"Here is what God says to you in 38:10. I want to be very literal about it, Job, because I think it strummed some chords in your memory. He says, "And I broke my command upon it, and placed bars and two doors..." How is that for a translation, Job? Would you have rendered it differently? Scholars tend to translate the "huqi" as "my boundary" or "my limit," but it can also be rendered "my statute" or "my law." I suppose the concept is that God's laws are God's limits, so there really isn't a huge world of difference between the two translations. But the first verb of 38:10 gives scholars fits, and that is because it is such a simple verb. No hapax here. [Maybe that should be the subtitle of the book of Job: 'hapaxes spoken here.']. It is the verb "shabar" which means to break in pieces or shatter. Thus, God is saying that he broke in on or shattered something upon it (presumably the sea). It seems that God has to exercise a measure of divine force or violence to counteract the energy of the sea as it rushes forth from the womb.
But that got me thinking, Job. You remember that when you uttered that most hopeless but beautiful poem in ch.14? You so much wanted there to be life after this mortal life, principally because the plants and trees come back to life in the new year, but you had no reason to believe this was the case for humans. So, you performed a thought experiment in your pain. You asked God to hide you away in Sheol, of all places, to put you in safe keeping until God's wrath was over and then, you wanted God to, literally, "place a command or boundary (haq/huq again) for me and remember me" (14:13). So, you, in your most creative flight of fancy up until that point, wanted God to place some kind of boundary on you (possibly to protect you from God's wrath) while God spent his wrath. Then, when all was said and done, God would have calmed down and he could then "remember" you--in blessing, no doubt.
So, here is what we have, Job, when we put together 38:10 and 14:13. We have a God who broke his boundary on the sea, but then, in the appositional phrase in the second half of 38:10, God uses a verb that is a synonym with the word "establish" or "place" or "found" which you used in 14:13. The words are almost identical in Hebrew ("Sheet" and "Seem;" the difference between "sh" and "s" is only a dot above the letter). So, the "placing" in 38:10 as it were modifies or helps clarify the jarring appearance of "shatter" in the first part of 38:10. God is placing boundaries, placing commands, but doing it with pretty great vigor because of the violent swirling and bursting forth of the sea.
But isn't that what you asked God to do for you in 14:13, Job? You asked God to place some kind of boundary for you. Now, in 38:10, God is saying that he is in the boundary-setting business after all, and that he did it in primeval times for that powerful and bursting-forth sea of which we have all heard (cf.7:12). God sets boundaries. It is God's nature to do so. Untrammeled energy and energetic setting of boundaries is the reality that God knows best. A veritable cauldron of energetic expression therefore characterizes 38:8-10.
So, now, Job, I think I have my point or my question. Isn't God in fact, in 38:10, answering your request from 14:13, but in a way you could never have imagined? You wanted God to put up a restraining wall for his anger while you were safely tucked away in Sheol. But, what in fact did God do? He set up a restraining wall for the sea that had burst forth from the womb. God is not averse to setting up, even shattering, boundaries in order to confine things. He did that at the beginning of time, and did so very well.
But notice how God is treating you, Job. He is treating you really with the utmost respect. You have asked for a boundary around you, a cordoned area, so that you can be protected for the nonce, while God says he set up other kinds of boundaries at other times in the universe. Maybe that is God's way of saying that he had set up a boundary for you, Job, that he had done as you requested, that he had protected you in Sheol until his wrath died down, that he had done exactly as you had requested. But God didn't say this explicitly He says it very obliquely. So obliquely, as a matter of fact, that you could easily have missed it, Job.
Could you imagine that God had all this in mind, Job, whwen he spoke 38:10? What was that? YOU never thought of it in the way that I am suggesting? Why, thank you Job. I know that it was a little bit of a surprising explanation, but I think I am onto something. God is, in fact, wooing you. He may appear to be clobbering you, but he really is dropping all kinds of interpretive breadcrumbs along the way so far in his speech, breadcrumbs that you could pick up and eat or follow right to the heart of God. But you didn't do so, did you Job? You were so immersed in your pain and so sure you were right, that you couldn't hear the gentle echoes of God's voice saying to you, "Job, I have bounded up the roaring sea. I can surely do the same for you." You couldn't hear that, Job, so intent were you on the rightness of your case.
Does law blind people, Job? Does our quest for justice, our sense that we are going to make things right, really make us deaf to your voice? That would be the ultimate irony. While we are "doing justice," we think we are being most obedient to your voice, but maybe we are just focused so much on the voices of our own pain that we ignore your true voice, your voice that says, "I have set bounds for the sea; and I certainly can protect you, too, until you are ready to talk with me." Hm, Job, God may be a greater God than I have given him credit for....