Job 40:6-42:6 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What questions does the Lord pose to Job in chapter 40 verse 8 (printed below?) What was Job in danger of doing?

Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me so that you might be justified? (Job 40:8)

The Lord asks Job, “Would you discredit my justice?” (40:8a) “In defending his own innocence so emphatically and lashing out so vehemently at God because of his suffering, Job has essentially charged God with acting unjustly. For a mortal to presume himself guiltless and to impugn God’s just governance of the world approaches the sin of presumptuous pride.” (The Book of Job, Hartley, p. 519) Job has come very close to the point of trusting more in his own upright conduct than in the Lord. By focusing exclusively on his own innocence, Job is in danger of disparaging or even denying God’s justice; that is why the Lord asks Job, “Would you condemn me so that you might be justified?” (40:8b) Job was in danger of attempting a blasphemous role reversal: seeking to exchange places with the Judge of all the earth; proclaiming himself to be just and righteous at the expense of God’s own justice and righteousness.

2. What does the Lord challenge Job to do? See chapter 40 verses 11-13 (printed below.)

Unleash the fury of your wrath; glance at every proud man and humble him. (12) Glance at every proud man and abase him; trample down the wicked where they stand. (13) Bury them all in the dust; cover their faces with a shroud in the grave. (Job 40:11-13)

The Lord challenges Job, “Unleash the fury of your wrath” (40:11a). Job is challenged to humble every proud man with merely a glance of his righteous indignation. He is challenged to trample down the wicked where they stand and “bury them in the dust,” i.e., reduce all those who exalt themselves in ungodly self-confidence and blasphemous arrogance to complete humiliation by making them the objects of righteous contempt. Job is being challenged to exert himself as only the Lord can.

3. If Job is able to do what the Lord has challenged him to do, how will the Lord respond? See chapter 40 verse 14 (printed below.)

Then I myself will laud you, for your own right hand is able to deliver you. (Job 40:14)

If Job is able to display the majestic grandeur and accomplish the great acts of judgment depicted in verses 11-13, then the Lord will confess of Job, “your own right hand is able to deliver you” (40:14). If Job could undertake and accomplish the great acts of God in defeating the wicked and overthrowing them, he would not need God; he would not need to protest and complain about God’s apparent disinterest in the cause of justice, Job could execute justice himself and on his own behalf. But, obviously, such is not the case. Therefore, Job should submit himself to the Lord his God, the majestic King of heaven who is committed to justice and who will execute judgment in His time.

4. To what beast does the Lord direct Job’s attention in chapter 41? What does the Lord say about him? See, especially, verses 1, 8-11 (printed below.)

Can you pull the leviathan out of the water with a fishhook or tie his tongue with a rope? … (8) If you lay your hand on him, you will remember the battle and not do it again. (9) Any hope of subduing him is false; one is overwhelmed by the mere sight of him. (10) No one is brave enough to rouse him. (Who then is able to stand against me? (11) Who has given anything to me that I should repay him? Everything under heaven belongs to me.) (Job 41:1,8-11)

In chapter 41 the Lord directs Job’s attention to “leviathan;” i.e., the crocodile. Job is warned, “If you lay your hand on him, you will remember the battle and not do it again.” It is futile and extremely dangerous to contend with leviathan (41:8-11). The mere sight of leviathan causes one to despair of ever being able to conquer him (41:9). No man is brave enough, or, “so fierce,” (i.e.; no one is so savage and animal-like) as to challenge leviathan to mortal combat (41:10a). If none dares to challenge leviathan, what man can hope to stand against the Lord—the Creator of leviathan and his sovereign Lord? (41:10b-11) Note that the description of leviathan goes beyond that of a natural crocodile, it takes on mythical proportions (note, in particular, 41:18-21). In this present passage the mythical theology of Israel’s pagan neighbors is applied to the description of leviathan as a means of vividly declaring Jehovah’s lordship over all of His creation, both the creatures of the realm of nature (such as the fiercely terrifying crocodile) as well as all the spiritual hosts, including the devil himself.

5. At the conclusion of the Lord’s great discourse, how does Job respond? See chapter 42 verses 1-6 (printed below.)

Then Job replied to Jehovah, (2) I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. (3) Who is this that obscures deliberation with his lack of knowledge? Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, matters that are too wonderful for me to know. (4) Listen now and I will speak; I will inquire and may you instruct me. (5) My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. (6) Consequently, I abhor my words and recant in dust and ashes. (Job 42:1-6)

At the conclusion of the Lord’s great discourse, Job responds in humble submission to the Lord his God. Job admits that the Lord, JEHOVAH, is the sovereign Lord over all creation (42:2). Job now recognizes that from his limited human perspective, and by simply focusing upon himself and his present experience, he has not been in any position to take into account the cosmic scheme of things and the purpose of his present experience of trial (42:3). As a result of this present encounter with God, Job has come to a far deeper appreciation of who JEHOVAH is and, consequently, he now declares, “I abhor my words and recant in dust and ashes.” (42:6) Job is now ashamed of what he has said and what attitude he has entertained with regard to the Lord and His justice.