Job replies to Zophar’s first speech
Job says that his friends’ speeches were too simple
v1 Job answered:
v2 You think that you are the greatest people ever! You think that nobody else is wise!
v3 But I am intelligent, too. I know the things that you know. In fact, everyone already knows the things that you have said.
In chapter 4, Eliphaz told a story about a spirit. And he explained that nobody is perfect. In chapter 8, Bildad preferred traditional ideas. He explained that God only punishes evil people. In chapter 11, Zophar chose to speak about secret wisdom. He thought that Job deserved an even worse punishment for his evil deeds,
All Job’s friends agree that God would not punish a good man. So when they saw Job’s troubles, they accused Job. They did not realise that Job was a good man. They did not know that God was proud of Job. And they did not understand that the devil caused Job’s troubles.
Zophar said that he knew some secrets about wisdom (Job 11:6). But Job did not agree. He thought that Zophar’s advice was too simple. Job even said that everybody knows such things. Anybody can say that God is kind. Or, that God is great. But such words did not help to explain Job’s problem. Job had terrible troubles, and his friends were not helping him.
Job’s friends laugh at him
v4 My friends laugh at me. I pray, and God answers me. I am a good, innocent man. But you laugh. v5 Because you are comfortable, you laugh at me. You cause even more trouble for me.
People often say stupid things to someone who is suffering. Perhaps they do not try to understand the problem. Or perhaps they talk too much. Sometimes it is better just to listen. Often our prayers achieve more than our advice. Sympathy is better than arguments. We should aim for an attitude of quiet friendship with someone who suffers.
Job’s friends did not think that Job was trusting God. But Job’s words show his confidence in God.
Many unfair things happen
v6 But thieves do not have troubles. They might upset God. But God still makes them strong.
v7-9 God himself behaves this way. The animals know this. The birds in the sky know this. The fish in the sea know this. Even the animals in the soil know this. v10 But God gives life to every animal. And people can only live while God allows them to breathe.
Many evil people do not seem to suffer. Job thought that this was God’s plan. Job saw that birds and animals also suffer troubles without any reason. But this was not in fact God’s plan for the world.
When God made the world, it was perfect. Animals did not attack each other. God gave them the plants to be their food (Genesis 1:30). But men and women did not obey God. So, the whole world suffered (Genesis 3:17-19).
The Bible first refers to a death when an innocent animal had to die because of man’s evil deeds (Genesis 3:21). Everything in the world still suffers because of man’s evil deeds (Romans 8:22). The Bible says that, in the future, God will rule the world again. Then, the animals will not attack each other (Isaiah 11:6-9).
Job teaches his friends about God
v11 You taste food before you eat it. So, test my words as you listen. v12 You must be wise, because you are old! You must be intelligent, because of your age!
v13 God is wise and powerful. His knowledge is very great. v14 When God destroys something, nobody can repair it. When God punishes a man, nobody can rescue that man. v15 When God does not send rain, the land is dry. When God sends plentiful rain, there are floods. v16 God is strong and skilful. One man might lie to another man. But both men belong to God.
v17 (When God punishes rulers,) he leads them away (like prisoners):
· Their advisers become naked prisoners;
· their judges become fools;
· v18 kings lose their power. And a chain holds them as prisoners;
· v19 priests are naked;
· God overcomes powerful men;
· v20 God causes the kings’ wisest men to be silent;
· God causes the old men to give wrong advice;
· v21 God insults the rulers of the people;
· God makes strong men weak.
v22 God shows everyone the things that nobody knew. He causes light to shine in the darkest places. v23 God makes a nation great. And God destroys a nation. He makes nations larger. And he causes nations to divide.
v24 God causes the leaders of the people to be foolish. He sends them into the desert, away from the roads. v25 They are like men who wander in the darkness without light. Or, they wander like drunks.
The people in Job’s time respected a man’s old age. They thought that an old person was wiser than a young person (see Job 32:6-7).
God is powerful. He is much greater than any person. He even controls the weather (verse 15). He knows when we lie (verse 16). And he is our judge (verse 14).
God is much more powerful than any ruler. God gives power to rulers (John 19:11). And God causes their power to end (Daniel 2:21). God appoints new kings (1 Kings 19:15-16). God makes proud people humble (Luke 1:51-52).
These were powerful men. But God has made them humble. God did this and so he shows everyone his greatness. Perhaps God did this to teach the rulers to obey him (Daniel chapter 4). Or perhaps he did it to rescue his people who were suffering (Exodus 12:29-32).