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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Job 11

 

 

Verses 1-20

ZOPHAR'S CRUEL ACCUSATION

(vv.1-6)

Zophar was likely the youngest of the three men, and what he lacks in maturity he makes up for in bitter accusation against Job. He did not have such restraint as Eliphaz, nor such ability for argument as Bildad, but he does not restrain his bad temper. His appeal was not to his observation (as was that of Eliphaz), nor to the traditions such as Bildad had learned, but rather to his own intuition. He considered he instinctively knew the answer to Job's dilemma, and thought that Job needed only to learn "the secrets of wisdom" (v.6) as Zophar discerned them. He was evidently the most arrogant of all three friends of Job, the most self-confident.

He immediately attacks Job for his "multitude of words." Those words were too much for him to answer, so he resorts to the subterfuge of accusing Job of being merely "full of talk," and "empty talk" at that (v.2). He did not stop to consider that Job's words had been directed to God, not to him, but seems to think that he can answer satisfactorily for God! He was going to show Job that if Job could talk, he could talk too: he would not hold his peace. He accused Job of mocking, which was not true: Job was too intensely distressed to mock, but Zophar thought he needed to be reproved (v.3). Since Job had indicated his doctrine was pure and his conduct clean, Zophar was actually accusing God of being remiss in not speaking out against Job! (v.4), so that Zophar does what he thinks God ought to have done! He knew Job had criticised God, but now he was doing the same without realising it! He had found the secrets of wisdom (or he just knew these secrets by intuition), and he wished God would show such secrets to Job! These secrets were double what men generally realised, but Zophar knew them! (vv.5-6). Zophar even knew that God was punishing Job less than his iniquity deserved! Who told this to Zophar? Only his own superior intellect.

ZOPHAR AFFIRMS GOD'S INSCRUTABLE GLORY

(vv.7-12)

Following his unfair accusations against Job, Zophar now tells Job in effect that he is unable to discern the deep things of God. Certainly it was true that Job could not search out the depths of God's wisdom, or "find out the limits of the Almighty." Did Zophar think God has any limits? He is infinite, not limited in any way. Zophar applied his words only to Job, but they were just as applicable to Zophar too! But he thought himself so wise that he did not need to learn, as Job did. God's thoughts are higher than the heaven, deeper than Sheol (v.8). No one can know them unless God reveals them. Their height and depth are first mentioned, then their length and breadth (v.9). These things are all mentioned in Ephesians 3:18, as matters now revealed in Christ, yet still "passing knowledge," for indeed the actual glory of Christ is infinitely beyond our understanding, though revealed to us in a very real and wonderful way by the Spirit of God. We do know Him, yet at the same time realise how little we know Him.

Zophar continues to speak in verse 10, "If He pass by, and shut up, and call to judgment, who can hinder him" (JND). This may well be considered. No one can thwart the judgment of God when it comes. Of course Zophar, in speaking thus, considered that God was judging Job, which was not the case. "For He knows deceitful men; He sees wickedness also. Will He not then consider it?" (v.11). Thus Zophar implied that Job was both deceitful and wicked, and that the proof of this was present in that God had considered Job's state and was judging him for it.

"Yet a senseless man will make bold, though man be born [like] the foal of wild ass" (v.12 - JND). It is true that senseless men will boldly assert themselves, though their very nature is that of such rebellion that is evident in a wild donkey's colt. But Zophar did not mean that as a general observation; rather he considered Job as a senseless man acting stubbornly, and not really recognising the greatness of the glory of God.

ZOPHAR'S ADVICE TO JOB

(vv.13-20)

Since Zophar thinks that he has established the proof of Job's guilt and has shown Job something of the greatness of God, then he proceeds to urge Job to change his ways. He does not say in what Job has been guilty, but is sure he must be guilty of something. "If you would prepare your heart, and stretch out your hands toward Him; if iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away, and would not let wickedness dwell in your tents; then surely you could lift up your face without spot; yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear; because you would forget your misery, and remember it as waters that have passed away, and your life would be brighter than noonday" (vv.13-17). Zophar thought he was giving Job the remedy for his depressed condition, but his diagnosis was totally wrong and his remedy was therefore not what Job needed.

Yet he is sure that if Job would simply take his advice, the results would be of great blessing to Job. He would be secure and take rest in safety, he would lie down without fear, and many would court his favour (vv.18-19). Before Job's deep trial, many indeed had sought Job's favour, and Zophar thought that since this was not true now, the only reason could be Job's falling into sin. In fact, he implies this in adding, "But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope - loss of life!" (v.20). He is warning Job that if he does not take Zophar's advice he will not escape, but end in dreadful judgment.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 11:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/job-11.html. 1897-1910.

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