VERSE DISCOVERY: Job 26:1-14 (KJV, Public Domain)
Many are familiar with the history of Job and how his story arrived at this chapter in the Bible and the reasoning for the state that he was in (see Job 1&2 for the story behind the beginnings of his afflictions).
In the chapter prior to this lesson, chapter 25, Bildad, one of Job’s friends who came originally to console Job, who then became one of his accusers, spoke against Job’s complaint.
You see, Job is in the hardest battle of his life. In some ways he appears to feel alone and can’t find God in the midst of this mess he is in (23:2-9), but he firmly holds on to his faith and states, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold,” (23:9).
But, after Job’s recitation of the wrongs he sees being done in the world (chapter 24), his friend Bildad gives a little speech of his own, to the which, we find Job’s rebuttal in the verses below.
Words Without Power
Job 26:1-4 “But Job answered and said, How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength? How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is? To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?”
But Job answered. This was the ninth time Job speaks and it is against his friends in rebuttal and he had a lot to say about them and the words they used against him. A lot of words are flowing from their mouths but they have no power to help.
The words we speak out of our mouths can either edify (build up) others or tear them down. Proverbs tell us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof,” (18:21). Proverbs also tell us, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise,” (10:19).
Yet, refraining their lips were something Job’s friends had a great deal of difficulty doing. They just knew that Job was the cause of all his troubles, and they had no problem telling him their opinions. Repeatedly, they opened their mouth against their friend, and repeatedly, instead of encouraging and comforting him, they attacked him with venomous words that weren’t adding to Job’s circumstance, but they were taking away from him.
Job’s rebuttal to Bildad’s last speech was to question how have their words helped him? He has been wrung through the wringer of life and he couldn’t even find strength in the counsel of friends. No wonder he once referred to them as miserable comforters’ (Job 16:2).
Job lost everything physically and relationally close to him. All his possessions are gone. His children are no more. His wife was acting like a “foolish woman” (Job 2:10). And as for his friends, where is the sympathy and compassion he thought he would receive in such troubling times?
Rather, before the eyes of his friends, Job seems to be nothing. They don’t look at him the same way they used to look at him. To them, he is not righteous, he has no integrity, and he needs to have a one on one with God to get things right. They see no value in the man they once highly esteemed and they had no problem telling him about himself.
Job was weak and had nothing and their words did nothing to strengthen him (compare Isaiah 41:28).
Job lamented their false words and so-called wisdom which they attempted, in their own way, to counsel him by (compare Psalm 71:9-12). Sarcastically, he stated, How hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is? Their words were many but did very little to relieve all that Job was feeling or going through. At the end of Job’s story, God had something to say about the words they so plentifully aimed at Job. He said, “Now take seven bulls and seven rams, go to my servant Job, and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. Then my servant Job will pray for you. I will surely accept his prayer and not deal with you as your folly deserves. For you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has,” (Job 42:8; emphasis mine; refer back to Proverbs 10:19). Through their own wisdom they thought they were helping, but in truth, their words didn’t help at all.
While Job may have questioned the words Bildad and the others uttered against him, and the spirit from which these words were inspired, one thing Job didn’t question in this chapter was the greatness of God’s power.
Job 26:5-6 “Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof. Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.”
God is not limited in His ability to see all and to know all. He is “omniscient” which means “all-knowing.” As Jonah found out in his story, there is no place one can run or hide and not have God be fully aware of it. Even David once asked the rhetorical question for which he already knew the answer: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7). David then followed it up with this monumental statement of faith: “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there,” (Psalm 139:8).
Years before David’s proclamation on the all-knowing capabilities of God, Job pronounced that even the places where the dead, and hell, and destruction are; these horrid places beyond the capacity of man’s reach, their goings-on are completely opened before God as if they were naked and had no covering.
God’s power sees everything! There is no place, no situation, no heart, no anything that is out of His reach to see and know about. All our lives are truly an opened book before His greatness, and even when we pass off the scene, He knows us in those places as well.
God knows all that goes on in the heavens and the unlimited reaches of the universe that humanity can’t even begin to scratch the surface on knowing. God knows what goes on in every corner of the earth, with every participant of humanity. And yes, God even knows the places where the dead reside, no matter who or where they are.
They recognize Him and fear and tremble before His presence. How much more should the living?
Job 26:7-14 “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them. He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it. He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end. The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof. He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud. By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?”
As Creator, God’s power is responsible for putting everything in its ordered place.
He stretcheth out the north over the empty place (compare Genesis 1:2; Job 9:8). This is referring to the heavens. We are told in the very beginning of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” (Genesis 1:1). God is the Author and Designer of all places, things, and life. God’s power alone is responsible for the creation of even the heavens (north) (compare 1 Chronicles 16:26; Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 42:5; 44:24; 51:13 – just to name a few). “Ah LORD GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee,” (Jeremiah 32:17).
