Why do the wicked live, become old, yes, are mighty in power?
Job here gives his version of the old familiar theme. It is not as the three friends supposed. These neat maxims do not fit in with the facts of life as Job has seen them. The prosperity of the wicked is a real though a mysterious fact, one that cannot be gainsaid.
I. THE FACTS AS WITNESSED IN LIFE.
1. An established family. Job's home is desolate. The seed of the wicked is established in their sight. They have their children about them.
2. Security. (Ver. 8.) "Their houses are safe from fear." They are not haunted by the alarms of guilt. On the contrary, they are very comfortable and self-satisfied (ver. 9).
3. Freedom from chastisement. The rod of God is not upon them. The righteous man is chastised; the godless man is spared (ver. 9).
4. Good fortune. Their cattle breed successfully (ver. 10). The mishaps which fall to the lot of others avoid them. A certain good fortune follows them, even into those chances of life which are beyond human control.
5. Pleasure. These wicked people are not troubled by their sins. They have no puritanical scruples to sour them. They spend their days in gaiety (vers. 11, 12).
6. Prosperity lasting till death. (Ver. 13.) They do not have the reverse of fortune which the three moralizers assumed to be their lot. A long life of wealth and ease is followed by a quick and almost painless death. Here is unmitigated prosperity from the cradle to the grave.
II. THE DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES OF THESE FACTS. Because they are so prosperous the wicked harden themselves against God.
1. Dispensing with God. (Ver. 14.) They think they can do very well without God. This world's goods satisfy them, and of this world's goods they have a sufficiency. They have no need to cry to God for help for they are not in trouble. They see no reason for prayer, for they have all they want without it.
2. Rejecting God. (Ver. 15.) These prosperous wicked people go further than to live without God. They actually rebel against him. Being self-sufficient, they decline to admit that they are under any obligation to serve God. Thus their very prosperity increases their sin.
III. THE GREAT MYSTERY OF THESE FACTS. This is inexplicable from the standpoint of Job's friends. If suffering is only the punishment of sin, the wicked must suffer, or there is no just Judge over all. By pointing to the plain facts of life Job is able to refute the pedantic dogmas of his critics. Theology that will not stand the test of life is worthless. But graver questions are at issue than those that merely concern the correctness of orthodox notions. Where is the justice of facts as Job sets them forth? To him all is a profound mystery. Now, it is something to be brought to this point. There is a mystery in the course of life which we cannot fathom. Then let us not attempt to judge, but confess our ignorance. Still, if there is to be an outlook towards the light, we must seek it in two directions.
1. In the prospect of a future life. There God will rectify the inequalities of this life.
2. In attaching less weight to outward circumstances. Prosperity is not the greatest good. On both sides, among the disappointed good as well as among the fortunate wicked, too much is made of external things. True prosperity is soul-prosperity. "The life is more than meat" etc. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?