Job 20

Job 20

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Zophar Speaks: The Wicked Will Suffer

20 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:

  “Therefore my thoughts answer me,
    because of my haste within me.
  I hear censure that insults me,
    and out of my understanding a spirit answers me.
  Do you not know this from of old,
    since man was placed on earth,
  that the exulting of the wicked is short,
    and the joy of the godless but for a moment?
  Though his height mount up to the heavens,
    and his head reach to the clouds,
  he will perish forever like his own dung;
    those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’
  He will fly away like a dream and not be found;
    he will be chased away like a vision of the night.
  The eye that saw him will see him no more,
    nor will his place any more behold him.
  His children will seek the favor of the poor,
    and his hands will give back his wealth.
  His bones are full of his youthful vigor,
    but it will lie down with him in the dust.
  “Though evil is sweet in his mouth,
    though he hides it under his tongue,
  though he is loath to let it go
    and holds it in his mouth,
  yet his food is turned in his stomach;
    it is the venom of cobras within him.
  He swallows down riches and vomits them up again;
    God casts them out of his belly.
  He will suck the poison of cobras;
    the tongue of a viper will kill him.
  He will not look upon the rivers,
    the streams flowing with honey and curds.
  He will give back the fruit of his toil
    and will not swallow it down;
  from the profit of his trading
    he will get no enjoyment.
  For he has crushed and abandoned the poor;
    he has seized a house that he did not build.
  “Because he knew no contentment in his belly,
    he will not let anything in which he delights escape him.
  There was nothing left after he had eaten;
    therefore his prosperity will not endure.
  In the fullness of his sufficiency he will be in distress;
    the hand of everyone in misery will come against him.
  To fill his belly to the full,
    God will send his burning anger against him
    and rain it upon him into his body.
  He will flee from an iron weapon;
    a bronze arrow will strike him through.
  It is drawn forth and comes out of his body;
    the glittering point comes out of his gallbladder;
    terrors come upon him.
  Utter darkness is laid up for his treasures;
    a fire not fanned will devour him;
    what is left in his tent will be consumed.
  The heavens will reveal his iniquity,
    and the earth will rise up against him.
  The possessions of his house will be carried away,
    dragged off in the day of God’s wrath.
  This is the wicked man’s portion from God,
    the heritage decreed for him by God.”


Job 20 Commentary

by Hank Workman

Ray Bradbury’s novel turned film, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” involves a traveling carnival, a small Midwestern town, two 13-year-old boys who are drawn to lights of the rides and a very mysterious person known as Mr. Dark who is the carnival leader.  This man holds strange powers to grant people their most secret of desires.  He gives them what they want but what they don’t realize is once they’ve given him the authority to answer their desires, he owns them.

Like the story of the Prodigal Son who was drawn toward the Far Country, the lights of the carnival drew these two young boys in where it is revealed the conflicting nature each of us have between good and evil and hidden desires.

Zophar feels it is his time to respond back to Job’s accusations.  Incensed as he was called out on his own inner beliefs about Job, he speaks in poetry fashion at one point of evil within the heart.  His accusations of course are wrong concerning Job but there are strands of truth spoken.

Sin can seem so enjoyable and attractive as it draws us in to do things our inner desires speak toward.  Many times there is a temporary fulfillment but it does not last.  Sometimes in our own lifetime we don’t witness the effects even of the sin.  Obviously there are some who give way to their own desires of pride, lying, stealing and so forth that never really ‘catches up with them’; at least from an observers perspective.

Zophar states:

“The triumph of the wicked is short and the joy the godless momentary…”

Job 20:5

What is being stated is that many times punishment for sin can be deferred in this lifetime but in the end God has the last word.  The ‘wins’ of this life are passing when it comes to the reality of eternity and the final judgment of God.

The inner conflict between good and evil, choosing to do right or justifying our wrong is something we all battle daily.  The thought for this day is to consider the eternal weight of our own decisions.  If we or someone we know is currently in the Far Country as was the Prodigal Son, the turning point was a coming to his senses and realizing how far he had fallen. We need that, the people we are burdened for need such an event.  Pray toward that end.  God’s grace is far reaching and covers everything we have done, all the messes we have made.  He can and will lead us back but it begins with a realization of where we are and then a willingness to walk in humility back to His arms of mercy.

Job 20 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

The cruel misjudgment of man stems from an ignorant and arrogant attitude. I’ve written this many times over in this series on Job, but it remains true – his friends understood truth, but misunderstood their application of it. I would argue that of all his friends, Zophar misunderstood Job the most.

He really has no foundation for grace. To his credit, the grace of Jesus is offensive and foreign to our natural selves. It makes absolutely no sense. Zophar believes that the wicked will always be punished by God because He is righteous. He also believes the righteous will always be rewarded by God. Zophar has effectively taken the “mystery” out of God in an attempt to explain something he doesn’t know. Have you ever met anyone like this?

They seem to have an answer for every problem and situation. I admit, being the truth-seeker that I am, that I personally struggle with this. I want to know the “why” behind everything. There are some situations where I need to resolve that I do not and cannot completely understand the ways of God!

So, in an attempt to understand the “why,” and make it understandable to Job, Zophar lays out his simple, theological stance once again. Based on what we know about Jesus and the New Testament, let’s dig deeper into Zophar’s theology…

  • He was right to believe that there is a very real and tangible punishment regarding sin.
  • He was right to believe that the pleasures of sin are sweet but temporary.
  • He was wrong to universally apply this theology to Job’s particular case.
  • He was wrong to assume that the true penalty of sin was found in this life. (earthly consequences are different from eternal consequences).

Overall, what can we learn? I am reminded of what the Lord told Samuel when choosing a king.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7 HCSB

Zophar sees what is visible, but God sees the heart. We must not make the fatal mistake of judging in order to produce an answer for God’s mysterious ways. There is truth to what Zophar has said, but his truth means nothing to Job because of his application and delivery. Think about that! Where is your truth falling flat (or causing more damage) because you have not considered the application and delivery of your message? This is why we must approach others both the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

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