Job 20:5
That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?
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(5) The triumphing of the wicked is short.—He affirms that the destruction of the wicked is not only certain, but speedy. (Comp. Psalm 103:16 and Job 7:8; Job 7:10.)

20:1-9 Zophar's discourse is upon the certain misery of the wicked. The triumph of the wicked and the joy of the hypocrite are fleeting. The pleasures and gains of sin bring disease and pain; they end in remorse, anguish, and ruin. Dissembled piety is double iniquity, and the ruin that attends it will be accordingly.That the triumphing - The word "triumphing" here (רננה renânâh)," shouting, rejoicing" - such a shouting as people make after a victory, or such as occurred at the close of harvesting. Here it means that the occasion which the wicked had for rejoicing would be brief. It would be but for a moment, and he then would be overwhelmed with calamity or cut off by death.

Short - Margin, as in Hebrew "from near." That is, it would be soon over.

And the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? - This probably means, as used by Zophar, that the happiness of a hypocrite would be brief - referring to the happiness arising from the possession of health, life, property, friends, reputation. Soon God would take away all these, and leave him to sorrow. This, he said, was the regular course of events as they had been observed from the earliest times. But the "language" conveys most important truths in reference to the spiritual joys of the hypocrite at all times, though it is not certain that Zophar used it in this sense. The truths are these.

(1) There is a kind of joy which a hypocrite may have - the counterfeit of that which a true Christian possesses. The word "hypocrite" may be used in a large sense to denote the man who is a professor of religion, but who has none, as well as him who intentionally imposes on others, and who makes pretensions to piety which he knows he has not. Such a man may have joy. He supposes that his sins are forgiven, and that he has a well-founded hope of eternal life. He may have been greatly distressed in view of his sin and danger, and when he supposes that his heart is changed, and that the danger is passed, from the nature of the case he will have a species of enjoyment. A man is confined in a dungeon under sentence of death. A forged instrument of pardon is brought to him. He does not know that it is forged, and supposes the danger is past, and his joy will be as real as though the pardon were genuine. So with the man who "supposes" that his sins are forgiven.

(2) The joy of the self-deceiver or the hypocrite will be short. There is no genuine religion to sustain it, and it soon dies away. It may be at first very elevated, just as the joy of the man who supposed that he was pardoned would fill him with exultation. But in the case of the hypocrite it soon dies away. He has no true love to God; he has never been truly reconciled to him; he has no real faith in Christ; he has no sincere love of prayer, of the Bible, or of Christians and soon the temporary excitement dies away, and he lives without comfort or peace. He may be a professor of religion, but with him it is a matter of form, and he has neither love nor zeal in the cause of his professed Master. Motives of pride, or the desire of a reputation for piety, or some other selfish aim may keep him in the church, and he lives to shed blighting on all around him. Or if, under the illusion, he should be enabled to keep up some emotions of happiness in his bosom, they must soon cease, for to the hypocrite death will soon end it all. How much does it become us, therefore, to inquire whether the peace which we seek and which we may possess in religion, is the genuine happiness which results from true reconciliation to God and a well founded hope of salvation. Sad will be the disappointment of him who has cherished a hope of heaven through life, should he at last sink down to hell! Deep the condemnation of him who has professed to be a friend of God, and who has been at heart his bitter foe; who has endeavored to keep up the forms of religion, but who has been a stranger through life to the true peace which religion produces!

5. the hypocrite—literally, "the ungodly" (Ps 37:35, 36). Is short, Heb. is from near, i.e. from or for a little time; they have not long enjoyed it, and it will shortly vanish.

The joy of the hypocrite: this he adds by way of reflection upon Job, who though he did clear himself from gross wickedness, yet might be guilty of deep hyprocrisy.

