Which doeth great things - No work, however complicated, is too deep for his counsel to plan; none, however stupendous, is too great for his power to execute. He who is upright is always safe in referring his cause to God, and trusting in him.
Which doeth great things - The object of this is, to show why Job should commit his cause to God. The reason suggested is, that he had showed himself qualified to govern the world by the great and wonderful acts which he performed. Eliphaz, therefore, proceeds to expatiate on what God had done, and thus states the ancient belief in regard to his sovereignty over the world. This strain of reasoning continues to the end of the chapter. There is great beauty and force in it; and though we have, through the revelations of the New Testament, some more enlarged views of the government of God and of the design of affliction, yet perhaps there can be found nowhere a more beautiful argument to lead people to put confidence in God. The reason here stated is, that God does “great things,” and, therefore, we should commit ourselves to him. His works are vast and boundless; they are such as to impress the mind with a sense of his own immensity; and in such a being we should confide rather than in a feeble creature‘s arm. Who, when he contemplates the vast universe which God has made, and surveys the starry world under the light of the modern astronomy, can doubt that God does “great things,” and that the interests which we commit to him are safe?
And unsearchable - Margin, “There is no search.” Septuagint ἀνεξιχνίαστα anecichniasta ) - “whose footsteps cannot be traced.” The Hebrew word חקר chêqer means searching out or examining; and the idea is here, that it is impossible fully to search out and comprehend what God does. See Job 11:7. This is stated as a reason why we should look to him. We should expect things in his administration which we cannot understand. The argument of Eliphaz seems to be, that it was a matter of indisputable fact that there are many things in the government of God which are above our comprehension; and when he afflicts us, we should feel that this is a part of the doings of the incomprehensible God. Such mysterious dealings are to be expected, and they should not be allowed for a moment to shake our confidence in him.
Marvellous things - Things that are wonderful, and are fitted to excite amazement. See the notes at Isaiah 9:6.
Without number - Margin, “Until there be no number.” The sense is, that it is impossible to estimate the number of those things in the universe over which he presides which are adapted to excite admiration. If the view of the universe entertained in the time of Eliphaz was fitted to overwhelm the mind by its vastness and by the number of the objects which were created, this astonishment is much greater now that the telescope has disclosed the wonders of the heavens above to man, and the microscope the not less amazing wonders of the world beneath him. Leuwenhoeck, by the aid of the microscope, discovered, he supposed, a thousand million animalculae, whose united bulk did not exceed the size of a grain of sand - all of whom are distinct formations, with all the array of functions necessary to life. Of the number also of the larger works of God, much interesting and overpowering truth is presented by the science of modern astronomy.
As an instance of this, we may refer to the Milky Way, or the whitish, irregular zone, that goes round the whole heavens, and that can be seen at any season of the year, but particularly in the months of August, September, and November. “This vast portion of the heavens is found to consist wholly of stars, crowded into immense clusters. On first presenting a telescope of considerable power to this splendid zone, we are lost in astonishment at the number, the variety, and the beautiful configuration of the stars of which it is composed. In certain parts of it, every slight motion of the telescope presents now groups and new configurations; and the new and wondrous scene is continued over a space of many degrees in succession. In several fields of view, occupying a space of not more than twice the breadth of the moon, you perceive more of these twinkling luminaries, than all the stars visible to the naked eye throughout the whole canopy of heaven. The late Sir W. Herschel, in passing his telescope along a space of this zone fifteen degrees long, and two broad, descried at least fifty thousand stars, large enough to be distinctly counted; besides which, he suspected twice as many more, which could be seen only now and then by faint glimpses for lack of sufficient light; that is, fifty times more than the acutest eye can discern in the whole heavens during the clearest night; and the space which they occupy is only the one thousand three hundred and seventy-fifth part of the visible canopy of the sky.
