1 Then Job answered and said:
2 “No doubt you are the people,
and wisdom will die with you.
3 But I have understanding as well as you;
I am not inferior to you.
Who does not know such things as these?
4 I am a laughingstock to my friends;
I, who called to God and he answered me,
a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock.
5 In the thought of one who is at ease there is contempt for misfortune;
it is ready for those whose feet slip.
6 The tents of robbers are at peace,
and those who provoke God are secure,
who bring their god in their hand.
7 “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
8 or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
9 Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.
11 Does not the ear test words
as the palate tastes food?
12 Wisdom is with the aged,
and understanding in length of days.
13 “With God are wisdom and might;
he has counsel and understanding.
14 If he tears down, none can rebuild;
if he shuts a man in, none can open.
15 If he withholds the waters, they dry up;
if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land.
16 With him are strength and sound wisdom;
the deceived and the deceiver are his.
17 He leads counselors away stripped,
and judges he makes fools.
18 He looses the bonds of kings
and binds a waistcloth on their hips.
19 He leads priests away stripped
and overthrows the mighty.
20 He deprives of speech those who are trusted
and takes away the discernment of the elders.
21 He pours contempt on princes
and loosens the belt of the strong.
22 He uncovers the deeps out of darkness
and brings deep darkness to light.
23 He makes nations great, and he destroys them;
he enlarges nations, and leads them away.
24 He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth
and makes them wander in a trackless waste.
25 They grope in the dark without light,
and he makes them stagger like a drunken man.” – Job 12:1-25 ESV
Job has just had to listen to a third “friend” share his unsympathetic assessment of his circumstances, and he can’t keep from responding. He probably knew his friends meant well, but he was in no mood to listen to more of these arm-chair quarterbacks as they pontificated about his plight.
For Job, the idea that God was somehow responsible for his condition was a no-brainer. Whether or not God was behind his difficult circumstances was not the issue. He firmly believed that God was in control and so, ultimately, God was responsible. God could have prevented the disasters and the disease that had impacted Job’s life, but He had chosen not to. Job fully understood the power and might of God. He knew that God was providentially in control over the affairs of all men – rich and poor, strong and weak, righteous and unrighteous. Job’s belief in the sovereignty of God was unshakeable.
“True wisdom and real power belong to God; from him we learn how to live, and also what to live for. If he tears something down, it’s down for good; if he locks people up, they’re locked up for good. If he holds back the rain, there’s a drought; if he lets it loose, there’s a flood. Strength and success belong to God; both deceived and deceiver must answer to him.” – Job 12:13-15 MSG
So, Job knew that God alone could provide the answer as to why he was suffering, and he was fully convinced that it had nothing to do with his sin. Yet Job’s friends had reached a different conclusion. They kept blaming his condition on his sinfulness but couldn’t tell him exactly what he had done to deserve such harsh judgment from God.
Job was convinced of his own innocence and he was certain that God would have to agree. Which means there had to be another reason for his suffering. All he wanted was the chance to ask God face-to-face. So, he pushed back hard on Zophar’s counsel and sarcastically questioned his friends’ over-confident assertions regarding his guilt.
“You people really know everything, don’t you?
And when you die, wisdom will die with you!
Well, I know a few things myself—
and you’re no better than I am.
Who doesn’t know these things you’ve been saying?” – Job 12:2-3 NLT
He wasn’t going to argue with their thoughts concerning God’s omnipotence and omniscience. It was their cocky assurance regarding his guilt that drove him crazy. They were actually mocking him for attempting to demand an explanation from God. From their perspective, God owed him nothing and he was wasting his breath and his time pleading for God to come to his defense. That day was never going to come. But that didn’t keep Job from declaring his frustration with God’s apparent disinterest in his plight. He saw the wicked receiving better treatment from God, while he was kept in the dark and denied a response to his pleas for acquittal and restoration.
“…robbers are left in peace,
and those who provoke God live in safety—
though God keeps them in his power.” – Job 12:6 NLT
All he was asking for was a fair shake. Even the animals, birds, and fish enjoyed were the unwitting and undeserving beneficiaries of God’s grace, so why was he denied the right to a response and the hope of a fair trial?
“…the life of every living thing is in his hand,
and the breath of every human being.” – Job 12:10 NLT
As far as he could tell, the rest of nature seemed to get a fair shake from the Creator, while he was left to suffer in insufferable silence. Job was hoping for vindication, but was willing to settle for a little justification from God for his plight. Job didn’t think his friends were stupid, but he also didn’t think they had a monopoly on wisdom. That was the purview of God.
“Wisdom belongs to the aged,
and understanding to the old.
“But true wisdom and power are found in God;
counsel and understanding are his.” – Job 12:12-13 NLT
His friends could continue to regale him with all their earthly wit and wisdom but he wouldn’t be satisfied until he heard directly from the source of all wisdom: God Almighty. Compared to God, every other counselor is nothing but a hapless fool spouting man-made platitudes and helpless homilies.
“Yes, strength and wisdom are his;
deceivers and deceived are both in his power.
He leads counselors away, stripped of good judgment;
wise judges become fools.” – Job 12:16-17 NLT
From Job’s perspective, listening to his three friends was a royal waste of time because they were clueless as to what was really going on. They couldn’t provide any real insight into his circumstances because their point of view was hampered by their earth-bound perspectives. And Job warned them that God would ultimately expose them as frauds rather than faithful friends.
“He silences the trusted adviser
and removes the insight of the elders.” – Job 12:20 NLT
When exposed to the penetrating light of God’s wisdom, their wonderful words of advice would whither like weeds in the hot midday sun. Job truly believed that he would one day be vindicated by God and his friends would learn just how wrong they had been.
“He strips kings of understanding
and leaves them wandering in a pathless wasteland.
They grope in the darkness without a light.
He makes them stagger like drunkards.” – Job 12:24-25 NLT
But Job maintained his confidence in the goodness of God, and expressed his firm belief that God’s light would eventually shine on his life again and make sense of all the madness.
“He uncovers mysteries hidden in darkness;
he brings light to the deepest gloom.” – Job 12:22 NLT
But in the meantime, Job maintained his right to state his case before the Judge of the universe. All he was asking for was a fair trial. He was willing to accept whatever sentence God might mete out, but what he couldn’t take was God’s continued silence.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.