Zophar speaks of the short joy of the wicked. (1-9) The ruin of the wicked. (10-22) The portion of the wicked. (23-29)
Verses 1-9 Zophar's discourse is upon the certain misery of the wicked. The triumph of the wicked and the joy of the hypocrite are fleeting. The pleasures and gains of sin bring disease and pain; they end in remorse, anguish, and ruin. Dissembled piety is double iniquity, and the ruin that attends it will be accordingly.
Verses 10-22 The miserable condition of the wicked man in this world is fully set forth. The lusts of the flesh are here called the sins of his youth. His hiding it and keeping it under his tongue, denotes concealment of his beloved lust, and delight therein. But He who knows what is in the heart, knows what is under the tongue, and will discover it. The love of the world, and of the wealth of it, also is wickedness, and man sets his heart upon these. Also violence and injustice, these sins bring God's judgments upon nations and families. Observe the punishment of the wicked man for these things. Sin is turned into gall, than which nothing is more bitter; it will prove to him poison; so will all unlawful gains be. In his fulness he shall be in straits, through the anxieties of his own mind. To be led by the sanctifying grace of God to restore what was unjustly gotten, as Zaccheus was, is a great mercy. But to be forced to restore by the horrors of a despairing conscience, as Judas was, has no benefit and comfort attending it.
Verses 23-29 Zophar, having described the vexations which attend wicked practices, shows their ruin from God's wrath. There is no fence against this, but in Christ, who is the only Covert from the storm and tempest, ( Isaiah 32:2 ) . Zophar concludes, "This is the portion of a wicked man from God;" it is allotted him. Never was any doctrine better explained, or worse applied, than this by Zophar, who intended to prove Job a hypocrite. Let us receive the good explanation, and make a better application, for warning to ourselves, to stand in awe and sin not. One view of Jesus, directed by the Holy Spirit, and by him suitably impressed upon our souls, will quell a thousand carnal reasonings about the suffering of the faithful.
Job 20:1-29 . REPLY OF ZOPHAR.
2. Therefore--Rather, the more excited I feel by Job's speech, the more for that very reason shall my reply be supplied by my calm consideration. Literally, "Notwithstanding; my calm thoughts (as in Job 4:13 ) shall furnish my answer, because of the excitement (haste) within me" [UMBREIT].
3. check of my reproach--that is, the castigation intended as a reproach (literally, "shame") to me.
spirit of . . . understanding--my rational spirit; answering to "calm thoughts" ( Job 20:2 ). In spite of thy reproach urging me to "hastiness." I will answer in calm reason.
5. the hypocrite--literally, "the ungodly" ( Psalms 37:35 Psalms 37:36 ).
6. ( Isaiah 14:13 , Obadiah 1:3 Obadiah 1:4 ).
7. dung--in contrast to the haughtiness of the sinner ( Job 20:6 ); this strong term expresses disgust and the lowest degradation ( Psalms 83:10 , 1 Kings 14:10 ).
8. ( Psalms 73:20 ).
9. Rather "the eye followeth him, but can discern him no more." A sharp-looking is meant ( Job 28:7 , Job 7:10 ).
10. seek to please--"Atone to the poor" (by restoring the property of which they had been robbed by the father) [DE WETTE]. Better than English Version, "The children" are reduced to the humiliating condition of "seeking the favor of those very poor," whom the father had oppressed. But UMBREIT translates as Margin.
his hands--rather, "their (the children's) hands."
their goods--the goods of the poor. Righteous retribution! ( Exodus 20:5 ).
11. ( Psalms 25:7 ), so Vulgate. GESENIUS has "full of youth"; namely, in the fulness of his youthful strength he shall be laid in the dust. But "bones" plainly alludes to Job's disease, probably to Job's own words ( Job 19:20 ). UMBREIT translates, "full of his secret sins," as in Psalms 90:8 ; his secret guilt in his time of seeming righteousness, like secret poison, at last lays him in the dust. The English Version is best. Zophar alludes to Job's own words ( Job 17:16 ).
with him--His sin had so pervaded his nature that it accompanies him to the grave: for eternity the sinner cannot get rid of it ( Revelation 22:11 ).
