Job 21

1 Then Job answered, 2 “Listen diligently to my speech. Let this be your consolation. 3 Allow me, and I also will speak; After I have spoken, mock on. 4 As for me, is my complaint to man? Why shouldn’t I be impatient? 5 Look at me, and be astonished. Lay your hand on your mouth. 6 When I remember, I am troubled. Horror takes hold of my flesh. 7 “Why do the wicked live, become old, yes, and grow mighty in power? 8 Their child is established with them in their sight, their offspring before their eyes. 9 Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them. 10 Their bulls breed without fail. Their cows calve, and don’t miscarry. 11 They send out their little ones like a flock. Their children dance. 12 They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the pipe. 13 They spend their days in prosperity. In an instant they go down to Sheol. 14 They tell God, ‘Depart from us, for we don’t want to know about your ways. 15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What profit should we have, if we pray to him?’ 16 Behold, their prosperity is not in their hand. The counsel of the wicked is far from me. 17 “How often is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out, that their calamity comes on them, that God distributes sorrows in his anger? 18 How often is it that they are as stubble before the wind, as chaff that the storm carries away? 19 You say, ‘God lays up his iniquity for his children.’ Let him recompense it to himself, that he may know it. 20 Let his own eyes see his destruction. Let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty. 21 For what does he care for his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off? 22 “Shall any teach God knowledge, since he judges those who are high? 23 One dies in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. 24 His pails are full of milk. The marrow of his bones is moistened. 25 Another dies in bitterness of soul, and never tastes of good. 26 They lie down alike in the dust. The worm covers them. 27 “Behold, I know your thoughts, the devices with which you would wrong me. 28 For you say, ‘Where is the house of the prince? Where is the tent in which the wicked lived?’ 29 Haven’t you asked wayfaring men? Don’t you know their evidences, 30 that the evil man is reserved to the day of calamity, That they are led out to the day of wrath? 31 Who shall declare his way to his face? Who shall repay him what he has done? 32 Yet he will be borne to the grave. Men shall keep watch over the tomb. 33 The clods of the valley shall be sweet to him. All men shall draw after him, as there were innumerable before him. 34 So how can you comfort me with nonsense, because in your answers there remains only falsehood?”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–6

Job comes closer to the question in dispute. This was, Whether outward prosperity is a mark of the true church, and the true members of it, so that ruin of a man’s prosperity proves him a hypocrite? This they asserted, but Job denied. If they looked upon him, they might see misery enough to demand compassion, and their bold interpretations of this mysterious providence should be turned into silent wonder.

Verses 7–16

Job says, Remarkable judgments are sometimes brought upon notorious sinners, but not always. Wherefore is it so? This is the day of God’s patience; and, in some way or other, he makes use of the prosperity of the wicked to serve his own counsels, while it ripens them for ruin; but the chief reason is, because he will make it appear there is another world. These prospering sinners make light of God and religion, as if because they have so much of this world, they had no need to look after another. But religion is not a vain thing. If it be so to us, we may thank ourselves for resting on the outside of it. Job shows their folly.

Verses 17–26

Job had described the prosperity of wicked people; in these verses he opposes this to what his friends had maintained about their certain ruin in this life. He reconciles this to the holiness and justice of God. Even while they prosper thus, they are light and worthless, of no account with God, or with wise men. In the height of their pomp and power, there is but a step between them and ruin. Job refers the difference Providence makes between one wicked man and another, into the wisdom of God. He is Judge of all the earth, and he will do right. So vast is the disproportion between time and eternity, that if hell be the lot of every sinner at last, it makes little difference if one goes singing thither, and another sighing. If one wicked man die in a palace, and another in a dungeon, the worm that dies not, and the fire that is not quenched, will be the same to them. Thus differences in this world are not worth perplexing ourselves about.

Verses 27–34

Job opposes the opinion of his friends, That the wicked are sure to fall into visible and remarkable ruin, and none but the wicked; upon which principle they condemned Job as wicked. Turn to whom you will, you will find that the punishment of sinners is designed more for the other world than for this, Jude 1:14, 15. The sinner is here supposed to live in a great deal of power. The sinner shall have a splendid funeral: a poor thing for any man to be proud of the prospect of. He shall have a stately monument. And a valley with springs of water to keep the turf green, was accounted an honourable burial place among eastern people; but such things are vain distinctions. Death closes his prosperity. It is but a poor encouragement to die, that others have died before us. That which makes a man die with true courage, is, with faith to remember that Jesus Christ died and was laid in the grave, not only before us, but for us. That He hath gone before us, and died for us, who is alive and liveth for us, is true consolation in the hour of death.

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