The Prosperity of the Wicked Unsolved
Job 24:23, 24
Though it be given him to be in safety, where on he rests; yet his eyes are on their ways.

In the midst of many apparent anomalies in the method of the Divine dealing with evil-doing, there shines out one obvious indication of the Divine judgment against the evil-doer. "They are exalted for a little while," but suddenly they "are gone and brought low." Patiently the good Ruler waits, giving opportunity for repentance and amendment; but if the wicked return not, he will bend his bow and make ready his arrow upon the string. Iniquity shall not go wholly unpunished; nor shall that punishment be merely a hidden one - it shall be made apparent. Such is the general testimony and experience; but there are many striking instances which seem to contradict this view, and Job adduces the frequent prosperity of the evil-doer.

I. THE PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED IS AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY. Even with the clearer light that now shines on human life it is not possible wholly to divest the mind of the feeling of surprise at the anomalous instances of prospering wickedness and suffering virtue.

II. THE PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED A FURTHER EXERCISE TO THE PATIENCE AND FAITH OF THE GODLY. It demands that the eye of faith be turned upwards to God. Events do not explain themselves. Nor are men able to find the Divine purposes revealed by events. More and more must the tried and tempted believer look off from the uncertain event, and place his faith in God alone. That faith is strained, but it grows thereby.

III. THE PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED IS NO GUARANTEE OF DEFENCE FROM JUDGMENT. Judgment lingers. It is even hidden. The good Lord of all would fain altogether restrain it. He rejoices in mercy. Wickedness often takes advantage of the withholding of judgment; but in this is no assurance that the judgment which is held back shall not be revealed.

IV. THE PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED NEEDS THE SOLUTION OF THE FUTURE. It points to a future judgment when men must give account, and seems to demand it. In that future what is mysterious in history will doubtless be made plain. No work can be fairly estimated until its completion. If it ever please the Lord of all to justify his dealings with men, he will do it in that dread judgment when each shall receive the due reward of his deeds.

V. THE PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED MAY BE A MERCIFUL FORBEARANCE IN THE HOPE OF REPENTANCE. God is kind, and waiteth long for the returning one, in hope that even the goodness of God may lead him to repentance. How often is this abused! but such is the spirit of wrong that it abuses the best of God's gifts, and is indifferent to the kindest of God's dealings. The Book of Job represents the entanglement of human affairs, but it throws light upon it and helps to resolve it. We live in clearer light, but the clearest light of all has yet to shine when we shall see light in his light. For this we must prepare and patiently wait. - R.G.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways.

WEB: God gives them security, and they rest in it. His eyes are on their ways.

God Observes the Ways of the Wicked
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