It appears that Job addresses all three of his friends. Job is upset and he gives an explanation of his complaint.
He admits he has spoken rashly and he knows from what his friends have said that he would have to admit that he committed some large sin, but he hasn’t, so he won’t admit to having done anything. He hasn’t sinned so why is it happening, he may have spoken rashly but he sees no other sin.
God has fired arrows into him for no apparent reason. Job felt that God had launched this attack against him, but he couldn’t understand why.
He gets stronger and says his friends are like animals needing comfort, they simply can’t understand his condition. If the friends could only see the totality of his suffering.
Job argued, then they would conclude that he was not complaining without cause. Braying and lowing are the results of dissatisfaction in the life of an animal, so he claimed the right to voice his dissatisfaction in reference to his predicament.
Then he turns to God and cries out to Him. The content of this prayer is not good, he prays for death and anticipates no joy afterwards. He said he had a right to desire happiness in his existence in life.
He now gives the reason as to why he isn’t afraid to die, he thought death would bring him peace. Since Job was human, he wasn’t like stone or bronze, then wondered how much longer he could endure his present physical state. Job wonders how long he can bear to be patient.
He may be directly attacking his 3 friends here because anything he turns to is taken away. He came to the conclusion that because he had no hope for this life and no purpose for living, he may as well be dead, Romans 8:24-25.
Here Job now reproaches his friends because they have shown him no proper kindness, especially at this time when his faith is being greatly tested. Surely he should have received some words of encouragement from them, I guess they are what are called, fair-weathered friends.
He says in some way they are frightened of him, because of his position. It appears that his situation in life has made been into an opportunity for them to expose their jealousy concerning his former prosperity.
His disappointment in his friends is portrayed as those in trading caravans who followed a path that was to lead to water. But the path led to despair, for there was no water awaiting thirsty souls.
Coffman, in his commentary, gives the following paraphrase of these verses.
‘Look, If I am a sinner, tell me what it was in which I sinned. Would I lie to you? Look me in the eye. Don’t get up and leave me. Stay here and help me. Am I so ignorant that I don’t know what sin is.’? No matter what you think, my trouble is not caused by my wickedness. You have criticized my words but it is silly to make a case based on the words of a man who is suffering desperately. Allowances must be made for words uttered in deep distress. Reconsider my case, for my cause, is righteous.’
Job now issues the challenge, if they are so wise, then what is the terrible sin he committed. Reproof without proof is meaningless and perhaps dangerous, 1 Timothy 5:19.
Job goes over the top, he says they are heartless as slave sellers. He expected that his friends who came to him would bring words of comfort and exhortation but because his friends brought only words of judgment, he too had resorted to such words in order to counter the accusations that were made against him. After this, they surely got the point.
He then appeals to their sympathy and sincerity. It is not their fault that he is experiencing these difficulties, so then who is. Wicked men do reap what they sow, Galatians 6:7-8, but Job wasn’t reaping from what he had sown in wickedness.