|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:17-26 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.
Verse 19. - God layeth up his iniquity for his children. Job supposes his opponents to make this answer to his arguments. "God," they may say, "punishes the wicked man in his children" (comp. Exodus 20:5). Job does not deny that he may do so, but suggests a better course in the next sentence. He rewardeth him; rather, let him recompense it on himself - let him make the wicked man himself suffer, and then he shall know it. He shall perceive and know that he is receiving the due reward of his wickedness.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
God layeth up his iniquity for his children,.... This is a prevention of an objection which Job foresaw his friends would make, and therefore takes it up and answers to it; you will say, that, be it so, that the wicked are for the most part prosperous, and their prosperity continues; God does not punish them now for their sins in their own persons, yet he will punish them in their children, for whom he reserves the punishment of their iniquity: this way go many of the Jewish commentators (y), in which they are followed by many Christian interpreters (z); and, as it seems, very rightly; now this Job grants, that so it is, God takes notice of the iniquities of men, and lays them up in his mind, and puts them down in the book of his remembrance; he reserves the punishment of their iniquities for their children, iniquity being often put for the punishment of it; this is laid up among his stores of vengeance, and is treasured up against the day of wrath; and when they have filled up the measure of their father's sins by their own transgressions, the deserved punishment shall be inflicted, according to Exodus 20:5; but this will not clear the case, nor support the notions and sentiments of Job's friends, who had all along given out, that wicked men are punished themselves as well as their children; and that, if they are at any time in prosperous circumstances, it is only for a little while; and therefore agreeably to such notions God should take other methods with them, not punish their children only, but themselves, as Job argues in answer to the objection in Job 21:18,
he rewarded him, and he shall know it; or "he should reward him, and he should know it" (a); and so the word "should" is to be put instead of "shall" in Job 21:20, which directs to the true sense of these clauses: and the meaning of Job is, that according to the sentiments of his friends, God should reward a wicked man while he lives in his own body, and not in his posterity only; he should render to them a just recompence of reward of their evil works, the demerit of their sins; and in such a manner, that they should know it, be sensible of it, and feel it themselves, and perceive the evil of sin in the punishment of it; see Hosea 9:7.
(y) Nachmanides, Jarchi, Ben Gersom, Bar Tzemach. (z) Beza, Cocceius, Schultens. (a) "redderet illi, et (hoc) sciret", Beza; "retribueret ipsi potius, et sentiret", Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. Equally questionable is the friends' assertion that if the godless himself is not punished, the children are (Job 18:19; 20:10); and that God rewardeth him here for his iniquity, and that he shall know it to his cost. So "know" (Ho 9:7).
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