“Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on. As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled?” (Job 21:3-4)
Life is good
So if I understand this correctly, Job is turning from what was just spoken by Zophar in the previous chapter. Zophar the Naamathite proceeds to show us the overarching moral structures and strictures that God has set up to the downfall of those who sought to use the gifts and blessings of God as spoil for their own manipulative conquests (see chapter 20). Really, in continuing on, Job sets up the argument one higher. That’s pretty much the tenor for his answering his friends throughout the book that bears his name. In chapter 21, Job says, yes, these people enjoy life in much the same way as those who aren’t conscienceless. They “live” and “become old” (verse 7). The enjoy their families and the safety of their property (verse 8). Their plans scale and produce fruit after their kind (verse 10). “Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?” (vv. 14-15)
This is the human condition. There are times in my life where I get an influx of the same (the aforementioned “garden variety things”) and see the discipline of what it truly means to follow Jesus, fall by the wayside. There was a time in my life where I was depressed and it felt like I was under God’s thumb permanently. I can now tell you unequivocally that it’s better to be in a dark place with Jesus as your cell mate, than free to roam the earth while it slowly burns up. The horrible corollary to what I was experiencing due to my having neglected the ways of God in my (physically) formative years was, should I have experienced an upswing during that season, I wouldn’t have learned the lessons God had for me nor would I have been strong enough to resist the aforementioned temptation to “mock” God and not “revenge all disobedience when once [my] obedience [was] fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:6b)
But God is better
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:7-8)
When Job answers Zophar, he leads with a brief plea for the floor after which, he tells him, that he can “mock on”. Because Zophar is playing God. Zophar sits across from Job and seeks to spill all the secrets of the Almighty without actually having earned the right to know them through suffering. This is the way. Of Jesus is it spoken that He “learned…obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) And if all someone wants to do is enjoy life for its own sake, or, for their own sakes, how do you think God feels? How does this reflect on what Jesus had to go through to become what He did? I would have to say that it’s supremely insulting.
“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy name.” (Psalm 63:3-4)
David had seen to the depths God brought him to and consequently had “eyes wide open” all the way back up. Gratitude (“my lips shall praise Thee”) and worship (“I will lift up my hands in Thy name.”) are but a paltry sum for that which God gifts freely in exchange for a fleeting few years of torment and misery and…obedience.
“It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.” (Lamentations 3:27-32)