Job 20:11
Zophar now comes forth with wise words; but they are as arrows, slender, strong, and sharp, which, though drawn upon a strong bow, yet miss their mark. Only too true is his assertion of the brevity of the triumph of the evil-doer, the momentary joy of the hypocrite; only too accurate his forcible setting forth of the state and portion of the ungodly. Job has to hear again cruel words. His patient faith has yet to be further tested; his final triumph is postponed.

I. HIS HONOR IS TEMPORARY. If he raise himself so that "his head reach unto the clouds, yet he shall perish for ever;" "he shall fly away as a dream," so short is his grasp of any position of honour.

II. HIS FAMILY PROSPERITY IS BUT BRIEF. The goods he has gained by his ungodliness "his hands shall restore," and his children crouch to appease the poor. Ill-gotten gain is held by uncertain hands. For a time the ungodly seems to prosper, but it is that he may be consumed out of his place.

III. HIS LIFE IS WASTED AND PASSETH AWAY. Even his youthful vigour fails him. it shall speedily "lie down with him in the dust." The practice of wickedness brings punishment on hint who offends. The tendency of wrong-doing is ever to prey upon the strength of the life.

IV. THE PLEASURES OF SIN TO HIM ABE BUT FOR A SEASON. Though he 'hide" wickedness "under his tongue," though it be "sweet in his mouth," yet shall it be turned to "the gall of asps within him."

V. THE POSSESSION OF RICHES IS PERMITTED ONLY FOR A BRIEF PERIOD. Though he swallow them down, "he shall vomit them up again." Nothing has permanence with him. Changes come over him from sources he cannot trace and certainly could not foresee. His toil is fruitless. "That which he laboured for shall he restore... he shall not rejoice therein." Wickedness eats into the strength and joy of life. It exposes life to innumerable evils and robs it of its chief good. The wicked man has no pledge of permanent blessing. "He shall not save of that which he desired." Truly "the triumphing of the wicked is short." - R.G.

His bones are full Of the sin of his youth.
I. THE STATE OR CONDITION OF A WICKED MAN. "His bones are full of the sin of his youth."

1. The sin. "Youthful pranks." By youthful sins we may understand either kinds of sin, or the time of sin. Corrupt nature, though it cleave to all conditions of life, does not put forth itself alike in all. There are lusts that youth is more especially subject unto. Such as vanity both of spirit and conversation. Flexibility to evil. Easily wrought upon, and drawn away and enticed to that which is evil. Unteachableness. Wax to temptation and flint to admonition. Impetuousness; intemperance; uncleanness.

2. The punishment of sin. "His bones are full of them." The Spirit of God would hereby signify to us the sad and miserable condition of an obdurate and impenitent sinner that has lived for a long time in a course of sin. The word "bones" may be taken either in a corporal or in a spiritual sense. There are many in old age who feel the sins of their youth in their body, their "bones." There are diseases which attend on vicious courses, and hasten bodily destruction. Some kinds of sin God punishes even in this present life. But by "bones" we may understand the spirit, and more particularly the conscience. There is the remembrance of sin in the soul. Sin will stick in the conscience for a long while after the commission of it. God charges the guilt of the sins of youth upon men's souls when the things themselves are past and gone. He rubs up their memories and brings their sins to remembrance. He convinces the judgment as to the nature of the sins themselves. He afflicts them also for them. This is all as true of secret as of open sins. The reasons why God proceeds against sins of youth are these:(1) Because He will maintain His own right and interest in the world.(2) Because sins of youth are commonly acted with greater violence and vehemency of spirit.

3. The sins of youth are a foundation of more sin. Various improvements of the subject. To those who are young, that from hence they would be so much the more careful and watchful of themselves. We should all study to consecrate and devote our best time to God and to His service. Those who have the care of youth should have a more watchful eye upon them. The aged may well pray with the Psalmist, "Remember not the sins of my youth." Take up a general lamentation of the great exorbitancies and irregularities of youth, especially in these days. Notice the extent or amplification of the condition in these words, "Which shall lie down with him in the dust." This denotes the continuance of a wicked man's sin. It begins with him betimes, for it is the sin of his youth, and it lasts with him a long while; for it follows him even into another world. Two ways in which sin is said to "lie down in the dust." First, in regard to the stain of it, and then with regard to the guilt of it. There are two things in Christ which are great arguments for closing with Him. There is holiness answerable to pollution, and there is pardon answerable to guilt.

(T. Horton, D.D.)

It should be borne in mind that in old age it is too late to mend, that then you must inhabit what you have built. Old age has the foundation of its joy or its sorrow laid in youth. You are building at twenty. Are you building for seventy? Nay, every stone laid in the foundation takes hold of every stone in the wall up to the very eaves of the building; and every deed, right or wrong, that transpires in youth, reaches forward, and has a relation to all the after-part of man's life.

(H.W. Beecher.)

There are seven sorts of special sins.

1. Such as appertain to and most commonly show themselves in this or that age of man's life.

2. There are sins more proper to some countries and places.

3. To the season or times wherein we live.

4. There are special sins of men's special callings, dealings, and tradings in the world

5. Of their conditions, whether poor or rich, great or small.

6. There are special sins following the constitution of the body, whether sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, or melancholy.