On another occasion this astronomer perceived nearly six hundred stars in one field of view of his telescope; so that in the space of a quarter of an hour, one hundred and sixteen thousand stars passed in review before him. Now, were we to suppose every part of this zone equally filled with stars as the places now alluded to, there would be found in the Milky Way alone, no less than twenty million, one hundred and ninety thousand stars. In regard to the distance of some of these stars, it has been ascertained that some of the more remote are not less than five hundred times the distance of the nearest fixed star, or nearly two thousand billion of miles; a distance so great, that light, which flies at the rate of twelve million miles every minute, would require one thousand six hundred and forty years before it could traverse this mighty interval! The Milky Way is now, with good reason, considered to be the cluster of stars in which our sun is situated; and all the stars visible to the naked eye are only a few scattered orbs near the extremity of this cluster.
Yet there is reason also to believe that the Milky Way, of which our system forms a part, is no mere than a single nebula, of which several thousands have already been discovered, which compose the universe; and that it bears no more proportion to the whole siderial heavens than a small dusky speck which our telescopes enable us to descry in the heavens. Three thousand nebulae have already been discovered. Suppose the number of stars in the whole Milky Way to be no more than ten million, and that each of the nebulae, at an average, contains the same number; supposing further, that only two thousand of the three thousand nebulae are resolvable into stars, and that the other thousand are masses of a shining fluid, not yet condensed by the Almighty into luminous globes, the number of stars or suns comprehended in that portion of the firmament which is within the reach of our telescopes, is twenty thousand million.” Yet all this may be as nothing compared with the parts of the universe which we are unable to discover. See in the Christian Keepsake for 1840, an article by Thomas Dick, entitled” An Idea of the Universe;” compare the notes at Job 9:9.
Supplementary Note to Job 5:9
The labors of astronomers, aided by instruments of remarkable accuracy and power, and by improved methods of observation, are ever adding to our knowledge of the “wonderful things without number” which render the mechanism of the heavens such a spectacle of sublimity. Among the most interesting and beautiful of the celestial phenomena are the star clusters and nebulae. A small number of the star-clusters are bright enough to be distinguished by the naked eye, to which they appear as a faint cloudlike patch of light; but it is only when the telescope is used that their real character becomes known, and they are then seen to be vast conglomerations of stars-connected systems of suns. The greater number are of a rounded and apparently globular form, the stars being densely crowded together in the center; though others are very irregular in shape. Those of a globular form often consist of an astonishingly great number of stars. “Herschel has calculated that many clusters contain 5,000 collected in a space, the apparent dimensions of which are scarcely the tenth part of the surface of the lunar disk.” “The beautiful cluster in Aquarius, which Sir John Herschel‘s drawing exhibits as fine luminous dust, when examined through the Earl of Rosse‘s powerful reflector, appeared like a magnificent globular cluster, entirely separated into stars. But the most beautiful specimen of this kind is without doubt the splendid cluster in Toucan, quite visible to the naked eye, in the vicinity of the smaller Magellanic cloud, in a region of the southern sky entirely void of stars. The condensation at the center of this cluster is extremely decided; there are three perfectly distinct gradations, and the orange red color of the central agglomeration contrasts wonderfully with the white light of the concentric envelopes.”
It was formerly supposed by many that all nebulae were resolvable into star-clusters, and that it was only the want of instruments of sufficient power that prevented this from being done; but spectrum analysis has now demonstrated what was before conjectured, that although there may be many nebulae that would appear as distinct stars if more powerful instruments were brought to bear upon them, there are others of a different nature, consisting, namely, of glowing masses of gaseous matter. The forms assumed by nebulae are extremely varied, and some of them very remarkable. The round or globular form is very common; others resemble rings, circular or oval; others are conical or fanshaped, resembling the tail of a comet; some consist of spirals, radiating from a common nucleus; while many assume forms so irregular and bizarre as to be difficult to describe. The names given to some of them, such as the Crab Nebula, the Dumb-bell Nebula, the Fish-mouth Nebula (Nebula in Orion, see Plate), sufficiently intimate the striking aspects that they sometimes present.
