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Zophar’s rebuke of Job 11:1-6
Four things about Job bothered Zophar: his loquacity (Job 11:2), his boasting (Job 11:3), his self-righteousness (Job 11:4), and his ignorance (Job 11:5). Job 11:5-6 are full of sarcasm. Zophar believed Job deserved much worse punishment than God was giving him (Job 11:6 b).
5. Zophar’s first speech ch. 11
Zophar took great offense at what Job had said. He responded viciously with an aggressiveness that outdid both Eliphaz and Bildad. Zophar was a dogmatist.
"He . . . attempted heavy handed shock treatment to get through to Job." [Note: Smick, "Job," p. 917.]
"The Naamathite is the least engaging of Job’s three friends. There is not a breath of compassion in his speech. . . . His censorious chiding shows how little he has sensed Job’s hurt. Job’s bewilderment and his outbursts are natural; in them we find his humanity, and our own. Zophar detaches the words from the man, and hears them only as babble and mockery (Job 11:2). This is quite unfair. Zophar’s wisdom is a bloodless retreat into theory. It is very proper, theologically familiar and unobjectionable. But it is flat beer compared with Job’s seismic sincerity." [Note: Andersen, p. 156.]
"What Job needed was a helping hand, not a slap in the face." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 26]
"How sad it is when people who should share ministry end up creating misery." [Note: Ibid. Cf. Romans 12:15.]
Zophar’s praise of God’s Wisdom 11:7-12
Eliphaz and Bildad had spoken mainly of God’s justice. Zophar extolled His wisdom. He rightly explained that God’s wisdom is unfathomable, but he inadvertently claimed to fathom it by saying Job deserved more punishment than he was getting. Job 11:12 may have been a proverb common in Job’s day. It means that it is harder for a fool (empty head) to learn wisdom than for a wild donkey, notorious for its stupidity, to give birth to a man. In Zophar’s view, Job was extremely foolish because he failed to see the truth of what Eliphaz and Bildad had said.
Zophar’s appeal to Job 11:13-20
Three steps would bring Job back to where he should be, said Zophar: repentance (Job 11:13), prayer (Job 11:13), and reformation (Job 11:14). He also painted the fruits of conversion for Job. These benefits were a clear conscience, faithfulness, and confidence (Job 11:15); forgetfulness of his troubles (Job 11:16); joy (Job 11:17); hope and rest (Job 11:18); and peace, popularity, and leadership (Job 11:19). Like Bildad, Zophar ended his first speech with a fire-breathing warning (Job 11:20; cf. Job 8:22).
"If Zophar was rough of manner, his desire and hope for Job may be observed, for his description of the prosperity which will come if he but set his heart right is longer and more beautiful than that of either Eliphaz or Bibdad." [Note: Morgan, p. 206.]
Whereas Eliphaz’s authority was personal experience, and Bildad’s was tradition, Zophar’s seems to have been intuition (cf. Job 20:1-5). It appears that Zophar held to what he believed about divine retribution simply because it seemed right to him. He offered no other reason for adopting this view than that it was self-evident, to him at least. His speech was more emotional than any given so far.
"The child who defined ’sympathy’ as ’your pain in my heart’ knew more about giving comfort than did these three." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 19.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 11". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27