Throughout the opening verses of chapter 40, the focus is on God’s sovereign work in redemption, often depicted throughout the Old Testament as YHWH’s outstretched hand. Job has no reason whatsoever to complain about how God does things. Yet in an eery way Job’s increasingly self-centered demand to be vindicated amounts to a kind of self-deification, the inevitable result of human sinfulness.11 Because of human sin, God’s purposes, which are always good and true, even if we cannot see nor understand why, must somehow become subservient to the desires of sinful humans. This is Job’s great failure. In verses 8-14, the LORD says to Job,
“Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.”
If Job can do what God can do, then the Lord will worship him! Elihu was right–Job sought to justify himself rather than God. No, only God can justify himself, because only God is without sin. Job, the sinner, has no right to question the holy God.