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Bible Commentaries
Job 12

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Job Chapter 12

Job 12:1 "And Job answered and said,"

Job 12:2 "No doubt but ye [are] the people, and wisdom shall die with you." This was the first sarcastic remark that Job had made. He had been treated so poorly by his friends, and especially by Zophar, that I am not surprised. He said, that these three friends thought they were wise. He said he supposed that all of the wise people of the earth would die, when they died. This was really how ridiculous they had been to him.

Job 12:3 " But I have understanding as well as you; I [am] not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these?" Job suddenly spoke of himself as having as much wisdom as any of his friends. He was not morally or intellectually, inferior to any of them. They had no right to presume that he was of less stature with God than they were.

Job 12:4 "I am [as] one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright [man is] laughed to scorn." They had accused him of mocking God, and he had not. They were the ones who had mocked Job. They mocked Job, and he had always been true to God. He had lived as near the perfect life in God’s sight, as he knew how. He had always been upright in his dealings with God and man.

Job 12:5 "He that is ready to slip with [his] feet [is as] a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease." Job had fallen into misfortune by none of his own doing. They believed, because he had fallen that God was punishing Job. They despised Job for no reason at all.

Job 12:6 "The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth [abundantly]." It, sometimes, appears to Godly people that those who are living as robbers, and thieves are prospering. Job attributed their prosperity to the hand of God. It appeared to Job, that the houses of the robbers were prospering.

Job 12:7 "But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:" Job is using the beasts and the fowls to prove that the hand of God is in control of everything. If the beasts and birds could speak they would proclaim God Ruler of them all.

Job 12:8 "Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee." In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He created fish, also. He is Creator God. It should not be strange to anyone, that the Creator of all the earth would be ruler over His creation.

Job 12:9 "Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?" Somewhere, behind all of the happenings upon the earth, is the Hand of God. Job knew that God had allowed his persecution. He did not know why, but he knew God had to give permission for these terrible things to happen to him. He was fully aware of who God is, and what His power is.

Job 12:10 "In whose hand [is] the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind." The entire of humanity and, in fact, all living things on the earth, and even the earth itself is in the Hand of the LORD. Even the very breath we breath is a gift from God. God breathed the breath of life in us giving us the power to live.

Job 12:11 "Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?" This is speaking of the senses of man being in tune with God, as well.

Job 12:12 "With the ancient [is] wisdom; and in length of days understanding." This was a profound statement from Job. The older people have learned much that they know from the school of experience. The older people are wiser, because of the things they have faced in their lives and found a way to overcome. Understanding comes from accumulating learning.

Job 12:13 "With him [is] wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding." This is speaking of God. He is the source of all wisdom and strength. God’s wisdom and understanding never change. It is God who makes it possible for us to understand. It is His strength that makes it possible for us to do all things.

Job 12:14 "Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening." God builds up, and God tears down. This was never more evident than in the nation of Israel. God made Israel great. He made Solomon the richest man who had ever lived. He became unfaithful to God and God took the kingdom away from his family. Israel fell and was taken into captivity, because of their unfaithfulness.

Job 12:15 "Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth." All of nature is at God’s command. He brings great drouths, and brings floods as he did in the time of Noah. God used the flood in Noah’s time to destroy the people of the earth, because of their great evil.

Job 12:16 "With him [is] strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver [are] his." God not only plans the events of the earth, but He has the power within Himself to see that it is done. God rules people, as well as nature. He is the Creator of them all. The person who is deceived was made by God. The deceiver was created by God, as well. All mankind is God’s creation. Only those who believe are His sons.

Job 12:17 "He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools." The wise counsellors are earthly men, and they are still in the control of God. He can build them up, or tear them down as He desires. The judges of the earth must remember that they will someday stand before the Judge of all the world. He judges in righteousness.

Job 12:18 "He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle."

Job 12:19 "He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty." Kings are king, because God ordained it. When a king becomes evil, God may send another king to put him into captivity. It is God who looses him to greatness, or binds him as a common criminal. We saw this very thing in our study of Israel’s captivity in Babylon. God led the king of Babylon to take the king of Israel. Later on, God had another king to overthrow the king of Babylon.

