Search Bible Outlines and commentaries




David Clines: The importance of this speech of Job, standing at the threshold between the first and second cycles, is marked by its length. It is the longest of all his speeches so far, and only his closing speech in chaps. 29–31 will be longer. At this position, the speech serves both as a first reply to the friends collectively and as the precipitating cause of the ensuing cycle of speeches. There are no compelling reasons for connecting the speech with the second cycle (as do most scholars) rather than with the first, and it is preferable to regard it (and similarly chap. 21) as transitional.

John Hartley: Job’s speech consists of two parts distinguished by the party addressed. In the first part Job defends his skill in wisdom as equal to his friends’ (12:1–13:17). In the second part he petitions God to try his case before the divine tribunal (13:18–14:22).

Warren Wiersbe: Zophar’s speech was a brief one, but Job took a long time to answer each of Zohar’s accusations. Job began with Zophar’s second accusation that Job had no knowledge of God (Job 11:5-12). Job affirmed that he had wisdom and understanding just as they did (Job 12). Then he replied to Zophar’s first accusation that Job was a guilty sinner (11:1-4). Job once again affirmed his integrity (Job 13). Job then closed his speech by challenging Zophar’s third point, that there was still hope (11:13-20). In Job 14, Job admits that his hope is almost gone.

Edward Gibson: Zophar’s speech has, perhaps not unnaturally, embittered Job more than anything that has yet been said, for not only has his guilt been assumed, as by the other speakers, but he has actually been told that he has come off better than he deserved. Hence in this next speech of his he turns upon his friends and pours scorn and sarcasm upon them. Their vaunted wisdom, of which they are so proud, is nothing more than the brute beasts could teach them. He himself knows everything that they have tried to tell him. They are ‘forgers of lies,’ and ‘physicians of no value,’ and had better hold their peace altogether. Then turning away from them, he determines at all costs to make his appeal to God and plead his cause before Him, either as defendant or plaintiff, he cares not which; and so, as if rehearsing his intended speech, he pleads his cause, once more expostulating with God for His treatment of him, complaining of the hopelessness of his condition, and contrasting his hapless fate with that of the trees of the forest. These, even when cut down, have something like a future life in store for them, for the young shoots spring up from their stock. If only there were anything like this for him, he could wait and be patient. But, as it is, he can have no hope, and thus falls back into despair.


“Then Job responded,”



Derek Kidner: In bitter sarcasm, Job suggests that his counsellors are too conceited. Their view of themselves is too inflated. . . In no way does he feel himself inferior to them for in his pain he has come to learn something that his friends do not know. He knows that it is possible in God’s way of things for a righteous man to suffer. It is not always true that the wicked are judged immediately (12:4-6). Even the animals and birds know it (12:7-9). This is a valuable lesson to learn; indeed it is the chief lesson of the book of Job. Learn it now and learn it well, the book seems to be saying to us, and you will spare yourself further pain.

A. (:2-3) Sarcasm Regarding Their Attitude of Superiority

“Truly then you are the people,

And with you wisdom will die!

3 But I have intelligence as well as you;

I am not inferior to you.

And who does not know such things as these?”

David Guzik: It is easy to hear the sarcastic and bitter tone of voice in Job. That tone was appropriately taken, because Job’s friends really had acted as if they were the people and if they had all wisdom.

David Clines: In speaking again after all his friends have addressed him, Job is directing himself to them all collectively, not to Zophar in particular. This speech begins with his comment on their collective wisdom. They have put themselves forward as purveyors of wisdom, but they have had nothing to teach Job.

John Hartley: Job reproaches the friends for their pride and insensitivity. Using plural forms, he addresses all of them. He is so upset with the friends that he resorts to scathing sarcasm. . . Job judges the friends’ superior attitude of belonging to the gentry to say that they think themselves to be the only people with whom wisdom resides, so much so that when they die the world’s storehouse of wisdom will be depleted. .

