Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:
2 “Therefore my anxious thoughts make me answer, Because of the turmoil within me. 3 I have heard the rebuke [a]that reproaches me, And the spirit of my understanding causes me to answer.
We see here that Zophar is anxious and has lots of anxiety from the Job’s words from the previous chapter. According to the commentary of the Orthodox study Bible, Zophar’s superior “UNDERSTANDING" has blinded him and the others to the truth. And even though Zophar is feeling wounded by Job’s words he is trying to answer Job with understanding.
“Zophar speaks with dignity, but dignity is not an indication of discernment. Zophar has listened to Job’s words but not to the spirit of them; he is ashamed of the attitude his former friend has taken.” (Chambers)
We can rightly question the spiritual understanding of Zophar’s answer, but he certainly spoke with an understanding of poetry and literature. “The poem must be read with full attention given to the use of figurative language, parallelism, and strophic structure, all basic elements of Hebrew poetry. Despite the error of Zophar’s application, the poem itself ought to be appreciated as a masterly piece of literature.” (Smick)
“Do you not know this of old,
Since man was placed on earth,
5 That the triumphing of the wicked is short,
And the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment?
6 Though his haughtiness mounts up to the heavens,
And his head reaches to the clouds,
7 Yet he will perish forever like his own refuse;
Those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’
8 He will fly away like a dream, and not be found;
Yes, he will be chased away like a vision of the night.
9 The eye that saw him will see him no more,
Nor will his place behold him anymore.
10 His children will seek the favor of the poor,
And his hands will restore his wealth.
11 His bones are full of his youthful vigor,
But it will lie down with him in the dust.
We see Job’s friends doing what they have all done on the previous occasion. Zophar made a claim to authority simply by saying, “We all know these things to be true,” without proving the claim. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment: “Job, we all know this — that whatever good or triumph the wicked seem to enjoy, it is all quickly passing. It is only for a moment, and the wicked man will perish forever like his own refuse.”
“Zophar had a strong conceit that Job was but a hypocrite, one that was wicked before God in heart, notwithstanding his fair pretences and professions of piety.” (Trapp)
“Though evil is sweet in his mouth,
And he hides it under his tongue,
13 Though he spares it and does not forsake it,
But still keeps it in his [b]mouth,
14 Yet his food in his stomach turns sour;
It becomes cobra venom within him.
15 He swallows down riches
And vomits them up again;
God casts them out of his belly.
16 He will suck the poison of cobras;
The viper’s tongue will slay him.
17 He will not see the streams,
The rivers flowing with honey and cream.
18 He will restore that for which he labored,
And will not swallow it down;
From the proceeds of business
He will get no enjoyment.
19 For he has [c]oppressed and forsaken the poor,
He has violently seized a house which he did not build.
St. Gregory remarks on vv. 12-14- He comments that the hypocrite hides his evil intentions behind soft words inspired by demons, but the faithful hide “Honey and milk” of heaven under their tongue (SS 4:11)
Song of Songs(Song of Solomon)4:11
Your lips, O my spouse,
Drip as the honeycomb;
Honey and milk are under your tongue;
And the fragrance of your garments
Is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
According to the commentary of the Orthodox Study Bible- milk signifies teachings acceptable for children and immature Christians (Hebrews 5:12). “HONEY” signifies wisdom (Proverbs 24:13), food for the mature believe. (Proverbs 24:13: My son, eat honey because it is good,
And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste;)
We also see in vv. 12-19- Zophar is using a painful and aggressive tactic of implying that Job is indeed this very wicked man in need of repentance.
“Because he knows no quietness in his [d]heart,
He will not save anything he desires.
21 Nothing is left for him to eat;
Therefore his well-being will not last.
22 In his self-sufficiency he will be in distress;
Every hand of [e]misery will come against him.
23 When he is about to fill his stomach,
God will cast on him the fury of His wrath,
And will rain it on him while he is eating.
24 He will flee from the iron weapon;
A bronze bow will pierce him through.
25 It is drawn, and comes out of the body;
Yes, the glittering point comes out of his [f]gall.
Terrors come upon him;
26 Total darkness is reserved for his treasures.
An unfanned fire will consume him;
It shall go ill with him who is left in his tent.
27 The heavens will reveal his iniquity,
And the earth will rise up against him.
28 The increase of his house will depart,
And his goods will flow away in the day of His wrath.
29 This is the portion from God for a wicked man,
The heritage appointed to him by God.”
i. “These closing words were in the nature of a summary of all he had been saying. The sufferings he had described were such as fell to the wicked, and that by Divine appointment. All this was true. But other things were true, of which he seemed to have no knowledge... The narrowness of Zophar’s philosophy made him unjust to Job.” (Morgan)
ii. Significantly, Zophar was mostly correct. It is true that there is a moral order to the universe and that wickedness is inherently unprofitable, and it is cursed and judged by God. Morgan rightly observed: “In a passage thrilling with passion, he described the instability of evil gains. There is triumph, but it is short. There is a mounting up, but it is succeeded by swift vanishing. There is a sense of youth, but it becomes dust. There is a sweetness, but it becomes remorse; a swallowing down which ends in vomiting; a getting without rejoicing.” Yet that true general principle did not apply to Job’s specific situation.
iii. Zophar — as with the rest of Job’s friends — also left little room for grace. “It is worth pointing out, as a sign of the narrowness of Zophar’s beliefs, that his speech contains no hint that the wicked might repent, make amends, and regain the favor of God. Zophar has no compassion, and his god has no mercy.” (Andersen)
Tonight's takeaway is this we seem to learn a valuable lesson here from Job. The lesson is on how we choose our friends. Job's friends were like brothers to him but instead of receiving love from his fellow brethren, Job receives a handful of criticism and is accused of being a very wicked man in need of repentance. I feel Job's friends came in good intentions but was used by Satan to further afflict more agony unto Job. Imagine the feeling of despair and the rejection Job felt seeing how his three closest friends who were like brothers couldn't even offer Job the love and compassion he needed instead Job received hypocrisy. Job's true tormentor was indeed the evil one, but Job had the faith he needed to prevail, because the Lord had already searched his heart beforehand.