1–2 Job’s immediate response (v. 1) shows that he understands clearly the thrust of the second divine speech. As I noted in the opening comments on that speech, the prologue (40:8–14) sets the tone—that God is all-powerful, especially as Lord over the moral sphere. He alone puts down evil and brings to pass his entire holy will. This, as I have tried to show, is the thought also of the climax (apex) of the Leviathan poem (cf. 41:11–12; see Notes).
Job now opens his mouth to tell God that he has gotten the message: God’s purpose is all that counts, and since he is God, he is able to bring it to pass (v. 2). There is nothing else Job needs to know except, perhaps, that this Sovereign of the universe is his friend (42:7–8).
42:2 / I know that you can do all things. This is not a departure from Job’s previous attitude. Job has assumed all along that God is capable of acting to end his undeserved suffering (and injustice in general!). It is the fact that the Almighty allows a righteous man to suffer without public acknowledgment of his righteousness that exercises Job. So this is a reaffirmation of faith in God’s sovereign power. Job acknowledges that God has a plan that he actively pursues. The world is not a place of happenstance or willy-nilly chance. Humans may not understand God’s purposes, but that does not mean he does not have any. God remains sovereign and cannot be thwarted. But this statement is so much more than an admission of defeat and failure to sway God. The true implication of these words is that the suffering that Job has experienced must fall within the divine purposes of God. Of course, we already know the purpose that lies behind Job’s innocent suffering. It has been a test in response to the Satan’s question regarding the willingness of any human to fear God without profit. We are about to learn—as Job himself must already have learned—that it is indeed possible to do just that. Job (and other humans) can continue to fear God for no profit, even when the profit is no more than public recognition of the righteous character of the one who suffers.
Ver. 2. Now I know that Thou canst do all things—now that in these two animal colossi Thou hast set before me the most convincing proofs of Thine omnipotence, and at the same time of the constant justice of Thy ways. And that no undertaking (no thought, or purpose, which Thou dost undertake to carry out; מְּזִמָּהsensu bono, comp. זִמָּה ch. 17:11) is forbidden to Thee (lit. “cut off”) [rendered inaccessible, impracticable]. To these thoughts, which God has the power to execute without condition or any limitation whatever, belongs, in the very first rank, the appointment of severe sufferings for men who, apparently, are innocent. This Job here recognizes as the normal result of the operations of the All-wise, All-merciful, and Righteous God in His government of the world, being just as truly the result of His operations as the terrible forms and activities of the behemoth and leviathan.
42:1–2. In Job’s first response (40:3–5) he admitted his finiteness in the face of God’s display of numerous wonders of nature above, on, and under the earth. But he did not admit to God’s sovereignty or to his own sin of pride. Job now confessed those two things in his second reply. Overwhelmed by the strength and fierceness of the behemoth and the leviathan, Job sensed his own inadequacy to conquer and control evil, which they represented. He therefore saw anew the greatness of God’s power and sovereignty. Job’s words I know that You can do all things point up the folly of his questioning God’s ability to govern the universe. Job’s efforts to thwart (lit., “cut off”) God’s plan were now seen as futile.
42:1–2 Job confessed God’s rightful sovereignty over all matters, including his situation. He had questioned God’s actions previously (16:12–14). God’s speeches about his ordering of the world caused Job’s capitulation.