Sensing that Zophar has implied that he is lacking in wisdom, Job counters with the assertion that he is in no way inferior to (nāpāl) them. Indeed, what they speak is such common knowledge that their wisdom fails to offer him any insight into his sufferings.

Tremper Longman: After insulting them, he himself claims equal if not superior wisdom. We must remember that the disputations are really about who has wisdom. Wisdom is what is needed to diagnose Job’s problem and to determine the remedy. The three friends claim it and belittle Job’s wisdom, and vice versa. Here Job states that he has wisdom, not they.

B. (:4) Sarcasm Regarding His Humiliation as a Laughingstock

“I am a joke to my friends.

The one who called on God, and He answered him;

The just and blameless man is a joke.”

John Hartley: Job grieves over the depth of his humiliation. He identifies himself as one who continually called on God, a righteous [ṣaddîq] and blameless [tāmîm] man. He echoes here the description of his character found in 1:1, that he was blameless (tām) and upright (yāšār). But now he who was accorded the highest honor has become a laughingstock. The use of the imperfect I have become (ʾehyeh) underscores the change that has taken place in Job’s situation. Even his closest friends now mock him. No one likes to be laughed at, but in ancient times to become an object of public scorn was the worst possible disgrace.

Francis Andersen: vv. 4-6 — It is not clear how these lines serve as a transition from his opening rebuke to the main poem in verses 7–25. The point seems to be this. The friends’ wisdom has not explained the contradiction between Job’s condition (a just and blameless man, the victim of ridicule) and that of robbers who are at peace. The contrast is all the more extreme because Job has called upon God, whereas the robbers bring their god in their hand.

C. (:5-6) Sarcasm Regarding the Prosperity and Security of the Wicked

“He who is at ease holds calamity in contempt,

As prepared for those whose feet slip.

The tents of the destroyers prosper,

And those who provoke God are secure,

Whom God brings into their power.”

John Hartley: With a proverb Job reprimands the friends for their contemptuous attitude toward his misfortune. Their ridicule is the direct opposite of the compassion he expects from them. This proverb says that when a man at ease, i.e., safe from danger and rich in possessions, has contempt, not compassion, for anyone overcome by disaster, his ridicule strikes a mighty blow against him whose feet are slipping.

David Clines: What it means to be a laughingstock is now developed. The innocent Job is the butt of those secure in their piety, like the Zophar who has just now been busy picturing a future for the “converted” Job, a future when he will be secure, confident, and fearless (11:15–19; cf. also 8:13–15). For their security is grounded upon their convictions of exact retribution: they cannot be harmed, for they are righteous. And they maintain their security by instantly designating any sufferer an evildoer; if anyone suffers injury, that person deserves moral condemnation as well (“add insult to injury” is their principle); and if anyone is staggering beneath misfortune, that person is an apt target for censure (“strike him down” with social disapproval, for his misfortune has already marked him out as impious).

David Guzik: Now, it seemed to Job that his life and prior understanding was upside-down. Before, everything seemed to make sense – the righteous seemed to be blessed and the wicked seemed to be afflicted. Now, it is all different.

John Hartley: The third line [“Whom God brings into their power”] is difficult to interpret.

– It could be saying that these marauders carry God in their hands, for ancient travelers had pocket-size idols that they would take along with them on a journey. In that case this is a reference to the idolatry of the marauders.

– A second view, represented by Delitzsch, suggests that the gods in their hands are their swords. Since these bandits are ruthlessly successful, their swords have become their gods.

– A third alternative understands the line as saying that these marauders believe themselves to be as powerful as God. Therefore, they neither fear God nor see any need for him.

David Thompson: Job says it is easy for you guys to talk about how calamity is always a judgment of God while you sit on the sidelines free from calamity. It was easy for them to look down their noses and piously discuss how ones’ feet are slipping away into judgment from God, when life is sailing for you. They had their health and they had their wealth so it was easy for them to give their advice.



