Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Job 12

Verses 1-19

Job’s repudiation of his friends 12:1-13:19

Job 12:2 is irony; his companions were not as wise as they thought. Job pointed out that much of what they had said about God was common knowledge (cf. Job 5:9-10; Job 8:13-19; Job 11:7-9). Nonetheless their conclusion, that the basis of man’s relationship with God is his deeds, did not fit the facts of life. Job cited his own case as proof, as well as the fact that the wicked often prosper (Job 12:6). He said even the animals know that God sends calamities (Job 12:7-9; cf. Job 11:12).

"In spite of his censure, Job shows here a remarkably perceptive pastoral concern for the spiritual safety of his friends. . .

"The grounds of Job’s assault on his friends should be appreciated, for his attitude has been commonly misconstrued by commentators. In particular, they often say that Job doubts the justice of God. But the warning he gives his friends is based on certainty that they cannot deceive God (9), or get away with things done in secret (10). God will deal with them in strict justice, and their ’defences [sic] will crumble like clay’ (12, NEB)." [Note: Andersen, pp. 164, 165.]

Job 12:12 may also be irony; this was not what Job believed. On the other hand, Job may have been quoting his friends or asking a rhetorical question: "Is wisdom with aged men . . .?" Job then proceeded to show that God is the only truly wise Person (Job 12:13)-in refutation of Bildad (Job 8:8). Job mentioned several outrageous acts of God that demonstrate His mysterious wisdom (cf. chs. 38-41). He also pointed out God’s great power as seen in the processes of nature and the affairs of nations (Job 12:14-21). In the ancient Near Eastern myths, the qualities of wisdom and power often resided in different gods, not in the same god. [Note: Hartley, p. 213. Cf. Y. Kaufmann, The Religion of Israel, pp. 33-34.] Man can only understand God’s ways by special revelation from God. His ways are inscrutable (Job 12:22; cf. Job 11:7). God also darkens people’s understanding (Job 12:24-25). In short, history shows that all the world’s leading authorities have not enjoyed God’s blessing as they should have if his friends’ major premise was correct (Job 12:13-25).

If his companions wanted to appeal to their own experience as authoritative, Job would too (Job 13:1-2). Since Job’s friends could not solve his problems, he asked God to speak with him (Job 13:3). "Smear with lies" (Job 13:4) means "plaster with lies," cover up the truth. [Note: Victor Reichert, Job, p. 61.] Job urged his counselors to keep quiet (Job 12:5).

In his remarks dealing with his friends’ inability to represent God (Job 13:6-12), Job again used legal language. It seemed incredible to Job that God’s self-appointed defense attorneys should use faulty arguments, be partial, and be lying fools. God later did reprove these men for misrepresenting Him (Job 42:7-8). They were not really defending God but their own views about God. We should be careful not to do this. Even though Job doubted God’s concern for justice, he inconsistently believed God would judge his three friends justly. God’s justice was a major problem for Job.

As he prepared to present his case to God, Job asked his friends to be silent and to listen (Job 13:13-19; cf. Job 13:5-6). Job realized he was risking his life to speak to God as he did (Job 13:14). One translation of Job 12:15 is, "Behold, He will slay me; I do not have hope. I will present my case to His face." [Note: Zuck, Job, p. 61.] Job evidently expected God to kill him for what he was about to say, but he wanted answers more than life. Job had prepared his defense as a good lawyer (Job 13:18 a), and he believed he would win his case (Job 13:18 b; cf. Job 9:28 b) even though God would kill him. Still, his hope was in God (Job 12:15). He again asserted his innocence (Job 13:19 a).

Verses 1-22

6. Job’s first reply to Zophar chs. 12-14

In these chapters Job again rebutted his friends and their view of God. He also challenged God and brooded over death. Half of this section is dialogue with his friends (Job 12:1 to Job 13:19) and half is prayer to God (Job 13:20 to Job 14:22). Job could not agree with his friends’ conclusion, but neither could he explain why God was dealing with him as He was. He could only conclude that God was not just.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 12". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.