Bible Commentaries

Job 20

Verses 1-29

With evident haste, Zophar replied. His speech is introduced with an apology for his haste and a confession of his anger. He had heard the reproof, but he was not convinced; and the spirit of his understanding prompted him to reply. His reply is like that of Bildad, but is characterized by even greater force and more terrible description.

He opened with a general declaration on the brevity of wickedness. This he argued by tracing the course of an imaginary person who is godless. In a passage thrilling with passion, he described the instability of evil gains. There is a triumph, but it is short. There is a mounting up, but it is succeeded by swift vanishing. There is a sense of youth, but it becomes dust. There is a sweetness, but it becomes remorse; a swallowing down which ends in vomiting; a getting without rejoicing.

The reason for all this he then declared. The pathway has been one of oppression until the oppressed turned on the oppressor. The final nemesis is fearfully set forth. God turns on him, pursues him with the instruments of judgment. Darkness enwraps him. His sin is set in the light of the heavens, and earth rejects him. The speech ends, as in the case of Bildad, with an application (29). Throughout the description Job had evidently been in mind, and he is left to make the application.

Thus, in the second cycle the proposition made by each man with varying emphasis was that it is the wicked who suffer.