JOB made a very pithy and sober reply to what Bildad had said in the former chapter, and closed with an exhortation to leave off their rigid way of censuring him, lest wrath come upon them, at which Zophar storms that he should check them as men sinning highly against God, and therefore in this chapter breaks off abruptly. Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, therefore, that is, for the check thou hast, given us in the close of thy last discourse, I can endure no longer, but must give thee a present answer.

The chapter hath three parts, 1. A short preface, verse 1, 2, 3.  2. A large setting down of wicked mens and hypocrites judgement and destruction, from ver, 4. to 29. secretly insinuating, such a judgement was come on Job, and therefore that he was a wicked man or an hypocrite, and strongly contradicting Job's assertion, That a wicked man might flourish in the world as well as the godly man, which Job maintains in the following chapter, and opposes his assertion, that a wicked man is always pursued with judgement in this life. 3. In the last verse he closes as Bildad did in the eighteen chapter.

I have such an impression of thy intolerable insolence, that when I have heard thy reproach, I can bear it no longer, but must hasten to answer thee, verse 2. for I am so sure to win the cause, and I am so well acquainted with this controversy, that I will break down all thy arguments at once; and the reflection Job put on him and his own clearness to answer, puts him thus to express verse 3.

The matter of his answer follows. Knowest thou not, this is no new doctrine, that the triumphing of the wicked is for a short time, ver, 4, 5. Job hath prevailed thus far with them, that they must grant the wicked may be in prosperity, but they say it cannot be long, and he names the hypocrite after the wicked man, lest Job having purged himself of wickedness before, should also do so of hypocrisy, and therefore if he will not grant that he is a wicked man, he will bind on him that he is a hypocrite. Though his excellency mount up to heaven, &c. Let the wicked man or hypocrite come to never so great excellency, though he should rise so high, that nothing should be above him, yet he shall come to a shameful end, like his own dung, and when he is gone, folks that before have seen him, shall ask where he is, and there shall be no memory of him, verse 6, 7. he enlarges this to the end, He shall flee away as a dream; and as a vision of the night, so shall his prosperity be. He thinks he is rich, and a happy man, but he is but dreaming, and when he awakes, his soul shall be empty for it all, it shall be but as a vision or shadow of that which is not; yea, he shall be chased away as a vision in the night, the people abhor him, like a thing that is not seen in the light, but they imagine they grip it and see it, but cannot let others see it or feel it. Ver. 8. The eye that hath seen him, shall not see him again; neither shall his place any more behold him. He shall no more be found in the world, to set out the irreparableness of his destruction, they that saw him shall not see him again, neither shall his place any more behold him; he {hall no more be found in the world. Ver. 9. His children shall seek to please the poor, while he lived he made many poor folk by robbery and oppression, but when he is away, the poorest in the country shall be his children's masters, so that they shall flatter and fawn on poor folk to please them, and court their favour; and he gives the cause of it, His hands shall restore their goods, which were wrongfully taken from them, so he shall have nothing. Ver. 10. His bones are full of the sin of his youth, a comparison to hold out the wicked man's or hypocrite's destruction, he is like a young man that has gotten a vile disease in his youth, which slicks to him all his days, and leaves him not till it lay him in the dust; so the wicked man's sin, and God's judgement therefore, shall never leave him till it destroy him, (as men in youth gather marrow which nourishes the body in old age, so he treasuring up sin, it shall destroy him then) verse 11. A further comparison to set out his destruction, verse 12, 13, 14, 15. He is like a glutton that eats meikle 66, but he shall vomit it out again; tho' he spare it and keep it in his mouth, that is, though he delight himself in pleasing his appetite, and feed himself on his prosperity in a sensual way, yet when it is over, it shall no more be sweet, but bitter and venomous as the gall of asps in his bowels; and he makes the application, verse 15. Though he has taken much pains to gather riches, God shall gar 67 him cast them up again: The meaning is, he shall have more torment in the loss of his wealth, than ever he had refreshment in the gathering and enjoyment of it, He shall suck the poison of asps, the viper's tongue shall slay him, his destruction shall be as certain as if he were sucking most deadly poison. Ver. 16. He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter. He hath thought much of his prosperity, that that was like these things which are evidences of a man’s thriving in the world, but it shall evanish, and he shall not see the abundance of that which he had. Ver. I7. That which he laboured for, or took much pains to obtain, he shall not swallow it down, an application of the former similitude, God shall make him quit it nill he, will he; yea, he shall not digest it, nor send it down, to feed on it, it shall do him no good, and according to his substance shall the restitution be, he shall be as poor as ever he was rich, or, so long as he hath, it shall be taken from him, and he (hall not rejoice therein, ver, 18. The reason of this is rendered verse 19. because he cared not how he got his gear, or how many were poor by his oppression, and after he had courted their favour, till he got what they had from them, and then cast them off, and because by violence; he had intruded himself in other folks buildings, which he had no right to, or paid not the worth of them, and because he had swallowed down much ill gotten goods this way, he shall have no rest till he be quite68 of it; and that which he loved best he shall get none of it keeped, he shall not save even that which he most desired to save, verse 20. There shall none of his meat be left, his destruction shall be so great, that there shall not be a bit of bread left in his house, and whereas every one was striving, who should be his heir, that strife shall cease, when he hath nothing. No man shall look for his goods, verse 21. in the fulness of his sufficiency, when he is at the height of his prosperity, he shall be brought down, and made miserable through straits, and every wicked hand shall pluck at him as he plucked others, as ordinarily losses come with more hands than one, verse 22. When he is about to fill his belly, and barns, like the rich man in the gospel, God shall fall upon him with some extraordinary plague and judgement, verse 23. He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through; in flying from one judgement he shall meet with another; or, when he thinks to escape one plague, God shall cause another meet with him, verse 24: It is drawn and cometh out of the body; that which is shot lights on him, and folks pull it out of him; yea, the glistering sword cometh out of his gall; he gets a deadly wound by the shot, or stroke which he falleth under: Terrors are upon him, God's judgement is so terrible, that it makes him tremble, because he is as sure of destruction, as if his gall, was poured out on the ground, verse 25. And this may have respect to Job's words before, where 16:13. he says, He poureth out my gall upon the ground. All darkness, that is, every plague shall be hid in his secret places, shall privily wait for him. There is no sort of plague but it shall secretly attend him, and whatever he do to escape them, he shall not be able, and in this he alludes to Job's many crosses. A fire not blown shall consume him, a fire that is not blown, is a fire that kindles, and none knows how. The meaning is, the fire of God's judgement, that none can tell wherefrom it came, or a fire within not wakened by human means, but by the finger of God in the conscience shall consume him; And it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle; if any body be left behind in his house, he fhall have a poor life of it, verse 26. The heavens shall reveal his iniquity, &c. e. when God plagues such a man, both heaven and earth shall be against him, as fire from heaven, and the weather and wind, and men on earth set themselves against you, verse 27. The increase of his house shall depart, his posterity shall take wings and fly away, and his goods shall flow away, like a river in the day of God's wrath on wicked men, verse 28. the conclusion follows in the verse. Whatever a wicked man, or hypocrite hath or may enjoy; this that I have spoken is the inheritance that he hath right to, and he hath not another thing for his portion. It is appointed and decreed of God to him, and there is no other that he can call his.


