Job 39:1 ¶ Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?
Job 39:2 Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth?
Job 39:3 They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows.
Job 39:4 Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them.
The questions in this chapter focus on God’s creative work in making and caring for the creatures in the animal kingdom. God is pointing out to Job that he has no control over when and how they reproduce. Can he explain how they know innately what to do to give birth and how to take care of their young? Can he explain how the young ones know when it is time to go off on their own? Can he explain why there is no lasting bond between parent and offspring? God knows the answer to each one of these questions; He is in control. Man can only observe the process.
Job 39:5 Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?
Job 39:6 Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings.
Job 39:7 He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver.
Job 39:8 The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing.
This section starts with the thought of who determines which animals roam free and which are made to serve man. It also addresses who determines where the animals are to live. Some were created and equipped to live in the desert, others in the mountains, and others in pastures that are tended by men. Some are naturally vegetarians and others, like those in the previous chapter, are natural meat eaters. Again, it is all a part of God’s overall plan to maintain the balance of nature and provide for each creature that is part of His creation. The obvious point being made yet again—Man has no control over any animal regarding its natural instincts and placing them where they naturally thrive.
Job 39:9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?
Job 39:10 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?
Job 39:11 Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him?
Job 39:12 Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?
Point is made in this section that there are some animals that man cannot tame. The Hebrew for unicorn makes reference to a wild bull. Some commentators think that the rhinoceros is meant as a type of the unicorn that is known for its prominent horn. The obvious reference is to a grown animal that is too dumb and powerful to be tamed and put to work for man.
The implication of the question—God made this animal and programmed it according to His own purposes.
Job 39:13 ¶ Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?
Job 39:14 Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust,
Job 39:15 And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them.
Job 39:16 She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labour is in vain without fear;
Job 39:17 Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding.
Job 39:18 What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.
This section mentions two birds that can’t soar through the skies like other birds due to the choice of their Creator.
Following is some information on the peacock from www.birdsflight.com: “Peacocks can fly. They can easily flutter into the air but only up to a limited gap. Unlike other birds, they cannot prolong their flight but these small drifts are extremely essential in getting rid of deadly killers. As soon as any predator approaches them, they ascend by means of feathers to get to the nearby tree for safety. Besides in the late hours of darkness, if they fancy living on the limb of a tree, they can do so by flying directly on to it. Likewise, peacocks make use of their plumage while landing to the ground.”
The ostrich is certainly an interesting creature. The ostrich has wings that are useless; it cannot fly at all. Unlike most birds, she is not careful with her eggs; in fact, they travel in herds and put all their eggs in one nest; the eggs are then basically left primarily to the care of the dominant male and female of the herd. Brian Bertram, author of The Ostrich Communal Nesting System (1992), reported that only 5 of 57 nests that he studied produced surviving hatchlings and that most eggs fell prey to predators.
Adam Clarke’s Commentary includes a couple of interesting quotes: 1) “Mr. Jackson, in his Account of Morocco, observes: "The ostrich, having laid her eggs, goes away, forgetting or forsaking them: and if some other ostrich discover them, she hatches them as if they were her own, forgetting probably whether they are or are not; so deficient is the recollection of this bird." 2) "Xenophon says, Cyrus had horses that could overtake the goat and the wild ass; but none that could reach this creature. A thousand golden ducats, or a hundred camels, was the stated price of a horse that could equal their speed."
God explains these actions to Job as unique to how He created them; God chose to deprive the ostrich of wisdom and understanding according to His purposes. On the other hand, He chose to enable ostriches to run so fast that they can outrun a horse. They can sprint up to 43 mph and run for distance at 31 mph (per National Geographic). The point seems to be that this creature again emphasizes the sovereignty of God over His creation and man’s limited ability to understand God’s reasoning through His actions.
Having described the horse’s speed as unequal to the ostrich, God turns Job’s focus to the strengths of the horse.
Job 39:19 ¶ Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?
Job 39:20 Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible.
Job 39:21 He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men.
Job 39:22 He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword.
Job 39:23 The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield.
Job 39:24 He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.
Job 39:25 He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
The Lord resumes a questioning format in reference to an animal with which Job should be very familiar. Could Job take credit for giving the horse its strength and courage? Some translations are worded so as to compare the leaping ability of the horse to that of the grasshopper. The horse is unafraid as he carries his rider into battle though he is confronted with sword, spear and javelin. The horse responds to the commands of his master without being frightened by the sound of trumpets or the shouting of men. That same courage would prove to hold true even when confronted with the invention of guns and cannons. It would seem to any observer that the horse relished the battle.
I am sure Job was feeling smaller and smaller as he considered his thoughts regarding his circumstances in light of the sovereignty and power of Almighty God, His Creator, and His obvious interest in the details of their makeup. From the horse God directs Job’s attention to the hawk and eagle, the great birds of prey.
Job 39:26 ¶ Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?
Job 39:27 Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?
Job 39:28 She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place.
Job 39:29 From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off.
Job 39:30 Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.
Could Job take credit for designing the hawk or the eagle to fly at such great height? Did he give them the inner compass to control their migration senses and patterns? Could he direct these birds with the command of his voice? Did he give them the ability to make their nests at such heights in the mountains? Obviously, Job could not—but God can and did.
Wikipedia: “An eagle in flight can reputedly sight a rabbit two miles away. Talon–eye coordination is a hunting imperative. From its perch at the top of trees, the eagle can dive at speeds of 125–200 miles per hour (201–322 km/h) to catch its prey by its talons.”
www.reference.com: “Eagles fly 10,000 to 15,000 feet high at about 65 mph. They can glide for hours without rest on warm updrafts of air.”
“Similar to other birds of prey, hawks have vision that is around eight times sharper than that of humans.”
Verse 30 emphasizes that these birds are carnivores.
Obviously, the Creator of such creatures has power and authority far beyond human understanding.