David Clines: Developing Gordis’s argument, I would suggest that these verses are not Job’s address to the friends but an ironic statement by him of what he imagines they have been saying to him, or might well say to him. . . The thrust of the verses would then be that the friends have a simplistic view of divine activity, conceiving God’s way of dealing with the world as obvious and well-known throughout creation (vv 7–9), and as a matter of traditional lore (v 12) that admits no novel adjustments to suit the whim of a theological parvenu like Job.

Elmer Smick: Now Job appeals to the experience of humanity and all creation to support his view that it makes no difference whether people are good or bad. God does not use morality as the basis for granting freedom from affliction. The issue over the problem of theodicy is joined, an issue every believer must eventually wrestle with. Job’s counselors are so superficial that they have not yet struggled with this difficult problem. Their thoughts on the subject are simplistic. Job considers their words bland and superficial, certainly not a worthy part of the wisdom of elders (vv.11–12). He has already accused them of serving tasteless food (thoughts; 6:6–7).

Tremper Longman: Job has asserted that the world works the opposite of the way the three friends imagine and argue. The wicked are not punished, and the innocent are not rewarded. Quite the contrary. They have argued in their wisdom for their view, and Job is countering with his wisdom, which perceives the world differently. As I have stated many times before, Job shares the friends’ retribution theology; that is, the world should work the way they describe, but it does not. That it does not indicates that the world is unfair.

In this debate, the three friends and Job support their arguments by calling on witnesses. In this section of his speech, Job appeals to the animal and natural world, on the one hand, and the aged, on the other hand, in a way that implies that they agree with his view of the universe.

A. (:7-8) Nature Testifies to Your Simplistic Counsel

“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;

And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.

8 Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you;

And let the fish of the sea declare to you.”

John Hartley: The strong adversative conjunction But (ʾûlām) indicates that Job is taking up a new subject. Here he exalts God as the creator of all and affirms that wisdom may be found by listening to the creatures God has created.

B. (:9-10) Nobody Denies God’s Sovereign Control

“Who among all these does not know

That the hand of the LORD has done this,

In whose hand is the life of every living thing,

And the breath of all mankind?”

David Clines: Job reproaches his friends by insinuating that they treat him as a mental defective or a moral delinquent, needing the most elementary lessons from the world of nature.

John Hartley: God sustains human life and directs human destiny. There is nothing that takes place on earth outside of his governance. All is incorporated into his purpose. With these words Job is questioning, without denying God’s sovereignty, the proposition that God immediately carries out retribution on all evildoers.

C. (:11) Naïve Counsel Fails the Discernment Test

“Does not the ear test words,

As the palate tastes its food?”

John Hartley: Just as the palate tastes food and decides whether it is savory or foul, so the ear tests words to ascertain what is reasonable or irrational, pleasing or discordant, true or false. The ear with its discriminating ability enables one to discern the credibility of words.

D. (:12) Novices in Life’s Experiences Have No Insight to Share

“Wisdom is with aged men,

With long life is understanding.”

David Clines: Some regard v 12 as the beginning of the hymn to the wisdom and might of God (vv 12–25), and in attributing v 12 to the persona of Job see it as the backdrop of v 13 (cf. GNB “Old men have wisdom, but God has wisdom and power”). This is not an impossible view, but it is not very probable to have Job conceding that the aged have wisdom, even if he is quick to assert that it is little by comparison with God’s. It is better to see v 13 as Job’s response in propria persona to the friends’ position represented in v 12.

Thomas Constable: Verse 12 may also be irony; this was not what Job believed. On the other hand, Job may have been quoting his friends or asking a rhetorical question: “Is wisdom with aged men …?” (NIV, TNIV, NRSV, NET2). Job then proceeded to show that God is the only truly wise Person (12:13)—in refutation of Bildad (8:8). Job mentioned several outrageous acts of God that demonstrate His mysterious wisdom (cf. chs. 38—41). He also pointed out God’s great power as seen in the processes of nature and the affairs of nations (12:14-21).



