In Job chapter 39, God continues with the line of questioning that he began of Job in chapter 38. Most of chapter 38, God highlights the design and boundaries of the earth, the control of the weather, and the stars above. At the end of chapter, God begins to discuss the care of the animals. This line of questioning continues in chapter 39.
1 “Do you know the time when the wild mountain goats bear young? Or can you mark when the deer gives birth? 2 Can you number the months that they fulfill? Or do you know the time when they bear young? 3 They bow down, They bring forth their young, They deliver their offspring. 4 Their young ones are healthy, They grow strong with grain; They depart and do not return to them.
Job likely knew a great deal about caring for the domesticated animals. We know from Job 1:3 that he had “seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys”. He also had many servants to help care for his herds of livestock. Much work and planning goes into breeding and raising livestock. However, Job had likely never given a thought to the breeding and care of the wild mountain goats. But God did. God serves as the caretaker for the wild mountain goats and all of their needs.
5 “Who set the wild donkey free? Who loosed the bonds of the onager [wild donkey], 6 Whose home I have made the wilderness, And the barren land his dwelling? 7 He scorns the tumult of the city; He does not heed the shouts of the driver. 8 The range of the mountains is his pasture, And he searches after every green thing.
There are no servants sent out to corral and protect the wild donkeys or move them from pasture to pasture. But God cares for the wild donkey. God provided the mountain range and the vegetation for their meals. The wild donkeys did not require man to care for them… God had already provided for their needs.
9 “Will the wild ox be willing to serve you? Will he bed by your manger? 10 Can you bind the wild ox in the furrow with ropes? Or will he plow the valleys behind you? 11 Will you trust him because his strength is great? Or will you leave your labor to him? 12 Will you trust him to bring home your grain, And gather it to your threshing floor?
The wild ox (or unicorn in the King James translation) is actually an animal known as the aurochs. Andersen comments… “The beast in question is the aurochs, not the fabled ‘unicorn’ of the av. Extinct since 1627, this enormous animal was the most powerful of all hoofed beasts, exceeded in size only by the hippopotamus and the elephant. It is the standard symbol of strength in the Old Testament, where it is mentioned nine times.”
Man could not harness or contain this animal for use on the farms. This animal would only yield to God. It is God indeed that cares for its needs.
13 “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, But are her wings and pinions like the kindly stork’s? 14 For she leaves her eggs on the ground, And warms them in the dust; 15 She forgets that a foot may crush them, Or that a wild beast may break them. 16 She treats her young harshly, as though they were not hers; Her labor is in vain, without concern, 17 Because God deprived her of wisdom, And did not endow her with understanding. 18 When she lifts herself on high, She scorns the horse and its rider.
This passage of scripture is comical in nature. Most commentators agree. One example is Mason… “This passage is remarkable in that it continues the first and only real humor in the book of Job. Leave it to God to pull a stunt like this, forcing a smile out of Job at a time when the poor fellow has been so intent on his misery.”
Despite being “deprived of her wisdom”, the ostrich does survive and the young grow up to become adult ostriches despite the harsh treatment of the mother. God tends to the ostrich and it’s young. It does not require understanding to live as God intended.
19 “Have you given the horse strength? Have you clothed his neck with thunder? 20 Can you frighten him like a locust? His majestic snorting strikes terror. 21 He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; He gallops into the clash of arms. 22 He mocks at fear, and is not frightened; Nor does he turn back from the sword. 23 The quiver rattles against him, The glittering spear and javelin. 24 He devours the distance with fierceness and rage; Nor does he come to a halt because the trumpet has sounded. 25 At the blast of the trumpet he says, ‘Aha!’ He smells the battle from afar, The thunder of captains and shouting.
The horse is often revered for its strength and majestic form. From God’s description, we can envision the picture of the war horse… prancing around, neck bulging, pawing at the ground, full of energy, snorting, eager and willing to enter the battle. It was not Job, or any man, that taught the war horse to yearn for battle. It was God that put this character into the horse.
26 “Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, And spread its wings toward the south? 27 Does the eagle mount up at your command, And make its nest on high? 28 On the rock it dwells and resides, On the crag of the rock and the stronghold. 29 From there it spies out the prey; Its eyes observe from afar. 30 Its young ones suck up blood; And where the slain are, there it is.”
Job’s wisdom was certainly not responsible for the hawk’s ability to fly. Nor did the eagle take instruction from Job. Completely lacking knowledge and instruction from man… both the hawk and the eagle were cared for very well.
The more that God demonstrates how he cares for the animals that he has created and spread across the land, the more we realize how lacking our own knowledge is about the world around us. From mountain goats to ostriches to war horses, God cares for countless creatures for which we fail to offer a single thought. These animals are not dependent upon man for their well being. No creature is too insignificant for God to provide for every aspect of its life.
As Bradley writes… “One thought, and one only, is brought into the foreground. The world is full of mysteries, strange, unapproachable, overpowering mysteries that you cannot read. Trust, trust in the power, and in the wisdom, and in the goodness of Him, the Almighty One, who rules it.”
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4)
May they source of your wisdom be His immeasurable wisdom.