That the triumphing of the wicked is short,.... Their outward prosperity and felicity, of which they make their boast, and in which they glory and triumph for a while; at first Job's friends set out with this notion, that the wicked never flourished and prospered, but it always went ill with them in Providence; but being beat out of that, they own they may be for a small time in flourishing and prosperous circumstances, but it is but for a small time; which may be true in many instances, but it is not invariable and without exception the case: the sense is, it is but a little while that they are in so much mirth and jollity, and triumph over their neighbours, as being in more advantageous circumstances than they; this is said in the original text to be "from near" (h); it is but a little while ago when it began; and; as the Targum paraphrases it, it will be quickly ended:

and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment; the word "wicked", in the former clause, may signify the same person here called the "hypocrite"; but inasmuch as that signifies one restless and troublesome, one that is ungodly, and destitute of the fear of God, that has nothing in him but wickedness, who is continually committing it, and is abandoned to it; it might be thought not to apply to the character of Job, whom Zophar had in his view, and therefore this is added as descriptive of him: an hypocrite is one who seems to be that he is not, holy, righteous, good, and godly; who professes to have what he has not, the true grace of God, and pretends to worship God, but does not do it cordially, and from right principles; and who seeks himself in all he does, and not the glory of God: now there may be a joy in such sort of persons; they may hear ministers gladly, as Herod heard John, and receive the word with joy, as the stony ground hearers did, Mark 6:20; they may seem to delight in the ways and ordinances of God, and even have some tastes of the powers of the world to come, and some pleasing thoughts and hopes of heaven and happiness; as well as they triumph in and boast of their profession of religion and performance of duties, and rejoice in their boastings, which is evil; but then this is like the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season, or like the crackling of thorns under a pot, which make a great noise and blaze, but soon over, Ecclesiastes 7:6; and so their joy in civil as well as religious, things. It is possible Zophar might be so ill natured as to have reference to Job's triumph of faith, Job 19:25; and by this would suggest, that his faith in a living Redeemer, and the joy of it he professed, would be soon over and no more; which shows what spirit he was of.

(h) "de propinquo", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.

That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?
Verse 5. - That the triumphing of the wicked is short (comp. Psalm 37:35, 36; Psalm 51:1-5; Psalm 73:17-19, etc.). This is one of the main points of dispute between Job and his opponents. It has been previously maintained by Eliphaz (Job 4:8-11; Job 5:3-5; Job 15:21, 29) and by Bildad (Job 8:11-19), as it is now by Zophar, and may be regarded as the traditional belief of the time, which scarcely any ventured to question. His own observation, however, has convinced Job that the fact is otherwise. He has seen the wicked "live, become old, and remain mighty in power" (Job 21:7); he has seen them "spend their days in wealth," and die quietly, as "in a moment" (Job 21:13). In Job 24:2-24 he seems to argue that this is the general, if not universal, lot of such persons. Later on, however, in Job 27:13-23, he retracts this view, or, at any rate, greatly modifies it, admitting that usually retribution does even in this life overtake the wicked. And this seems to be the general sentiment of mankind.

"Raro antecedentem scelestum,
Deseruit pede poena claudlo."

(Horace, 'Od.,' 3:2, ll. 31, 32.) There remains, however, the question whether the triumphing of the wicked can fairly be considered "short," and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment. When we consider the lives of Dionysius the elder, Sylla, Marius, Tiberius, Louis XIV., Napoleon, it is difficult to answer this question in the affirmative. Job 20:5 1 Then began Zophar the Naamathite, and said:

2 Therefore do my thoughts furnish me with a reply,

And indeed by reason of my feeling within me.

3 The correction of my reproach I must hear,

Nevertheless the spirit of my understanding informeth me.

4 Knowest thou this which is from everlasting,

Since man was placed upon the earth:

5 That the triumphing of the evil-doer is not long,

And the joy of the godless is but for a moment?