7. There are special sins hanging about our relations. The bones of some are full of the sins of their relations and constitutions; the bones of others are full of the sins of their conditions and callings; the bones of not a few are full of the sins of the place, time or age wherein they live. The bones of many are full of that special age of their lives, their youth. The sins of their youth age are visible in their old age, and the sins of their first age prove the sorrows of their last. Till sin be repented of and pardoned, the punishment of it remains. The punishment of sin reacheth as far as sin reacheth. All the sins of youth remain in and upon the oldest of impenitent persons. It is the greatest misery to persevere in sin.

(Joseph Caryl.)

We commonly say, it is not the last blow of the axe that fells the oak; perhaps the last may be a weaker blow than any of the former, but the other blows made way for the felling of it, and at length a little blow comes and completes it. So our former sins may be the things that make way for our ruin, and then at length some lesser sins may accomplish it.

(J. Burroughs.)

The season of youth should be passed religiously, if old age is to be honourable, and if death is to be conquered. The sins of our younger days pursue us through life, and even "lie down with us in the dust."

1. How difficult and almost impossible it is, in reference to the present scene of being, to make up by after diligence for time lost in youth. It is appointed by God that one stage of life should be strictly preparatory to another. It is also appointed that neglect of the several duties of any one stage shall leave consequences not to be repaired by any attention, however intense, to those of a following. If there have been neglected boyhood, so that the mind's powers have not been disciplined, nor its chambers stored with information, the consequences will propagate themselves to the extreme line of life. Just because there has been negligence in youth, the man must be wanting to the end of his days in acquirements of whose worth he is perpetually reminded, and which, comparatively speaking, are not to be gained except at one period of his life. The same truth is exemplified in reference to bodily health. The man who has injured his constitution by the excesses of youth, cannot repair the mischief by after acts of self-denial. The seeds of disease which have been sown whilst passions were fresh and ungoverned, are not to be eradicated by the severest moral regimen which may afterwards be prescribed and followed. The possession of the iniquities of youth which we wish most to exhibit is that which affects men when stirred with anxiety for the soul, and desirous to seek and obtain the pardon of sin. Take the case of a man who spends the best years of his life in the neglect of God, and the things of another world. It is not necessary that we suppose him one of the openly profligate. If awakened to a sense of sin, such a man is very likely to defer resolute action till death overtakes him. On the most favourable supposition the mind finds it most difficult to forsake sin and change his conduct. The carelessness of today inevitably adds to the carelessness of tomorrow. Beginning with attachment to this world, men bind themselves with a cord to which every hour will weave a new thread. And however genuine and effectual the repentance and faith of a late period of life, it is unavoidable that the remembrance of misspent years will embitter those which are consecrated to God. By lengthening the period of irreligion, and therefore diminishing that of obedience to God, we almost place ourselves amongst the last of the competitors for the kingdom of heaven. If we devote but a fraction of our days to the striving for the reward promised to Christ's servants, there is an almost certainty that only the lowest of those rewards will come within our reach. The iniquities of youth will hang like lead on the wings of his soul, restraining its ascendings, and forbidding its reaching those loftier points in immortality which might have been attained by a longer striving.

(Henry Melvill, B.D.)

Expositors differ in their exposition of a text in which so material a word as "the sin" is supplied by our translators. "His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust" — the italicised words not occurring in the original. The Vulgate version is in favour of ours, "His bones are full of the sins of his youth"; while the Septuagint has it, "His bones are full of his youth"; in accordance with which rendering, Gesenius and others take the passage to mean, full of vigour, so that the man is cut off in his physical prime. Dr. Good's reading is, "His secret sins shall follow his bones, yea, they shall press upon him in the dust." Others take the literal Hebrew, "His bones are full of secret things," to refer to the hidden, long-cherished faults of his life — the corrupt habits secretly indulged, which would "adhere to him, leaving a withering influence on his whole system in advancing years." "His secret lusts would work his certain ruin," the effect being that which, as a popular commentator says, is so often seen, when vices corrupt the very physical frame, and where the results are seen far on in future life. In this sense be the text accepted here. Graphic, after the manner of the man, is Dr. South's picture of the old age that comes to wail upon what he calls a "great and worshipful sinner," who for many years together has had the reputation of eating well and doing ill. "It comes (as it ought to do to a person of such quality) attended with a long train and retinue of rheums, coughs, catarrhs, and dropsies, together with many painful girds and achings, which are at least called the gout. How does such a one go about, or is carried rather, with his body bending inward, his head shaking, and his eyes always watering (instead of weeping) for the sins of his ill-spent youth: In a word, old age seizes upon such a person like fire upon a rotten house; it was rotten before, and must have fallen of itself, so that it is no more but one ruin preventing another." Virtue, we are admonished, is a friend and a help to nature; but it is vice and luxury that destroy it, and the diseases of intemperance are the natural product of the sins of intemperance. "Chastity makes no work for a chirurgeon, nor ever ends in rottenness of bones." Whereas, sin is the fruitful parent of distempers, and ill lives occasion good physicians.

(Francis Jacox.)

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