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Job 20:5

5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.

Read Job 20:5 Using Other Translations

That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?
that the exulting of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment?
the triumph of the wicked has been short lived and the joy of the godless has been only temporary?

What does Job 20:5 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Job 20:5

That the triumphing of the wicked [is] short
Their outward prosperity and felicity, of which they make their boast, and in which they glory and triumph for a while; at first Job's friends set out with this notion, that the wicked never flourished and prospered, but it always went ill with them in Providence; but being beat out of that, they own they may be for a small time in flourishing and prosperous circumstances, but it is but for a small time; which may be true in many instances, but it is not invariable and without exception the case: the sense is, it is but a little while that they are in so much mirth and jollity, and triumph over their neighbours, as being in more advantageous circumstances than they; this is said in the original text to be "from near" F8; it is but a little while ago when it began; and; as the Targum paraphrases it, it will be quickly ended:

and the joy of the hypocrite [but] for a moment;
the word "wicked", in the former clause, may signify the same person here called the "hypocrite"; but inasmuch as that signifies one restless and troublesome, one that is ungodly, and destitute of the fear of God, that has nothing in him but wickedness, who is continually committing it, and is abandoned to it; it might be thought not to apply to the character of Job, whom Zophar had in his view, and therefore this is added as descriptive of him: an hypocrite is one who seems to be that he is not, holy, righteous, good, and godly; who professes to have what he has not, the true grace of God, and pretends to worship God, but does not do it cordially, and from right principles; and who seeks himself in all he does, and not the glory of God: now there may be a joy in such sort of persons; they may hear ministers gladly, as Herod heard John, and receive the word with joy, as the stony ground hearers did, ( Mark 6:20 ) ( 4:16 ) ; they may seem to delight in the ways and ordinances of God, and even have some tastes of the powers of the world to come, and some pleasing thoughts and hopes of heaven and happiness; as well as they triumph in and boast of their profession of religion and performance of duties, and rejoice in their boastings, which is evil; but then this is like the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season, or like the crackling of thorns under a pot, which make a great noise and blaze, but soon over, ( Ecclesiastes 7:6 ) ; and so their joy in civil as well as religious, things. It is possible Zophar might be so ill natured as to have reference to Job's triumph of faith, ( Job 19:25 ) ; and by this would suggest, that his faith in a living Redeemer, and the joy of it he professed, would be soon over and no more; which shows what spirit he was of.


FOOTNOTES:

F8 (bwrqm) "de propinquo", Pagninus, Montanus
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