Read Job 20
20 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
2 “My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer
because I am greatly disturbed.
3 I hear a rebuke that dishonors me,
and my understanding inspires me to reply.
4 “Surely you know how it has been from of old,
ever since mankind was placed on the earth,
5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief,
the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.
6 Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens
and his head touches the clouds,
7 he will perish forever, like his own dung;
those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’
8 Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found,
banished like a vision of the night.
9 The eye that saw him will not see him again;
his place will look on him no more.
10 His children must make amends to the poor;
his own hands must give back his wealth.
11 The youthful vigor that fills his bones
will lie with him in the dust.
12 “Though evil is sweet in his mouth
and he hides it under his tongue,
13 though he cannot bear to let it go
and lets it linger in his mouth,
14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;
it will become the venom of serpents within him.
15 He will spit out the riches he swallowed;
God will make his stomach vomit them up.
16 He will suck the poison of serpents;
the fangs of an adder will kill him.
17 He will not enjoy the streams,
the rivers flowing with honey and cream.
18 What he toiled for he must give back uneaten;
he will not enjoy the profit from his trading.
19 For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;
he has seized houses he did not build.
20 “Surely he will have no respite from his craving;
he cannot save himself by his treasure.
21 Nothing is left for him to devour;
his prosperity will not endure.
22 In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him;
the full force of misery will come upon him.
23 When he has filled his belly,
God will vent his burning anger against him
and rain down his blows on him.
24 Though he flees from an iron weapon,
a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him.
25 He pulls it out of his back,
the gleaming point out of his liver.
Terrors will come over him;
26 total darkness lies in wait for his treasures.
A fire unfanned will consume him
and devour what is left in his tent.
27 The heavens will expose his guilt;
the earth will rise up against him.
28 A flood will carry off his house,
rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath.
29 Such is the fate God allots the wicked,
the heritage appointed for them by God.”
Throughout most of Job so far, we have seen a back-and-forth discussion between Job and his friends about the cause of Job’s suffering and the goodness of God. Job rightly believes that the suffering was not a result of something he had done wrong, but his friends are convinced that he was getting what he deserved, because God is always just.
Today’s reading is a response by a friend named Zophar, and the message seems clear: The joy and worldly reward of the wicked is temporary and short-lived. Let that sit for a second and think about if you believe that is true: Do you believe that the wicked always get what they deserve?
The biblical answer to that is no, but also yes. In Ecclesiastes 7:15 the author says this: “In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness.” In this life, the wicked might live long and prosper, not getting what they deserve in this life. This can seem unfair, but only if this life on Earth was all there is.
There is more than just the short time we spend on Earth. After this life, some of the wicked get what they deserve, feeling the full wrath of God in hell for all eternity. Though they had worldly success, and though some of the wicked never “got what they deserved” in this life, they do when they die.
Here’s the most important part of this discussion for us to remember about what the wicked deserve: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). We are all wicked, and all deserve eternal punishment. But instead of getting what we deserve, God gave us the choice of eternal life with Him. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). Thank God that He loves his children and wants us to trust and follow Him. And thank God that He doesn’t give us what we deserve.
- What person or type of person comes to your mind when you think of “wicked”?
- What do you feel they deserve in this life? How does your heart need to change towards them?
- How do you think Job will respond to this speech in the next chapter?
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