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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Job 21

 

 

Verses 1-6

Job"s request to be heard21:1-6

The best consolation his friends could have provided was to listen quietly to Job"s reply. So Job requested this ( Job 21:2). He reminded his companions that his complaint was with God, not people. He was impatient because God would not reply.


Verses 1-34

6. Job"s second reply to Zophar ch21

After the first cycle of speeches, Job responded to a point each of his friends had made, namely, that God consistently blesses the righteous and blasts the unrighteous. After this second cycle of speeches, Job again replied to a point each accuser had made: that the wicked suffer destruction in this life.

"This speech is unusual for Job on several counts. It is the only one in which he confines his remarks to his friends and does not fall into either a soliloquy or a prayer. The time has come to demolish their position. Secondly, in making this counter-attack, Job reviews a lot of the preceding discussion, so that many cross-references can be found to what has already been said. These are a valuable guide to interpretation when they can be discovered. Thirdly, by quoting their words and refuting them, Job comes nearer to formal debate. While his words are still quite emotional, there is less invective in them." [Note: Andersen, p198.]


Verses 7-16

The wicked person"s continued prosperity21:7-16

Job"s friends had been selective in their observations regarding wicked people. They had pointed out only the cases in which God judged them on earth. Job now presented the other side of the story. There were many wicked who never experienced God"s judgment before they died. His words contrast especially with what Zophar had just said (ch20). Many people who do not know God or reject him live peaceful, pleasant lives ( Job 21:14-15; cf. Job 18:21). Job 21:16 may mean that these people"s prosperity comes ultimately from God, not from themselves. Still, Job did not want his friends to understand him as supporting the wicked"s contempt for God ( Job 21:16 b).


Verses 17-26

The reason the wicked die21:17-26

Job claimed that the wicked die for the same reason the righteous die. They are sinners. They do not invariably die early because they are wicked sinners. Furthermore, God does not punish the children of the wicked who die late in life for their parents" sins. Job said that would be no punishment on the parents since they would not be alive to witness their children"s suffering. He also pointed out that his companions were putting God in a box by not allowing Him to judge freely but requiring that He behave according to their theological conceptions ( Job 21:22).

"Those who do not believe in an absolutely sovereign God cannot possibly appreciate the depth of the problem Job presented in Job 21:23-26. The answer still alludes [sic eludes] us. Even with all our additional revelation ( Romans 8:28), we often stand in anguish over the apparent injustice and seeming cruelty of God"s providence." [Note: Smick, " Job ," p950.]

"Of course, Job is talking [in Job 21:26] about the physical side of death and not the spiritual. When death comes, it obviously makes a great deal of difference in the next life whether or not the person had faith in Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 9:27)." [Note: Wiersbe, p46.]


Verses 27-34

The lifelong prosperity of some wicked21:27-34

By urging his friends to ask travelers ( Job 21:29), Job was accusing them of holding a provincial viewpoint, one formed out of limited exposure to life.

"If Job"s friends inquired of well-traveled people, they would learn that in every part of the world, wicked people seem to escape the calamities that fall on the righteous." [Note: Ibid.]

Though some writers have taken Job 21:31 as a quotation of the view of Job"s friends, it is probably Job"s own view. "The day" is probably a reference to the final time God will judge the wicked.

This speech explains Job"s position, which certainly squares with reality better than the one his adversaries advocated. Frequently the wicked do prosper throughout their lives. God does not always cut off evil people prematurely. For example, even though Manasseh was Judah"s worst king, he reigned the longest. Even through Mussolini and Hitler died violent deaths, Lenin and Stalin died in their own beds as old men. Furthermore, "All that desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" ( 2 Timothy 3:12). Job accused his friends of being wrong.

At the end of this second cycle, the advantage in the debate was obviously with Job. Any objective observer of what was going on at that city dump would have had to admit that Job"s arguments made more sense than those of his three friends.

"If you want to be an encouragement to hurting people, try to see things through their eyes. Be humble enough to admit that there might be other points of view." [Note: Ibid, p47.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 21:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/job-21.html. 2012.

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