“When I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?
Explanation and Commentary of Job 38:11
“Who shut up the sea behind doors” (Job 38:8) was the question asked by God of Job at the beginning of this sentence. The question is really, “Was it any of you?” The Book of Job is a powerful reminder that though we suffer, God is still on his throne and has a purpose for everything that he does. Asking “why” of God is not wrong, but demanding justice, or misrepresenting him in some way is.
This section of the Book of Job is filled with these powerful reminders of the awesomeness of the creation that points to the much greater awesomeness of the Creator. God has made the universe such that natural processes cause events in nature, natural processes that sprang from his mind and his nature, but it is also proper to say that God controls everything, every minute of every day (Isa 14:24). Here in this verse, God is asking if Job was around when God told the tides how to behave. Tidal rhythms happen as a result of the gravitational pull of the moon, but it would be correct to say, God makes the tides. He makes the calm waters, the small waves, the large waves, and the tidal waves.
It is meant to be a comfort that our God, who loves us and cares for us is also all-powerful. This means that God is a God who is able (Eph 3:20). He will save us because he is able to save us. Moses’ great concern for God was that if the Israelites did not survive the wilderness time to reach the land of promise, then God’s enemies would say, “You were not able to bring this people in” (Numbers 15:16). But in fact, God is able to do anything that is according to his will.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Job 38:11
#1 “when I said,”
God speaks and things happen “by the word of his mouth” (Ps 33:6). “In the beginning God said…and there was…” (Gen 1:3).
#2 “‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where…”
God did create natural processes in the universe, even on the quantum level. But never think that he is not personally responsible for what happens at each given moment. This should be a great comfort, because it means things behave the way the most perfect, the most loving, most just, most merciful being says they should happen.
#3 “and where your proud waves halt?’”
By personifying the waves as proud, God is attributing a certain majesty and certainty to them. This is the sort of certainty that the redeemed should walk in as they abide in God, in love, and in truth, by the Holy Spirit of God.
Expert Overview of Job
Biblical Translations of Job 38:11
“When I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt?'”
“I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!'”
“And said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed?'”
“And said, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?'”
“When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!'”
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.