One would have thought that such an excellent confession of faith as
Job made, in the close of the foregoing chapter, would satisfy his
friends, or at least mollify them; but they do not seem to have taken
any notice of it, and therefore Zophar here takes his turn, enters the
lists with Job, and attacks him with as much vehemence as before.
I. His preface is short, but hot,
II. His discourse is long, and all upon one subject, the very same that
Bildad was large upon
the certain misery of wicked people and the ruin that awaits them.
1. He asserts, in general, that the prosperity of a wicked person is
short, and his ruin sure,
2. He proves the misery of his condition by many instances--that he
should have a diseased body, a troubled conscience, a ruined estate, a
beggared family, an infamous name and that he himself should perish
under the weight of divine wrath: all this is most curiously described
here in lofty expressions and lively similitudes; and it often proves
true in this world, and always in another, without repentance,
But the great mistake was, and (as bishop Patrick expresses it) all the
flaw in his discourse (which was common to him with the rest), that he
imagined God never varied from this method, and therefore Job was,
without doubt, a very bad man, though it did not appear that he was,
any other way than by his infelicity.
|Second Address of Zophar; Destruction of the Wicked.
||B. C. 1520.|
1 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,
2 Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I
3 I have heard the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my
understanding causeth me to answer.
4 Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon
5 That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of
the hypocrite but for a moment?
6 Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head
reach unto the clouds;
7 Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which
have seen him shall say, Where is he?
8 He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he
shall be chased away as a vision of the night.
9 The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither
shall his place any more behold him.
I. Zophar begins very passionately, and seems to be in a great heat at
what Job had said. Being resolved to condemn Job for a bad man, he was
much displeased that he talked so like a good man, and, as it should
seem, broke in upon him, and began abruptly
Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer. He takes no notice
of what Job had said to move their pity, or to evidence his own
integrity, but fastens upon the reproof he gave them in the close of
his discourse, counts that a reproach, and thinks himself
therefore obliged to answer, because Job had bidden them be
afraid of the sword, that he might not seem to be frightened by his
menaces. The best counsel is too often ill taken from an antagonist,
and therefore usually may be well spared. Zophar seemed more in haste
to speak than became a wise man; but he excuses his haste with two
1. That Job had given him strong provocation
"I have heard the check of my reproach, and cannot bear to hear
it any longer." Job's friends, I doubt, had spirits too high to deal
with a man in his low condition; and high spirits are impatient of
contradiction, and think themselves affronted if all about them do not
say as they say; they cannot bear a check but they call it the check
of their reproach, and then they are bound in honour to return it,
if not to draw upon him that gave it.
2. That his own heart gave him a strong instigation. His thoughts
caused him to answer
for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks; but he
fathers the instigation
upon the spirit of his understanding: that indeed should cause
us to answer; we should rightly apprehend a thing and duly consider it
before we speak of it; but whether it did so here or no is a question.
Men often mistake the dictates of their passion for the dictates of
their reason, and therefore think they do well to be angry.
II. Zophar proceeds very plainly to show the ruin and destruction of
wicked people, insinuating that because Job was destroyed and ruined he
was certainly a wicked man and a hypocrite. Observe,
1. How this doctrine is introduced,
where he appeals,
(1.) To Job's own knowledge and conviction: "Knowest thou not
this? Canst thou be ignorant of a truth so plain? Or canst thou
doubt of a truth which has been confirmed by the suffrages of all
mankind?" Those know little who do not know that the wages of sin is
(2.) To the experience of all ages. It was known of old, since man was
placed upon the earth; that is, ever since man was made he has had this
truth written in his heart, that the sin of sinners will be their ruin;
and ever since there were instances of wickedness (which there were
soon after man was placed on the earth) there were instances of the
punishments of it, witness the exclusions of Adam and Cain. When sin
entered into the world death entered with it: all the world knows that
evil pursues sinners, whom vengeance suffers not to live
and subscribes to that
Woe to the wicked; it shall be ill with him, sooner or
2. How it is laid down
The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite
but for a moment. Observe,
(1.) He asserts the misery, not only of those who are openly wicked and
profane, but of hypocrites, who secretly practice wickedness under a
show and profession of religion, because such a wicked man he looked
upon Job to be; and it is true that a form of godliness, if it be made
use of for a cloak of maliciousness, does but make bad worse.
