Job reproves his friends. (1-5) The wicked often prosper.(6-11) Job speaks of the wisdom and power of God. (12-25)
Verses 1-5 Job upbraids his friends with the good opinion they had of their own wisdom compared with his. We are apt to call reproofs reproaches, and to think ourselves mocked when advised and admonished; this is our folly; yet here was colour for this charge. He suspected the true cause of their conduct to be, that they despised him who was fallen into poverty. It is the way of the world. Even the just, upright man, if he comes under a cloud, is looked upon with contempt.
Verses 6-11 Job appeals to facts. The most audacious robbers, oppressors, and impious wretches, often prosper. Yet this is not by fortune or chance; the Lord orders these things. Worldly prosperity is of small value in his sight: he has better things for his children. Job resolves all into the absolute proprietorship which God has in all the creatures. He demands from his friends liberty to judge of what they had said; he appeals to any fair judgment.
Verses 12-25 This is a noble discourse of Job concerning the wisdom, power, and sovereignty of God, in ordering all the affairs of the children of men, according to the counsel of His own will, which none can resist. It were well if wise and good men, who differ about lesser things, would see how it is for their honour and comfort, and the good of others, to dwell most upon the great things in which they agree. Here are no complaints, or reflections. He gives many instances of God's powerful management of the children of men, overruling all their counsels, and overcoming all their oppositions. Having all strength and wisdom, God knows how to make use, even of those who are foolish and bad; otherwise there is so little wisdom and so little honesty in the world, that all had been in confusion and ruin long ago. These important truths were suited to convince the disputants that they were out of their depth in attempting to assign the Lord's reasons for afflicting Job; his ways are unsearchable, and his judgments past finding out. Let us remark what beautiful illustrations there are in the word of God, confirming his sovereignty, and wisdom in that sovereignty: but the highest and infinitely the most important is, that the Lord Jesus was crucified by the malice of the Jews; and who but the Lord could have known that this one event was the salvation of the world?
Job 12:1-14:22'. JOB'S REPLY TO ZOPHAR
2. wisdom shall die with you--Ironical, as if all the wisdom in the world was concentrated in them and would expire when they expired. Wisdom makes "a people:" a foolish nation is "not a people" ( Romans 10:19 ).
3. not inferior--not vanquished in argument and "wisdom" ( Job 13:2 ).
such things as these--such commonplace maxims as you so pompously adduce.
4. The unfounded accusations of Job's friends were a "mockery" of him. He alludes to Zophar's word, "mockest" ( Job 11:3 ).
neighbour, who calleth, &c.--rather, "I who call upon God that he may answer me favorably" [UMBREIT].
5. Rather, "a torch" (lamp) is an object of contempt in the thoughts of him who rests securely (is at ease), though it was prepared for the falterings of the feet [UMBREIT] ( Proverbs 25:19 ). "Thoughts" and "feet" are in contrast; also rests "securely," and "falterings." The wanderer, arrived at his night-quarters, contemptuously throws aside the torch which had guided his uncertain steps through the darkness. As the torch is to the wanderer, so Job to his friends. Once they gladly used his aid in their need; now they in prosperity mock him in his need.
6. Job shows that the matter of fact opposes Zophar's theory ( Job 11:14 Job 11:19 Job 11:20 ) that wickedness causes insecurity in men's "tabernacles." On the contrary, they who rob the "tabernacles" ("dwellings") of others "prosper securely" in their own.
into whose hand, &c.--rather, "who make a god of their own hand," that is, who regard their might as their only ruling principle [UMBREIT].
7, 8. Beasts, birds, fishes, and plants, reasons Job, teach that the violent live the most securely ( Job 12:6 ). The vulture lives more securely than the dove, the lion than the ox, the shark than the dolphin, the rose than the thorn which tears it.
8. speak to the earth--rather, "the shrubs of the earth" [UMBREIT].
9. In all these cases, says Job, the agency must be referred to Jehovah, though they may seem to man to imply imperfection ( Job 12:6 , 9:24 ). This is the only undisputed passage of the poetical part in which the name "Jehovah" occurs; in the historical parts it occurs frequently.
10. the soul--that is, the animal life. Man, reasons Job, is subjected to the same laws as the lower animals.
11. As the mouth by tasting meats selects what pleases it, so the ear tries the words of others and retains what is convincing. Each chooses according to his taste. The connection with Job 12:12 is in reference to Bildad's appeal to the "ancients" ( Job 8:8 ). You are right in appealing to them, since "with them was wisdom," &c. But you select such proverbs of theirs as suit your views; so I may borrow from the same such as suit mine.
12. ancient--aged ( Job 15:10 ).
13. In contrast to, "with the ancient is wisdom" ( Job 12:12 ), Job quotes a saying of the ancients which suits his argument, "with Him (God) is (the true) wisdom" ( Proverbs 8:14 ); and by that "wisdom and strength" "He breaketh down," &c., as an absolute Sovereign, not allowing man to penetrate His mysteries; man's part is to bow to His unchangeable decrees ( Job 1:21 ). The Mohammedan saying is, "if God will, and how God will."
14. shutteth up--( Isaiah 22:22 ). Job refers to Zophar's "shut up" ( Job 11:10 ).
15. Probably alluding to the flood.
16. ( Ezekiel 14:9 ).
18. He looseth the bond of kings--He looseth the authority of kings--the "bond" with which they bind their subjects ( Isaiah 45:1 Genesis 14:4 , Daniel 2:21 ).
a girdle--the cord, with which they are bound as captives, instead of the royal "girdle" they once wore ( Isaiah 22:21 ), and the bond they once bound others with. So "gird"--put on one the bonds of a prisoner instead of the ordinary girdle ( John 21:18 ).
19. princes--rather, "priests," as the Hebrew is rendered ( Psalms 99:6 ). Even the sacred ministers of religion are not exempt from reverses and captivity.
the mighty--rather, "the firm-rooted in power"; the Arabic root expresses ever-flowing water [UMBREIT].
20. the trusty--rather, "those secure in their eloquence"; for example, the speakers in the gate ( Isaiah 3:3 ) [BEZA].
understanding--literally, "taste," that is, insight or spiritual discernment, which experience gives the aged. The same Hebrew word is applied to Daniel's wisdom in interpretation ( Daniel 2:14 ).
21. Psalms 107:40 quotes, in its first clause, this verse and, in its second, Job 12:24 .
weakeneth the strength--literally, "looseth the girdle"; Orientals wear flowing garments; when active strength is to be put forth, they gird up their garments with a girdle. Hence here--"He destroyeth their power" in the eyes of the people.
22. ( Daniel 2:22 ).
23. Isaiah 9:3 , Psalms 107:38 Psalms 107:39 , which Psalm quotes this chapter
straiteneth--literally, "leadeth in," that is, "reduces."
wander in a wilderness--figurative; not referring to any actual fact. This cannot be quoted to prove Job lived after Israel's wanderings in the desert. Psalms 107:4 Psalms 107:40 quotes this passage.
25. Deuteronomy 28:29 , Psalms 107:27 again quote Job, but in a different connection.