on Job 21 :7
Wherefore do the wicked live - You have frequently asserted that the wicked are invariably punished in this life; and that the righteous are ever distinguished by the strongest marks of God's providential kindness; how then does it come that many wicked men live long and prosperously, and at last die in peace, without any evidence whatever of God's displeasure? This is a fact that is occurring daily; none can deny it; how then will you reconcile it with your maxims?
on Job 21 :7
Wherefore do the wicked live? - Job comes now to the main design of his argument in this chapter, to show that it is a fact, that the wicked often have great prosperity; that they are not treated in this life according to their character; and that it is not a fact that men of eminent wickedness, as his friends maintained, would meet, in this life, with proportionate sufferings. He says, that the fact is, that they enjoy great prosperity; that they live to a great age; and that they are surrounded with the comforts of life in an eminent degree. The meaning is, "If you are positive that the wicked are treated according to their character in this life - that great wickedness is followed by great judgments, how is it to be accounted for that they live, and grow old, and are mighty in power?" Job assumes the fact to be so, and proceeds to argue as if that were indisputable. It is remarkable, that the fact was not adverted to at an earlier period of the debate. It would have done much to settle the controversy. The "question," "Why do the wicked live?" is one of great importance at all times, and one which it is natural to ask, but which it is not even yet always easy to answer. "Some" points are clear, and may be easily suggested. They are such as these - They live
(1) to show the forbearance and long suffering of God;
(2) to furnish a full illustration of the character of the human heart;
(3) to afford them ample space for repentance, so that there shall not be the semblance of a ground of complaint when they are called before God, and are condemned;
(4) because God intends to make some of them the monuments of his mercy, and more fully to display the riches of his grace in their conversion, as he did in the case of Paul, Augustine, John Bunyan, and John Newton;
(5) they may be preserved to be the instruments of his executing some important purpose by them, as was the case with Pharaoh, Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar; or,
(6) he keeps them, that the great interests of society may be carried on; that the affairs of the commercial and the political world may be forwarded by their skill and talent.
For some, or all of these purposes, it may be, the wicked are kept in the land of the living, and are favored with great external prosperity, while many a Christian is oppressed, afflicted, and crushed to the dust. Of the "fact," there can be no doubt; of the "reasons" for the fact, there will be a fuller development in the future world than there can be now.
Become old - The friends of Job had maintained that the wicked would be cut off. Job, on the other hand, affirms that they live on to old age. The "fact" is, that many of the wicked are cut off for their sins in early life, but that some live on to an extreme old age. The argument of Job is founded on the fact, that "any" should live to old age, as, according to the principles of his friends, "all" were treated in this life according to their character.
Yea, are mighty in power - Or, rather, "in wealth" - חיל chayı̂l. Jerome, "Are comforted in riches" - "confortatique divitiis." So the Septuagint, ἐν πλούτῳ en ploutō. The idea is, that they become very rich.
on Job 21 :7