Job says that no doubt wisdom will die along with Zophar. However, he understands things, too. Though he used to be considered just and blameless, someone with insight from God, he’s now a laughingstock. He complains that robbers and people who provoke God enjoy peace.
Job replies to Zophar with notable sarcasm, snidely undercutting his friend’s declarations about so-called wisdom. This gets to the heart of the friends’ conflict: they stubbornly insist that Job must be guilty of wrongdoing; at the same time, Job is upset that his friends aren’t addressing what he sees as the core issue—that when he looks at his own experience, he sees a world in which good people suffer for no apparent reason, while the guilty prosper. This is the longest of Job’s responses to his friends in the book, pointing to his growing frustration with them.
But everyone—even animals, birds, and fish—knows that it’s God who does this—all living things, including the breath of every human, is in God’s hand. God has wisdom and strength, and what he tears down, nobody can rebuild. Both “deceived and deceiver” belong to him. He even “makes fools of judges,” “overthrows the mighty,” and “pours contempt on princes.” God both establishes and destroys nations. He takes away light from leaders, so that they stagger around as if drunk.
In this section, Job broadly describes God’s providence—his oversight and care of all of creation. With this broad scope—from the natural world to the heights of human power—Job implies that his friends take too narrow a view of God. While they correctly assert God’s wisdom and justice, they also assume that they understand how those divine attributes apply in all situations. Job suggests that his friends understand less than they assume.