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21:2 "Listen carefully to my speech": Here Job pleads for his friends to simply listen to what he has to say. Their careful listening and silence would be far more comforting than their words of advice.
21:3 "Then after I have spoken, you may mock": "Sarcastically he added that if they would do him that favor, then after he finished, they could continue their mocking" (Zuck p. 97).
21:4 Job argues that he is not impatient with them, he was actually complaining to God because He was silent and he had good reason to be impatient.
21:5-6 "Look at me, and be astonished": "Just a look at him ought to have astounded them into silence-yet they gazed at him and kept gabbing. Job himself was certainly horrified when he looked at himself (21:6)" (Zuck p. 97). "They ought to be amazed at his terrible appearance (he wanted them to look at him as well as listen) as they were at first (2:12). According to Bildad, people everywhere were horrified at what happens to a wicked person (18:20), so why could they not show a least a little concern about his situation? In fact they should be silent, putting their hands on their mouths. Even Job's thinking about his own deplorable situation disturbed him emotionally" (Bible Knowledge Comm. pp. 743-744).
21:7 "Why do the wicked still live": Right here Job begins his attack upon the erroneous views of his friends. Zophar had argued that the wicked perish like dung (20:7), Job counters, "No, they continue to live long lives, their prosperity continues".
21:8 Their children are not cut off (20:26), rather they watch their children grow up and mature.
21:9 They do not lose their possessions (20:21,23,28), rather they are secure with seemingly no judgment from God.
21:10-11 The livestock of many sinners prospers and their children are healthy and happy, and are not begging from the poor as Zophar claimed (20:10). "Here we note a beautiful picture of peace, progress, and prosperity, as children are playing and singing like happy little lambs" (Strauss pp. 210-211).
21:12-13 Zophar claimed that the wicked never live long enough to enjoy their prosperity (20:15-18), and Job disagrees. They have parties, seem to enjoy life, and "suddenly" die. The idea of "suddenly" here does not mean that they are suddenly cut off, but that they die without any sort of long protracted illness. They simply die in their sleep. Compare with Psalm 73:4 "There are no pains in their death".
Point to Note
Christians need to avoid making the mistake in assuming that every lost person is unhappy and miserable. The world is filled with lost people who are content and enjoying life, because God grants His physical blessings to all (Acts 14:15-17). "The wicked, Job observed, saw no need for serving God; they were doing well by themselves" (Zuck p. 99).
21:14 "We do not even desire the knowledge of Your ways": All of this prosperity comes upon people who have completely dismissed God from their lives (Romans 1:28).
21:15 "Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?" This is what Pharaoh asked Moses (Exodus 5:3). "And what would we gain if we entreat Him?" Prayer and serving God is profitless the wicked claim, for they already have everything that they need. They "cynically flaunt God, even wondering what they would gain by praying to Him" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 744). I can feel for Job here, yes it is extremely difficult to convert a sinner when they have more than you have, and when they seem happier than you are! How many sinners ridicule serving God and the need for such things as prayer, because they are better off materially than most believers? You can even hear the sinner mock, "Maybe you would be better off if you stopped serving God?"
21:16 "Behold, their prosperity is not in their hand": Job does not go off the deep end, he does not envy the wicked, he realizes that God has allowed them to prosper and they are well off in spite of their wickedness and not because of it. "The counsel of the wicked is far from me": "Even though they are so blessed (in their evil), and he is ill-treated (in his righteousness), nevertheless, he repudiates their wicked counsel (their way of life). What a man! No wonder God is proud of him. And what a rebuttal to Satan's charge that men only serve Jehovah for profit!" (Jackson p. 55).
21:17-18 To Bildad's claim that the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out (18:5), and that death and disaster are ready to over take them (18:12), Job asked, "How often does this really happen?" "Sinners are seldom blown away suddenly and easily like straw or chaff" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 744).
21:19-21 "You say": Job anticipates an objection here, that his friends would claim that even in the case when a wicked man lives a long life, the judgment still comes upon his sons. Job argues back that the wicked person himself out to be judged for his own sins, because once he is dead, he could not care about any judgment upon his family (21:21). We know that the children often suffer the side effects of their parent's foolishness, but Job is arguing against the idea that God directly punishes children for the sins of their parents (Ezekiel 18:20).
21:22-26 "Can anyone teach God knowledge?" In the verses that follow Job notes that there are wicked people who die in the prime of life (21:23), others die completely happy and content, while another dies disappointed and frustrated. Job's point is that there "is no generalization that can be made regarding the temporal punishment of the wicked. Job's argument is simply this: one's earthly circumstances cannot be used as a barometer for determining his spiritual condition" (Jackson p. 55). His friends were guilty by their assumptions and generalizations of telling or teaching God what He should do. "Job was not arguing that the wicked always prosper and the good are always unfortunate, but that one's character cannot be determined by his lot in life. Job's opponents should not seek to tell God to judge a person's life by his bank account or his medical chart. All men die, and only God can be the accurate Judge of their lives, regardless of the presence or absence of wealth or health" (Zuck p. 100).
21:27-28 Here Job informs his friends that he realizes that their speeches about the downfall of the wicked have been specifically directed at him. "He well knows the insinuations hidden in their query, 'Where is the house of the prince?' (that is, 'Where is your house, Job?'" (Jackson p. 55).
21:29 "Have you not asked the wayfaring men": But their claims do not agree with the evidence, as anyone with traveling experience would confirm. "All they needed to do to see who was right was to ask travelers, those who had seen other parts of the world" (Zuck p. 100).
21:30 Yes the wicked man will be judged, but he is not judged "immediately", he is reserved for the day of calamity.
21:31 The wicked are basically allowed to continue in their evil ways without anyone daring to confront them. This is especially true of people who are wicked and powerful.
21:32 Even in death, many wicked people are honored, and even after they are gone people guard their tomb and people will crowd around the funeral procession-all these things evidence even the popularity of the wicked. Yes, Job saw what we still see to this day. There are many powerful wicked people that no one dares to confront and even in death they are mourned and loved by the multitudes. People continue to flock the graves of people who lived very ungodly lives.
21:34 Job could not be convicted nor comforted by their arguments, because their arguments were so untrue and flimsy.
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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 21". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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