"Why Do the Wicked Live and Become Old...?" (Job 21) March 21-22
Job makes another attempt to answer his friends but believes they will just keep mocking him as they have been (verses 1-3). He responds to their notion that the wicked always get what they deserve in this life in short order with observations of just the opposite—that they usually seem to live out their lives pretty comfortably.
In verse 19, he anticipates a response of, "Well, at least their children will pay for what they've done." But how, he asks, would that be justice when the wicked themselves are left unaffected—when they won't even know what their children are experiencing because they'll be dead? (verses 19-21).
The translation of verse 30 is disputed. In the New King James Version, the meaning seems to be that the wicked will ultimately get theirs on the final day of judgment—implying that most of them have smooth sailing until then. Yet other versions render this as the wicked being kept from any present day of judgment—being brought out in escape from current calamity.
In verse 22, Job seems to admit that he is not worthy or capable of instructing God on what is righteous and just, but he just has to question what God is thinking here. It is a hard matter, and Job thinks his friends are ridiculous for thinking they have it all figured out—especially when he is here shredding their arguments, showing their answers to be empty and false (verse 34).
In actuality, their arguments bore a kernel of truth. The apparently idyllic life of the wicked is often an outward façade. Sin does carry consequences in the here and now. Automatic penalties for faithlessness and disobedience are often at work in the lives of the wicked, denying them true happiness and fulfillment. However, Job's friends were completely mistaken in thinking that sinful living would result in almost immediate direct retribution from God. They also denied the obvious fact that the wicked did not live in constant terror and agony. And further, they were completely wrong in their assumption that those who faithfully serve God never experience terror and agony except when they stumble and sin.