Throughout the book, Job has very little to cling to besides a hope for the end of his current suffering. Each of his three friends expounds on hope, drawing three similar but increasingly brutal conclusions. Eliphaz realizes Job is basically a righteous man, so he encourages Job to take hope in the person he already is; somehow his own righteousness will manage to save him. Bildad adds to Eliphaz’s conclusion, claiming that wicked men cannot hope; they are left with only despair. Zophar, the most unabashedly honest of the three men, believes hope exists only for the righteous; and since Job is obviously a sinful man, he is hopeless until he changes. Fortunately, all three “wise” men are ultimately wrong. Hope is a product of trusting God and is not based on anyone’s actions, wicked or otherwise.
12 In responding to his friends’ collective accusation of his guilt, Job finally spoke.
2 Job (sarcastically to his friends): Surely, surely, my discerning friends, you are the ones!
And when you pass away, the sum total of all wisdom will perish from the earth.
3 I have a mind as good as yours.
Don’t think I am so far beneath you!
After all, who doesn’t know all about these things?
Who isn’t acquainted with the pedestrian platitudes you’ve trotted out?
4 As for me—the one who called upon God and whom God answered—
now, I am pitiful, laughable, a just and upright joke.
5 Those who have it easy may easily scorn the unfortunate;
they have their contempt already prepared for those whose feet slip.
6 Ironically, there is peace inside the tents of the raiders,
and those who upset God seem to live safe and secure;
They carry their gods around in their hands.
7 However, call on the animals to teach you;
the birds that sail through the air are not afraid to tell you the truth.
8 Engage the earth in conversation; it’s happy to share what it knows.
Even the fish of the sea are wise enough to explain it to you.
9 In fact, which part of creation isn’t aware,
which doesn’t know the Eternal’s hand has done this?
10 His hand cradles the life of every creature on the face of the earth;
His breath fills the nostrils of humans everywhere.
11 Listen! Aren’t we made to be discriminating:
our ears testing wisdom, our mouths tasting food?
Shouldn’t wisdom come with old age? Not necessarily. Only God has wisdom; we merely fool ourselves into thinking we are wise.
12 But you tell me, “With age comes wisdom,
and a long life grants understanding.”
13 With God is the sum total of all wisdom and of all power;
His is the greatest of plans and the deepest of comprehensions.
14 So, then, what God tears down cannot be built back up;
the man He shuts up cannot be released.
15 If God withholds the rains and stops the streams from flowing, the earth suffers drought;
if He unleashes too much, the lands are ravaged by flood.
16 He is strong, and sound wisdom belongs to Him:
whether one deceives or is deceived, he is under God’s control.
17 He leads the counselors off as captives, barefoot and stripped;
He makes a mockery of judges.
18 He strips off the royal sashes of kings
and ties them at the waist, making them slaves as well.
19 He leads the priests away barefoot
and defeats the long-incumbent men of power.
20 He robs trusted advisors of speech;
He steals discretion from elders.
21 He heaps contempt on rulers,
and loosens the bind of alliances among world powers.
22 Aspects of His deep wisdom that were hidden away,
He shows in plain sight;
darkness is brought into the light.
23 He builds the strength of nations, only to crush them—
increases their population across the earth, only to scatter them again.
24 He divests each nation’s leaders of understanding,
and causes them to wander aimlessly with nowhere to go,
25 Until finally they grope in the dark, the light having departed,
and He lets them stumble and stagger like drunks.