Though evil is sweet in his mouth and he hides it under his tongue, though he cannot bear to let it go and lets it linger in his mouth, yet his food will turn sour in his stomach; it will become the venom of serpents within him. He will spit out the riches he swallowed; God will make his stomach vomit them up. He will suck the poison of serpents; the fangs of an adder will kill him. He will not enjoy the streams, the rivers flowing with honey and cream. What he toiled for he must give back uneaten; he will not enjoy the profit from his trading. For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute; he has seized houses he did not build. – Job 20:12-19
Zophar continues his rebuke of Job and in this passage it takes an interesting bend. I must admit I am still a little confused about who exactly Zophar has in mind when he is describing someone who “will suck the poison of serpents”. Unless there are issues between Job and his friends that are not obvious or spoken of openly.
It almost sounds as if Zophar is jealous of Job’s previous success and life. Now that this “abundant” life has been taken from Job Zophar is in essence saying “I told you so”. Perhaps there were flaws in Job that his friends could see that are not written about in Job?
This does bring up an issue that is challenging for followers of God. How much abundance or “riches” are OK to own? This is a very hard question. I think it is not so much about how much you own or possess, but really how the things you own and possess are possessing you. Jesus has some strong words for those who possess riches in Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
So does this mean we all need to sell all of our possessions and follow God? I do not know. It almost seems as though that is what Zophar would have advocated for Job. It is interesting that Zophar says that Job will not enjoy the streams and rivers flowing with honey and cream. He is, in essence, saying you will find it difficult to enjoy God if you have money and possessions (the same thing Jesus said). What he is not able to discern is to what extent Job has placed his possessions in proper perspective and position relative to God.
Even these close friends of Job are not able to accurately evaluate where his heart is relative to his possessions and God. This is a good reminder that we need to be careful as we relate to our fellow followers of God we are not imposing our own perspective and posture toward material things. This is not to say that honest discussion and discernment are not needed between Christians in the area of material things. It merely means that when we tread on these issues we need to do it with great care and prayer.
Prayer: God help us to approach our fellow followers with grace and humility as we attempt to help one another keep our possessions in proper perspective.