It’s Day 19 of our nationwide lockdown. Hoping to get through some of the book of Job in the mornings during these few weeks.
1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered, saying:
2 “Will a multitude of words not be answered?
And a man full of talk (lit: lips) be proved righteous?
3 Your loose talk causes men to be silent,
And you mock yet there is no one who shames [you].
4 And you say: “Pure is my doctrine, and clean I am in Your eyes.”
5 But what would I give (lit: who would give) for God to speak,
And open His lips with you!
6 Then he would tell you the secrets of wisdom.
For [He is] unmatched (lit: double) in understanding.
Know that God exacts of you from your iniquity.
- Zophar, Job’s third friend, jumps in – he can’t contain himself any longer, hearing Job’s protests go unchallenged. He accuses him of being full of talk (literally lips-filled), and should be shamed for it.
- Verse 4 is Zophar’s summary of what he’s heard from Job’s – he believes his teaching is pure and so is his character.
- He presumes to know God’s secret wisdom (v6a), and proceeds to tell Job. Perhaps he thinks this will comfort his friend (2:11-12), but he is wrong to claim himself as God’s spokesman.
- Especially among Christians we must be careful not to say “Thus says the Lord” when it is not Scripture, but our own opinions we are sharing.
7 Can you find the essence (lit: search) of God?
Or until the perfection of the Almighty can you attain?
8 [It is] Higher than the heavens — what can you do?
It is deeper than Sheol — what would you know?
9 Longer than the earth is its measure, and wider than the sea.
10 If He passes and imprisons,
and summons an assembly then who can turn Him back?
11 For He knows men of emptiness,
And sees iniquity, without considering it.
12 And a hollow man will get understanding,
when a colt of a wild donkey is born a man. (i.e. never)
- Zophar extols God’s sovereignty and unsurpassed wisdom — which are both true — but then wields it to imply that God knows Job’s “emptiness” and iniquity (v11)
- He even uses Job’s words against him in v10: where Job says “who can turn him back” (9:12) to reflect on God’s unfathomable nature, Zophar throws the legal language back at him to warn Job from further sinning (v10)
- He is much less subtle than Eliphaz and Bildad – he really does think Job is sinning. Bildad at least wondered if Job’s children are complicit in the sufferings that have fallen on Job (8:4); and Eliphaz allows that God will cause pain yet bind up (5:18). Zophar just reckons Job must repent.
13 If you strengthen your heart,
And stretch out to him your hands,
14 If iniquity [be] in your hands put it far away,
And do not let evil dwell in your tents.
15 For then you will lift up your face without blemish,
And be one firm and tempered, and you shall not fear.
16 For you will forget your trouble, like waters passing away you will remember [it].
17 And from noonday, life will arise,
[Though] It be dark, it will be like the morning.
18 And you are safe, for there is hope,
And you will search, to security you will rest.
19 You lie down, and there is none who cause trembling,
Many entreat your favour.
20 But the eyes of the wicked will finish,
and a refuge has escaped from them,
And their hope is to breathe out their soul.
- Zophar’s proposed remedy is too simplistic – “stop sinning and you’ll forget your troubles”.
- He is totally tone-deaf to Job’s depression – by referencing “darkness” in v17, he has clearly heard Job’s anguished laments (10:20-22) but glibly says: don’t sin and then it’ll feel like daytime again. He’s quick to offer a fix, but slow to sympathise.
- We can be too quick to offer solutions when friends suffer. How many times has someone suggested, “do this”, “do this”? This morning I was encouraged by an email from someone who’s been praying for us, who simply said: “It was good to sit in the silence with you guys for a bit.” Thank you, friend.