I am as one mocked of his neighbor - Though I am invoking God for help and salvation, yet my friends mock me in this most solemn and sacred work. But God answereth me.
The just upright man is laughed to scorn - This is a very difficult verse, on which no two critics seem to be agreed. Mr. Good translates the fourth and fifth verses thus: -
"Thus brother is become a laughing-stock to his companions,
While calling upon God that he would succor him.
The just, the perfect man, is a laughing-stock to the proud,
A derision amidst the sunshine of the prosperous,
While ready to slip with his foot.
For a vindication of this version, I must refer to his notes. Coverdale gives at least a good sense. Thus he that calleth upon God, and whom God heareth, is mocked of his neighboure: the godly and innocent man is laughed to scorne. Godlynesse is a light despysed in the hertes of the rich; and is set for them to stomble upon. The fifth verse is thus rendered by Mr. Parkhurst: "A torch of contempt, or contemptible link, (see Isaiah 7:4; Isaiah 40:2, Isaiah 40:3;), לעשתות leashtoth, to the splendours of the prosperous (is he who is) ready (נכון nachon, Job 15:23; Job 18:12; Psalm 38:17;) to slip with his foot." The general sense is tolerably plain; but to emendations and conjectures there is no end.
I am as one mocked of his neighbour - There has been considerable variety in the interpretation of this verse. The general sense is, that Job felt himself to be a mere laughing-stock for his neighbors. They treated him as if he were not worth regarding. They had no sympathy for him in his sorrows, and they showed no respect for his opinions. Dr. Good understands this and the following verses as a part of the controversy in which Job proposes to show his skill in debate, and to adduce proverbs after the manner of his friends. But it is more probably an allusion to himself, and is designed to state that he felt that he was not treated with the respect which was due to him. Much difficulty has been felt in understanding the connection. Reiske contends that Job 12:2 has no connection with Job 12:3, and that Job 12:11-12, should be interposed between them. The connection seems to me to be this: Job complains that he was not treated with due deference. They had showed no respect for his understanding and rank. They had urged the most common-place topics; advanced stale and trite apothegms, as if he had never heard them; dwelt on maxims familiar even to the meanest persons; and had treated him in this manner as if he were a mere child in knowledge. Thus, to be approached with vague common-places, and with remarks such as would be used in addressing children, he regarded as insult and mockery.
Who calleth upon God, and he answereth him - This phrase has given occasion to great variety in the interpretation. Umbreit renders it, “I, who once called upon God, and he answered me;” that is, I, who once was a happy man, and blessed of God. Schultens renders it, “I, who call upon God,” that is, for trial, “and am ready to answer him.‘ Rosenmuller supposes that Job has reference to the assurances of his friends, that if he would call upon God, he would answer him, and that in view of that suggestion he exclaims, “Shall a man who is a laughing-stock to his neighbor call upon God, and will he answer him!‘ The probable meaning is, that he had been a man who had had constant communion with God. He had been a favorite of the Almighty, for he had lent a listening ear to his supplications. It was now a thing of which he might reasonably complain, that a man who had enjoyed such manifest tokens of the divine favor, was treated with reproach and scorn.