Job Replies: The Wicked Do Prosper
21 Then Job answered and said:
“Keep listening to my words,
and let this be your comfort.
Bear with me, and I will speak,
and after I have spoken, mock on.
As for me, is my complaint against man?
Why should I not be impatient?
Look at me and be appalled,
and lay your hand over your mouth.
When I remember, I am dismayed,
and shuddering seizes my flesh.
Why do the wicked live,
reach old age, and grow mighty in power?
Their offspring are established in their presence,
and their descendants before their eyes.
Their houses are safe from fear,
and no rod of God is upon them.
Their bull breeds without fail;
their cow calves and does not miscarry.
They send out their little boys like a flock,
and their children dance.
They sing to the tambourine and the lyre
and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.
They spend their days in prosperity,
and in peace they go down to Sheol.
They say to God, ‘Depart from us!
We do not desire the knowledge of your ways.
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’
Behold, is not their prosperity in their hand?
The counsel of the wicked is far from me.
“How often is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out?
That their calamity comes upon them?
That God distributes pains in his anger?
That they are like straw before the wind,
and like chaff that the storm carries away?
You say, ‘God stores up their iniquity for their children.’
Let him pay it out to them, that they may know it.
Let their own eyes see their destruction,
and let them drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
For what do they care for their houses after them,
when the number of their months is cut off?
Will any teach God knowledge,
seeing that he judges those who are on high?
One dies in his full vigor,
being wholly at ease and secure,
his pails full of milk
and the marrow of his bones moist.
Another dies in bitterness of soul,
never having tasted of prosperity.
They lie down alike in the dust,
and the worms cover them.
“Behold, I know your thoughts
and your schemes to wrong me.
For you say, ‘Where is the house of the prince?
Where is the tent in which the wicked lived?’
Have you not asked those who travel the roads,
and do you not accept their testimony
that the evil man is spared in the day of calamity,
that he is rescued in the day of wrath?
Who declares his way to his face,
and who repays him for what he has done?
When he is carried to the grave,
watch is kept over his tomb.
The clods of the valley are sweet to him;
all mankind follows after him,
and those who go before him are innumerable.
How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.”
Job 21 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Suffering reveals many things to us. It pulls back the reality of where our trust is. It shows how we cope. It breaks down and drives our thoughts toward the things that matter even. For some who suffer, that discovery is their heart is tied deeply to this world. Even as Believers, we can have this moment of truth.
I remember a lady several years ago who had been a Believer for most of her life. She was diagnosed with cancer. She was an older woman who had lived for Jesus and truly had a full life. The interesting thing that happened though with this announcement of cancer, she fell apart. She began to question everything. She wept and wept as for her in this struggle she did not want to leave this earth.
I must say, I was baffled by this and to some degree still am. On many fronts she was given a life expectancy as to when her days would come to an end. As it played out, the doctors were fairly on cue with the timing. The sadness that overtook her rattled me. I want to be clear, I am not making a judgment on her. I was simply caught so off guard with the reality that she who had lived for Jesus, wasn’t evidently ready to leave things behind here.
It’s hard to come to many conclusions on this as I myself have never been in her shoes. What I can state though is if I knew a time frame of when my life would be over – man I would live toward that end and do all within my power to make a difference and as they say ‘tie things up’ while still alive. For me, this life at times is not all fulfilling. There are times it is for sure, but there is a deep part of me that wants to be complete and whole in Jesus through eternity.
As Job responds back to these friends as he feels they’ve not been listening, he makes this statement.
“Can anyone teach knowledge of God since He judges even the highest?”Job 21:22
Job is completely baffled by the suffering he has endured. This is evident throughout all of his speeches and retorts. The ways in which we respond the personal struggles and hardships of our lives reveal in the end our understanding and attitude of God. For many they become enraged and angry with it all directed at Him. It’s a dire situation – often more dire than the real struggle of which we have. For what we need is to trust in Him despite. And we don’t learn this trust except through experience. That is the truth. Experience is what reveals the character of God and His ways. Often not learned until well after the fact, it is something in the making of our character.
There are many times it’s difficult to see God in control of what we are facing. But as we are reminded so often, He is still in control and is still working. And some of that work is in you, even while suffering.
Job 21 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Job thoroughly rejects the doctrine of retribution and he draws from common knowledge to do so. Throughout these chapters, Job’s friends have questioned him, and he has responded. Up until this point, he hasn’t really broken down his opponents’ theories, but rather, professed his innocence. Here in Job 21, he goes on the attack.
He starts with a very simple equation. His friends believe he is being punished because he is wicked. Job follows that claim, and applies it to how the world actually works — and he finds the flaw.
Why do the wicked continue to live, growing old and becoming powerful? 8 Their children are established while they are still alive, and their descendants, before their eyes.Job 21:7-8 HCSB
They spend their days in prosperity and go down to Sheol in peace. 14 Yet they say to God: “Leave us alone! We don’t want to know Your ways.Job 21:13-14 HCSB
Job lands on a familiar but certain truth. There are many people who reject God but live peaceful, comfortable lives. It’s a fact! You probably know someone like this. So, what does that mean for him, and what does it mean for us today? For Job, it was a powerful statement demolishing the doctrine of retribution that his friends held to so dearly. It affirmed that the mystery of God cannot be simplified and summed up in a nice, neat package.
For us, the same thing is true. The prosperity Gospel has taken suffering out of the mix for Christians today and replaced it with earthly blessings. For some reason, they think that the things of this world bring more joy than truly knowing and following Jesus. It’s the same false teaching in a slick, new package. Whether it’s the prosperity Gospel, or the “bad people go to Hell / good people go to Heaven” mentality, you could definitely say we have adopted shades of this false doctrine.
God is concerned with your health and wealth. That’s why he died to save us from our sin and prepared a place in eternity for us where flawless bodies and abundant blessings await. To desire earthly treasures instead of what God has prepared for us in His kingdom is like making a home in a trash dumpster instead of waiting for our mansion to be built.
This life is temporary, but it’s not easy. It’s filled with suffering and hardships, many of which become intensified as we walk closer to Jesus. But that does not mean it is without blessing! We must live for the unseen world, and seek to show that to as many as we can here in our temporary lives.
A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.James 1:12 HCSB
Let’s be a people who pass the test and receive the crown of life!