Zophar, in all this aims to bear out the main controversy, that it went well with good men, and ill with wicked men in this life, though an interruption might be, and wicked men might prosper for a time; but there is a limiting of the wicked's punishment to this life, and the godly man's trouble to a temporal outgate, which Job confutes in the next chapter. 

I. From the preface, Observe, That oftimes that which seems to reflect on mens persons puts them to speak, and hath as much weight on them to put them to vindicate themselves as the truth itself. Soberness at such a time should be studied.

II. He thinks himself very clear in the controversy, and that puts him to speak that which he was not clear of. Observe: 1. Folks engaged in a debate, they will seem to themselves clear in the matter when it is not so; folks wilfulness and engagement, especially in men of parts, carry often too much sway, and makes that seem light which is not. 2. Folks estimation of their own ability, brings them often in a snare, out of which they do hardly extricate themselves, verse 3. 

From the sum and shot of the debate, we draw two notes. 1. Let hypocrites flourish as they will in the world, they have a fearful and desperate condition abiding them, whatever sort of hypocrites they be, whether grossly profane, or more civil and formal, (for both are put together, verse 5.) or whatever their prosperity be, their triumphing is but for a moment. Use. Fear to trust your portion to the things of the earth, and to lose the gain that godliness hath with it, else ye will find that ye have made an ill block. It were a good advantage, if the strokes that are come upon us, brought us more in love with godliness, and to hate hypocrisy.

2. From the misapplication to Job. Observe. There is nothing so terrible and due to the hypocrite, but it may be misrepresented to a godly man as his portion. Job was no hypocrite, yet looking on this as a temptation, which the devil was furthering, it clears the doctrine. But it is one thing to have right to such a thing as is the portion of the hypocrite, and another thing to have it born in on a man by the force of temptation, and Job in all the debate guards against this.