"Job, so now I am ready again to approach your response to God in ch.42. I want to start by saying that your answer to God has given scholars headaches over the years. They would love to be able to give a precise meaning to what you are saying, but it seems to elude them. One scholar even calls your answer "enigmatic." Is that true, Job? Are you blushing? Oh, ok, just the residual redness of your scars.
But here is the "interpretive crux," as the scholars love to call it. Are you pummeled into submission, so that your response is a submission like a Croatian prisoner in a Serb detention camp or are you willingly "giving yourself over" to God by realizing the truth of who God is and what God says? In other words, the crucial issue is the manner of your submission.
But your submission is based on another reality, isn't it? The real issue behind your submission, Job, is the extent to which God "buried" you. That is, what is in God's mind as he speaks to you in 38-41? Is he only mildly perturbed, and will he be satisfied with your humble submission when he points out the truth of his superiority and your ignorance? Or, is he greatly bothered, but still does he expect (and does he get) willing submission? Or, is he so angry, so scalded by your conduct and impertinence that he just is going to do what you ask him to do in 6:8-9--"O that I might have my request...that it would please God to crush me, tha the would let loose his hand and cut me off!" Ah, is God the kind of God who will obliterate you ("crush me") and then say, "Well, Job, that is just what you asked me to do?" How mature is God anyway?
Even before we examine the text, I think there are good reasons for seeing God as crushing you in 38-41. Why do I say that? Well, Job, I have lived a few years myself, certainly not as long as you, and here is what I have witnessed. Religious systems try to crush those who truly question the basic assumptions of the system. And, I need not confine myself to religious systems. Any kind of corporate entity, despite its protestations to the contrary, really does not want people to mess with its basic assumptions and the way it does business. So, when a company says it wants "creative" people, it means that it wants people who can help it make more money within the confines of what it understands as its core business.
You have to realize, Job, and I know you do, that you challenged God and the religious system of Israel to its core. You basically said that the wisdom theology, on which much of the Bible rests, was not true. You accused God of not being a good and just God. You would rather cling to your experience of pain than admit you might be mistaken. Your pain and your heart were not assuaged by the friends' words or by God's silence.
So, now I am ready to hear what you have to say, Job. And, look at your first words. "I know that you can do all things." What tone do you say those words, Job? That is the key. Are you saying it in the same tone as you said, "I know that my redeemer lives" (19:25)? If so, what is that tone? I think you said that in 19:25 with a sense of desperate but solemn commitment. You knew that your redeemer lived. That means that you knew that at the heart of the universe was someone who would save you from your plight. This person/imaginary friend was a being distinct from God, but was probably the witness in heaven (16:19). You knew, as well as you knew your pain, that this redeemer existed.
Do you now know that God can do all things in the same way? The knowledge that you had in 19:25 I think was liberating knowledge for you. It encouraged you to continue to make your case and to cling to your legal theories about your rightness. Knowledge in 19:25 was not "head" knowledge alone; it was "heart" knowledge. As I have said on another occasion, it is knowledge stitched to the soul.
So, when you say to God, "I know that you can do all things," I think I am going to conclude that you are saying that you know this to be true as much as you knew your redeemer lived in 19:25. You formerly had "head knowledge" that God could do all things--see chs.9 and 12, for example. But now you know it. It is knowledge that swallows up even your massive reality, Job. It is so unquestionably true that God can do all things that it is not possible to admit the contrary. It is not just a 'factor' to consider in dealing with God, but it is a reality that overwhelms your reality. God can (and does) do all things.
Still, however, I don't think you have yet said that you like all the things that God can do, or that you are willingly submitting to that knowledge. But you now know two things: that your redeemer lives (who is not God) and that God can do all things. I think the tension in you is building further....