All modern expositors take Job 20:2 as an apology for the opposition which follows, and the majority of them consider בּעבוּר as elliptical for בעבור זאת, as Tremell., Piscator, and others have done, partly (but wrongly) by referring to the Rebia mugrasch. Ewald observes: "בעבור stands without addition, because this is easily understood from the כן in לכן." But although this ellipsis is not inadmissible (comp. לכן equals לכן אשׁר, Job 34:25; כעל, Isaiah 59:18), in spite of it Job 20:2 furnishes no meaning that can be accepted. Most expositors translate: "and hence the storm within me" (thus e.g., Ewald); but the signification perturbatio animi, proposed by Schultens for חוּשׁי, after the Arab. ḥâš, is too remote from the usage of Hebrew. Moreover, this Arab. ḥâš signifies prop. to scare, hunt, of game; not, however: to be agitated, to storm, - a signification which even the corresponding Hebr. חוּשׁ, properare, does not support. Only a few expositors (as Umbreit, who translates: because of my storm within me) take בעבור (which occurs only this once in the book of Job) as praepos., as it must be taken in consideration of the infin. which follows (comp. Exodus 9:16; Exodus 20:20; 1 Samuel 1:6; 2 Samuel 10:3). Further, לכן (only by Umbreit translated by "yet," after the Arab. lâkin, lâkinna, which it never signifies in Hebr., where ל is not equals לא, but equals ל with Kametz before the tone) with that which follows is referred by several expositors to the preceding speech of Job, e.g., Hahn: "under such circumstances, if thou behavest thus;" by most, however, it is referred to Job 20:3, e.g., Ew.: "On this account he feels called upon by his thoughts to answer, and hence his inward impulse leaves him no rest: because he hears from Job a contemptuous wounding reproof of himself." In other words: in consequence of the reproach which Job casts upon him, especially with his threat of judgment, Zophar's mind and feelings fall into a state of excitement, and give him an answer to which he now gives utterance. This prospective sense of לכן may at any rate be retained, though בעבור is taken as a preposition (wherefore ... and indeed on account of my inward commotion); but it is far more natural that the beginning of Zophar's speech should be connected with the last word of Job's. Job 20:2 may really be so understood if we connect חושׁי, not with Arab. ḥâš, חושׁ, to excite, to make haste (after which also Saad. and Aben-Ezra: on account of my inward hastening or urging), but with Arab. ḥs, to feel; in this meaning chsh is usual in all the Semitic dialects, and is even biblical also; for Ecclesiastes 2:25 is to be translated: who hath feeling (pleasure) except from Him (read ממנו)? i.e., even in pleasure man is not free, but has conditions fixed by God.

With לכן (used as in Job 42:3) Zophar draws an inference from Job's conduct, esp. from the turn which his last speech has taken, which, as ישׁיבוּני שׂעיפּי

(Note: Thus it is to be read according to the Masoretic note, ומלא לית (i.e., plene, as nowhere else), which occurs in Codd., as is also attested by Kimchi in his Gramm., Moznajim, p. 8; Aben-Ezra in his Gramm., Zachoth 1, b; and the punctuator Jekuthil, in his Darche ha-Nikkud (chapter on the letters יהוא).)

affirms, urges him involuntarily and irresistibly forward, and indeed, as he adds with Waw explic.: on account of the power of feeling dwelling in him, by which he means both his sense of truth and his moral feeling, in general the capacity of direct perception, not perception that is only attained after long reflection. On שׂעיפי, of thoughts which, as it were, branch out, vid., on Job 4:13, and Psychol. S. 181. השׁיב signifies, as everywhere, to answer, not causative, to compel to answer. חוּשׁי is n. actionis in the sense of רגישׁתּי (Targ.), or הרגישׁי (Ralbag), which also signifies "my feeling (αἴσθησις)," and the combination חושׁי בי is like Job 4:21; Job 6:13. Wherein the inference consists in self-evident, and proceeds from Job 20:4. In Job 20:3 expression is given to the ground of the conclusion intended in לכן: the chastisement of my dishonour, i.e., which tends to my dishonour (comp. Isaiah 53:5, chastisement which conduces to our peace), I must hear (comp. on this modal signification of the future, e.g., Job 17:2); and in Job 20:3 Zophar repeats what he has said in Job 20:2, only somewhat differently applied: the spirit, this inner light (vid., Job 32:8; Psychol. S. 154, f), answers him from the perception which is peculiar to himself, i.e., out of the fulness of this perception it furnishes him with information as to what is to be thought of Job with his insulting attacks, viz., (this is the substance of the השׁיב of the thoughts, and of the ענות of the spirit), that in this conduct of Job only his godlessness is manifest. This is what he warningly brings against him, Job 20:4 : knowest thou indeed (which, according to Job 41:1; 1 Kings 21:19, sarcastically is equivalent to: thou surely knowest, or in astonishment: what dost thou not know?!) this from the beginning, i.e., this law, which has been in operation from time immemorial (or as Ew.: hoccine scis aeternum esse, so that מני־עד is not a virtual adj., but virtual predicate-acc.), since man was placed (שׂים infin., therefore prop., since one has placed man) upon the earth (comp. the model passage, Deuteronomy 4:32), that the exulting of the wicked is מקּרוב, from near, i.e., not extending far, enduring only a short time (Arab. qrı̂b often directly signifies brevis); and the joy of the godless עדי־רגע, only for a moment, and continuing no longer?

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