Job 11:1-14:22 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What charges does Zophar make against Job and what does he wish would happen? See chapter 11 verses 1-6a (printed below.)

Then Zophar the Naamathite replied, (2) Should a multitude of words go unanswered? Shall a man full of talk be acquitted? (3) Will your idle talk silence men? Will no one rebuke you for your scoffing? (4) You say to God, “My beliefs are orthodox and I am pure in your sight.” (5) I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you (6) and reveal to you the secrets of wisdom, for God is manifold in understanding. (Job 1:1-6a)

Zophar charges Job with being “a man full of talk.” The word used here means “empty,” or “idle,” talk, thus Zophar is accusing Job of uttering meaningless babble. According to Zophar, Job does not know what he is talking about. Furthermore, Zophar charges Job with being a scoffer when he insists that he is blameless and the calamities he is experiencing are not the just consequence of his sins. Zophar’s wish is that God would speak, that He would reveal to Job the secrets of wisdom.

2. How does Job respond to Zophar’s speech? See chapter 13 verses 1-4 (printed below.)

My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. (2) What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. (3) But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case before God. (4) You, however, whitewash my case with lies; you are worthless physicians—all of you! (Job 13:1-4)

Job insists that it is his friends who lack understanding and he indeed does desire to meet with God. Job declares that his friends have failed to contribute anything to his understanding of God and His inscrutable ways (13:1-2). Job desires to have a direct audience with the Almighty so that he might argue his case before Him (13:3). Job must appeal to God directly because his companions have shown themselves to be “worthless physicians” (13:4).

3. What charge does Job bring against his friends in chapter 13 verses 7-12 (printed below?)

Will you speak unjustly on God’s behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him? (8) Will you show partiality toward him? Will you argue the case for God? (9) Will it turn out well for you when he examines you? Can you deceive him as you deceive men? (10) He will surely rebuke you if you secretly show partiality. (11) Will not his majesty terrify you? Will not his dread fall upon you? (12) Your maxims are proverbs of ashes! Your defenses are defenses of clay! (Job 13:7-12)

By supplying superficial answers (namely, that God always and immediately punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous in this world), answers that do not address and do not explain the moral anomalies of life (as presented in 12:4,6), Job’s friends have spoken “unjustly on God’s behalf” (13:7). In an effort to defend God’s righteous character, they have shown “partiality toward him” (13:8a), as though the Almighty in His majestic greatness needed anyone to “contend” for Him (13:8b). Job charges his friends with seeking to deceive God (13:9), doing so by “secretly” showing “partiality” (13:10). Job’s friends appear to be objective champions of truth and justice, when in fact they are prejudiced against Job—refusing to even consider his claim to innocence for fear that if they do acknowledge Job’s innocence that fact will call into question God’s justice, for it will raise the question: If God is just, how can He do this to an innocent man? So, in order to “defend” God’s justice, the friends are prejudiced against Job. Here is Job’s testimony: because God is absolutely just, He condemns the effort on the part of Job’s friends to “defend” Him by being prejudiced against Job and thereby failing to abide by the standard of strict, impartial justice. Thus, despite his present intense spiritual struggle, Job continues to display a deep reverence for God, acknowledging His absolute justice and His inscrutable greatness. (13:7-12)

4. Job desires “a personal interview” with God, but what is his concern? See chapter 13 verses 13-15 (printed below.)

Be silent! Let me speak!—then whatever happens to me, let it happen. (14) Why do I put my flesh between my teeth and take my life in my hands? (15) If he desires to slay me, I have no hope. Nevertheless, I will defend my ways before him. (Job 13:13-15)

Job exhorts his friends, “Be silent!” Then, partially addressing them and partially addressing God, he says, “Let me speak! —then whatever happens to me, let it happen” (13:13). In his present state, Job possesses no confidence that the Lord will receive him without destroying him; in approaching God he views himself as putting his flesh between his teeth and taking his life in his hands (13:14). He views his endeavor to approach God as self-destructive, for how can a mortal man—indeed, one who is sinful by nature—stand in the presence of the Almighty? Job expects the worst, “If he desires to slay me, I have no hope” (13:15a). Nevertheless, despite his doubts and apprehension, Job is determined to defend his ways before God (13:15b)—this determination is based upon his confidence in the covenantal faithfulness and integrity of God (13:16-19). Job knows that a godless man cannot stand before God (13:16b), and he is certain that he is not a godless man.

5. As he apprehensively prepares to approach God, what two things does Job request of the Almighty? See chapter 13 verses 20-21 (printed below.)

Only spare me from two things, O God; then I need not hide from your face. (21) Remove your hand far from me and do not let your dread terrify me (Job 13:20-21)

Job requests that God would remove His hand far from him (13:21a). This is a request that God would suspend the afflictions to which He has subjected Job. Job further requests that God would not let His dread terrify him (13:21b). Here is a plea that God would spare Job from a direct encounter with the awesome fullness of God’s divine presence (cp. Revelation 1:17a, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man.” Such was John’s experience when he encountered Christ on the Isle of Patmos.)