To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender grass to spring forth?
All Commentaries on Job 38:27 Go To Job 38
Gregory The Dialogist
But what it produced when rained on, is shewn, when it is immediately subjoined, And should produce green herbs.
51. For the Gentile world, to which a way was not open for the word of God, was a long while pathless. For on the coming of our Redeemer it so received the calling of grace, as that there had not been in it before the way of Prophecy. It is also rightly called desolate; namely, as being destitute of either the wisdom of counsel, or of the fruit of good works. The Lord therefore gave a course to the most violent shower, and a way to the sounding thunder, that it should rain in the desert, and fill the pathless and desolate land, and should produce green herbs. That is, He added to outward preaching inward inspiration; that the parched hearts of the Gentiles might become green, the closed might be opened, the empty filled, the unfruitful germinate.
52. For in holy Scripture ‘grass’ is sometimes taken for the verdure of temporal glory, sometimes for the food of the devil, sometimes for the support of preachers, sometimes for good works, sometimes for the knowledge and doctrine of eternal life. For it is taken for the verdure of temporal glory, as the Prophet says, Let it pass away in the morning like grass, in the morning let it flourish and pass away. [Ps. 90, 6] For to flourish and to pass away in the morning like grass, is in the prosperity of this world for the beauty of temporal glory speedily to dry away. Grass is taken for the food of the devil, as it is said of him by the Lord, For him the mountains bear grass. [Job 40, 20] As if He were saying, Whilst proud and haughty men exalt themselves in unlawful thoughts and actions, they feed him with their iniquities. Grass is pointed out to be the support of preachers, when it is said, He produceth grass on the mountains, and herbs for the service of men. [Ps. 147, 8; Ps. 104, 14] For grass is produced on the mountains, and herbs for the use of men, when the lofty ones of this world, being called to the knowledge of the faith, bestow on holy preachers, in the journey of this life, food for their sojourn. Grass is put for good works, as it is written, Let the earth bring forth the green grass. [Gen. l, 11] And though we hold that it thus took place historically in the creation of the world, yet we suppose, without impropriety, the earth to have been a type of the Church, which brought forth the green grass, in that it produced, at the command of God, fruitful works of mercy. We sometimes take ‘grass’ for the knowledge and doctrine of eternal verdure; as it is said by Jeremiah, The wild asses did stand on the rocks, they snuffed up the winds as dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass. [Jer. 14, 6] By which expression the proud and most wicked persecution of the Jews was prophesied. For they are called in truth wild asses, for their pride of mind, and dragons, for their virulent thoughts. And they stood on the rocks, because they trusted, not in God, but, in the chief powers of this world, saying, We have no king but Caesar. [John 19, 15] They snuffed up the winds as dragons, because being puffed up by the spirit of pride they were swollen with malicious haughtiness. Their eyes failed, because in truth their hope fell short of that which it was aiming at. For loving temporal things, it neglected to wait for eternal, and lost earthly goods, because preferred them to God. For they said, If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him, and the Romans will come, and take away both our place and nation. [John 11, 48] They were afraid lest they should lose their place, if the Lord had not been slain, and yet they lost it, when He was slain. But he adds the reason why these things befel the wretched men, Because there was no grass: that is, because the knowledge of eternity was wanting in their hearts, and did not refresh them with the food of the verdure of inward doctrine. In this place then what else do we understand by green herbs, but the knowledge of heavenly doctrine, or works in accordance? The desert earth then is watered by the rain, for the green herbs to be produced from it, because when the Gentile world enjoyed the shower of holy preaching, it budded forth with both the works of life, and the herb of doctrine. This verdure is promised to the desert land by the voice of the Prophet, when it is said, In the dens, in which the dragons dwelt before, shall rise up the verdure of the reed and bulrush. [Is. 35, 7] For what is designated by the reed but preachers: and what by the bulrush, which always grows by the moisture of water, but weak and tender hearers of the sacred word? The verdure of the reed and bulrush grows up then in the dens of the dragons, because in those peoples, which the malice of the old enemy used to possess, both the knowledge of teachers and the obedience of hearers is collected together.
53. But these things which have been stated generally of the Gentile world, we see taking place, if we carefully examine, in individuals within the bosom of Holy Church. For there are many, grievously insensible to the words of God, who are counted under the name of faith, who hear the words of life with their ears, but suffer them not to pass through to the inward places of the heart. What else are these than desert land? Which land in truth has not a man, because their mind is void of the sense of reason. And no mortal dwells in this land, because if thoughts of reasonable meanings ever spring up in their conscience, they do not remain there. For evil desires find a resting-place in their hearts, but if good desires have ever come there, they pass away, as if urged on. But when the merciful God deigns to give a course to His shower, and a way to the sounding thunder, being stung with grace within, they open the ears of their heart to the words of life. And the pathless land is filled: for while it grants a hearing to the word, it is overwhelmed with mystery. And it brings forth green herbs: because when watered by the grace of compunction, it not only willingly receives the words of preaching, but returns them back with abundant increase; so that it is now eager to speak what it could not hear, and that that which had become dry, even within, through not listening, feeds with its verdure as many as are hungry. Whence it is well said by the Prophet, Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and Thou shall renew the face of the earth. [Ps. 104, 30] For thus, thus, the face of the earth is changed by the virtue of renewal, when the mind which before was dry, is watered by the coming of grace, and is, after its former barrenness, arrayed with the verdure of knowledge, as though by grass which it had brought forth. Which grace of our Creator is commended still more highly