Job 21

Job Says God Will Deal with the Wicked

1 Then Job answered,
2 "Listen carefully to my speech, And let this be your way of consolation.
3 "Bear with me that I may speak; Then after I have spoken, you may 1mock.
4 "As for me, is 2my complaint to man? And 3why should I not be impatient?
5 "Look at me, and be astonished, And 4put your hand over your mouth.
6 "Even when I remember, I am disturbed, And 5horror takes hold of my flesh.
7 "Why 6do the wicked still live, Continue on, also become very 7powerful?
8 "Their 8descendants are established with them in their sight, And their offspring before their eyes,
9 Their houses 9are safe from fear, And the rod of God is not on them.
10 "His ox mates without fail; His cow calves and does not abort.
11 "They send forth their little ones like the flock, And their children skip about.
12 "They sing to the timbrel and harp And rejoice at the sound of the flute.
13 "They 10spend their days in prosperity, And suddenly they go down to Sheol.
14 "They say to God, '11Depart from us! We do not even desire the knowledge of Your ways.
15 'Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him, And 12what would we gain if we entreat Him?'
16 "Behold, their prosperity is not in their hand; The 13counsel of the wicked is far from me.
17 "How often is 14the lamp of the wicked put out, Or does their 15calamity fall on them? Does God apportion destruction in His anger?
18 "Are they as 16straw before the wind, And like 17chaff which the storm carries away?
19 "You say, '18God stores away a man's iniquity for his sons.' Let God repay him so that he may know it.
20 "Let his 19own eyes see his decay, And let him 20drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
21 "For what does he care for his household after him, When the number of his months is cut off?
22 "Can anyone 21teach God knowledge, In that He 22judges those on high?
23 "One 23dies in his full strength, Being wholly at ease and satisfied;
24 His sides are filled out with fat, And the 24marrow of his bones is moist,
25 While another dies with a bitter soul, Never even tasting anything good.
26 "Together they 25lie down in the dust, And 26worms cover them.
27 "Behold, I know your thoughts, And the plans by which you would wrong me.
28 "For you say, 'Where is the house of 27the nobleman, And where is the 28tent, the dwelling places of the wicked?'
29 "Have you not asked wayfaring men, And do you not recognize their witness?
30 "For the 29wicked is reserved for the day of calamity; They will be led forth at 30the day of fury.
31 "Who will confront * * him with his actions, And who will repay him for what he has done?
32 "While he is carried to the grave, Men will keep watch over his tomb.
33 "The 31clods of the valley will gently cover him; Moreover, 32all men will follow after him, While countless * ones go before him.
34 "How then will you vainly 33comfort me, For your answers remain full of falsehood?"

Job 21 Commentary

Chapter 21

Job entreats attention. (1-6) The prosperity of the wicked. (7-16) The dealings of God's providence. (17-26) The judgement of the wicked is in the world to come. (27-34)

Verses 1-6 Job comes closer to the question in dispute. This was, Whether outward prosperity is a mark of the true church, and the true members of it, so that ruin of a man's prosperity proves him a hypocrite? This they asserted, but Job denied. If they looked upon him, they might see misery enough to demand compassion, and their bold interpretations of this mysterious providence should be turned into silent wonder.

Verses 7-16 Job says, Remarkable judgments are sometimes brought upon notorious sinners, but not always. Wherefore is it so? This is the day of God's patience; and, in some way or other, he makes use of the prosperity of the wicked to serve his own counsels, while it ripens them for ruin; but the chief reason is, because he will make it appear there is another world. These prospering sinners make light of God and religion, as if because they have so much of this world, they had no need to look after another. But religion is not a vain thing. If it be so to us, we may thank ourselves for resting on the outside of it. Job shows their folly.

Verses 17-26 Job had described the prosperity of wicked people; in these verses he opposes this to what his friends had maintained about their certain ruin in this life. He reconciles this to the holiness and justice of God. Even while they prosper thus, they are light and worthless, of no account with God, or with wise men. In the height of their pomp and power, there is but a step between them and ruin. Job refers the difference Providence makes between one wicked man and another, into the wisdom of God. He is Judge of all the earth, and he will do right. So vast is the disproportion between time and eternity, that if hell be the lot of every sinner at last, it makes little difference if one goes singing thither, and another sighing. If one wicked man die in a palace, and another in a dungeon, the worm that dies not, and the fire that is not quenched, will be the same to them. Thus differences in this world are not worth perplexing ourselves about.