John Hartley: These lines laud God as the ultimate source of everything, light and darkness, good and evil, peace and calamity. God is superior to all in wisdom and understanding. As Lord of the universe, he governs the world wisely and mightily. All earthly potentates are subject to him. He gives them power and takes it away according to his pleasure. The very one he exalts he may bring down at his will. God is in control even of the darkness, bringing the hidden things to light. Nothing lies outside his power or beyond his wisdom. . .

In these verses Job focuses on God’s devastating power that appears to be used capriciously to curtail the activity of earth’s greatest potentates. God overwhelms them with devastating force, seemingly without reason. Thus Job implies that the reason for his troubles resides with God, not with himself.

Elmer Smick: He is saying that God’s actions are indeed mysterious and strange. Job cannot figure them out, but he knows as much about them as the others. In other words, Job believes the mystery is profound; and he is amazed that the “sages” would be so shallow (v.12). Job sees God so wise and powerful that he cannot be put in a box. He has sovereign freedom. Job illustrates this by drawing a word picture of the mystery of God’s acts in the history of humanity. God humbles great men and nations, showing himself to be the only truly sovereign being (vv.16–25). However, it is also true, as mentioned above, that Job emphasizes the negative use God makes of his wisdom and power. After all, he feels that God uses them against him with the same destructive consequences.

Derek Kidner: The hymn is inadequate as a full description of God’s purposes in this world. Even the pain is being woven into the tapestry of our life for our good and betterment (cf. Romans 8:28). This is something Job has yet to see.

A. (:13) True Wisdom and Power Belong to God

“With Him are wisdom and might;

To Him belong counsel and understanding.”

John Hartley: All aspects of wisdom—connoted by the four terms wisdom (hoḵmâ), might (ḡeḇûrâ), counsel (ʿēṣâ), and understanding (ṯeḇûnâ)—reside in God (cf. Isa. 11: 2). That is, God possesses both the wisdom to plan the best course of action and the might or power to carry out that course. In ancient Near Eastern myths the qualities of wisdom and power often resided in different gods. The strongest gods, not being the wisest, did things that often had terrible consequences. And since the wisest god was not the strongest, he could be rendered inept before the ferocity of the mighty gods and would have to resort to magic to counter their ill-conceived designs. But in the OT wisdom and strength are one in the true God. The following hymnic lines testify primarily to God’s power over all earthly leaders and nations with the inference that all of his mighty deeds are accomplished in wisdom and that no earthly ruler or nation is strong enough or wise enough to resist his purpose.

Francis Andersen: The long description of the activities of God given in verses 14–25 suggests that there is no discrimination between good and evil. While most of the examples illustrate God’s demolition of the achievements of men, the key thought seems to be that ‘the deceived and the deceiver are his’, equally (16b). In case this might suggest that God is whimsical, or a blind force, Job insists that God’s might is coupled with wisdom, counsel and understanding. There is an intelligent purpose. The acts are deliberate, even if man can barely see their meaning or moral justification.

B. (:14-15) Thwarting God’s Purposes Is Impossible – His Wisdom and Power Accomplish His Ends

“Behold, He tears down, and it cannot be rebuilt;

He imprisons a man, and there can be no release.

15 Behold, He restrains the waters, and they dry up;

And He sends them out, and they inundate the earth.”

David Clines: What gives this selection its potency is that all the scenes show God acting destructively, negatively or in the cause of chaos.

C. (:16-22) Turning Powerful People Upside Down is Consistent with God’s Wisdom and Power

1. (:16) God Acts Indiscriminately Against All People

“With Him are strength and sound wisdom,

The misled and the misleader belong to Him.”

2. (:17) God Frustrates Counselors and Judges

“He makes counselors walk barefoot,

And makes fools of judges.”

