Job’s Reply to Zophar
Evidently Job’s anguish has subsided, and we see a beautiful picture of man resting in his God. The tossing is over. In the faith of the resurrection, his spirit has passed beyond the reach of his well-intentioned friends. The courtesy and restraint that should belong to a man who walks in fellowship with God has returned. He had gotten angry under Zophar’s accusations before, but now a calm, peacefulness returned the moment he remembered that God was permitting his friends to deal with him the way they have. Since his Vindicator was on high, a Living Redeemer, he would leave his case with Him. For the remainder of the discussion, he treats his visitors with marked courtesy and quiet dignity, and he does not beg for their pity or ask them to leave again. They had come with the intention of helping him, and as long as they wished to remain, he would talk with them.
How foolish I have been—Job possibly thought—why did I argue with these friends of mine? I saw from the beginning that they didn’t understand. I wish I had just silently left my case with God. They have looked up to me in the past, and believed that my walk with God was so secure that I would never be troubled. Why have I allowed their words to touch me, and foolishly wear away my spirit in trying to make them understand!
Job’s picture of the wicked
“Bear with me while I speak” Job courteously replies to Zophar—the one who had been anything but courteous to him—and then he meets him on his own ground. He will ignore the personal element in Zophar’s words, and will discuss the subject entirely apart from himself by first saying, “As for me, is my complaint directed to man, and if it were, why shouldn’t my spirit be troubled?” Job realizes very clearly that he is only human. Sure, he has walked with God, but why should he not feel trouble like other men?
In reply to Zophar, Job presents an entirely different picture of the “portion of the wicked,” showing that their punishment is not always in this world.
The wicked live and become mighty in power; they are not left without offspring, for their children are established before their eye; their homes are in peace, and the rod of God is not on them; their cattle increase; their children dance and sing; in short, they spend their days in prosperity and go to the grave quickly, and without much suffering, despite the fact they deliberately said to God, “Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?”
“You say their prosperity is not in their hands” Job argues, but, “how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out, and how often does calamity come on them?” It is true that “God stores up a man’s punishment for his sons,” because the sins of the fathers are passed onto the children and the consequence of sin goes on to the second and third and fourth generation. Nevertheless, as to outward prosperity in the things of this world, the wicked often “have more than their hearts could want. Are we, finite men, going to teach God how to deal with the world, seeing that He judges even the angels?”
The fact is we cannot trace the ways of God. Some men die peacefully when they are in the prime of life, and others die bitter and hateful, without ever enjoying anything in life. They lie in the grave, and the worm deals with each of them the same way. We can’t explain these things, or even theorize on them nor can we assert, in the face of facts, that the righteous invariably prosper and the wicked invariably suffer in this present world!
Job looks at himself again
After this calm reply to Zophar, Job reverts again to his personal position. There is no heat or tone of complaint in his language. He simply shows his friends that he understands their aim. “I know full well what you are thinking, the schemes by which you would wrong me. When you speak of the portion of the wicked you are saying to yourselves, ‘Where now is the great man’s house? And where is the tent that this wicked man lived in?’“
I know I have no tent, Job says. The once mighty prince has no place but the dunghill. But don’t you wise men understand that the “evil man is spared from the day of calamity” and is reserved for a future judgment, even the “day of wrath?”
You would-be comforters have tried to comfort me with vain reasoning that have no foundation in fact or scripture, and actual experience, he cries.
In your answers to all that I have said there has only been faithlessness; faithlessness in God’s faithfulness to His children and faithfulness in the integrity of my walk with Him. Therefore, you have failed to comfort me.
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