Verses 27-34 Job opposes the opinion of his friends, That the wicked are sure to fall into visible and remarkable ruin, and none but the wicked; upon which principle they condemned Job as wicked. Turn to whom you will, you will find that the punishment of sinners is designed more for the other world than for this, ( Jude 1:14 Jude 1:15 ) . The sinner is here supposed to live in a great deal of power. The sinner shall have a splendid funeral: a poor thing for any man to be proud of the prospect of. He shall have a stately monument. And a valley with springs of water to keep the turf green, was accounted an honourable burial place among eastern people; but such things are vain distinctions. Death closes his prosperity. It is but a poor encouragement to die, that others have died before us. That which makes a man die with true courage, is, with faith to remember that Jesus Christ died and was laid in the grave, not only before us, but for us. That He hath gone before us, and died for us, who is alive and liveth for us, is true consolation in the hour of death.

Cross References 33

  • 1. Job 11:3; Job 17:2
  • 2. Job 7:11
  • 3. Job 6:11
  • 4. Judges 18:19; Job 13:5; Job 29:9; Job 40:4
  • 5. Psalms 55:5
  • 6. Job 9:24; Psalms 73:3; Jeremiah 12:1; Habakkuk 1:13
  • 7. Job 12:19
  • 8. Psalms 17:14
  • 9. Job 12:6
  • 10. Job 21:23; Job 36:11
  • 11. Job 22:17
  • 12. Job 22:17; Job 34:9
  • 13. Job 22:18
  • 14. Job 18:5, 6
  • 15. Job 31:2, 3
  • 16. Job 13:25; Psalms 83:13
  • 17. Psalms 1:4; Psalms 35:5; Isaiah 17:13; Hosea 13:3
  • 18. Exodus 20:5; Jeremiah 31:29; Ezekiel 18:2
  • 19. Numbers 14:28-32; Jeremiah 31:30; Ezekiel 18:4
  • 20. Psalms 60:3; Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15; Revelation 14:10
  • 21. Job 35:11; Job 36:22; Isaiah 40:14; Romans 11:34
  • 22. Job 4:18; Job 15:15; Psalms 82:1
  • 23. Job 20:11; Job 21:13
  • 24. Proverbs 3:8
  • 25. Job 3:13; Job 20:11; Ecclesiastes 9:2
  • 26. Job 24:20; Isaiah 14:11
  • 27. Job 1:3; Job 31:37
  • 28. Job 8:22; Job 18:21
  • 29. Job 20:29; Proverbs 16:4; 2 Peter 2:9
  • 30. Job 21:17, 20; Job 40:11
  • 31. Job 3:22; Job 17:16
  • 32. Job 3:19; Job 24:24
  • 33. Job 16:2

Footnotes 23

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains Job's reply to Zophar's preceding discourse, in which, after a preface exciting attention to what he was about to say, Job 21:1-6; he describes by various instances the prosperity of wicked men, even of the most impious and atheistical, and which continues with them as long as they live, contrary to what Zophar had asserted in Job 20:5, Job 21:7-15; as for himself, he disapproved of such wicked men as much as any, and owns that destruction comes upon them sooner or later, and on their posterity also, Job 21:16-21; but as God is a God of knowledge, and needs no instruction from any, and is a sovereign Being, he deals with men in different ways; some die in great ease, and peace, and prosperity, and others in bitterness and distress, but both are alike brought to the dust, Job 21:22-26; and whereas he was aware of their censures of him, and their objections to what he had said, he allows that the wicked are reserved to the day of destruction, which is future, and in the mean while lie in the grave, where all must follow; yet they are not repaid or rewarded in this life, that remains to be done in another world, Job 21:27-33; and concludes, that their consolation with respect to him was vain, and falsehood was in their answers, Job 21:34.

Job 21 Commentaries

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