Many of the nebulae, in which the separate stars could not previously be distinguished, have been resolved by Lord Rosse‘s great telescope; while others as seen by it have very different shapes from what less powerful instruments gave them. This is the case with the Dumb-bell Nebula in particular, its form as described and figured by Sir John Herschel being considerably different from that in our engraving, which shows its aspect under Lord Rosse‘s telescope. “Two luminous masses symmetrically placed and bound together by a rather short neck, the whole surrounded with a light nebulous envelope of oval form, gave it a very marked appearance of regularity. This aspect was, however, modified by Lord Rosse‘s telescope of three feet aperture, and the nebulous masses showed a decided tendency to resolvability. Later still, with the six-feet telescope, numerous stars were observed standing out, however, on a nebulous ground. The general aspect retains its primitive shape, less regular, but striking nevertheless. “With regard to the nebula in Orion we extract the following passage from Guillemin‘s “The Heavens,” edited by John N. Lockyer, F. R. A.S., the work from which the above passages are taken: - “Sir John Herschel compares the brightest portion to the head of a monstrous animal, the mouth of which is open, and the nose of which is in the form of a trunk. Hence, its name, the Fish-mouth Nebula. It is at the edge of the opening, in a space free from nebula that the four brightest of the components of θ (th ) (a sevenfold star, that is, a connected system of seven stars which appear to the naked eye a single luminous point) are to be found; around, but principally above the trapezium formed by these four stars is a luminous region, with a mottled appearance, which Lord Rosse and Bond have partly resolved. This region is remarkable on account, not only of the brilliancy of its lights, but also of the numerous centers where this light is condensed, and each of which appears to form a stellar cluster.
The rectangular form of the whole is also worthy of attention. The nebulous masses surrounding it, the light of which is much fainter than that of the central region, are lost gradually; according to Bond they assume a spiral form as indicated in the drawing executed by that astronomer” (from which our engraving is taken). Writing soon after Lord Rosse‘s observation had resolved the nebula of Orion, Dr. Nichol says: - “The great cluster in Hercules has long dazzled the heart with its splendors; but we have learned now, that among circular and compact galaxies, a class to which the nebulous stars belong, there are multitudes which infinitely surpass it; nay, that schemes of being rise above it, sun becoming nearer to sun, until their skies must be one blaze of light, a throng of burning activities! But far aloft stands Orion, the pre-eminent glory and wonder of the starry universe! - It would seem almost that if all other clusters, hitherto gauged, were collected and compressed into one, they would not surpass this mighty group, in which every wisp, every wrinkle, is a sand heap of stars. There are cases in which, though imagination has quailed, reason may still adventure inquiry, and prolong its speculations; but at times we are brought to a limit across which no human faculty has the strength to penetrate, and where, as if at the very footstool of the secret throne, we can only bend our heads, and silently adore!” “These facts furnish a most impressive commentary upon the words of Eliphaz - which doeth great things and unsearchable, “marvelous things until there be no number” (margin) - and become the more significant from their connection with the constellation of orion, which is more than once mentioned in the book of Job” Job 9:9; Job 38:31.
I have been shown that without Bible history, geology can prove nothing. Relics found in the earth do give evidence of a state of things differing in many respects from the present. But the time of their existence, and how long a period these things have been in the earth, are only to be understood by Bible history. It may be innocent to conjecture beyond Bible history, if our suppositions do not contradict the facts found in the sacred Scriptures. But when men leave the word of God in regard to the history of creation, and seek to account for God's creative works upon natural principles, they are upon a boundless ocean of uncertainty. Just how God accomplished the work of creation in six literal days he has never revealed to mortals. His creative works are just as incomprehensible as his existence. 3SG 93.1
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” 3SG 93.2
“Which doeth great things, past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.” 3SG 93.3Read in context »