Most Western commentators and readers fail to grasp how thoroughly correct Job is in what he says. The primary disconnection is between the Western value system that insists life is precious. The people of the Ancient Near East lived in a tradition going back into prehistory that accepts mortality as a simple fact. They also accept the sheer unquestionable authority of even a great many earthly rulers to take the life of a subject on a whim, and it not be counted as sin. So for Job to suggest God might do things that weren’t just by human standards is not a accusation, but a simple acknowledgment of the truth. God’s standards are far above our own; He is not accountable to us, but we to Him.
Thus, Job launches into yet another attempt to show his visitors their fundamental error. It was an error common to those poorly educated, but men with a proper background had no excuse. We can only surmise Job’s buddies were ignorant. He strives to educate them. His argument is subtle; God does not need a particular cause to destroy any human life, nor any other portion of His Creation. These men are the blasphemers, insisting that God’s justice must make sense on a human level. They simply do not understand the fundamental truth of the Fall and how it created such an impenetrable barrier between us and God’s divine realm above. God is not rooted in this universe and is not subject to the limitations confining human existence.
Job begins by sarcastically agreeing with Bildad, then asks just what it is they are talking about. How do we address the question of God’s justice among men? It cannot be a question of justice on God’s terms. God is the Creator and no part of this universe can stand His Presence because it is all under the Fall. Nothing on this level of existence could hope to restrain His wrath against sin, since it is all under the judgment of sin, all set for eventual disposal.
So while Job stands pure as the driven snow on human terms of the revealed Laws of God (up to that point), it really does not remove him from the fate of this universe. And short of that final end, God can do what He pleases without fearing what men might think of His justice. There is no sin in pointing out that God is the author of Job’s misery because it’s not the same as saying He caused it. No human can hold God accountable. Standing before God, Job’s blameless behavior will not keep his own mouth from confessing there is no suffering imaginable that is not merely what fallen men deserve.
Job says that it’s all the same — life and death are not significantly different on this plane of existence. Our expiration is not necessarily tied to our observance of God’s revelation, nor is our suffering along the way to it. He says that God mocks our sense of tragedy simply because we refuse to understand, because clinging to this life is tantamount to rejecting His divine truth. God has His own agenda, one that He seldom bothers to explain. Should we suppose evil men rule nations without His permit? That would be stupidity. Thus, Job upbraids his friends for their shallow and legalistic thinking.
Job notes his life is of no significance in the grand scheme of God’s plans for this earth. It’s little more than the faint swishing of a reed boat on the river. He could pretend his life was all happy and fun, but even if that were true, mindless celebration would be irreverent. It would be a needless provocation against God’s justice with horrific results. No human effort can remove the full weight of the Fall. No one can stand truly just before God so as to have authority to argue with Him. Job refuses to blaspheme by pretending God is required to operate by the mythology of human justice. He also notes that there is at this point no Savior to intercede before God on his behalf.