Tremper Longman: The next verse continues the thought when it says that God undermines the work of various leaders of the community whose purpose is to bring order and justice and health to the community. These include counselors who are plundered (perhaps of their good advice) as well as judges who are deluded. The latter need clear thinking to adjudicate matters of justice, but Job believes God confuses them so they cannot think clearly.

3. (:18) God Undermines the Majesty of Kings

“He loosens the bond of kings,

And binds their loins with a girdle.”

Francis Andersen: The emphasis is that all these great ones are puny figures in the fingers of God.

Tremper Longman: Perhaps this is an ancient saying with which we have lost touch, but it may mean that God can dishevel a king outwardly with the implied idea that he can do so mentally as well. That would fit in with the idea in this section that God damages the perceptions of counselors, judges, and so on.

4. (:19) God Humbles the Priests and the Secure Ones

“He makes priests walk barefoot,

And overthrows the secure ones.”

5. (:20) God Silences the Trusted Ones and the Elders

“He deprives the trusted ones of speech,

And takes away the discernment of the elders.”

Tremper Longman: God’s ravishing of leaders continues in the next two verses. He removes speech from trusted people, who would be able to give good advice. The lay leaders, the elders, are also injured in terms of their ability to provide help in making decisions (their discernment). The princes and the strong are also hurt by God’s power and wisdom. The former suffer a similar fate as kings who had their sashes loosened, though a different phrase is used.

6. (:21) God Vitiates the Nobles and the Strong

“He pours contempt on nobles,

And loosens the belt of the strong.”

7. (:22) God Brings Enlightenment and Light Out of Darkness

“He reveals mysteries from the darkness,

And brings the deep darkness into light.”

D. (:23-25) Transforming Order into Chaos and Destruction is Consistent with God’s Wisdom and Power

“He makes the nations great, then destroys them;

He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.

24 He deprives of intelligence the chiefs of the earth’s people,

And makes them wander in a pathless waste.

25 They grope in darkness with no light,

And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.”

John Hartley: God rules not only over mighty leaders but also over the great nations. They rise and fall at his command. He allows a people to become great and spread out; i.e., a nation increases its territory through diplomatic intrigue and conquest. But in time God sees to it that that nation falls in defeat and its people are dispersed. . .

The picture of God’s unchallengeable power is complete. He overthrows every hostile force and reigns supreme. A wise ruler, he exposes all the sinful ways and executes appropriate punishment against human rebellion by turning human-ordered society into chaos. Chaotic upheaval is the ultimate judgment against a community for its corporate sins.

David Clines: vs. 23 — Yet another form in which the chaos-creating power of God can be portrayed is here presented. In v 14 there were two destructive acts of God (he destroys, he imprisons) which cannot be reversed. In v 15 there were two mutually contradictory acts of God and their consequences. In vv 17–21 there was a simple succession of ten verbs describing his activity toward society’s leaders (eight or nine groups being specified). Here there are two sets of mutually contradictory acts, chiastically arranged, in reference to the same object, nations generally. He makes them great (or, numerous) but (then, or, equally) wipes them out of existence; he scatters them abroad, but (then, or, equally) guides them to a homeland.

Tremper Longman: In sum, Job argues that God has great wisdom and strength. However, he uses that to confuse, not to illuminate. He uses it to destroy, not to build up.

David Guzik: We sense that Job actually described himself, as this prominent man without understanding, a man wandering in a pathless wilderness, a man groping in the dark without light, and who staggered like a drunken man.

Peter Wallace: God is wise and powerful. He does what is right – but he is also the one who decides what is right! If you try to judge God by any human standard, you will speak wrongly about God. Conventional wisdom theology emphasized that those who do good are rewarded – and those who do evil are punished. But Job now suspects that conventional wisdom theology is on the wrong track. In fact, sometimes God’s wisdom runs directly contrary to “conventional wisdom.” The wisdom of the ages has nothing to say to a righteous man who has been made a laughingstock by God. Sometimes God’s will and desire is the opposite of what you would expect.



