(a). God’s Second Challenge to Job <40:6—41:34>
God continues to speak to Job as the “storm” of his suffering continues focusing on Job’s previous comment; “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” <40:8 (NIV); cf. 19:6>; Job, by upholding his own righteousness had cast doubt on God’s righteousness; so God challenges him on this point suggesting that Job prove himself in a display of his power over the animal kingdom; “Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?” <40:9 (NIV)>.
First, God alludes to a large land animal; “Look at the behemoth” <40:15 (NIV)>; “it is uncertain whether this refers to the elephant or the hippopotamus, but the text appears to favour the elephant” (The Book of Life – Historical Digest); but could also be the hippopotamus as stated by Adam Clarke in his commentary; created along with mankind, but due to its large size and enormous strength is feared by humans, “yet his Maker can approach him with his sword” <40:19 (NIV)>; but is under the control of God its creator. The phrase “with his sword” could indicate that it is now extinct. So God asks Job “Can anyone capture him by the eyes, or trap him and pierce his nose?” <40:24 (NIV)> or, Job could you control such a creature? Secondly, God refers to the Leviathan <41:1>, a large marine animal <see Psa.104:25-26>, and the text appears to indicate that it was more terrifying than the Behemoth; “Nothing on earth is his equal — a creature without fear.” <41:33 (NIV)>. The Leviathan may be mighty, but God is more powerful; “Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me” <41:10-11 (NIV)>. So God challenges Job and his friends to be as great and powerful as He is, yet perfectly just and righteous in all His acts with mankind. Human reasoning can never equal God’s wisdom!
(b). Job’s Second Answer to God <42:1-6>
God had said to Job “Listen…I will speak” <cf. 38:3; 40:7>, and proceeded to challenge Job by describing His creation; the heavens above, the earth below, and the animal kingdom; confirming His complete sovereignty over all created beings and things; and then inquiring of Job if he was wise, mighty, and adequate to be in charge of all creation. Job, finally humbled before God, responded as all who are exposed to the glory and awesomeness of God; first he acknowledges God’s sovereignty, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” <42:2 (NIV); cf. Gen.18:14; Isa.14:24, 26-27; Jonah 1:2; Nahum 3:18-19; Acts 17:30–31; Rev.20:11-15>. Secondly, in response to God’s question <42:3> Job confesses his sin, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” <42:3 (NIV)>. In the anguish of his suffering, like any other human being, Job questioned God’s actions by his human wisdom, accusing God of injustice and not acknowledging His righteousness. In response to God’s command <42:4>, his attitude is that of a remorseful sinner, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” <42:5-6 (NIV); cf. 9:32-34; Isa.6:1, 5; Lk.18:13b>.
Although Job to this point in time did not know God’s purpose for his suffering, he found rest and peace in God as he saw God’s manifestation; likewise all individuals who suffer in this lifetime unable to understand the reason, can find peace in the knowledge that while God is silent we can rest in the fact that He is sovereign, He knows our pain and His purpose will eventually be evident to us <Jas.5:11>.