Job 12


1 Then Job replied:
2 “Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you!
3 But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things?
4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called on God and he answered— a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!
5 Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
6 The tents of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure— those God has in his hand.[a]
7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.
9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
11 Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?
12 Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?
13 “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.
14 What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; those he imprisons cannot be released.
15 If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.
16 To him belong strength and insight; both deceived and deceiver are his.
17 He leads rulers away stripped and makes fools of judges.
18 He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth[b] around their waist.
19 He leads priests away stripped and overthrows officials long established.
20 He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders.
21 He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty.
22 He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light.
23 He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them.
24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste.
25 They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.

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Job 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

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?

Cross References 50

  • 1. Job 15:8; Job 17:10
  • 2. Job 13:2; Job 15:9
  • 3. S Genesis 38:23; Job 21:3
  • 4. S Job 6:14; S Job 11:3; S Job 16:10; S Job 19:14
  • 5. Psalms 91:15
  • 6. S Genesis 6:9; S Job 6:29; S Job 15:16
  • 7. Psalms 123:4
  • 8. Psalms 17:5; Psalms 37:31; Psalms 38:16; Psalms 66:9; Psalms 73:2; Psalms 94:18
  • 9. S Job 5:24; Job 22:18
  • 10. S Job 9:24; Job 21:9
  • 11. Job 35:11 "fn"
  • 12. Matthew 6:26
  • 13. Job 18:3; Romans 1:20
  • 14. Isaiah 1:3
  • 15. S Job 9:24; Isaiah 41:20
  • 16. Daniel 5:23
  • 17. S Genesis 2:7; S Numbers 16:22; S Job 11:20; Job 27:3; Job 33:4; Acts 17:28
  • 18. Job 34:3
  • 19. S 1 Kings 4:2; Job 15:10
  • 20. ver 20; Job 17:4; Job 32:7,9; Job 34:4,10
  • 21. Job 11:6; Proverbs 21:30; Isaiah 45:9
  • 22. S Job 9:4; S Jeremiah 32:19; 1 Corinthians 1:24
  • 23. S Numbers 23:19; 1 Kings 3:12; Job 32:8; Job 38:36; Proverbs 2:6; Isaiah 40:13-14; Daniel 1:17
  • 24. Job 16:9; Job 19:10
  • 25. Deuteronomy 13:16; Job 37:7; Psalms 127:1; Isaiah 24:20; Isaiah 25:2; Ezekiel 26:14
  • 26. S Job 9:3; Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7
  • 27. Job 28:25; Isaiah 40:12; 1 Kings 8:35
  • 28. S Deuteronomy 28:22; S 1 Kings 17:1
  • 29. S Genesis 7:24; Genesis 7:11
  • 30. S Job 9:4
  • 31. 2 Chronicles 18:22; Job 13:7,9; Job 27:4; Romans 2:11
  • 32. ver 19; Job 19:9; Isaiah 20:4
  • 33. S Job 3:14; 1 Corinthians 1:20
  • 34. Psalms 107:14; Psalms 116:16; Nahum 1:13
  • 35. ver 21; Job 34:18; Psalms 107:40; Isaiah 5:27; Isaiah 40:23
  • 36. S ver 17
  • 37. S Deuteronomy 24:15; S Job 9:24; Job 14:20; Job 22:8; Job 24:12,22; Job 34:20,28; Job 35:9; Isaiah 2:22; Isaiah 31:8; Isaiah 40:17,23; Jeremiah 25:18; Daniel 2:21,34; Luke 1:52
  • 38. S ver 12,24; Daniel 4:33-34; Job 32:9
  • 39. S ver 18; S Isaiah 34:12
  • 40. S Job 3:15
  • 41. 1 Corinthians 4:5
  • 42. Job 3:5
  • 43. Psalms 139:12; Daniel 2:22
  • 44. Psalms 2:1; Psalms 46:6; Isaiah 13:4; Jeremiah 25:9
  • 45. S Exodus 34:24; Psalms 107:38; Isaiah 9:3; Isaiah 26:15; Isaiah 54:3
  • 46. S Job 5:12; Acts 17:26
  • 47. S ver 20
  • 48. Psalms 107:40
  • 49. S Deuteronomy 28:29; Job 18:6; Job 21:17; Job 29:3; Job 5:14
  • 50. Psalms 107:27; Isaiah 24:20

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "those whose god is in their own hand"
  • [b]. Or "shackles of kings" / "and ties a belt"

Chapter Summary


In this and the two following chapter Job makes answer to Zophar's discourse in the former; who having represented him as an ignorant man, he resents it, and begins his defence with a biting sarcasm on him and his friends, as being self-conceited, and having an high opinion of their own wisdom, as if none had any but themselves, Job 12:1,2; and puts in his claim for a share with them, as being not at all inferior to them, Job 12:3; and then refutes their notions, that it always goes well with good men, and ill with bad men; whereas the reverse is the truth, Job 12:4-6; and which they might learn from the brute creatures; or he sends them to them, to observe to them, that the best things they had knowledge of concerning God and his providence, and of his wisdom therein, were common notions that everyone had, and might be learned from beasts, birds, and fishes; particularly, that all things in the whole universe are made by God, and sustained by him, and are under his direction, and at his disposal, Job 12:7-10; and such things might as easily be searched, examined, and judged of, as sounds are tried by the ear, and food by the mouth, Job 12:11; and seeing it is usual among men, at least it may be expected that men in years should have a considerable share of wisdom and knowledge, it might be strongly inferred from thence, without any difficulty, that the most perfect and consummate wisdom was in God, Job 12:12,13; whence he passes on to discourse most admirably and excellently of the wisdom and power of God in the dispensations of his providence, in a variety of instances; which shows his knowledge of his perfections, ways, and works, was not inferior to that of his friends, Job 12:14-25.

Job 12 Commentaries