Adam Clarke:

– Job defends himself against the accusations of his friends, and accuses them of endeavoring to pervert truth, 1-8.

– Threatens them with God’s judgments, 9-12.

– Begs some respite, and expresses strong confidence in God, 13-19.

– He pleads with God, and deplores his severe trials and sufferings, 20-28.

A. (:1-12) Failure of the Counselors

Warren Wiersbe: They had such a rigid and narrow view of God, and such a prejudiced view of Job, that their whole “case” was a fabrication of lies. What would they do when God turned the tables and examined them? (See Rom. 14:1-13.) “Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay” (Job 13:12, NIV). What the three friends thought were profound statements of truth were only warmed-over ashes from ancient fires, clay pots that would fall apart. A good counselor needs much more than a good memory. He or she also needs wisdom to know how to apply the truth to the needs of people today.

Edward Gibson: All this absolute power of God Job knows quite as well as his friends (1, 2), and he longs to reason it all out with God (3). His friends are utterly incapable of helping him, and have shown them- selves wanting in straightforwardness (4), and if they value their reputation, they will be wise to hold their tongues altogether (5). Let them attend to his rebuke for the way in which they have lied on behalf of God (6-8), Who will certainly reject their advocacy and punish them (9-11). Why, even their best utterances are ‘proverbs of ashes,’ and their arguments crumble to pieces (12).

1. (:1-5) Decision to Turn Away from Worthless Counselors and Argue to God

a. (:1) No Blinders on My Discernment

“Behold, my eye has seen all this,

My ear has heard and understood it.”

b. (:2) No Deficiency in My Knowledge

“What you know I also know.

I am not inferior to you.”

c. (:3) No Limit on My Court of Appeal

“But I would speak to the Almighty,

And I desire to argue with God.”

David Clines: But in the end, what really matters to Job is not the truth in general about the divine character but the particular confrontation with God in which he, Job, is involved. Job’s uncovering of the divine cruelty has not been an end in itself, as if it were the exposé of an investigative theological journalist. It was undertaken primarily to demonstrate that his plight could not be ameliorated by recourse to hackneyed formulae of retribution, that the wisdom of the ages had nothing to offer a righteous man who had been made a laughingstock by God (12:4).

Francis Andersen: When Job says to his friends (the pronouns are plural), What you know, I also know, he is not only claiming to be their intellectual equal. He is also conceding that they have much common theological ground. But this is not enough for Job. He has still to find out how these truths apply to himself. This requires direct dealing with God. While argue my case has primary reference to the settlement of a legal dispute, the use of the same root in Isaiah 1:18 (where ‘let us reason together’ is God’s offer) includes the desire, not to win the suit, but to reconcile the offended party by sorting out the misunderstanding. Job is willing to confess to any sins that may be proved against him (13:23), but so far neither his memory nor his friends have done this. His own vindication and God’s will go hand in hand, but what he needs more is understanding of the ways of God through rational discussion. So far the friends have failed to supply the needed explanation (4–12). It must come from God.

d. (:4) No Value in Your Counsel

“But you smear with lies;

You are all worthless physicians.”

John Hartley: Before taking up his case with God, Job makes blatant charges against his comforters. He calls them whitewashers of lies, i.e., they smear (Heb. ṭāpal) the difficulties of explaining his plight with lies in order to make the tradition appear flawless. Their discourses have glossed over the hard facts of his innocent suffering, for they feel compelled to defend their cherished doctrines at his expense (cf. Ps. 119:69, which uses the same expression). Their pious mortar (cf. Heb. ṭāpēl) has been composed of lies. In defense of God they condemn Job. Their approach, unfortunately, is an ingrained human tendency. When faced with a perplexing problem, one often tries to get around it or to cover it over with some type of ideological explanation instead of honestly admitting the difficulties involved.

