Things have really started to go downhill as Job’s friends became increasingly defensive and accusing. Job started by telling his friends (again) what the effect of their words were:
19:2 How long will you torture me? How long will you try to crush me with your words?
And begged for mercy:
21-22 “Have mercy on me, my friends, have mercy, for the hand of God has struck me. Must you also persecute me, like God does? Haven’t you chewed me up enough?
Realising there was no mercy from anyone there, Job threw himself back onto God’s mercy:
19:25-27 But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!
In that light, Job pointed out the implications of his friends’ words:
19:28-29 “How dare you go on persecuting me, saying, ‘It’s his own fault’? You should fear punishment yourselves, for your attitude deserves punishment. Then you will know that there is indeed a judgment.”
Sadly, rather than realising the distress he and his friends were causing Job, Zophar became defensive.
20:2-3 I must reply because I am greatly disturbed. I’ve had to endure your insults, but now my spirit prompts me to reply.
You would have to ask whether Zophar (or any of Job’s friends) had listened to a word Job said. Job, it seems, was asking the same question:
21:2-3 “Listen closely to what I am saying. That’s one consolation you can give me. Bear with me, and let me speak. After I have spoken, you may resume mocking me.
Job then said something that I suspect a lot of people want to say to similarly unsympathetic “friends” in a time of crisis:
21:34 “How can your empty clichés comfort me? All your explanations are lies!