Canst thou by searching find out God?
Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
It is high as heaven; what canst thou do?
Deeper than Sheol; what canst thou know?
The measure thereof is longer than the earth,
And broader than the sea.
If he pass through, and shut up, and call unto judgment,
Then who can hinder him?
For he knoweth false men:
He seeth iniquity also, even though he consider it not.
But vain man is void of understanding,
Yea, man is born as a wild ass's colt."
The things Zophar said in this passage were just as applicable to himself as they were to Job; but men with a plank in their own eye love to gouge for the mote in their brother's eye. In the last analysis, God Himself finally opened his lips, as Zophar suggested in Job 11:5, flatly declaring that Zophar and Job's other friends had not spoken "that which was right" about God (Job 42:7). How wrong he was!
Some of the generalities Zophar here uttered about God were of course true; but his thinly veiled suggestions that Job was ignorant (Job 11:8), that he could not hinder God (Job 11:10), that Job was one of the "false men" (Job 11:11), that God could see Job's sin (Job 11:11), that Job was a vain man void of understanding (Job 11:12), and that he was as ignorant as a wild ass's colt (Job 11:12) -- all of this speech by Zophar must have been a very bitter thing for Job to hear.
Zophar had pretended to know that Job was a sinner, but without any evidence whatever. "So in these verses (Job 11:7-12), Zophar supported his charges by appealing to God's infinity"!F4
The greatest insult of all from Zophar is in Job 11:12, which in the RSV is rendered thus: A stupid man will get understanding when a wild ass's colt is born a man. "This is a statement of the utter impossibility of a stupid man's attaining wisdom."F5
ZOPHAR PROMISES RESTORATION IF JOB WILL CONFESS AND REPENT
If thou set thy heart aright,
And stretch out thy hands toward him;
If iniquity be in thy hand, put it away,
And let righteousness dwell in thy tents.
Surely then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot;
Yea, thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear:
For thou shalt forget thy misery;
Thou shalt remember it as waters that are passed away.
And thy life shall be clearer than the noonday;
though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning.
And thou shalt be secure because there is hope;
Yea, thou shalt search about thee, and shalt take thy rest in safety.
And thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid;
Yea, many shall make suit unto thee.
But the eyes of the wicked shall fail,
And they shall have no way to flee;
and their hope shall be the giving up of the ghost."
If thou set thy heart aright, And stretch out thy hands toward him; If iniquity be in thy hand, put it far away, And let not unrighteousness dwell in thy tents. Surely then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; Yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear: For thou shalt forget thy misery; Thou shalt remember it as waters that are passed away, And [thy] life shall be clearer than the noonday; Though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning. And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; Yea, thou shalt search [about thee], and shalt take thy rest in safety. Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; Yea, many shall make suit unto thee. But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, And they shall have no way to flee; And their hope shall be the giving up of the ghost.
(Job 11:13). The word thou in this place is emphatic, carrying the implication that, If thou with all thy wickedness, if even thou, wilt abandon it, thou shalt be restored.F6
Though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning
(Job 11:17). This is a remarkable antithesis to what Job had said back in Job 10:21f. Job's future need not be a day of darkness whose very noon is night.F7 It may be, if only Job will confess and repent, a brighter day than any ordinary day at noon, Whose very night is as bright as the morning.F8
What comfort could such an exhortation have been to a man who knew nothing that he could confess and whose repentance, if he had pretended any, would have been the utmost hypocrisy?
We cannot escape the conviction that Satan here played one of his trump cards in his vain effort to shake the integrity of Job. Zophar and the other friends of Job, of course, were unaware that they, in these confrontations, were primary agents of the devil himself.
Footnotes for Job 11
1: The New Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 369.
2: The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 3, p. 993.
3: Ibid., p. 994.
4: Wycliffe Old Testament Commentary, p. 471.
5: Layman's Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, p. 83.
6: International Critical Commentary, Job, p. 109.
7: Ibid., p. 110.