Next, Zophar the Naamathite speaks. He asks if Job’s “babble” should go unanswered. Sure, Job claims he is innocent. But if God spoke, then Job would know the whole story. God actually punishes Job less harshly than Job deserves.
Beginning his first speech, Zophar doubles down on Job’s supposed sinfulness even more harshly than Bildad did. His word choice, like dismissing the earlier arguments as “babble,” suggests that tempers are rising among the disputants.
Can Job discern God’s wisdom? It is higher than heaven and deeper than Sheol, longer than the earth and broader than the sea. Who can hinder God’s judgment? Zophar tells Job that if he directs his heart the right way, he will reach out to God and abandon wickedness. Then he’ll be blameless and have nothing to fear. Misery will be just a memory. It’s the wicked who have no hope of escape and want to die of misery.
Though Job has been arguing for his innocence in conduct, Zophar seems to be focusing more on the correctness of Job’s beliefs—that is, he accuses Job of presumptuously believing God is treating him unjustly, which God doesn’t do to anyone. Ironically, though, Zophar assumes that it’s “wisdom” to associate suffering with wrongdoing in all cases, a stance that will be challenged later on. The poetic language of being “higher than heaven and deeper than Sheol” means that God’s wisdom is greater than the whole universe.