Dissembled piety is double iniquity, and the ruin that attends it will
be accordingly. The hottest place in hell will be the portion of
hypocrites, as our Saviour intimates,
(2.) He grants that wicked men may for a time prosper, may be secure
and easy, and very merry. You may see them in triumph and joy,
triumphing and rejoicing in their wealth and power, their grandeur and
success, triumphing and rejoicing over their poor honest neighbours
whom they vex and oppress: they feel no evil, they fear none. Job's
friends were loth to own, at first, that wicked people might prosper at
until Job proved it plainly
and now Zophar yields it; but,
(3.) He lays it down for a certain truth that they will not prosper
long. Their joy is but for a moment, and will quickly end in endless
sorrow. Though he be ever so great, and rich, and jovial, the
hypocrite will be humbled, and mortified, and made miserable.
3. How it is illustrated,
(1.) He supposes his prosperity to be very high, as high as you can
It is not his wisdom and virtue, but his worldly wealth or greatness,
that he accounts his excellency, and values himself upon. We
will suppose that to mount up to the heavens, and, since his
spirit always rises with his condition, you may suppose that with it
his head reaches to the clouds. He is every way advanced; the
world has done the utmost it can for him. He looks down upon all about
him with disdain, while they look up to him with admiration, envy, or
fear. We will suppose him to bid fair for a universal monarchy. And,
though he cannot but have made himself many enemies before he arrived
to this pitch of prosperity, yet he thinks himself as much out of the
reach of their darts as if he were in the clouds.
(2.) He is confident that his ruin will accordingly be very great, and
his fall the more dreadful for his having risen so high: He shall
perish for ever,
His pride and security were the certain presages of his misery. This
will certainly be true of all impenitent sinners in the other world;
they shall be undone, for ever undone. But Zophar means his ruin in
this world; and indeed sometimes notorious sinners are remarkably cut
off by present judgments; they have reason enough to fear what Zophar
here threatens even the triumphant sinner with.
[1.] A shameful destruction: He shall perish like his own dung
or dunghill, so loathsome is he to God and all good men, and so willing
will the world be to part with him,
[2.] A surprising destruction. He will be brought into desolation in a
so that those about him, that saw him but just now, will ask, "Where
is he? Could he that made so great a figure vanish and expire so
[3.] A swift destruction,
He shall fly away upon the wings of his own terrors, and be
chased away by the just imprecations of all about him, who would
gladly get rid of him.
[4.] An utter destruction. It will be total; he shall go away like
a dream, or vision of the night, which was a mere phantasm,
and, whatever in it pleased the fancy, it is quite gone, and nothing of
it remains but what serves us to laugh at the folly of. It will be
The eye that saw him, and was ready to adore him, shall see
him no more, and the place he filled shall no more behold him,
having given him an eternal farewell when he went to his own place, as
|Misery of the Wicked.
||B. C. 1520.|
10 His children shall seek to please the poor, and his hands
shall restore their goods.
11 His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall
lie down with him in the dust.
12 Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it
under his tongue;
13 Though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still
within his mouth:
14 Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of
asps within him.
15 He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up
again: God shall cast them out of his belly.
16 He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper's tongue shall
17 He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey
18 That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not
swallow it down: according to his substance shall the
restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein.
19 Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor;
because he hath violently taken away a house which he builded
20 Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall
not save of that which he desired.
21 There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man
look for his goods.
22 In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits:
every hand of the wicked shall come upon him.
The instances here given of the miserable condition of the wicked man
in this world are expressed with great fulness and fluency of language,
and the same thing returned to again and repeated in other words. Let
us therefore reduce the particulars to their proper heads, and
I. What his wickedness is for which he is punished.
1. The lusts of the flesh, here called the sins of his youth
for those are the sins which, at that age, people are most tempted to.
The forbidden pleasures of sense are said to be sweet in his
he indulges himself in all the gratifications of the carnal appetite,
and takes an inordinate complacency in them, as yielding the most
agreeable delights. That is the satisfaction which he hides under
his tongue, and rolls there, as the most dainty delicate thing that
can be. He keeps it still within his mouth
let him have that, and he desires no more; he will never part with that
for the spiritual and divine pleasures of religion, which he has no
relish or nor affection for. His keeping it still in his mouth denotes
his obstinately persisting in his sin (he spares it when he
should kill and mortify it, and forsakes it not, but holds it
fast, and goes on frowardly in it), and also his re-acting of his sin
by revolving it and remembering it with pleasure, as that adulterous
who multiplied her whoredoms by calling to remembrance the days of
her youth; so does this wicked man here. Or his hiding it and
keeping it under his tongue denotes his industrious concealment of his
beloved lust. Being a hypocrite, his haunts of sin are secret, that he
may save the credit of his profession; but he who knows what is in the
heart knows what is under the tongue too, and will discover it
2. The love of the world and the wealth of it. It is in worldly wealth
that he places his happiness, and therefore he sets his heart upon it.
