Job says he is not inferior to Zophar; he knows everything his friend knows. It’s God Job wants to speak to—even to “argue his case” with. Job accuses his friends of being liars and “worthless physicians.” They would be wiser if they kept silent! He tells them to listen to his reasoning. Will they presume to speak falsely on God’s behalf, assuming God won’t discover it? His friends’ claims are “proverbs of ashes.”
Job continues his self-defense speech against Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. He begins by continuing to criticize his friends’ poor counsel—quite harshly at that. He claims they’ve misdiagnosed his problem (“worthless physicians”) and, worse, they’ve spoken falsely of God. Their claims, then, are worthless, crumbling like ash.
Job calls for silence so that he can speak, no matter what happens to him as a result. Even if God kills him, he will defend himself before God. He knows he’ll be vindicated in the end. But first, he prays, begging God to “withdraw his hand” and stop terrifying him. He asks God to tell him his sin. Why does God hide his face from Job and treat him like an enemy? Will he continue to frighten Job like a “windblown leaf?”
Here Job moves from accusing his friends to directly addressing God, in a lengthy prayer that spans the next chapter and a half. He boldly appeals to God for the chance to defend himself and to understand what God holds against him. Job fears God, yet he doesn’t shrink from confrontation by God—suggesting that, in the end, Job is motivated by trust in God. In fact, he even accepts that death at God’s hand is preferable to keeping silent, because he believes that God will somehow make things right, as long as Job maintains his integrity.