously with His voice. He does great things, which we can’t comprehend-
The great things God does are all conditional; when or if His voice is heard / obeyed (:4). What we read in the following verses is therefore pregnant with wider meaning than simply describing God's control of the natural creation, thoughts elicited by the bursting of the thunderstorm. This is why the language is used in the restoration prophets concerning what could have happened if the exiles had been obedient to the prophetic word. That God indeed "does great things" was recognized by Job as well as the friends (Job 5:9; 9:10 s.w.). But they were to be taught now by the thunderstorm leading up to the actual revelation of God Himself that indeed God can do all things. "I know You can do all things" was Job's final response. The restoration likewise would have been a case of the Lord doing great things (Joel 2:21).

Job 37:6 For He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’; likewise to the shower of rain, and to the showers of His mighty rain-
God's command to the water is understood as meaning that God's prophetic word of restoration could bring about the restoration of the Kingdom for the exiles (Is. 55:10,11). See on :5.

Job 37:7 He seals up the hand of every man, that all men whom He has made may know it-
For the potentials planned by God to be realized, man must first realize he has no power of himself. His hand or power must be sealed up, so that God's prophetic word for His exiled, suffering people could be sealed up (s.w. Dan. 9:24). This is what Job was taught, and it was what God wished the exiles to understand (see on :5).

Job 37:8 Then the animals take cover, and remain in their dens-
As those responsive to the wind go into their "dens" (AV), so in turn out of its den or room comes the storm of Divine theophany (:9). As the animals were running in response to the storm (Job 36:33), so should all men. God's people were likewise bidden obediently enter their chambers in order to be saved from the wrath to come (Is. 26:20).

Job 37:9 Out of its room comes the storm, and cold out of the north-
See on :8. Just as destruction had been called forth upon Judah from the north, so God calls forth His prepared natural phenomena from the north.     


Job 37:10 By the breath of God, ice is given-
The breath of God is His Spirit. And this was the point so relevant to the exiles. God's Spirit was potentially able to transform their entire existence, just as it operates throughout the cosmos and upon the earth.

And the breadth of the waters is frozen- LXX "He guides the water in whatever way he pleases". This is similar to the idea of the heart of kings being as water in His hands (Prov. 21;1); Cyrus and the rulers at the time of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther were all under God's control, but His activity was dependent upon His people hearing His voice (see on :5).

Job 37:11 Yes, He loads the thick cloud with moisture. He spreads abroad the cloud of His lightning-
AV "By watering He wearieth the thick cloud". God created these thick clouds and could dissolve them at will, and maintains them within a perfect balance; whereas the exiles in their depression were under the impression that the thickness of the clouds meant that God could not therefore see nor judge (s.w. Job 22:13,14, see notes there). See on :15,16. But LXX "And if a cloud obscures what is precious to him, his light will disperse the cloud". This connects with the exiles being precious to Him (Is. 43:4). Even the cloud of His own anger with them could be dispersed by Him, such is His saving love and grace.

Job 37:12 It is turned around by His guidance, that they may do whatever He commands them on the surface of the habitable world-
"Turned" is literally 'returned', and is pregnant with allusion to how God's prophetic word could make the exiles return. But that turning around was by "His guidance", AV "counsels". It was by response to God's word that this turn about could happen; see on :5.

Job 37:13 whether it is for correction, or for His land, or for grace, that He causes it to come-
The reference to God's land again begs for reference to the situation with the exiles. The whole suffering of Job / Israel was for multiple possible reasons. It was to correct, it was so that His Kingdom or land would be restored, and through it all the whole exercise was to parade His grace.

Job 37:14 Listen to this, Job. Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God-
We perhaps imagine Job agitated and distracted. He is asked to calm himself and consider the thunderstorm and its implications. This is clearly preparing him for the final appearance of God's word to him through that storm which will begin in the next chapter. Clearly the function of Elihu is to prepare us for God's words and revelation which is to come.

Job 37:15 Do you know how God controls them, and causes the lightning of His cloud to shine?-
See on :11,16. Note the emphasis upon God's control of the clouds, and that clouds aren't random occurrences but all intricately balanced with His light shining within them. This is in response to the impression held by the exiles, and wrongly imputed to Job in Job 22:13, that the thickness of the Divine clouds meant He could not see nor judge them (Is. 29:15; 40:27; Jer. 23:24; Lam. 3:44; Ez. 8:12).  

