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.
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 those 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.
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!’