Job 12 Study Notes


12:1-2 Job lashed out sarcastically at all three friends, accusing them of being condescending. Although they claimed the wisdom of the ages, by their simplistic observations of his problem they had misapplied their learning. Acquired knowledge does not guarantee true wisdom.

12:3 Job reminded his friends that he had access to the same body of traditional wisdom that they described. By saying that he had a mind, Job implied that, unlike his friends, he weighed the evidence in order to make proper application.

12:4 Job believed he was a righteous and upright man, but he had become a laughingstock.

12:5-6 Job could not reconcile his harsh condition with the ease the unrighteous seemed to enjoy. His words indicate that Zophar’s closing remarks (11:13-19) simply did not fit the facts.

12:7-10 Job contended that all nature is tuned to understand that everything is in the hand of the Lord (see Is 64:8). The metaphor of God’s hand usually conveys the image of strength or power (1Ch 29:12).

12:11-12 Job’s rhetorical question suggested that mere knowledge was insufficient. A person needed to evaluate carefully what he heard. Job had expected to hear better advice from three supposedly wise men (v. 2).

12:13 In the ultimate sense, true wisdom and strength reside only in God. He alone is the omniscient and omnipotent one.

12:14-15 Job called attention to what he perceived to be negative features of God’s actions. His destructive power was irreversible. His decisions could not be overturned. It seemed like there was either famine or flood.

12:16 Job’s review of the scope of God’s wisdom and power includes a stunning but true claim that even the deceived and the deceiver, both of whom are presumably bereft of true knowledge of God and do not willingly submit to him, are his.

12:17-25 As Job cynically saw it, God arbitrarily directs social and political situations according to his inscrutable pleasure, with the result that counselors . . . judges . . . kings . . . priests, and all the world’s leaders strive in vain to choose wise paths. In reality God’s sovereignty is not arbitrary. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God” (Rm 8:28).

12:18 It is unclear what bonds and a belt are intended to convey with regard to kings. One possibility is that God easily strips kings of their robes and leads them away. Another is that God can release those whom kings have bound and bind the king instead. A third is that if a king is defeated and bound, God can release him and gird him.

12:19 To be led away barefoot pictures defeat, captivity, and exile.

12:20 Under God’s governance, trusted advisers can be deprived of the very things that made them advisers in the first place: their eloquence and good judgment.

12:22 Though Job is unable to make sense of his own sufferings, he recognizes God’s power to reveal mysteries.

12:24-25 As Job viewed it, God causes national leaders to use poor judgment that leads to their disgrace (Ps 107:40).