Chapter 21:1-16a (ESV) - Then Job answered and said:
“Keep listening to my words,
and let this be your comfort.
Bear with me, and I will speak,
and after I have spoken, mock on.
As for me, is my complaint against man?
Why should I not be impatient?
Look at me and be appalled,
and lay your hand over your mouth.
When I remember, I am dismayed,
and shuddering seizes my flesh.
Why do the wicked live,
reach old age, and grow mighty in power?
Their offspring are established in their presence,
and their descendants before their eyes.
Their houses are safe from fear,
and no rod of God is upon them.
Their bull breeds without fail;
their cow calves and does not miscarry.
They send out their little boys like a flock,
and their children dance.
They sing to the tambourine and the lyre
and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.
They spend their days in prosperity,
and in peace they go down to Sheol.
They say to God, ‘Depart from us!
We do not desire the knowledge of your ways.
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’
Behold, is not their prosperity in their hand?
Question to consider: According to Job, why were his friends incorrect in their theories about wicked men?
Job wanted his friends to stop their mockery of him for one moment and really listen to what he was saying. They were so bent on attributing Job’s misfortune to wickedness so that they could justify their own good fortune that they blindly ignored those who were openly wicked but still prospered.
Though Job admitted to becoming impatient, he continued to hammer home the same point in different ways with the hope that they could see the error in their presuppositions— their core beliefs about the world. People can often become so focused on presenting their own arguments that they fail to take in new information or to remember why the discussion began.
Job reminds them that he now looked at his current state with horror— appalled at what had become of him when there were openly wicked people who reach old age and grow mighty in power. Not only that, but they are blessed with offspring who also grow up and prosper. They don’t live in fear of their enemies; their bulls breed, and their cows deliver calves without issue. Their entire lives are filled with ease and comfort, and when it comes time for them to die, they do so in peace. Throughout this time, they want nothing to do with God. They don’t care to know or follow His ways. They don’t see any value in praying to him because they think they have prospered by their own hand.
We’ll go more into this idea of the wicked prospering tomorrow, but Job’s point to his friends was that while their view about God’s judgment against the wicked in this world may have seemed appropriate in theory, it did not bear out in reality. It’s the same with those who hold to false gods and philosophies. All of them hold to the idea that man is basically good and can somehow be judged as righteous by his own good works, and yet all evidence in the world points to the opposite— that we are fundamentally selfish and corrupt and can only stand before a holy God by the righteousness of Christ.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for giving people every opportunity to repent and turn to You. Please bring us to the place where we can recognize our own sin and need for Christ. May we be used by You to keep speaking to people until they are willing to listen. Amen.