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JOB EMPHASISES GOD'S GREATNESS AND WISDOM
Job's reply to Zophar was understandably sarcastic, "No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you!" (v.2). Zophar had implied that he had intuitive wisdom such as Job lacked, and Job rightly reproved him in saying, "But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you" (v.3). In fact, Zophar had said only what was common knowledge: everyone knew these things.
Job felt the pathos of being mocked by his friends, ridiculed, though just and blameless (v.4). He had been a lamp, giving light, but now was despised in the thoughts of these friends who were comfortably at ease, who were ready to put down those whose feet slip. He even suggests that his friends were acting like robbers who were prospering, for they were stealing away his integrity and actually provoking God while pretending to speak on God's behalf. Job was puzzled that his friends could be so secure, resting in the blessing God had provided them, while speaking falsely for God! (vv.5-6). Why did they prosper while he suffered? He proceeds then, in verse 7, to show far more than Zophar did, the greatness and wisdom of God. He appeals to creation, the beasts, the birds, the earth, the fish as witnesses of the great variety of actions of power and greatness on the part of the Creator. "The hand of the Lord has done this" (v.9).
In that hand of power is the life of every living thing, Job affirms, and the breath of all mankind, - not only his own breath, but that of his three friends also. He would not let them think of themselves as merely detached onlookers, who could judge matters without being judged themselves. With his ears he tested their words, and he tasted what was fed to him, to discover whether it was palatable or not (vv.10-11). Thus, he sets Zophar's professed wisdom aside by telling him that "wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days, understanding" (v.12).
Speaking of wisdom, however, brings Job face to face with God, who is infinite in wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding beyond all that is human. "If He breaks a thing down, it cannot be rebuilt" (v.14). In fact Job had been broken down, but he did not realise that the One who broke him down could also rebuild him, though Job could not do it. If God imprisons one, man cannot release him, though God can do so. God could use waters also as He saw fit. If He withheld the water the earth would dry up: if He sent a torrent of water this could cause an overwhelming flood (v.15). These two extremes have often followed one another and men are helpless, though God does not explain why He does this.
There are various things of which Job speaks that he gives God credit for, without realising their significance as regards his own case. God had strength and prudence; the deceived and the deceiver were both under His control (v.16), "He leads counsellors away plundered, and makes fools of the judges," that is, He deprives counsellors of the value of their counsel: thus man's wisdom is brought to nothing, and the judges become foolish: man's authority becomes as useless as his wisdom. Those who have been considered dependable are deprived of speech, the ability to be of help to others, and even elders who have been recognised for their experience will find their discernment taken away (vv.17-20).
"He pours contempt on princes, and disdains the mighty" (v.21). To princes (those in the place of dignity) God sees fit to show contempt, so contrary to what they might expect. The powerful He disarms, taking their power from them. If Job had taken time to consider the significance of these things, he might not have sunk so low in his miserable state. He sees the facts, but fails to apply their lessons in his own case. He says of God, "He uncovers deep things out of darkness, and brings the shadow of death to light" (v.22). Actually, Job was experiencing the pangs of darkness: he himself could not uncover deep things from the darkness, nor bring light from the shadow of death, but he realised God can do this. Could He not do it in Job's case? Yes indeed, and He did so before long.
God could and did make nations great, and then as He saw fit, destroy them. He could enlarge the nations and guide them too, but then take away the understanding of the chiefs of the people, to reduce the nation to a wandering wilderness path, to grope in the dark without light, made to stagger like a drunkard (vv.23-25). Thus the nations are an object lesson for all mankind. God blesses them and they become proud of themselves, therefore they require the humbling dealings of God.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 12". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28