1 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you observe the calving of the does?
2 Can you number the months that they fulfill,
and do you know the time when they give birth,
3 when they crouch, bring forth their offspring,
and are delivered of their young?
4 Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open;
they go out and do not return to them.
5 “Who has let the wild donkey go free?
Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
6 to whom I have given the arid plain for his home
and the salt land for his dwelling place?
7 He scorns the tumult of the city;
he hears not the shouts of the driver.
8 He ranges the mountains as his pasture,
and he searches after every green thing.
9 “Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
Will he spend the night at your manger?
10 Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes,
or will he harrow the valleys after you?
11 Will you depend on him because his strength is great,
and will you leave to him your labor?
12 Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain
and gather it to your threshing floor?
13 “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly,
but are they the pinions and plumage of love?
14 For she leaves her eggs to the earth
and lets them be warmed on the ground,
15 forgetting that a foot may crush them
and that the wild beast may trample them.
16 She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers;
though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear,
17 because God has made her forget wisdom
and given her no share in understanding.
18 When she rouses herself to flee,
she laughs at the horse and his rider.
19 “Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
20 Do you make him leap like the locust?
His majestic snorting is terrifying.
21 He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;
he goes out to meet the weapons.
22 He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
he does not turn back from the sword.
23 Upon him rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear, and the javelin.
24 With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
25 When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’
He smells the battle from afar,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
26 “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars
and spreads his wings toward the south?
27 Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
and makes his nest on high?
28 On the rock he dwells and makes his home,
on the rocky crag and stronghold.
29 From there he spies out the prey;
his eyes behold it from far away.
30 His young ones suck up blood,
and where the slain are, there is he.” – Job 39:1-30 ESV
In His continuing lecture of Job, God points out that there are things that take place in nature of which humanity is totally oblivious and ignorant. These everyday occurrences escape man’s notice and happen without his knowledge or consent. For instance, the beasts of the field give birth to their young at prescribed times and in places hidden from Job’s view. But God observes and even oversees it all. The point seems to be that there are many things in life of which Job is uninformed and, frankly, disinterested. Job doesn’t have questions about those kinds of things because he doesn’t consider them pertinent or important.
God points out the “freedom” of the wild donkey. These free-range undomesticated animals roamed the wilderness with no need of supervision or sustenance provided by humans. How were they able to survive? How did they manage to eke out an existence far from civilization and without the aid and control of a master? The obvious answer is that God manages their affairs and sees to their daily needs.
He gives food to the wild animals
and feeds the young ravens when they cry. – Psalm 147:9 NLT
God wants Job to understand that nothing escapes His notice. God doesn’t share Job’s lack of vision or understanding. The Almighty knows all things and controls all things, so Job has no need to worry about the affairs of his own life. As the psalmist states, “How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!” (Psalm 147:5 NLT).
Next, God asks Job to consider the wild ox. Does Job have the ability to domesticate such a powerful beast and bring it under submission to his will? Just because Job desires something doesn’t mean he will get his way. The message here seems simple enough. Job is guilty of trying to force his will on God. In a sense, he has been trying to tame God and force Him to “plow his field.” But if Job can’t control a wild beast of the field, how does he expect to get the all-powerful God to do his bidding?
God asks a pair of probing question designed to expose the absurdity of Job’s demands of Him.
“Given its strength, can you trust it?
Can you leave and trust the ox to do your work?” – Job 39:11 NLT
Does Job really think God can be domesticated and coerced to serve the needs of mere men? Is the Creator-God able to be controlled by His own creation? The answer is a resounding, “No!” And yet Job has unwittingly tried to force his will on the Almighty.
With the next animal, God points out that not all things in life make sense. He asks Job to consider the ostrich. This strange-looking, oversized bird with the long neck and equally long legs appears to be the byproduct of a committee. It’s bizarre amalgam of seemingly disparate traits make it a walking contradiction. It is a bird with large wings and yet is incapable of flight. It makes no nest but, instead, lays its eggs on the ground where they can be warmed by the sun and exposed to vulnerable to predators. And those young who manage to survive, the ostrich mistreats.
“She is harsh toward her young,
as if they were not her own.
She doesn’t care if they die.” – Job 39:16 NLT
According to God, this was all part of His design for the ostrich. None of these character traits are flaws or mistakes. In fact, God indicates that the odd behavior of the ostrich is due to a lack of wisdom, which He factored into its design.
“For God has deprived her of wisdom.
He has given her no understanding.” – Job 39:17 NLT
And yet, this gangly and ungainly animal is equipped with a built-in survival skill that allows it to outrun “the swiftest horse with its rider” (Job 39:18 NLT). The ostrich makes no sense but it is a byproduct of God’s creative imagination. And there are things about Job’s life that seem nonsensical and inexplicable but they are all part of God’s sovereign plan for his life. At this point, it’s as if Job has noticed that he has large flightless wings and he expresses his frustration with God’s design. But he fails to recognize that he has also been given powerful legs that provide him with a capacity to escape danger. Like the ostrich, Job lacks wisdom, but he hasn’t been left defenseless. If God can care for the seemingly hapless ostrich, He can handle the needs of the seemingly hopeless Job.
Now God turns Job’s attention to the horse. First, he sarcastically asks whether Job is responsible for the creation of this magnificent animal.
“Have you given the horse its strength
or clothed its neck with a flowing mane?” – Job 39:19 NLT
Job can admire the horse but he can’t take credit for it. This majestic animal is powerful, bold, and fearless. It has been divinely equipped with great strength that produces both speed and agility, a perfect combination for use in battle. It is as if God designed the horse for warfare. Unlike the ostrich, the horse uses its speed to run into danger, not away from it.
“It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength
when it charges out to battle.
It laughs at fear and is unafraid.
It does not run from the sword.” – Job 39:21-22 NLT
The same God who made the ostrich also made the horse. Each is equipped with different physical and mental characteristics that reflect the wisdom of God. There are no mistakes. There is nothing about either animal that lies outside God’s sovereign will and intended purpose for them. And the same is true of Job. Nothing about his life is a mistake. There is a divine purpose behind every detail. In a way, God is letting Job know that he has been wonderfully made and designed with a purpose in mind. King David understood the remarkable nature of his own design and expressed his awe for God’s gracious gift of life.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed. – Psalm 139:13-16 NLT
Finally, God directs Job’s eyes to the sky, where he can view the ways of the eagle and the hawk. Unlike the ostrich, these two birds of prey are designed for flight. Their wings enable them to soar among the clouds and make their nests in hidden places far from the threat of predators. These majestic birds are the hunters not the hunted. God has designed them for flight but there is far more to their aerial capabilities than meets the eye. It is this unique capacity that allows them to protect and provide for their young. Their powerful wings and keen sight are divine design features that set them apart from all the other birds of the air.
God wants Job to take notice of His attention to detail. There is nothing that God has left to chance and there are no mistakes or anomalies in His design. And as much as Job would like to debate that fact, God is conceding no ground and accepting no blame. There is so much Job does not know or understand. He and his four friends had been quick to spout their opinions and expose their ignorance. They thought they knew and understood God but they had a lot to learn. The God who made the beasts of the field and the birds of the air had also made them. His ways are not always understandable but His divine plan is flawless. While things may not always make sense, God can always be trusted.
No human wisdom or understanding or plan
can stand against the Lord.
The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
but the victory belongs to the Lord. – Proverbs 21:30-31 NLT
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.