Job 12:20 "He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged." Sometimes, God will take a powerful statesman and make him unable to speak. The aged are, sometimes, turned into people with no understanding. The Alzheimers disease does this to many of the elderly.

Job 12:21 "He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty." The king of Babylon was thought of as one of the mightiest men of the world, until the handwriting appeared on the wall condemning him, and the city of Babylon. This, of course, was the hand of God.

Job 12:22 "He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death." There are no things, planned by men, that God does not know. They may have planned it in some secret place, but God knows all of their plans. Even plots to kill someone are known of God. Death was defeated for all believers, when Jesus rose from the grave. In that sense, death was defeated by the Light {Jesus Christ}.

Job 12:23 "He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them [again]." Israel became almost three million people, while they were slaves in Egypt. Just over seventy people went into Egypt, and almost three million came out. This same three million were reduced to just a remnant by God for their unfaithfulness.

Job 12:24 "He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness [where there is] no way." When the leader of the people is filled with confusion and wanders in the wilderness, they wander around as sheep without a shepherd.

Job 12:25 "They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like [a] drunken [man]." Those who walk in darkness have no direction in their lives. John 11:10 "But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him."

Job 12 Questions

1. What was the first sarcastic remark that Job had made?

2. Who did he make the statement to?

3. In Job 12:3, how did he compare himself to them?

4. Job said, he was as one ___________ of his neighbor.

5. They had accused him of __________ God.

6. Job had fallen into __________ by none of his own doing.

7. It, sometimes, appears to Godly people, that those who are living as robbers, and thieves are ___________.

8. What was Job using the beasts and the fowl, in Job 12:7, to prove?

9. In the _________ God created the heavens and the earth.

10. It should not be strange to anyone, that the _________ of all the earth would rule over His ___________.

11. Somewhere , behind all the happenings upon the earth, is the hand of _______.

12. Even the very breath we breath is a ________ from God.

13. Job 12:11 is speaking of what?

14. How have the older people become wise?

15. What does understanding come from?

16. Who is the source of wisdom and strength?

17. ____ builds up, and ______ tears down.

18. What is a good example of that?

19. What is a good example of God bringing a flood?

20. All mankind is God’s ________.

21. Only those who ________ are His sons.

22. What must earthly judges keep in mind?

23. What is a modern disease, that takes away the understanding of the elderly?

24. When did the king of Babylon fall?

25. When was death defeated for all believers?

26. What was a good example of God increasing the nations?

27. When the leader of the people is filled with confusion, the people wander as ________ without a _________.

Verses 1-6

Job 12:1-6

Introduction

Job 12

JOB’S FOURTH SPEECH:

JOB ANSWERS NOT ONLY BILDAD BUT ALL OF HIS FRIENDS

This, along with the next two chapters is a record of Job’s reply to his three friends. Scherer pointed out that the chapter divisions here are fortunate, following the general organization of Job’s speech. In this chapter, Job sarcastically rejected the theology of his friends, appealing to a number of facts that clearly contradicted their views.

Job’s bitterly sarcastic words here do not contradict the New Testament evaluation of Job as a man of great patience. On the other hand, we should consider that, "The measure of Job’s provocation was so great that only a superhuman being could have avoided being disgusted."

As Franks noted, "Eliphaz had appealed to revelation (that vision which he said he had); Bildad appealed to the wisdom of the ancients, and Zophar assumed that he himself was the oracle of God’s wisdom." Job answered Zophar’s conceited claim. However, Job, in this speech, did not answer Zophar alone, but all of his `comforters.’ He labeled all of them as "forgers of lies" (Job 13:4), challenging them with his declaration that, "I am not inferior to you (Job 12:3).

Job 12:1-6

JOB DENIES THAT HIS COMFORTERS HAD ANY KNOWLEDGE THAT HE HIMSELF DID NOT POSSESS

"Then Job answered and said,

No doubt but ye are the people,

And wisdom shall die with you.

But I have understanding as well as you;

I am not inferior to you:

Yea, who knoweth not such things as these?

I am one that is a laughing-stock to his neighbor,

I who called upon God, and he answered:

The just, the perfect man is a laughing-stock.

In the thought of him that is at ease, there is contempt for misfortune;

It is ready for him whose foot slippeth.