Because of their inability to face the hard facts, the friends have proved to be worthless physicians (rōpeʾîm). These charlatans are pictured as vainly daubing a sore with a useless salve. They merely go through the ritual in an effort to comfort the patient. At best they arouse false hope. The harsh tone of these accusations shows that the rift between Job and his friends is widening into an irreparable breach.

e. (:5) No Benefit to Your Words

“O that you would be completely silent,

And that it would become your wisdom!”

Tremper Longman: like a doctor who makes a misdiagnosis, they are worthless. They would do better to shut up. Here Job in essence calls the friends fools, and according to Prov. 17:28, the best recourse for fools is to keep their mouths shut, because they reveal their folly when they speak: “Even a dupe who keeps silent seems wise; those who keep their lips shut are smart.”

2. (:6-9) Defending God with Partiality and Deceit Puts You in Jeopardy

“Please hear my argument,

And listen to the contentions of my lips.

7 Will you speak what is unjust for God,

And speak what is deceitful for Him?

8 Will you show partiality for Him?

Will you contend for God?

9 Will it be well when He examines you?

Or will you deceive Him as one deceives a man?”

John MacArthur: vs. 7 – He accused them of using lies and fallacies to vindicate God when they asserted that Job was a sinner because he was a sufferer.

3. (:10-12) Divine Accountability Will Redress Your Worthless Counsel

“He will surely reprove you,

If you secretly show partiality.

11 Will not His majesty terrify you,

And the dread of Him fall on you?

12 Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes,

Your defenses are defenses of clay.”

John Hartley: vs. 12 — Job ends his complaint against the friends by renouncing their instruction. He states sarcastically that their arguments are buttressed by proverbs of ashes and their answers are answers of clay. Before the truth their wisdom will crumble like a ceramic pot.

Elmer Smick: Job’s argument in vv.6–12 has the following interesting twist. How dare his friends argue God’s case deceitfully and use lies to flatter God? Job warns them about lying even while they utter beautiful words in defense of God. If they are going to plead God’s case, they had better do it honestly. God will judge them for their deceit even if they use it in his behalf (vv.8–9).

B. (:13-17) Faith of Job in Turning to God

Warren Wiersbe: This is one of the greatest declarations of faith found anywhere in Scripture, but it must be understood in the context. Job is saying, “I will take my case directly to God and prove my integrity. I know I am taking my life in my hands in approaching God, because He is able to slay me. But if He doesn’t slay me, it is proof that I am not the hypocrite you say I am.”

1. (:13) Faith Shuts Out Worthless Chatter

“Be silent before me so that I may speak;

Then let come on me what may.”

2. (:14) Faith Assumes Risks

“Why should I take my flesh in my teeth,

And put my life in my hands?”

John MacArthur: A proverb meaning “Why should I anxiously desire to save my life?” Like an animal who holds its prey in its mouth to preserve it or a man who holds in his hand what he wants to secure, Job could try to preserve his life, but that was not his motive.

3. (:15) Faith Holds on to Hope

“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.

Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.”

4. (:16) Faith Anticipate Vindication

“This also will be my salvation,

For a godless man may not come before His presence.”

John Hartley: Job knows that only if he can dispute his case before God will he find salvation or deliverance (yešûʿâ) from suffering, ignominy, and God’s hostility. Since Job knows that there is no salvation outside God, he must win his deliverance from God. Thus he abandons the friends’ counsel to find restoration to prosperity through confession of sins. Job reasons that a godless man (ḥānēp) would never be permitted to come before God. Consequently, if God should give him an audience, that in itself would be proof of his innocence.

George Barton: In spite of all of Job’s sorrow and suffering and in spite of all the harsh things which in some moods he said about God, his faith in the unswerving justice of God remains. Even conduct which the orthodoxy of the day regarded as blasphemous would contribute to his salvation, he believed, because God is the God of truth and sincerity. This sublime confidence in the unswerving fairness of God is one of the fine touches of the poem.

5. (:17) Faith Demands a Hearing

“Listen carefully to my speech,

And let my declaration fill your ears.”