It’s good to remember when reading wisdom genre in the Bible, that often that “wisdom” is set with an idealistic view of the way things are suppose to work. It’s still wisdom, and in the purest sense, it is true wisdom. Our task is to be sure to set that wisdom given with the truth of the rest of Scripture, with the effects on the world from sin, and with the coming King who will set everything back in order again.
Zophar, in Job 21, aggressively challenges Job’s integrity (an integrity that God has already established for us, but also the life of Job should have established it for Zophar and Job’s other “comforters”).
Job, in chapter 21, spins Zophar’s logic with reality. Job wants to know, if his friends are right about the fate of the wicked, then why do they live on, grow old, and increase in power? The contrasts are sobering:
Zophar: The joy of the wicked is brief (20:5)
Job: The wicked live on (21:7)
Zophar: The wicked lose their loftiness (20:6)
Job: The wicked become powerful (21:7)
Zophar: The wicked are forgotten when they die (20:7-9)
Job: The wicked are given an honorable burial (21:32-33)
Zophar: The wicked must beg from the poor (20:10)
Job: The children of the wicked are happy (21:12)
Zophar: The wicked perish like their own dung (20:7)
Job: The wicked live (dung free) (21:7)
Zophar: The wicked lose their riches and cannot enjoy prosperity (20:15, 17-18)
Job: The wicked spend their days in prosperity (21:13)
Zophar: The wicked lose the wealth of their houses (20:21, 23, 28)
Job: The wicked live safely in their houses and their herds increase (21:9-10)
Zohar and Job do not see eye to eye. Zophar knows that the retribution of God (against the wicked) comes quickly and decisively. As Job sees it, the wicked are actually doing quite well.
Justice will come, but it may not (and doesn’t have to) come quickly. The Judge knows when, He knows how, He knows best.
God is still God, even if for now, the wicked prosper and grow in wealth and power. The prosperous life of the wicked does not threaten God or his goodness.
The temporal prosperity of those who live in rejection of the Lord sure frustrates his pilgrims who are striving to live righteous lives that will honor the Lord, but it never frustrates God or his plans and promises.
Lord, keep my eyes on you, the just and righteous one who is never shaken by the injustices that are present in your world. You will bring perfect justice in Your Day. Help me to trust you and be thankful that even when nothing is going as it should, you reign with perfect knowledge, intimate knowledge in fact, of your creation and your great redemption will bring a complete reversal to this sin-damaged/destroyed world. Thank you Jesus for your perfect sacrifice, “this (that is, the death of Jesus) was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:25