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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible
Job 11

 

 


Verses 1-6

JOB 11

ZOPHAR'S FIRST SPEECH:

ZOPHAR HAS THE SAME OLD THEORY BUT A WORSE ATTITUDE;

ZOPHAR CHARGES JOB WITH GROSS WICKEDNESS

Job 11:1-6

"Then answered Zophar the Naamathite and said,

Should not the multitude of words be answered?

And should a man full of talk be justified?

Should thy boastings make men hold their peace?

And when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed?

For thou sayest, My doctrine is pure,

And I am clean in thine eyes.

But oh that God would speak,

And open his lips against the,

And that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom!

For he is manifold in understanding.

Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less

than thine iniquity deserveth."

"Thou sayest, My doctrine is pure" (Job 11:4). Job had not promulgated any new doctrine, "But Zophar's point in this seems to be that, in rejecting the theology of his friends, Job was implicitly claiming to have superior understanding."[1]

With a friend like Zophar no man would need an enemy. These brutal words, addressed without feeling either of compassion or sympathy, to Job, of whom Zophar claimed to be a friend, are unsurpassed for sheer stupidity and cruelty. If his words had even been true, which they were not, he should have had the grace to keep his mouth shut instead of telling Job that his terrible sufferings were not only deserved, but that Job's wickedness demanded even worse sufferings than he was enduring.

Note progression in the speeches of the three friends. Eliphaz spoke only in generalities, implying that Job was a sinner but not actually saying so. Bildad went further and flatly declared that Job's children had been destroyed because of their sins. To all of this, Job replied emphatically that he was not wicked. Then here Zophar the third friend, "Made a direct attack against Job."[2] He called him a long winded talker that mocked God, accusing him of gross sin and wickedness.

Some scholars have viewed Zophar as "a profound theologian,"[3] but this writer finds no evidence whatever of any such excellence in Zophar. He was not wise, but ignorant. He pretended to know God's wisdom, but he didn't. As a personal representative of the devil in this encounter he adopted the guise of "the roaring lion," one of the masks of the evil one; and it is not hard to believe that his attack upon Job's integrity represented the worst that Satan could bring against God's "perfect man," Job.


Verses 7-12

ZOPHAR ACCUSES JOB OF BEING IGNORANT OF GOD

"Canst thou by searching find out God?

Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?

It is high as heaven; what canst thou do?

Deeper than Sheol; what canst thou know?

The measure thereof is longer than the earth,

And broader than the sea.

If he pass through, and shut up, and call unto judgment,

Then who can hinder him?

For he knoweth false men:

He seeth iniquity also, even though he consider it not.

But vain man is void of understanding,

Yea, man is born as a wild ass's colt."

The things Zophar said in this passage were just as applicable to himself as they were to Job; but men with a plank in their own eye love to gouge for the mote in their brother's eye. In the last analysis, God Himself finally opened his lips, as Zophar suggested in Job 11:5, flatly declaring that Zophar and Job's other friends had not spoken "that which was right" about God (Job 42:7). How wrong he was!

Some of the generalities Zophar here uttered about God were of course true; but his thinly veiled suggestions that Job was ignorant (Job 11:8), that he could not hinder God (Job 11:10), that Job was one of the "false men" (Job 11:11), that God could see Job's sin (Job 11:11), that Job was a vain man void of understanding (Job 11:12), and that he was as ignorant as a wild ass's colt (Job 11:12) - all of this speech by Zophar must have been a very bitter thing for Job to hear.

Zophar had pretended to know that Job was a sinner, but without any evidence whatever. "So in these verses (Job 11:7-12), Zophar supported his charges by appealing to God's infinity"![4]

The greatest insult of all from Zophar is in Job 11:12, which in the RSV is rendered thus: A stupid man will get understanding when a wild ass's colt is born a man. "This is a statement of the utter impossibility of a stupid man's attaining wisdom."[5]


Verses 13-20

ZOPHAR PROMISES RESTORATION IF JOB WILL CONFESS AND REPENT

"If thou set thy heart aright,

And stretch out thy hands toward him;

If iniquity be in thy hand, put it away,

And let righteousness dwell in thy tents.

Surely then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot;

Yea, thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear:

For thou shalt forget thy misery;

Thou shalt remember it as waters that are passed away.

And thy life shall be clearer than the noonday;

though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning.

And thou shalt be secure because there is hope;

Yea, thou shalt search about thee, and shalt take thy rest in safety.

And thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid;

Yea, many shall make suit unto thee.

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail,

And they shall have no way to flee;

and their hope shall be the giving up of the ghost."

"If thou set thy heart aright" (Job 11:13). "The word thou in this place is emphatic, carrying the implication that, "If thou with all thy wickedness, if even thou, wilt abandon it, thou shalt be restored."[6]

"Though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning" (Job 11:17). "This is a remarkable antithesis to what Job had said back in Job 10:21f. Job's future need not be a day of darkness whose very noon is night."[7] It may be, if only Job will confess and repent, a brighter day than any ordinary day at noon, "Whose very night is as bright as the morning."[8]

What comfort could such an exhortation have been to a man who knew nothing that he could confess and whose repentance, if he had pretended any, would have been the utmost hypocrisy?

We cannot escape the conviction that Satan here played one of his trump cards in his vain effort to shake the integrity of Job. Zophar and the other friends of Job, of course, were unaware that they, in these confrontations, were primary agents of the devil himself.

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 11:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/job-11.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

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