(1.) How greedy he is of it
He has swallowed down riches as eagerly as ever a hungry man
swallowed down meat; and is still crying, "Give, give." It is that
which he desired
it was, in his eye, the best gift, and that which he coveted earnestly.
(2.) What pains he takes for it: It is that which he laboured
not by honest diligence in a lawful calling, but by an unwearied
prosecution of all ways and methods, per fas, per nefas--right or
wrong, to be rich. We must labour, not to be rich
but to be charitable, that we may have to give
not to spend.
(3.) What great things he promises himself from it, intimated in the
rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter
his being disappointed of them supposes that he had flattered himself
with the hopes of them: he expected rivers of sensual delights.
3. Violence and oppression, and injustice in his poor neighbours,
This was the sin of the giants of the old world, and a sin that, as
much as any, brings God's judgments upon nations and families. It is
charged upon this wicked man,
(1.) That he has forsaken the poor, taken no care of them, shown
no kindness to them, nor made any provision for them. At first perhaps,
for a pretence, he gave alms like the Pharisees, to gain a reputation;
but, when he had served his turn by this practice, he left it off, and
forsook the poor, whom before he seemed to be concerned for. Those who
do good, but not from a good principle, though they may abound in it,
will not abide in it.
(2.) That he has oppressed them, crushed them, taken all
advantages against them to do them a mischief. To enrich himself, he
has robbed the spital, and made the poor poorer.
(3.) That he has violently taken away their houses, which he had
no right to, as Ahab took Naboth's vineyard, not by secret fraud, by
forgery, perjury, or some trick in law, but avowedly, and by open
II. What his punishment is for this wickedness.
1. He shall be disappointed in his expectations, and shall not find
that satisfaction in his worldly wealth which he vainly promised
He shall never see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and
butter, with which he hoped to glut himself. The world is not that
to those who love it, and court it, and admire it, which they fancy it
will be. The enjoyment sinks far below the raised expectation.
2. He shall be diseased and distempered in his body; and how little
comfort a man has in riches if he has not health! Sickness and pain,
especially it they be in extremity, embitter all his enjoyments. This
wicked man has all the delights of sense wound up to the height of
pleasurableness; but what real happiness can he enjoy when his bones
are full of the sins of his youth
that is, of the effects of those sins? By his drunkenness and gluttony,
his uncleanness and wantonness, when he was young, he contracted those
diseases which are painful to him long after, and perhaps make his life
very miserable, and, as Solomon speaks, consume his flesh and his body,
Perhaps he was given to fight when he was young, and then made nothing
of a cut or a bruise in a fray; but he feels it in his bones long
after. But can he get no ease, no relief? No, he is likely to carry his
pains and diseases with him to the grave, or rather they are likely to
carry him thither, and so the sins of his youth shall lie down with
him in the dust; the very putrefying of his body in the grave is to
him the effect of sin
so that his iniquity is upon his bones there,
The sin of sinners follows them to the other side death.
3. He shall be disquieted and troubled in his mind: Surely he shall
not feel quietness in his belly,
He has not that ease in his own mind that people think he has, but is
in continual agitation. The ill-gotten wealth which he has swallowed
down makes him sick, and, like undigested meat, is always upbraiding
him. Let none expect to enjoy that comfortably which they have gotten
unjustly. The unquietness of his mind arises,
(1.) From his conscience looking back, and filling him with the fear of
the wrath of God against him for his wickedness. Even that wickedness
which was sweet in the commission, and was rolled under the tongue as a
delicate morsel, becomes bitter in the reflection, and, when it is
reviewed, fills him with horror and vexation. In his bowels it is
like John's book, in his mouth as sweet as honey, but, when
he had eaten it, his belly was bitter,
Such a thing is sin; it is turned into the gall of asps, than
which nothing is more bitter, the poison of asps
than which nothing more fatal, and so it will be to him; what he sucked
so sweetly, and with so much pleasure, will prove to him the poison of
asps; so will all unlawful gains be. The fawning tongue will prove the
viper's tongue. All the charming graces that are thought to be in sin
will, when conscience is awakened, turn into so many raging furies.
