Job 21:1-16 (NIV) 1 Then Job replied: 2 “Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you give me. 3 Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on. 4 “Is my complaint directed to man? Why should I not be impatient? 5 Look at me and be astonished; clap your hand over your mouth. 6 When I think about this, I am terrified; trembling seizes my body. 7 Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? 8 They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. 9 Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not upon them. 10 Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry. 11 They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about. 12 They sing to the music of tambourine and harp; they make merry to the sound of the flute. 13 They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace. 14 Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. 15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ 16 But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.
On verses 1-16: Contrary to Zophar’s assertion in Job 20 that the wicked always die young, Job can’t understand why God allows some wicked people to prosper, living seemingly comfortable lives “growing old and increasing in power” (v7), all the while being indifferent and rebellious toward God (v14-15).
While Job wants nothing to do with the wicked and believes any prosperity they enjoy is ultimately due to the hand of God and “not in their own hands” (v16), still Job is disturbed when he sees those who seem to live rich, prosperous and comfortable lives despite not trusting or even believing in God. Have you ever had a similar feeling? Have you ever thought, “Why should I bother trusting in God when others seem perfectly happy not trusting in Him?”
Job’s sentiment here is similar to Asaph’s in Psalm 73:2-15. There Asaph admits that he envied those who seem to be rich, successful and problem free despite not fearing or trusting in God. However, Asaph’s turning point came when he took these hard feelings to God and spent time in God’s presence. As Asaph says in Psalm 73:
16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20 As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
When Asaph went to God with his uncomfortable feelings, he found insight and a new perspective in God’s presence and was able to go on enjoying life with God again (read Psalm 73:21-28). Job would get to a similar place eventually. Later in the book of Job, Job will personally experience the fact that we are far better off trusting in God and living our lives to please Him than not.
What can we learn from this? When you struggle with envy, jealousy or other uncomfortable feelings, when you are wrestling with tough questions and can’t find an answer, bring your feelings and questions to God. Spend time in God’s presence. Without insisting on anything from God, just worship God for who He is. When you do, you will gain a new perspective on your problem. That’s the perspective-renewing power of God’s presence.
Heavenly Father, thank You that whenever I struggle with envy, jealousy or other hard feelings, whenever I have questions for which I have no answer, my heart finds its resolution in You, in being in Your presence. Thank You for being the ultimate answer to all the questions and issues my heart wrestles with. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!