Job's knowledge not inferior to that of his friends: vv. 1-5.
1 And Job answered and said,
Following the first words uttered by Zophar in ch. 11, which proved to be a far more stinging attack on Job than what had previously been said, Job takes his time in answering...*
2 No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.
Zophar's air of superiority aroused the ire of Job*
Job becoming fed up with his friend's denunciations resorts to irony. Friends were imputing iniquity to Job falsely (Luke 6:37). We must not be guilty of judging men's hearts only the Lord can do this.
3 But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these?
These were the early days when knowledge of Elohim was common among the people - compared to the total darkness and ignorance of the present day.
4 I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon Eloah, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn.
5 He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.
...those who seem to be prospering are continually looking for the godly to slip...compare Asaph in Psa. 73:2 and also read v. 17*
"Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end".
How easy it is for such a godly person to be humbled, and Job was learning the hard lesson*
When we ourselves are in comfort - beware not to despise the poor and needy
6 The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke El are secure; into whose hand Eloah bringeth abundantly.
The wicked prosper in spite of the dogma of his friends*
Yahweh omnipotent in all creation
7 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:
Job considers the almighty power and wisdom of Yahweh.
From those premises he proceeds to show that he has thought on the problem more deeply than his friends (cp. ch. 13:1-2), but now desires to set his own case personally before God. God is just, so that there must be an answer to his problem (ch. 13:3-13).*
9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of Yahweh hath wrought this?
10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.
THE PROPRIETORSHIP OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT
The spirit of a man is truly his own spirit while he exists; but there is a higher sense in which it is not his, but the Almighty's.
"In whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways."-(Dan. v, 23.)
"In Him we live and move, and have our being."-(Acts xvii, 28.)
It is in opposition to immortal-soulism that we quote these passages, and have alleged the human spirit to be God's property, and not man's.
This theory [which is of pagan origin,] represents the spirit as the entity, the person, the man, and the body as something possessed. The scriptures on the other hand speak of the spirit as a thing possessed by the body, which is the man.
"The spirit of God is in my nostrils."-(Job xxvii, 3.)
"He formeth the spirit of man within him."-(Zec. xii, 1.)
"Receive my spirit."
All of which phraseology, be it observed, is scripturally applicable to the brute creation. This is the strong point of the argument. Orthodoxy claims the statements quoted as proofs of immortal-soulism; but if the claim is good, it proves that animals have immortal souls; for of them we read "they (men and beasts) have one breath." (spirit; the same word)-(Eccl. iii, 19).
"In all their nostrils (fowl, cattle, beast, creeping thing, and every man) is the breath of life."-(Gen. vii, 22). "Thou takest away their (the beasts') breath (spirit: the same word): they die."-(Psalm civ, 29.)
Neither men nor beasts have, nor are, immortal souls. They are ephemeral forms of life, organised from the dust, and sustained in being by the great spirit which proceeds from the Father of all creation, and fills the universe. There will, in due time, be imperishable forms of life on the earth. Immortality has been brought to light by Jesus Christ through the gospel, (2 Tim. i, 10.) and all who believe, and to the very end obey in all things the gospel, will be raised from the dust, and receive the glorious gift by spirit effused upon them.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, Dec 1867. p317