This is perhaps commentary upon Job's words of Job 26:9: "He encloses the face of His throne, and spreads His cloud upon it". As so often in the drama of Job, truths are presented but without context. This is indeed true; but Job and the exiles had to learn that the cloud that came between God and themselves was that of human sin (Is. 44:22), even though God responded by bringing that cloud (Job 36:32). The years of exile were the day of cloud (Ez. 34:12; Lam. 3:44). But through that cloud, the light of God's saving glory was still visible (Job 37:15).

Job 37:16 Do you know the workings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge?-
See on :11,15. Elihu often speaks of his "opinion". "Opinion" really means "knowledge", and the Hebrew word is used only by Elihu (Job 32:6,10,17). He claims his knowledge comes from "afar", from God (Job 36:3), but he also recognizes that God alone has totality of "knowledge" (Job 37:16), although he also makes this claim about himself (see on Job 36:4). So we are again left with Elihu as an enigma, not totally reflecting God's knowledge, although considering that his view is in line with God's. This enigma of Elihu is purposeful; as explained on Job 32:5, his function is to elicit our opinions; we too who like to think our view is in line with God's, and yet admitting we lack His total knowledge.

Job 37:17 You whose clothing is warm, when the earth is still by reason of the south wind?-
GNB "No, you can only suffer in the heat when the south wind oppresses the land". The land of Israel had indeed been oppressed and the people had suffered. But this was all because of their abusers who had as it were been blown in by God's wind / Spirit.

Job 37:18 Can you, with Him, spread out the sky, which is strong as a cast metal mirror?-
Elihu seems to hold the ancient view that thee sky was in fact made of spread out material. This view, rather like the language of demons in the New Testament, is used without correction. Because the science is not the essential point; rather the idea is that the heavens are as a mirror, and by looking at the natural creation, one sees a reflection of God's work with us. And this is preparing us for God's words which are to soon come, which bid man do just this.

Job 37:19 Teach us what we shall tell Him, for we can’t make our case by reason of darkness-
Earlier, Job had judged himself, setting in order his legal case, but declaring himself righteous (Job 13:8). By Job 23:4, Job is realizing that he needs to set his case in order before God; but he can't find God, or get God to engage in this game of judgment. He needed the final appearance of God at the end of the book to review his case, and declare that he is in fact wrong and condemned. But by grace, God will count him as right. He was prepared for this by Elihu's speech in Job 37:19: "Teach us what we shall tell Him, for we can’t make our case by reason of darkness". "Make our case" is s.w. "set my cause in order".

Job 37:20 Shall it be told Him that I would speak? Or should a man wish that he were swallowed up?-
Elihu's speech becomes more helpful and appropriate the closer he gets to his conclusion, which is followed by God's words, which Elihu is preparing us for. For that is his function. He is here making the legitimate point that the God who can do such wonders doesn't need to be informed that Job wants to talk to Him. And in the light of all the great potentials which He has prepared, Job's earnest wish for death was inappropriate.

Job 37:21 Now men don’t see the light which is bright in the skies, but the wind passes, and clears them-
The essential light of God was obscured by clouds. But the wind of God's Spirit, which had blown in the great heat of suffering (:17), would likewise clear the clouds and reveal His light.

Job 37:22 Out of the north comes golden splendour. With God is awesome majesty-
LXX "From the north come the clouds shining like gold: in these great are the glory and honour of the Almighty". Job several times mentions "the north", connecting with the invaders of Israel "from the north" who would all the same finally be used to glorify God.

Job 37:23 We can’t reach the Almighty. He is exalted in power-
"Reach" is the word used of how Job sought to "probe" (AV "find out") the Almighty (Job 23:3; 28:12), whereas Elihu appears to agree with Zophar that "the Almighty" cannot be 'found out' or 'reached' (Job 11:7; 37:23). God's own appearance at the end is perhaps an answer to this. He cannot be 'found out' by intellectual argument or personal righteousness. Instead, He 'finds out' people and saves them by grace. Paul expresses the same idea when he writes that it is not so much a case of man 'knowing God', but rather of being "known of God" by grace (Gal. 4:9).       

In justice and great righteousness, He will not oppress- Elihu's speech becomes more helpful and appropriate the closer he gets to his conclusion, which is followed by God's words, which Elihu is preparing us for. For that is his function. Elihu's conclusion is that God doesn't willingly afflict or oppress, and the same conclusion was reached in the context of the exiles by Jeremiah (Lam. 3:33 s.w.).

Job 37:24 Therefore men revere Him. He doesn’t regard any who are wise of heart-
This is almost Elihu's repentance, for he has earlier boasted that the "wise in heart" will listen to him and approve his condemnation of Job. But he concludes that men are to revere God because He does not "oppress" and somehow articulates His great justice so as not to afflict His people (:23). And this is quite at variance with all the traditional wisdom of Elihu, the friends and even Job.