(2.) From his cares, looking forward,
In the fulness of his sufficiency, when he thinks himself most
happy, and most sure of the continuance of his happiness, he shall
be in straits, that is, he shall think himself so, through the
anxieties and perplexities of his own mind, as that rich man who, when
his ground brought forth plentifully, cried out, What shall I
4. He shall be dispossessed of his estate; that shall sink and dwindle
away to nothing, so that he shall not rejoice therein,
He shall not only never rejoice truly, but not long rejoice at all.
(1.) What he has unjustly swallowed he shall be compelled to disgorge
He swallowed down riches, and then thought himself sure of them,
and that they were as much his own as the meat he had eaten; but he was
deceived: he shall vomit them up again; his own conscience
perhaps may make him so uneasy in the keeping of what he has gotten
that, for the quiet of his own mind, he shall make restitution, and
that not with the pleasure of a virtue, but the pain of a vomit, and
with the utmost reluctancy. Or, if he do not himself refund what he has
violently taken away, God will, by his providence, force him to it, and
bring it about, one way or other, that ill-gotten goods shall return to
the right owners: God shall cast them out of his belly, while
yet the love of the sin is not cast out of his heart. So loud shall
the clamours of the poor, whom he has impoverished, be against him,
that he shall be forced to send his children to them to soothe them and
beg their pardon
His children shall seek to please the poor, while his own hands
shall restore them their goods with shame
That which he laboured for, by all the arts of oppression,
shall he restore, and shall not so swallow it down as to digest
it; it shall not stay with him, but according to his shame shall the
restitution be; having gotten a great deal unjustly, he shall
restore a great deal, so that when every one has his own he will have
but little left for himself. To be made to restore what was unjustly
gotten, by the sanctifying grace of God, as Zaccheus was, is a great
mercy; he voluntarily and cheerfully restored four-fold, and yet had a
great deal left to give to the poor,
But to be forced to restore, as Judas was, merely by the horrors of a
despairing conscience, has none of that benefit and comfort attending
it, for he threw down the pieces of silver and went and hanged
(2.) He shall be stripped of all he has and become a beggar. He that
spoiled others shall himself be spoiled
for every hand of the wicked shall be upon him. The innocent,
whom he has wronged, sit down by their loss, saying, as David,
Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked, but my hand shall not be upon
1 Samuel 24:13.
But though they have forgiven him, though they will make no reprisals,
divine justice will, and often makes the wicked to avenge the quarrel
of the righteous, and squeezes and crushes one bad man by the hand of
another upon him. Thus, when he is plucked on all sides, he shall
not save of that which he desired
not only he shall not save it all, but he shall save nothing of it.
There shall none of his meat (which he coveted so much, and fed
upon with so much pleasure) be left,
All his neighbours and relations shall look upon him to be in such bad
circumstances that, when he is dead, no man shall look for his goods,
none of his kindred shall expect to be a penny the better for him, nor
be willing to take out letters of administration for what he leaves
behind him. In all this Zophar reflects upon Job, who had lost all and
was reduced to the last extremity.
23 When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the
fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he
24 He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel
shall strike him through.
25 It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering
sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him.
26 All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not
blown shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that is left in
27 The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall
rise up against him.
28 The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods
shall flow away in the day of his wrath.
29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the
heritage appointed unto him by God.
Zophar, having described the many embarrassments and vexations which
commonly attend the wicked practices of oppressors and cruel men, here
comes to show their utter ruin at last.
I. Their ruin will take its rise from God's wrath and vengeance,
The hand of the wicked was upon him
every hand of the wicked. His hand was against every one, and
therefore every man's hand will be against him. Yet, in grappling with
these, he might go near to make his part good; but his heart cannot
endure, nor his hands be strong, when God shall deal with him
when God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him and rain it upon
him. Every word here speaks terror. It is not only the justice of
God that is engaged against him, but his wrath, the deep resentment of
provocations given to himself; it is the fury of his wrath,
incensed to the highest degree; it is cast upon him with force and
fierceness; it is rained upon him in abundance; it comes on his head
like the fire and brimstone upon Sodom, to which the psalmist also
On the wicked God shall rain fire and brimstone. There is no
fence against this, but in Christ, who is the only covert from the
storm and tempest,
This wrath shall be cast upon him when he is about to fill his
belly, just going to glut himself with what he has gotten and
promising himself abundant satisfaction in it. Then, when he is eating,
shall this tempest surprise him, when he is secure and easy, and in
apprehension of no danger; as the ruin of the old world and Sodom came
when they were in the depth of their security and the height of their
sensuality, as Christ observes,
&c. Perhaps Zophar here reflects on the
death of Job's children when they were eating and drinking.
