In chapter 20 Zophar ignores Job’s points and asserts that prosperity does not last for the wicked.
Chapter 20 (For Previous Chapter Click Here, For Subsequent Chapter Click Here)
Zophar is livid. He is agitated (Job 20:2) and feels insulted (Job 20:3). One may detect a degree of self-righteousness in his speech. Zophar thinks it is important enough to make clear that his understanding is superior to that of Job’s (Job 20:3).
After this, he begins his counter argument against Job. It is not clear whether he is appealing to man-made tradition or what he views as commonsense. Nonetheless, one may summarize his arguments as the following: “the triumphing of the wicked is short” (Job 20:5).
Apparently ignoring his earlier argumentation that God is inscrutable in chapter 12, Zophar now argues that God smites the wicked man as predictably as the sun rises every morning. Being that this does not always happen instantly, he argues that the wicked are punished eventually for their crimes, though they may prosper for a time.
What one may infer from Zophar’s argument and indignation is that he views Job as wicked. Indeed, Job prospered for a time but eventually God was going to punish him for his supposed indiscretions.
Zophar opens his volley: The wicked view themselves arrogantly and beyond repute (Job 20:6, obviously a response to Job’s claims of blamelessness) but they are quickly brushed away by God as if they were nothing (Job 20:7-10). For a moment they captivate us with their prosperity like a dream, until to be spirited away in God’s judgment (Job 20:8).
Some of the subsequent verses may be a little indirect, but they all hammer home at the same point: the wicked’s prosperity will come to an end and this reflects God’s righteousness. One concerns the children of the wicked and how they spend their father’s money. Whether the sons of the wicked are foolish and spend all of their inheritance, or they are repentant and do right with it, the fact of the matter is that all the wicked have strived for will not last (Job 20:10).
Further, the wicked man in his youth, he may feel invincible if not immortal. Death is not something the young reflect seriously upon. However, such youthful vigor will pass away with his body and become nothing (Job 20:11).
An overarching theme in the above appears to be how God will right all wrongs. If the wicked deprive the poor of money, eventually (though it may be through the children of the wicked) they will get it back. Further, though for a time the wicked will behave as if they are invincible, they will be humbled. Zophar is merely endorsing the “what goes around comes around theology” as an explanation of why Job is suffering afflictions.
While invoking the same idea, he then takes some time to describe how the riches the wicked swallow will be vomited as a punishment from God (Job 20:12-23). Because of this, the wicked ultimately will not enjoy the “fruits” of their wickedness (Job 20:20).
Zophar’s in the end of the chapter reveal how he views Job’s situation quite explicitly: “The heavens will reveal his [the wicked’s] iniquity and the earth will rise up against him” (Job 20:27). God will pursue the wicked until they are punished for their evil (Job 20:23-25). The wicked will lose, like Job, “[t]he increase of his house” (Job 20:28) because this is “the wicked man’s portion from God” (Job 20:29).