The tents of robbers prosper,

And they that provoke God are secure;

Into whose hand God bringeth abundantly."

"And wisdom shall die with you" (Job 12:2). It is amazing that anyone could suppose that these words were intended as a compliment; but Blair wrote, "Job gives them the benefit of the doubt, saying, `Wisdom shall die with you.’ He inferred that they were wise." We agree with Barnes that, "This is evidently the language of severe sarcasm; and it shows a spirit fretted and chafed by their reproaches."

"(For) him that is at ease, there is a contempt for misfortune" (Job 12:5). Job, who had been the greatest man in the East, who had been the special object of God’s blessings, who had called upon God, and whom God had answered, - even that man, who, at the moment, had been reduced by the most superlative misfortunes, was experiencing the contemptuous laughter of his neighbors; and in these words he truly spoke of a universal trait of our fallen human nature, namely, that of despising the unfortunate.

"In sheer exasperation, Job here bewails the situation. He knows that he is a godly man of great wisdom and understanding; but here he is treated like a criminal and a simpleton, solely upon the basis of his friends’ theory, a theory that is flatly contradicted by the fact that known robbers are prospering while he is reduced to mockery."

In these words, Job is thoroughly contemptuous of the conceited and arrogant ignorance of his `comforters’; and in this great response, he blistered them with devastating and unanswerable criticisms.

"The tents of robbers prosper" (Job 12:6). This is the dramatic and unanswerable contradiction of the false theory of his `comforters.’ "This was Job’s original proposition; and he clung to it throughout the whole encounter, that God does not deal with men in this life according to their character."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 12:1-2. This is a form of language known as irony. That means language used in a sense just opposite of the outward and apparent meaning, and the purpose of such language is ridicule. The idea was that if the three friends were as wise as they pretended to be, when they died there would be no wisdom left.

Job 12:3. Having spoken with irony in the preceding paragraph, Job next spoke directly and in a serious mood. Who knoweth not, etc., is the point that I have been emphasizing in many of the paragraphs of this book. The three men stated many truths, but Job knew them already and they did not have any bearing on the case.

Job 12:4. Job was really a just and upright man, but the friends talked to him as if he were one beneath the notice of God.

Job 12:5. A man who is not in trouble himself will think lightly of one who is. He will disregard such an unfortunate person the same as he would a lamp of which he did not feel the need.

Job 12:6. This verse states facts that prove Job’s position in the argument to be correct. If all afflictions are in punishment for sin, then how does it come that men who are known to be sinners are prosperous?

Verses 7-12

Job 12:7-12

Job 12:7-12

JOB APPEALED TO THE LOWER CREATIONS AS SUPPORTERS OF HIS GRAND PROPOSITION IN Job 12:6

"But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee;

And the birds of the heavens, and they shall teach thee:

Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee;

And the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.

Who knoweth not, in all these,

That the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this,

In whose hand is the soul of every living thing,

And the breath of all mankind.

Doth not the ear try words,

Even as the palate tasteth food?

With aged men is wisdom,

And in length of days understanding."

What Job declared here was so clearly the truth that only a fool could have denied it. "In the whole creation, the strong prey on the weak, the fierce upon the tame, and the violent upon the timid. God does not intervene to destroy the lion, the tiger, and the wolfe, and to deliver the lambs and the chickens!

"And the birds of the heavens" (Job 12:7). The hawks and the eagles are not forbidden to prey upon the small and the weak.

"And the fishes of the sea" (Job 12:8). Do the big ones ever protect the little ones? The sharks and the barracudas are always as busy as they can be eating up the smaller fishes!

"Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee" (Job 12:8). Every farmer knows that all of the good crops must suffer from the encroachments of the crab grass, the ragweeds, the cockleburs, the Johnson grass, thistles, briars and grass-spurs. And Job’s observation here is that all of these conditions reflect quite accurately the situation as it exists among men also. Is it the lambs, the doves, and the good crops, along with the righteous man, who are always blessed; and do the disasters always fall upon the wolves, the sharks, the hawks, the weeds, and the robbers? Certainly not!

"The hand of Jehovah hath wrought this" (Job 12:9). This argument should have silenced Job’s comforters; but it didn’t. There is no blindness as complete as that which exists in the adherents to some false theology. As this is written, a current example of such blindness is being acted out near Waco, Texas, where the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) was trying to arrest David Koresh and his Branch-Davidians!