He hangeth the earth upon nothing. It is amazing that Job had this insight of the universe in a time before the modern use of space exploration tools and technology. The earth is just where God placed it, rotating on an axis that nobody can see, orbiting millions of miles around the sun each year, while being held on seemingly nothingness, yet there it is, perfectly placed by God’s power. Jeremiah tells us, “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding,” (51:15). In essence, God’s power and wisdom are all that is needed to hang the earth on nothing!
He bindeth up waters in his thick clouds. As Job thinks about God’s power, perhaps he’s looking skyward where he notices the clouds. Upon seeing them, maybe he is awestruck at their beauty and how God collects the waters in them and they float along the lines of the sky and the cloud is not rent under them. Oh, in their due time, rains will come. But isn’t it amazing all the waters that are gathered by way of vapors and held in each one, and despite their size, mass, and weight, they dance along on the currents of the winds and travel wherever they may without them busting?
The power of God is responsible for the creation of the clouds and rains as well. “For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly,” (Job 36:27-28). Oh, what insight Job had of the Almighty!
He holdeth back the face of his throne speaks of the covering of God’s majestic, heavenly seat by way of the very cloud over it. As Moses was held safely in the cleft of the rock (Exodus 33:22), shadowed by the hand of God, that his eyes may not be overcome by the fullness of His glory, so too may the clouds cover the place of His glory, concealing the fullness of Him in His heavenly abode (compare Psalm 97:2; 104:1-3).
He hath compassed the waters with bounds. Does Job look out on the horizon and see that circular marker in the sky that shows the limits of where dark and light meet, where day and night come to an end, and realize it’s there, too, because of God’s power (compare Proverbs 8:29; Isaiah 40:22)? All evidence of Job’s speech points back to God the Creator and how it was nothing but His power that set everything in the heavens and the earth into motion and being.
The pillars of heaven (compare Psalm 75:3) can be likened to the mountain peaks which appear, to the human eye looking out, that they are holding up the very heavens themselves and the skies are resting upon them. Yet, as strong and as majestic these great pillars may appear to be, they tremble at the power of God and are astonished at his reproof. They quake in His presence and are in awe at the sound of His rebuke (compare Psalm 18:7 and Isaiah 5:25). Everything in creation reacts to the presence and power of God.
He divideth the sea with his power. The seas are often described as raging and out of control, but God’s power controls even these. As the seas can be stirred by His power they can also be calmed by His power. This is something Jesus proved true when the Son of God stood in the boat in the midst of the raging sea and demanded of it, “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39) and it obeyed His voice.
By his understanding he smitteth through the proud or, “Rahab.” There are many ideas of exactly who or what this is referring to. But, all the proud will be crushed under Him whether it is speaking of the pride of the sea and/or creatures in it, the pride of evil, or the pride of nations such as Egypt; all will collapse and be brought down by the power of God.
Everything in creation was made by his spirit, (Spirit), or as some translate it, the very breath of God (In both the Hebrew and Greek the word “breath” is the same word for “spirit” and vice versa. Compare Psalm 33:6; John 20:22). From the highest heights of the heavens and all their celestial bodies, including certain constellations, particularly the dragon, which in that day was synonymous to that of the crooked serpent (compare Job 9:8-9), everything came because He commanded it to be so.
Note: Some see the serpent here as a physical animal on land or a sea creature, or even something of the spiritual nature, all which God most assuredly reigns over and can control. But, here in this portion of Job, it most likely refers to the constellation.
When God spoke by His breath or Spirit in the beginning, those words formed and became the world and all that we see today. Mankind may be able to invent things out of materials that already exist, but God, by His words, creates, and things come from nothing and begin to exist for His divine purposes (see Hebrews 11:3). As Creator, He can raise them all up, and/or pierce them through at His holy desire. Just because He is God!
Therefore, Job closes with this statement, Lo, these are parts of his ways. All these beautiful descriptions that Job lays out about God’s power and His creative abilities and strength to form and hold all that is in the world, none of it can still scratch the vast surface of who He really is and what He is really capable of doing. All that we may see and wonder over, are just a part of, or just the edge of His ways. God is so much more.
What we can hear of Him amounts to no more than the littlest of whispers, or a little portion because He is so grand and majestic. How we would be able to even comprehend the full thunder of power? What it all boils down to is, out of all that God has revealed to us through His creation, out of all the demonstrations of His power, we still only know the slightest parts of Him, we still can’t comprehend His greatness fully with our human intellect because He is just that powerfully awesome!
PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes for teaching): Sunday School Lesson - The Power of God
Draw the Scene: The Power of God Draw the Scene
Memory Verse: The Power of God Memory Verse
Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Job 26:7
Kids Journal Page: Journal Page Kids – Job 26:7
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