Devotional Readings

Job 38:1 – A still small voice?

It’s been said that the way to hear God’s voice is in the silence. there is some truth to that, and we must be atttentive to listen, but I don’t see it as either a mystical practice key to connecting to God, nor a normative practice.

I’m pretty convinced that God speaks to us directly through his word in the Bible.

Today’s reading in this first verse opens up another way the Bible reveals a conversation with one of his choosen. At the end we will look at the voice that was still and small and just what the context and the message was that Elijah heard. But first Job.

Job 38:1  Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

Job 38:1 Gill
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind,…. As soon as Elihu had done speaking, who saw the tempest rising, and gave hints of it, Job 37:2; and hastened to finish his discourse. This was raised to give notice of the Lord being about to appear, and to display his majesty, and to command reverence and attention. The Targum calls it the whirlwind of distress, as it might be to Job; and a representation of the distressed and disturbed state and condition in which he was. The person that spoke out of it is Jehovah the Son of God, the eternal Word, who very probably appeared in an human form; there was an object seen, Job 42:5; and spoke with an articulate voice to Job;

and said; in answer to his frequent wishes and desires that the Lord would appear and take his cause in hand.

There is another verse in my reading today….about silence. But as Gill writes below the outcome of this is to open their mouths in a silent dead world, spreading the Gospel.

Psa 94:17  Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.

my soul had almost dwelt in silence; or “within a little”, or “must quickly” (e); not only have been, but must have dwelt, continued in silence, in the grave; see Psa 115:17 his case being desperate, like that of the apostles, when they had the sentence of death within themselves, 2Co 1:10, this is to be understood not of the soul precisely, and abstractly considered, which dies not, nor is it silent after death; but of the whole person, being a part for the whole; and of the person, with respect to the mortal part, the body, which only dies, and while in a state of separation, or in the grave, is silent, and ceases from all operations of life: perhaps this may have some respect to the silencing of the witnesses, which is a principal thing meant by the slaying of them; a stop put to their ministrations, partly by the edicts of their enemies, and partly by the discouragement of their friends, their shyness, and negligence of them; and which silence will be almost total, if not altogether; though it will last but for a short time; they shall not dwell or continue in silence, but will open their mouths again; signified by the angel flying through the midst of heaven, with the everlasting Gospel, Rev 14:6.

As for the “still small verse” it’s best to read this in context.

1Ki 19:12  And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

1Ki 19:7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
1Ki 19:8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

The Lord Speaks to Elijah

1Ki 19:9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Gill has an interesting comment on this.
1 Kings 19:9
And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there,…. This cave, some travellers say (u), is to be seen at this day, not far from a church dedicated to the prophet Elijah, and that the cave itself has the appearance of a chapel; but a more particular account of it is given in a journal (w) lately published, which says, this cave exists to this very day, and is situated at the foot of Mount Sinai, and is now enclosed in a church built of red and white granite marble, the entrance into which is from the west; the dimensions of this cave are in length five feet, in depth four feet, and in height four and a half. The Jewish writers are of opinion that this was the cleft of the rock in which Moses was put, when the Lord passed before him; but, if so, there would have been no need of Elijah to have gone forth to and stand upon the mount when the Lord passed by, 1Ki 19:11,

and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him; an articulate voice was heard by him:

and he said unto him, what dost thou here, Elijah? this is not a proper place for a prophet to be in, in a wilderness, in a mountain, in a cave in it: what work could he do for God? or what service to his people? in the land of Israel he might bear his testimony against idolatry, and so be a means of reclaiming backsliders, and of establishing those that were in the true religion; but of what usefulness could he be here? Abarbinel takes it to be a reproof of Elijah, for going into a place so holy as it was, and in which Moses, the chief of the prophets, had been, and that it did not become such a man as he was to be in such a place.

(u) Egmont and Heyman’s Travels, vol. 2. p. 166. (w) Journal from Cairo to Mount Sinai in 1722, p. 26. Ed. 2.

Get back to the text.

1Ki 19:10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

1Ki 19:11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:

1Ki 19:12  And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

1Ki 19:13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

1Ki 19:14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

Interesting those words are almost an exact repeat of the earlier exchange…v9,10.

From here we get a very direct and command from the LORD specific to Elijah and this time. A message of the sword and a comfort that not all follow false gods….

1Ki 19:15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
1Ki 19:16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.

1Ki 19:17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.

1Ki 19:18  Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

As for the often quoted verse and the be still exhortation as the way to hear God, Gill writes.
1 Kings 19:12 Gill

And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire,…. As he was when he descended on this mount, and spake to Moses, Exo 19:1, the Targum, and so Jarchi, interpret all these appearances of angels, and not amiss; the wind, of an host of angels of wind; the earthquake, of an host of angels of commotion; the fire, of an host of angels of fire; see Psa 104:4, these ministers of the Lord went before him, to prepare the way of his glorious Majesty; which emblems may represent the power of God, the terribleness of his majesty, and the fury of his wrath, which he could display, if he would, to the destruction of his enemies; and could as easily destroy the idolatrous kingdom of Israel, which Elijah seems to be solicitous of, as the wind rent the mountains, and broke the rocks, and the earthquake shook the earth, and the fire consumed all in its way; but he chose not to do it now, but to use lenity, and show mercy, signified by the next emblem:

and after the fire a still small voice: not rough, but gentle, more like whispering than roaring; something soft, easy, and musical; the Targum is, the voice of those that praise God in silence; and all this may be considered as showing the difference between the two dispensations of law and Gospel; the law is a voice of terrible words, and was given amidst a tempest of wind, thunder, and lightning, attended with an earthquake, Heb 12:18, but the Gospel is a gentle voice of love, grace, and mercy, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by Christ; and may also point at the order and manner of the Lord’s dealings with the souls of men, who usually by the law breaks the rocky hearts of men in pieces, shakes their consciences, and fills their minds with a sense of fiery wrath and indignation they deserve, and then speaks comfortably to them, speaks peace and pardon through the ministration of the Gospel by his Spirit; blessed are the people that hear this still, small, gentle voice, the joyful sound, Psa 89:15.

Psa 89:15 Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.

So Gill places the emphasis on the hearing the call of the Gospel, and what is actually in God’s word the Bible commanded to us. Much like the Great Commission.

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

1 thought on “Job 38:1 – A still small voice?”

  1. This Proverb opens with a great exhortation to hearing God and following his commands. It’s amazing how these reading passages build on each other.

    Pro 7:1 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.
    Pro 7:2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
    Pro 7:3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.
    Pro 7:4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
    Pro 7:5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.


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