“He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end” (Job 26:10).
This observation by Job contains a significant scientific insight, refuting the frequent charge by skeptics that the Bible says that the earth is flat, with four corners. The Bible teaches no such thing—quite the opposite, in fact. Columbus did not sail west to prove that the earth was round; he already knew that, and so did many others long before Columbus.
As far as the Bible is concerned, the word “compassed” in our text is the Hebrew khug, meaning “circle,” or even “sphere.” It is so translated in Isaiah 40:22; “It is [God] that sitteth upon the circle of the earth.” Viewed from any point in space, the earth would appear simply as a great circle, with its spherical shape projected on a plane.
The word is translated “circuit” in Job 22:14, where Eliphaz said that “[God] walketh in the circuit of heaven.” The ancients assumed the starry heavens to be a great celestial sphere, rotating daily around the earth (so do modern surveyors and navigators as they use the stars in practical astronomy today). It is obvious that such a “circuit” at least suggests a spherical earth.
In Proverbs 8:27, the divine Wisdom (actually God Himself in the person of His Son) is saying: “When [God] prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the [deep].” Both here and in our text, the “compass” refers to sea level, projecting as a circular horizon, at the same elevation all around the globe. The great circle through the earth’s center marks the boundary between day and night, where “day” and “night” each gives way to the other, again implying a spherical, rotating earth. All of this speaks eloquently of the creating and conserving power of our gracious God and Savior. It also gives witness of the innerancy and scientific integrity of the Holy Scriptures. HMM