Chapter 12:1-12 (ESV) - Then Job answered and said:
“No doubt you are the people,
and wisdom will die with you.
But I have understanding as well as you;
I am not inferior to you.
Who does not know such things as these?
I am a laughingstock to my friends;
I, who called to God and he answered me,
a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock.
In the thought of one who is at ease there is contempt for misfortune;
it is ready for those whose feet slip.
The tents of robbers are at peace,
and those who provoke God are secure,
who bring their god in their hand.
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.
Does not the ear test words
as the palate tastes food?
Wisdom is with the aged,
and understanding in length of days.
Question to consider: How do times of difficulty help us to grow in our faith?
Even though there is no punctuation in Hebrew, I think Job’s sarcasm is pretty evident by his choice of words in his response to Zophar. After proclaiming that his friends were so wise and special that wisdom itself would die with them, Job feigned a sudden realization that he was not the son of a donkey like Zophar suggested in yesterday’s passage, but someone with his own understanding of the world that is every bit as wise as their own.
In Job’s understanding, he was shocked that his friends would mock him in his state of misfortune when he was pretty certain that God found him to be a just and blameless man. He pointed out that their ease at mocking his misfortune was only because they had never encountered such difficult times. He compared their ignorant contempt to the false peace experienced by robbers who got away with their crime thinking it was because they were blessed by the idol they held in their hand.
But as even the fish, beasts, and birds could attest, God sustains everything that still draws breath through times of blessing and difficulty. I think his point is similar to that of Jesus when He said of God, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)
In saying that wisdom is with the aged, I think Job was content with the fact that he may be an old man before he could gain some perspective and understanding of his circumstances. I know that the longer I have walked with Christ, the more I can look back and see where my faith has been refined in the fires of adversity. This knowledge and experience helps me to be able to face whatever God has in store for me, and the Holy Spirit uses it to draw me closer to God and burn away my desire for the things of this world.
Dear heavenly Father, we pray for wisdom and insight in the midst of our difficulties so that through them we may grow in our faith and love of Christ. Please help us to use our experiences to be a source of strength and support to others. Amen.