II. Their ruin will be inevitable, and there will be no possibility of
He shall flee from the iron weapon. Flight argues guilt. He will
not humble himself under the judgments of God, nor seek means to make
his peace with him. All his care is to escape the vengeance that
pursues him, but in vain: if he escape the sword, yet the bow of
steel shall strike him through. God has weapons of all sorts; he
has both whet his sword and bent his bow
he can deal with his enemies cominus vel eminus--at hand or afar
off. He has a sword for those that think to fight it out with him
by their strength, and a bow for those that think to avoid him by their
Jer. xlviii. 43, 44.
He that is marked for ruin, though he may escape one judgment, will
find another ready for him.
III. It will be a total terrible ruin. When the dart that has struck
him through (for when God shoots he is sure to hit his mark, when he
strikes he strikes home) comes to be drawn out of his body, when
the glittering sword (the lightning, so the word is), the
flaming sword, the sword that is bathed in heaven
comes out of his gall, O what terrors are upon him! How
strong are the convulsions, how violent are the dying agonies! How
terrible are the arrests of death to a wicked man!
IV. Sometimes it is a ruin that comes upon him insensibly,
1. The darkness he is wrapped up in is a hidden darkness: it is all
darkness, utter darkness, without the least mixture of light, and
it is hid in his secret place, whither he has retreated and
where he hopes to shelter himself; he never retires into his own
conscience but he finds himself in the dark and utterly at a loss.
2. The fire he is consumed by is a fire not blown, kindled
without noise, a consumption which every body sees the effect of, but
nobody sees the cause of. It is plain that the gourd is withered, but
the worm at the root, that causes it to wither, is out of sight. He is
wasted by a soft gentle fire--surely, but very slowly. When the fuel is
very combustible, the fire needs no blowing, and that is his case; he
is ripe for ruin. The proud, and those that do wickedly, shall be
An unquenchable fire shall consume him (so some read it), and
that is certainly true of hell-fire.
V. It is a ruin, not only to himself, but to his family: It shall go
ill with him that is left in his tabernacle, for the curse shall
reach him, and he shall be cut off perhaps by the same grievous
disease. There is an entail of wrath upon the family, which will
destroy both his heirs and his inheritance,
1. His posterity will be rooted out: The increase of his house shall
depart, shall either be cut off by untimely deaths or forced to run
their country. Numerous and growing families, if wicked and vile, are
soon reduced, dispersed, and extirpated, by the judgments of God.
2. His estate will be sunk. His goods shall flow away from his
family as fast as ever they flowed into it, when the day of God's
wrath comes, for which, all the while his estate was in the getting
by fraud and oppression, he was treasuring up wrath.
VI. It is a ruin which will manifestly appear to be just and righteous,
and what he has brought upon himself by his own wickedness; for
the heaven shall reveal his iniquity, that is, the God of
heaven, who sees all the secret wickedness of the wicked, will, by some
means or other, let all the world know what a base man he has been,
that they may own the justice of God in all that is brought upon him.
The earth also shall rise up against him, both to
discover his wickedness and to avenge it. The earth shall disclose
The earth will rise up against him (as the stomach rises against
that which is loathsome), and will no longer keep him. The heaven
reveals his iniquity, and therefore will not receive him. Whither
then must he go but to hell? If the God of heaven and earth be his
enemy, neither heaven nor earth will show him any kindness, but all the
hosts of both are and will be at war with him.
VII. Zophar concludes like an orator
This is the portion of a wicked man from God; it is allotted
him, it is designed him, as his portion. He will have it at last, as a
child has his portion, and he will have it for a perpetuity; it is what
he must abide by: This is the heritage of his decree from God;
it is the settled rule of his judgment, and fair warning is given of
it. O wicked man! thou shalt surely die,
Though impenitent sinners do not always fall under such temporal
judgments as are here described (therein Zophar was mistaken), yet the
wrath of God abides upon them, and they are made miserable by spiritual
judgments, which are much worse, their consciences being either, on the
one hand, a terror to them, and then they are in continual amazement,
or, on the other hand, seared and silenced, and then they are given up
to a reprobate sense and bound over to eternal ruin. Never was any
doctrine better explained, or worse applied, than this by Zophar, who
intended by all this to prove Job a hypocrite. Let us receive the good
explication, and make a better application, for warning to ourselves to
stand in awe and not to sin.