Job 12


‘Then Job replied: “Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you! But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things?’ Job 12:1-3

Job’s Response

Job opens his speech by mocking his friend’s self-assumed wisdom. His friends have not spared the rod of their tongue on him so why should I withhold on them.

No doubt he put it this way, ‘you are the people, the know all’s and wisdom is with them alone. You have spoken but said nothing new, strange or startling’.

His friends had claimed a special understanding and knowledge of God but failed to point out the sin that would justify his suffering. He says he is fully aware of all they have told him and what makes them so different from him.

In fact, in ridicule, he says no one knows these words of wisdom, he says their theory does not fit the facts. The irony of Job’s meeting with his three friends was that they actually didn’t know God, or else they would have been merciful to him in his dilemma.

‘I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called on God and he answered—a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless! Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping. The tents of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure—those God has in his hand.’ Job 12:4-6

Job says, he’s being persecuted for something he hasn’t done and that’s why he’s the laughing stock, the biggest joke. To his friends, he gives this subtle dig and begins to wrestle with everything. How can this happen to him and be in harmony with true morality?

It is alright for people to sit back and look at him and say what he has or did, why don’t you put yourself in Job’s shoes? Even those who are dead set against God see better days than I do, Jeremiah 12. His friends laughed because they saw the supposed uselessness of his righteous living.

‘But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you, or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; those he imprisons cannot be released. If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land. To him belong strength and insight; both deceived and deceiver are his. He leads rulers away stripped and makes fools of judges. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth around their waist. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows officials long established. He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders. He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light. He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste. They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.’ Job 12:7-25

Job now advises the three to just sit and be quiet because they know nothing Job’s friends gained their knowledge of God by observing the wonders of the physical world in which they lived, comments Psalm 8 / Romans 1:20.

Job is saying that they do not have the market cornered on wisdom, Job 11:7-12. All nature knows its wisdom and he proves his argument.

Job appears to be presenting a contrast between the shallow wisdom of the aged man, the traditions of the day and the wisdom and supreme, sovereignty of God.

Some commentators suggest that these are further sarcastic remarks he is making, Job 5:18-26. They see Job as saying the world is filled with outrageous acts of intervention by God. So who knows what God is doing anyway or what He is up to. Whatever way you look at it, He demolishes the stand of his so-called counsellors.

In essence what he says is that if you follow your theological system, then all the righteous nations ought to be blest by God. But as he points out history, he destroys that argument. God’s rain falls on the field of both the righteous and wicked, Matthew 5:45.

If the righteous prospered above the wicked, then one would think that judges, kings, princes and elders would prosper more than the wicked. But even these officials are stripped and made fools by God. They grope around in the darkness, Deuteronomy 28:28-29, and stagger around like drunkards, Psalms 107:27.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Notice how many times God’s wisdom is mentioned here, along with the corollary in each instance that, counsellors and judges, Job 12:17, kings, Job 12:18, priests and the mighty, Job 12:19, the trusty and the elders, Job 12:20, the princes and the strong, Job 12:21, and the chiefs of the people of the earth, Job 12:24, indeed ALL of the men of the whole earth who might have been accounted wise, without exception, when their wisdom was considered along with God’s true wisdom, their true status is described here by Job as ‘stripped’, naked, deceived, deceivers, fools, helpless, having their bonds or belts loosed, overthrown, held in contempt, with their speech removed, and their understanding taken away. Such words as these should certainly have exploded the myth that old men were wise!’

Go To Job 13