Job 21 Commentary

Job 21 Commentary

Job has been very polite and humble in his arguments. Not anymore. He takes Zophar’s speech and shreds it to pieces in one of the finest arguments in the entire book.

Zophar had said: “the mirth of the wicked is brief.” Job takes this very fact and points to yet another undeniable fact: “they spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.” We are talking about the wicked. Both statements are true. What does Zophar have to say about this?

Job then sarcastically mocks the nature of justice that the friends have imputed on God. Why should the children of the wicked man get the punishment of their father? Let the punishment fall on the man himself. Being wicked, such a man won’t consider it as a punishment since he won’t probably care about the fate of his own children. He is selfish and cares for himself only.

In this chapter, Job has shown his friends, including us, just how difficult it is to define divinity using tools of human reasoning. We can clearly see that the God that Zophar is talking about isn’t just at all.

Who can understand God? Can anyone teach knowledge to God? That is the reason why Job hasn’t addressed himself to his friends, but rather to the LORD, God Almighty. He wonders why the friends are answering questions that are not ‘directed to a human being’.

Job addresses another bitter fact. One person dies in full vigor, completely secure, and at ease. According to Job’s friends, this is the fate of the righteous. Another dies in bitterness of soul – the fate of the wicked according to Job’s friends. Interestingly, both corpses lie side by side and are covered in worms. Eliphaz’s simple equation, Zophar’s logic, and Bildad’s philosophies are all too dull to represent the right picture of God’s love and justice. Their end product is a great injustice to the suffering righteous man and a great escape to the prosperous wicked man. They all end up at the grave.

Job’s friends have presented the grave as the final, grand, and comprehensive punishment for the wicked. But the righteous end up there also. Who would disagree with Job that the friends’ arguments are ‘nonsense’ and their answers are nothing but ‘falsehood’.

It is easier to be an observer rather than a participant in this very hot debate. But the Book of Job has a way of drawing the reader into the battle of thoughts. What is the point of life? Will it all end this way for me, regardless? The reader is however in a privileged position having read Job’s timeless statement: I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

To know that there is a Redeemer and that He will one day stand to Judge all is the greatest treasure of this book. Then the saint can yearn for a day when he will see Him.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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