"With aged men is wisdom" (Job 12:12). The paragraph divisions in this chapter are unfortunate. Job 12:13 states that, "With God is wisdom"; and Job here offered that as a correction to the stupid notion that aged men are necessarily wise. Wisdom is not with the `old men’ of our world, but with God.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 12:7-10. This paragraph refers to the providence of God in his creation. The beasts are blessed through the same divine creation as is man, and through that great impartial Providence the good and bad share alike in the temporal blessings of God. This great fact disproves the main position of the friends of Job.

Job 12:11. The Creator has adapted all of the creatures of his work to the things that were created for their use and enjoyment. Thus the ear was made in such a manner that it could appreciate language, and the mouth was so made that it could receive and make use of food.

Job 12:12-13. The value of experience is the substance of this paragraph. These friends were not young (Job 32:4; Job 32:6; Job 32:9), and hence their age should have brought them the wisdom of experience; however, they did not show much indication of it.

Verses 13-25

Job 12:13-25

Job 12:13-25

GOD’S WISDOM AND POWER CONTRASTED WITH THAT OF MEN

"With God is wisdom and might;

He hath counsel and understanding.

Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again;

He shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.

Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up;

Again he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.

With him is strength and wisdom;

The deceived and the deceiver are his.

He leadeth counselors away stripped,

And judges maketh he fools.

He looseth the bond of kings,

And bindeth their loins with a girdle.

He leadeth priests away stripped,

And overthroweth the mighty.

He removeth the speech of the trusty,

And taketh away the understanding of the elders.

He poureth contempt upon princes,

And looseth the belt of the strong.

He uncovereth the deep things of darkness,

And bringeth out to light the shadow of death.

He increaseth the nations, and he destroyeth them;

He enlargeth the nations, and he leadeth them captive.

He taketh away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth,

And causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.

They grope in the darkness without light;

And he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man."

We understand every word of this paragraph as a refutation of the favorite error of his `comforters,’ namely, that "wisdom is with aged men and that length of days and understanding are synonymous" (Job 12:12). Notice how many times God’s wisdom is mentioned here, along with the corollary in each instance that, "Counselors and judges (Job 12:17), kings (Job 12:18), priests and the mighty (Job 12:19), the trusty and the elders (Job 12:20), the princes and the strong (Job 12:21), and the chiefs of the people of the earth (Job 12:24)" - indeed ALL of the men of the whole earth who might have been accounted wise, without exception, when their wisdom was considered along with God’s true wisdom, their true status is described here by Job as, "Stripped (naked), deceived, deceivers, fools, helpless (having their bonds or belts loosed), overthrown, held in contempt, with their speech removed, and their understanding taken away." Such words as these should certainly have exploded the myth that old men were wise!

E.M. Zerr:

Job 12:12-13. The value of experience is the substance of this paragraph. These friends were not young (Job 32:4; Job 32:6; Job 32:9), and hence their age should have brought them the wisdom of experience; however, they did not show much indication of it.

Job 12:14. God is the one who is spoken of in this verse. It declares that when a man would oppose the works of God he will meet with defeat.

Job 12:15. God’s control of the elements that he has created is the leading thought in this verse.

Job 12:16-17. God knows all about man and can overrule the wisest of them.

Job 12:18-19. This is along the same line of thought as that in Daniel 4:17.

Job 12:20-21. God’s wisdom and power are far above that of all earthly characters. The cases where this was proved are too numerous to mention, but Pharaoh is a noted example of His superiority over all others.

Job 12:22. Light and darkness are the terms in this verse that express the leading thought. God’s might is frequently illustrated by contrasting terms, such as heaven and earth, earth and sky, dry land and water, etc. In the present verse it is light as contrasted with darkness.

Job 12:23. Just one example will be cited in confirmation of this statement. God caused his own people to increase to over half a million of men (Numbers 1:46), then destroyed or reduced them to a mere remnant of 42,000 (Ezra 2:64).

Job 12:24-25. God caused his own people to wander through the wilderness 40 years, after they had given way to a spirit of despondency. (Numbers 14:1-4.)

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 12". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/job-12.html.
 
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