The Trial of Job

Chapter 12

Job maintains himself against his friends who reprove him, 1-6. He acknowledges the general doctrine of God's omnipotence, 7-25.

1 And Job answered and said,

"No doubt, but you are the people,/
and wisdom shall die with you.

But I have understanding as well as you./
I am not inferior to you./
Indeed, who does not know such things as these?

I am as one mocked by his neighbor,/
who calls upon God, and he answers him./
The just upright man is derided.

He who is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised/
in the thought of him who is at ease.

The tabernacles of robbers prosper,/
and those who provoke God are secure,/
into whose hand God brings abundantly.

But now ask the beasts, and they shall teach you,/
and the birds of the air, and they shall tell you;

Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you,/
and the fish of the sea shall declare to you.

Who does not know in all these/
that the hand of the LORD has wrought this?

10 In his hand is the soul of every living thing/
and the breath of all mankind.

11 Does the ear not try words,/
and the mouth taste its food?

12 With the ancient is wisdom,/
and in length of days understanding.

13 With him is wisdom and strength./
He has counsel and understanding.

14 Behold, he breaks down, and it cannot be built again./
He shuts up a man, and there can be no opening.

15 Behold, he withholds the waters, and they dry up./
He also sends them out, and they overturn the earth.

16 With him is strength and wisdom./
The deceived and the deceiver are his.

17 He leads counselors away captive/
and makes the judges fools.

18 He releases the bonds of kings/
and girds their loins with a girdle.

19 He leads princes away captive/
and overthrows the mighty.

20 He removes away the speech of the trusty/
and takes away the understanding of the aged.

21 He pours contempt upon princes/
and weakens the strength of the mighty.

22 He reveals deep things out of darkness/
and brings to light the shadow of death.

23 He increases nations and destroys them./
He enlarges nations and diminishes them.

24 He takes away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth/
and causes them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.

25 They grope in the dark without light,/
and he makes them to stagger like a drunken man."


Matthew Henry Commentary - Job, Chapter 12[➚]


John Gill's Chapter Summary:

In this and the two following chapters Job makes answer to Zophar's discourse in the former; who having represented him as an ignorant man, he resents it, and begins his defence with a biting sarcasm on him and his friends, as being self-conceited, and having a high opinion of their own wisdom, as if none had any but themselves (verses 1-2); and puts in his claim for a share with them, as being not at all inferior to them (verse 3); and then refutes their notions, that it always goes well with good men, and ill with bad men; whereas the reverse is the truth (verses 4-6); and which they might learn from the brute creatures; or he sends them to them, to observe to them, that the best things they had knowledge of concerning God and his providence, and of his wisdom therein, were common notions that everyone had, and might be learned from beasts, birds, and fishes; particularly, that all things in the whole universe are made by God, and sustained by him, and are under his direction, and at his disposal (verses 7-10); and such things might as easily be searched, examined, and judged of, as sounds are tested by the ear, and food by the mouth (verse 11); and seeing it is usual among men, at least it may be expected that men in years should have a considerable share of wisdom and knowledge, it might be strongly inferred from there, without any difficulty, that the most perfect and consummate wisdom was in God (verses 12-13); from there he passes on to discourse most admirably and excellently of the wisdom and power of God in the dispensations of his providence, in a variety of instances; which shows his knowledge of his perfections, ways, and works, was not inferior to that of his friends (verses 14-25).

[v.2] - "It is folly for us to think that there will be any great irreparable loss of us when we are gone, or that we can be ill spared, since God has the residue of the Spirit, and can raise up others, more fit than we are, to do his work. When wise men and good men die it is a comfort to think that wisdom and goodness shall not die with them." —Matthew Henry

[v.4] - "neighbor" - That is, friends, or companions.

[v.6] - "We cannot therefore judge of men's piety by their plenty, nor of what they have in their heart by what they have in their hand." —Matthew Henry

[v.7-8] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "Even among the brute creatures the greater devour the less and the stronger prey upon the weaker, and men are as the fishes of the sea (Habakkuk 1:14). If sin had not entered, we may suppose there would have been no such disorder among the creatures, but the wolf and the lamb would have lain down together."

[v.9-10] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "[Job] resolves all into the absolute propriety which God has in all the creatures: 'In whose hand is the soul of every living thing.' All the creatures, and mankind particularly, derive their being from him, owe their being to him, depend upon him for the support of it, lie at his mercy, are under his direction and dominion and entirely at his disposal, and at his summons must resign their lives. All souls are his; and may he not do what he will with his own? The name Yahweh is used here in verse 9, and it is the only time that we meet with it in all the discourses between Job and his friends; for God was, in that age, more known by the name of Shaddai—the Almighty."

[v.11] - "The mind of man has as good a faculty of discerning between truth and error, when duly stated, as the palate has of discerning between what is sweet and what is bitter." —Matthew Henry

[v.12] - "the ancient" - That is, the aged men.

[v.13] - "With him is wisdom..." - That is, with God is wisdom. From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "[God] does not get counsel or understanding, as we do, by observation, but he has it essentially and eternally in himself."

[v.17] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "Let not the wise man therefore glory in his wisdom, nor the ablest counselors and judges be proud of their station, but humbly depend upon God for the continuance of their abilities. Even the aged, who seem to hold their wisdom by prescription, and think they have got it by their own industry and therefore have an indefeasible title to it, may yet be deprived of it, and often are, by the infirmities of age, which make them twice children."

[v.18] - "and girds their loins with a girdle" - Matthew Henry states that this is "a badge of servitude."

[v.20] - "He removes away the speech" - LXX: "He changes the lips."

[v.23] - "diminishes" - From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "literally, 'leadeth in,' that is, 'reduces.'" From Matthew Poole's Commentary: "What he previously said of princes, he now applies to nations and people, whom God either increases or diminishes as he pleases... [He] straitens them again; or, leads them in, or brings them back, into their own land, and confines them there" (language updated).

[v.24] - "in a wilderness" - The Hebrew word is, tohuw (to'-hoo). From the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge: "In a state of utter confusion; it is the same word which is employed in Genesis 1:2, to describe the chaotic state of the earth at the creation."