The Trial of Job

Chapter 11

Zophar reproves Job for justifying himself, 1-4. God's wisdom is unsearchable, 5-12. The assured blessing of repentance, 13-20.

1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said,

"Should the multitude of words not be answered?/
And should a man full of talk be justified?

Should your falsehoods make men hold their peace?/
And when you mock, shall no man make you ashamed?

For you have said, 'My doctrine is pure/
and I am clean in your eyes.'

But oh that God would speak/
and open his lips against you,

And that he would show you the secrets of wisdom,/
that they are manifold in understanding!/
Know therefore that God exacts of you/
less than your iniquity deserves.

Can you by searching find out God?/
Can you find out the Almighty to perfection?

It is as high as heaven. What can you do?/
It is deeper than hell. What can you know?

Its measure is longer than the earth/
and broader than the sea.

10 If he cuts off and shuts up,/
or gathers together, then who can hinder him?

11 For he knows vain men./
He sees wickedness also. Will he not then consider it?

12 For vain man would be wise,/
though man is born like a wild donkey's colt.

13 If you prepare your heart,/
stretch out your hands toward him.

14 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,/
and do not let wickedness dwell in your tabernacles.

15 For then you shall lift up your face without spot./
You shall even be steadfast and shall not fear.

16 For you shall forget your misery,/
and remember it as waters that pass away.

17 And your age shall be clearer than the noon-day./
You shall shine forth. You shall be as the morning.

18 And you shall be secure because there is hope./
You shall even dig around you and take your rest in safety.

19 Also you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid./
Indeed, many shall make petition to you.

20 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail./
They shall not escape./
Their hope shall be as the expiration of the breath."


Matthew Henry Commentary - Job, Chapter 11[➚]


John Gill's Chapter Summary:

In this chapter Zophar the Naamathite, Job's third friend, attacks him, and the with great acrimony and severity, and with much indecency; he charges him not only with verbosity, and vain babbling, but with lying, and with scoffing at God, and good men (verses 1-3); which he attempts to support by some things Job had said, misrepresented by him (verse 4); and wishes that God would take him in hand, and convince him of the wisdom of the divine proceedings with him, and of his lenity and mercy to him (verses 5-6); and then discourses of the unsearchableness of God in his counsels, and conduct; of his sovereignty, and of his power, and of the vanity and folly of men (verses 7-19); and as his friends before him, having insinuated that Job was guilty of some heinous sin, or sins, and especially of hypocrisy, advises him to repentance and reformation, and then it would be well with him; and he should enjoy much comfort, peace, and safety, even to old age (verses 13-19); and concludes it should go ill with the wicked man and the hypocrite, such as he suggests Job was (verse 20).

[v.4] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "[Zophar] charges Job with saying that which he had not said... It was true that Job was sound in the faith, and orthodox in his judgment, and spoke better of God than his friends did. If he had expressed himself unwarily, yet it did not therefore follow but that his doctrine was true. But he charges him with saying, 'I am clean in your eyes.' Job had not said so: he had indeed said, 'You know that I am not wicked' (Job 10:7); but he had also said, 'I have sinned,' and never pretended to a spotless perfection. He had indeed maintained that he was not a hypocrite as they charged him; but to infer thence that he would not own himself a sinner was an unfair insinuation. We ought to put the best construction on the words and actions of our brothers that they will bear; but contenders are tempted to put the worst."

[v.5] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "We are commonly ready with too much assurance to interest God in our quarrels, and to conclude that, if he would but speak, he would take our part and speak for us, as Zophar here... whereas, when God did speak, he opened his lips for Job against his three friends. We ought indeed to leave all controversies to be determined by the judgment of God, which we are sure is according to truth; but those are not always in the right who are most forward to appeal to that judgment and prejudge it against their antagonists."

[v.6a] - "that they are manifold in understanding" - In other words, the secrets of wisdom that are hidden with God are vastly greater in number than the wisdom that is currently revealed or found in mankind. It can also be read as, "they are double to man's wisdom" (Jamieson-Faucet-Brown Commentary). From John Gill's Exposition: "The secrets of divine wisdom displayed, whether in the doctrines of grace or in the methods of Providence, being shown and made manifest, would appear to be 'double'; that is, vastly, and even, infinitely to exceed the wisdom of men."

[v.6b] - "Whatever punishment is inflicted upon us in this world we must own that it is less than our iniquities deserve, and therefore, instead of complaining of our troubles, we must be thankful that we are out of hell (Psalm 103:10; Lamentations 3:39)." —Matthew Henry

[v.7-9] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "We may, by searching find God (Acts 17:27), but we cannot find him out in anything he is pleased to conceal; we may apprehend him, but we cannot comprehend him; we may know that he is, but cannot know what he is. The eye can see the ocean but not see over it. We may, by a humble, diligent, and believing search, find out something of God, but cannot find him out to perfection; we may know, but cannot know fully, what God is, nor find out his work from the beginning to the end (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Note, God is unsearchable. The ages of his eternity cannot be numbered, nor the spaces of his immensity measured; the depths of his wisdom cannot be fathomed, nor the reaches of his power bounded; the brightness of his glory can never be described, nor the treasures of his goodness reckoned up. This is a good reason why we should always speak of God with humility and caution and never prescribe to him nor quarrel with him, why we should be thankful for what he has revealed of himself and long to be where we shall see him as he is (1st Corinthians 13:9-10)... It is quite out of our reach to comprehend God's nature. Such knowledge is too wonderful for us (Psalm 139:6). We cannot fathom God's designs, nor find out the reasons of his proceedings. His judgments are a great deep."

[v.13] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "[Job] must prepare his heart; there the work of conversion and reformation must begin. The heart that wandered from God must be reduced—that was defiled with sin and put into disorder must be cleansed and put in order again—that was wavering and unfixed must be settled and established; so the word here signifies. The heart is then prepared to seek God when it is determined and fully resolved to make a business of it and to go through with it. He must look up, and stretch out his hands toward God, that is, must stir up himself to take hold on God, must pray to him with earnestness and importunity, striving in prayer, and with expectation to receive mercy and grace from him. To give the hand to the Lord signifies to yield ourselves to him and to covenant with him (2nd Chronicles 30:8). This Job must do, and, for the doing of it, must prepare his heart."

[v.14] - "The guilt of sin is not removed if the gain of sin be not restored." —Matthew Henry (The "gain of sin" is referring to that which was wrongfully obtained through sinful actions. It is to be restored, that is, made right with those from whom the gain was made.)

[v.18a] - "Those who have a good hope, through grace, in God, and of heaven, are certainly safe, and have reason to be secure, however difficult the times are through which they pass in this world. He who walks uprightly may thus walk surely, because, though there are trouble and danger, yet there is hope that all will be well at last. Hope is an anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19)." —Matthew Henry

[v.18b] - "Those who submit to God's government shall be taken under his protection, and then they are safe both day and night." —Matthew Henry

[v.20a] - "Those who will not fly to God will find it in vain to think of flying from him." —Matthew Henry

[v.20b] - Reference, Proverbs 11:7.