Then Zophar the Naamathite replied: “My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer because I am greatly disturbed. I hear a rebuke that dishonors me, and my understanding inspires me to reply. “Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since mankind was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever, like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’ – Job 20:1-7
I find Job’s friends rather perplexing…why do they feel the need to fix Job? They have some useful insights but they are not able to see the bigger picture or relate to what is going on at the spiritual level for Job. I guess they, like all of us, are somewhat perplexing people and flawed followers.
Zophar’s “understanding” is that Job is simply mistaken about how he is dealing with the great losses he has experienced. Zophar thinks he is just being vain and self-centered in his lamentations to God. I am not sure what to make of his statement that “mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment”. Surely he is not saying that Job is godless — although from yesterday’s passage, and many others Job, it certainly feels to Job like he has been abandoned by God.
Zophar goes on to describe the pride of the godless reaching into the heavens and their heads touching the clouds. This is interesting imagery given that for much of the early part of the bible God manifested Himself as a cloud. So in a way what Zophar is saying is that these prideful people’s heads are touching God. It seems there are at least two problems with this posture toward God: 1) if only our heads are touching God our hearts remain far from God; 2) by stretching to place our “head in the cloud” we are not allowing God to come to us.
What is the difference between a head connected to God and a heart connected to God (I think we need both)? I have spent many years of my life acquiring head knowledge and letters after my name. None of this is helpful when it comes to understanding how to work with a small village in Haiti or Africa. This requires experience and relationship — connecting heart to heart and soul to soul. The only way to acquire this is through relationship and time. The same is true in our relationship with God. We must have both a heart and head connection and time.
The second issues is one of availabilty. Are available to take God’s outstretched hand? If our posture and perspective is such that we are always trying to stretch our heads into the clouds — pull ourselves up by our bootstraps if you will — then we may miss the God who sees us waiting to carry us like a son or daughter. God has reached out to us through Jesus, but it is hard to grab His hand when one is busy thrusting their head into the clouds.
Prayer: God help us to connect with You with our heads and our hearts with humility and grace.