Zophar’s last speech
An ancient principle
v1 Zophar, who belonged to the people called Naamathites, answered. He said:
v2 Job, your words upset me. So, I need to reply now. v3 Your reply does not respect me. But I will answer you wisely.
v4 There is an ancient principle, which you must know. This principle has been true since the first people lived:
· v5 A wicked man is only happy for a short time. An evil man is only happy for a moment.
v6 That man might be very proud. He might suppose that he is like God. v7 But that evil man will disappear like his own dirt. He will die. And nobody will see him again. v8 He is like a dream. When the morning comes, the dream vanishes. So nobody will remember that evil man. v9 The people who used to see him will not see him again. He will not enter the place where he used to live. v10 His children must return his money to poor people. They must give back his money. v11 His body was young and strong. But his children must lay it in his grave.
The three friends were sure that Job was guilty. They did not think that God would punish an innocent man. And even Job wrongly agreed that God caused Job’s troubles. But Job insisted that he was innocent.
So Zophar brought a new subject into the argument. Job seemed to think that evil people had successful lives. Zophar wanted to prove that this idea was wrong.
When Job lived, people respected older people and their ideas (Job 32:6-9). So the people believed that ancient wisdom was very important (Job 8:8-9).
Zophar did not argue that wicked people are never happy. Everybody can see that wicked people often enjoy their evil deeds. But Zophar said that his happiness could not last.
He was partly correct. An evil life does not really satisfy anyone (Luke 15:13-17). Only the things that God gives can really satisfy us (John 4:13-14). So we need to believe Jesus (John 7:27-28). Moreover, in the end, God will be the judge of everyone. God will punish evil people who have not confessed their evil deeds to him (Revelation 20:12-15).
But Zophar argued his ideas for a particular reason. Zophar wanted to prove that Job was not innocent. So Zophar imagined the things that might happen to a wicked man. Zophar wanted Job to realise that similar things had happened to Job.
God opposes proud people – Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; Luke 1:51. This proud attitude is very evil. This man does not respect God.
This wicked man may be powerful while he is alive. But when he dies, nobody will even remember this man.
Perhaps the wicked man was proud because of his wealth. But he cannot keep his wealth after he dies (Luke 16:19-24). When the man dies, other people will take his money (Proverbs 13:22).
A wicked man will suffer because of his evil deeds
v12 The wicked man’s evil deeds are like fine food. That food tastes so good. It is so sweet in his mouth. v13 He does not even want to swallow. v14 But in his stomach, the food becomes sour. The food becomes like a snake’s poison. v15 So the man is sick. And God will take that man’s wealth away from him. v16 That food was really a snake’s poison. And that poison will kill the man.
v17 So an evil man will not enjoy the good things that God gives to his people. God gives milk and honey that are as plentiful as the rivers. v18-19 But that man suffers because he caused poor people to suffer. That man stole houses that did not belong to him. That man must give back his wealth. He cannot enjoy his wealth. And he must not enjoy his profits.
The man’s evil deeds are like poison. Poisonous food may taste very good. And the man’s evil deeds seem to bring pleasure. But poisonous food makes a man ill. And evil deeds spoil a man’s life. In the end, the poison may kill a man. And a man whose life is evil may die because of his behaviour.
This man lived in luxury. He stole his wealth. But he will not continue to enjoy his wealth. God gives good gifts to his people. But this man will not receive these gifts. Instead he will die. And Zophar believed that death is a fair punishment for such a man.
God punishes evil people
v20 An evil man will always desire the wrong things. He cannot use his money to save himself from his punishment. v21 He took everything. But his wealth will not last. v22 When he is successful, he will have great troubles. Then, he will be sad.
v23 When that man becomes rich, God will be angry with him. And God will cause that man to suffer. v24 If that man avoids a sword, then an arrow will hit him. v25 If that man pulls the arrow from his back, he will suffer terror. v26 So, that man must die. Fire will burn his body. Fire will burn his home.
v27 In heaven, everyone will know that man’s evil deeds. On earth, everyone will oppose that evil man. v28 God, when he is angry, will send the floods. The water will destroy that evil man’s house.
v29 Wicked people deserve such terrible punishments. And God has decided that this is their fate.
Money cannot save anyone from death. We all shall die. And the wicked man’s money cannot save him from God’s punishment.
God is a fair judge. He will punish a wicked man. A man might be able to escape from his enemies. But nobody can escape from God.
Zophar thought that everybody would agree with him. But, as Job would explain in chapter 21, Zophar had forgotten one important point. Many wicked people are very successful during their lives on earth. They do not die when they are young. It is true that God will punish them in the end.
Zophar was wrong to suggest that Job was a wicked man. Job had a terrible life, but he was still a good man. And a wicked man may have a successful life. But that man is still evil.