IV. Zophar’s First Speech and Job’s Response (Job 11:1–14:22)

11:1-20 Job’s third friend Zophar was probably the youngest of the three, which would explain why he spoke last. Zophar has been described as a hardheaded, common sense kind of guy. Unfortunately, he used some of the harshest language against Job yet. Zophar accused Job of babbling on and ridiculing others, saying he needed someone to humiliate him (11:3). He also implied that Job was worthless and stupid (11:11-12). It’s obvious Zophar never took a class on winning friends and influencing people. He was completely insensitive to Job’s situation.

In saying, my eyes have seen all this; my ears have heard and understood it (13:1), Job was sure he could hold his own and more with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. He continued, Everything you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you (13:2). He wanted those boys to know they had nothing on him when it came to knowing and understanding God or how life works. Thus, he could see that his friends used lies like plaster. They were just whitewashing over the facts with false assumptions about what a terrible sinner he was. They were worthless healers who had no real prescriptions to offer him that would ease his pain (13:4). Their memorable sayings were no better than ashes (13:12).

In 13:15 we come to Job’s famous declaration: Even if [God] kills me, I will hope in him. Other than Jesus himself, Job is the classic biblical example of someone who endured the devil’s assaults and yet remained faithful to God. Satan took everything Job had, but Job refused to curse God or abandon his faith. This is the kind of resolute faith we need. A faith that perseveres. The only way to lay claim to such a faith is to take advantage of what God provides—to put on the “full armor of God” (see Eph 6:13-18).

Job still wanted to defend himself before God; he was confident that he would be acquitted (13:15-16). But, because he wasn’t being given that opportunity, Job was stuck with debating with his friends and trying to disprove their bad theories. What was Job’s ultimate suggestion for them? Shut up and let that be your wisdom! (13:5). Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had been at their best when they quietly wept with Job (2:12-13). In Job’s advice is a truth that Solomon would write many years later: “Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent—discerning, when he seals his lips” (Prov 17:28).

Because Job still had the floor, he pressed ahead with his defense. He was ready to speak out to God and take the consequences even if it meant risking his life. He was willing to take this risk because of the possibility that God might acquit him. He said, I have prepared my case; I know that I am right (13:18). Job said he was willing to be quiet if one of his friends could make his charges stick (13:19). But, because Job did not think that was going to happen, he asked God for two things: to end his pain and stop frightening him with terror (13:20-21).

Job was so certain of his integrity that he wanted to take his chances. Call, he announced to God, and I will answer (13:22). “Show me my sins,” he begged. “What have I done?” he wanted to know (13:23). But, God didn’t show up in the court Job attempted to create, causing Job to ask why God was treating him like an enemy (13:27). In Job’s opinion, God’s silence was a way of tormenting him as someone would hit a helpless person while he was down.

Part of the value of the book of Job (and also Ecclesiastes) is simply the fact that it’s actually in the Bible. Sometimes we think we’re the first ones to ask the tough why questions. We look at the suffering and injustice of the world and ask, “How can this be?” But, one of God’s most faithful servants, one whom God described as “a man of perfect integrity” (1:8), asked the same and struggled with indescribable grief. Things got so dire that he said, Anyone born of woman is short of days and full of trouble (14:1). Truly, life is short and filled with grief. But, God is not indifferent to these facts; he himself has entered into our suffering (see 1 Pet 2:24).

Job asked God for relief instead of judgment, for a little rest from the pain. If a tree is cut down, it can sprout again. But, if a man dies, he won’t rise again (14:7-12). As water slowly wears away stone, Job felt God destroying all his hope, bit by bit (14:19).

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