(1) Then the Lord answered Job.—This chapter brings the grand climax and catastrophe of the poem. Unless all was to remain hopelessly uncertain and dark, there could be no solution of the questions so fiercely and obstinately debated but by the intervention of Him whose government was the matter in dispute. And so the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, or tempest: that is to say, the tempest which had been long gathering, and which had been the subject of Elihu’s remarks. The one argument which is developed in the remaining chapters is drawn from man’s ignorance. There is so much in nature that man knows not and cannot understand, that it is absurd for him to suppose that he can judge aright in matters touching God’s moral government of the world. Though Job is afterwards (Job 42:8) justified by God, yet the tone of all that God says to him is more or less mingled with reproach.
That darkeneth counsel.—That is, probably, my counsel, which was the matter under debate. The words, however, are often used proverbially in a general sense. Such discussions, carried on, as they cannot but be, in entire ignorance by blind mortals, must to God’s omniscience seem thus, and cannot be otherwise than the darkening of counsel by words without knowledge.
The breadth of the earth.—The earth being conceived of as a vast plain (comp. Job 38:13). Unscientific as all this language is, it is not a little remarkable that the majestic sublimity of it is not one whit affected thereby.
The east wind.—As naturally suggested by the origin of light and the mention of it.