Job calls on his friends to stop speaking and to listen to his defense (verse 66“Please hear my argument
And listen to the contentions of my lips.
). He asks them to pay sincere attention to his defense. He is in great suffering, but has not lost his mind. He knows what he is saying and can defend himself with reasonable arguments against their accusations. Listening to someone requires a great deal of self-denial if you really think you have the answer already. Really listening and trying to understand the other is a task and an assignment. It prevents a hasty assessment and gives the other the feeling of acceptance. Job feels rejected by his friends and not taken seriously.
Job warns them of the injustice of their actions (verse 77“Will you speak what is unjust for God,
And speak what is deceitful for Him?
). They act as if they are speaking right about God, or they are repeating after God in the right way. But in reality they speak injustice of God. They present Him as One Who punishes only evil men. Job is punished, so God sees Job as an evil man. They also speak what is deceitful for God by treating Job in His light as a hypocrite, a sneaky sinner. But Job is not.
He sees his friends as ‘accomplices of God’, because they take sides with God (verse 88“Will you show partiality for Him?
Will you contend for God?
). God is against him and so are his friends. God punishes him too heavily, he thinks. The misery in which God immerses him is disproportionate to his transgressions, he believes. His friends, he experiences, put themselves on God’s side and are deaf to his defense. They assume that he is wrong and that God is right to punish him. Their view of God is that God makes man suffer exactly to the measure of what he deserves. Whatever Job brings against that, it is as they see it. The pain they add to Job’s suffering is proof that they are not ‘defending’ God in the right way.
God, speaking with respect, is not waiting for anyone to take sides with Him and pursue His trial. In His Word, God forbids partiality (Deu 10:1717For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of Lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.). He doesn’t need or want anyone for His trial. Whoever thinks he should help God, has a high opinion of himself. To witness to Him is not the same as to bring Him in to prove us right. In the latter way the friends talk to Job about God. They believe that they know exactly how God looks at Job. If he agrees with them now, God can start blessing him again, they think. What they don’t realize is that they present God to Job in a completely wrong way. God’s judgment of their speaking is that they have not spoken correctly about Him (Job 42:88Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you [according to your] folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”).
How important it is that we speak about God in the right way! Our knowledge of God should not prove itself in making theologically correct statements, but in a living relationship with Him. We may and must involve Him in all things of life. This can only happen in a sound, balanced way if we take Scripture as the norm and not our own opinion. We will therefore be correctable if it turns out that we have misunderstood something. The awareness that God really is God will keep us from forming an idea of God from theological knowledge and from that idea presenting God. That will help us to speak about God in the right way.
Job points out to his friends that God not only knows him, but also them (verse 99“Will it be well when He examines you?
Or will you deceive Him as one deceives a man?
). He points out to them their own failures, for which they apparently have no eye. They surely do not think that God, if He examines them, will find in them nothing to condemn? They cannot deceive Him, as they deceive human beings, their mortal fellows. We can hide our thoughts and motives from humans, but not from God. The friends have come to Job to place him in God’s light. In doing so, they have forgotten that they themselves come into that light as well. They measure broadly what is lacking in Job, but ignore the “looking to yourself” (Gal 6:11Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; [each one] looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.).
According to Job, the friends can count on God to punish them for secretly showing partiality (verse 1010“He will surely reprove you
If you secretly show partiality.
). They do not say it in so many words, but their words show that they are taking sides with God. Partiality is always wrong, whatever party it may be. Partiality is always done for one’s own sake. God is not a party you can prefer. Whoever takes sides for Him in the belief that it will benefit in any way, does not have to count on His support, but can count on His punishment (cf. Job 42:77It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.). God also sees it when it happens in secret or with hidden intentions. He always acts without regard for persons.
Job confronts his friends with the “majesty” or glory of God (verse 1111“Will not His majesty terrify you,
And the dread of Him fall on you?
). God is above all partiality, above everything and everyone. If the friends think of God in this way, doesn’t it frighten them and make them fear Him? This thought of Him should make them reluctant to say false things about Him.
By the way, this is something every preacher of God’s Word should think of. It is a great responsibility to pass on God’s thoughts. Whoever passes something on, orally or in writing, as in this commentary, as God’s thoughts or intent, must pray that he is preserved from giving his own interpretation of it. We also do not appreciate it when someone misuses or misquotes our words or misinterprets them. But when it comes to God’s words, we sometimes handle them with great ‘smoothness’. That should not be the case. We may not understand something (cf. 2Pet 3:1616as also in all [his] letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as [they do] also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.). Then let’s be honest about it.
The friends have given their opinions. They haven’t said anything new. For Job they are memories of what he already knew (verse 1212“Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes,
Your defenses are defenses of clay.). It does not appeal to him at all. All their spells are words with as much basis or grip and value as “ashes”, so none at all. Such words have no effect, they have no effect at all. Their response to what he himself has said is also of no value. It is just as easy to overthrow as something made of “clay”. Nor does it offer any firmness when struck, but it breaks to pieces.