12. be--"taste sweet." Sin's fascination is like poison sweet to the taste, but at last deadly to the vital organs ( Proverbs 20:17 , Job 9:17 Job 9:18 ).
hide . . . tongue--seek to prolong the enjoyment by keeping the sweet morsel long in the mouth (so Job 20:13 ).
14. turned--Hebrew denotes a total change into a disagreeable contrary ( Jeremiah 2:21 ; compare Revelation 10:9 Revelation 10:10 ).
gall--in which the poison of the asp was thought to lie. It rather is contained in a sack in the mouth. Scripture uses popular language, where no moral truth is thereby endangered.
15. He is forced to disgorge his ill-gotten wealth.
16. shall suck--It shall turn out that he has sucked the poison, &c.
17. floods--literally, "stream of floods," plentiful streams flowing with milk, &c. ( Job 29:6 , Exodus 3:17 ). Honey and butter are more fluid in the East than with us and are poured out from jars. These "rivers" or water brooks are in the sultry East emblems of prosperity.
18. Image from food which is taken away from one before he can swallow it.
restitution--(So Proverbs 6:31 ). The parallelism favors the English Version rather than the translation of GESENIUS, "As a possession to be restored in which he rejoices not."
he shall not rejoice--His enjoyment of his ill-gotten gains shall then be at an end ( Job 20:5 ).
19. oppressed--whereas he ought to have espoused their cause ( 2 Chronicles 16:10 ).
house--thus leaving the poor without shelter ( Isaiah 5:8 , Micah 2:2 ).
20. UMBREIT translates, "His inward parts know no rest" from desires.
his belly--that is, peace inwardly.
not save--literally, "not escape with that which," &c., alluding to Job's having been stripped of his all.
21. look for--rather, "because his goods," that is, prosperity shall have no endurance.
22. shall be--rather, "he is (feeleth) straitened." The next clause explains in what respect.
wicked--Rather, "the whole hand of the miserable (whom he had oppressed) cometh upon him"; namely, the sense of his having oppressed the poor, now in turn comes with all its power (hand) on him. This caused his "straitened" feeling even in prosperity.
23. Rather, "God shall cast (may God send) [UMBREIT] upon him the fury of His wrath to fill his belly!"
while . . . eating--rather, "shall rain it upon him for his food!" Fiery rain, that is, lightning ( Psalms 11:6 ; alluding to Job's misfortune, Job 1:16 ). The force of the image is felt by picturing to one's self the opposite nature of a refreshing rain in the desert ( Exodus 16:4 , Psalms 68:9 ).
24. steel--rather, "brass." While the wicked flees from one danger, he falls into a greater one from an opposite quarter [UMBREIT].
25. It is drawn--Rather, "He (God) draweth (the sword, Joshua 5:13 ) and (no sooner has He done so, than) it cometh out of (that is, passes right through) the (sinner's) body" ( Deuteronomy 32:41 Deuteronomy 32:42 , Ezekiel 21:9 Ezekiel 21:10 ). The glittering sword is a happy image for lightning.
gall--that is, his life ( Job 16:13 ). "Inflicts a deadly wound."
terrors--Zophar repeats Bildad's words ( Job 17:11 , Psalms 88:16 , 55:4 ).
26. All darkness--that is, every calamity that befalls the wicked shall be hid (in store for him) in His (God's) secret places, or treasures ( Jude 1:13 , Deuteronomy 32:34 ).
not blown--not kindled by man's hands, but by God's ( Isaiah 30:33 ; the Septuagint in the Alexandrian Manuscript reads "unquenchable fire," Matthew 3:12 ). Tact is shown by the friends in not expressly mentioning, but alluding under color of general cases, to Job's calamities; here ( Job 1:16 ) UMBREIT explains it, wickedness, is a "self-igniting fire"; in it lie the principles of destruction.
ill . . . tabernacle--Every trace of the sinner must be obliterated ( Job 18:15 ).
27. All creation is at enmity with him, and proclaims his guilt, which he would fain conceal.
28. increase--prosperity. Ill got--ill gone.
flow away--like waters that run dry in summer; using Job's own metaphor against himself ( Job 6:15-17 , 2 Samuel 14:14 , Micah 1:4 ).
29. appointed--not as a matter of chance, but by the divine "decree" (Margin) and settled principle.