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FRAMEWORKS: Job 20: Zophar (2/2): All about the folly of wickedness


[Preliminary Comments: Zophar doesn't appear to apply what he describes to Job but the inference must be there. Even as Bildad had poured our negative pictures of the things that happen to the wicked [implying they apply to Job] so now Zophar, in defensive mode [v.1-3] just speaks about ‘the wicked' and all that will happen to them, how they may appear to briefly prevail [v.4-11] but they will suffer physically in this world [v.12-17], they will suffer economically [v.18-23] and they will eventually be destroyed [v.24-29]. As we said, it isn't specifically applied to Job but the implication is lurking there clearly!]



v.1-3 Zophar feels defensive and forced to reply


v.1  Then Zophar the Naamathite replied: 

v.2  “My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer because I am greatly disturbed. 

v.3 I hear a rebuke that dishonors me, and my understanding inspires me to reply. 


v.4-11 His declarations that the wicked WILL perish


v.4 “Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since mankind was placed on the earth, 

v.5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. 

v.6 Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, 

v.7 he will perish forever, like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?' 

v.8 Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found, banished like a vision of the night. 

v.9  The eye that saw him will not see him again; his place will look on him no more. 

v.10 His children must make amends to the poor; his own hands must give back his wealth. 

v.11 The youthful vigor that fills his bones will lie with him in the dust. 


v.12 The physical decline of the wicked


v.12  “Though evil is sweet in his mouth and he hides it under his tongue, 

v.13 though he cannot bear to let it go and lets it linger in his mouth, 

v.14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach; it will become the venom of serpents within him. 

v.15 He will spit out the riches he swallowed; God will make his stomach vomit them up. 

v.16 He will suck the poison of serpents; the fangs of an adder will kill him. 

v.17  He will not enjoy the streams, the rivers flowing with honey and cream. 


v.18-23 The financial decline of the wicked


v.18  What he toiled for he must give back uneaten; he will not enjoy the profit from his trading. 

v.19 For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute; he has seized houses he did not build. 

v.20  “Surely he will have no respite from his craving; he cannot save himself by his treasure. 

v.21 Nothing is left for him to devour; his prosperity will not endure. 

v.22 In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him; the full force of misery will come upon him. 

v.23 When he has filled his belly, God will vent his burning anger against him and rain down his blows on him. 


v.24-29 The Destruction awaiting the wicked


v.24  Though he flees from an iron weapon, a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him. 

v.25 He pulls it out of his back, the gleaming point out of his liver. Terrors will come over him; 

v.26 total darkness lies in wait for his treasures. A fire unfanned will consume him and devour what is left in his tent. 

v.27 The heavens will expose his guilt; the earth will rise up against him. 

v.28  A flood will carry off his house, rushing waters on the day of God's wrath. 

v.29 Such is the fate God allots the wicked, the heritage appointed for them by God.”



[Concluding Comments: The chapter is what might be described as a gentle rant about the wicked without specifically naming Job – but it is clearly for his benefit!!!

What has Zophar been saying? He

•  feels dishonoured [v.1-3]

•  like Bildad goes on about the outcome of the wicked [v.4-11],

•  extends that that include physical breakdown [v.12-17],

•  and economic breakdown [v.18-23],

•  with death being their outcome [v.24-29].

Although he does not specifically apply it to Job, it is clear he means Job and so it is yet another chapter, like chapter 18, of accusation and condemnation.]



Continue to Chapter 21