22 Innocent or wicked, it is all the same to God.
That’s why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
23 When a plague sweeps through,
he laughs at the death of the innocent.
Job 9:22-23 (NLT)
We are studying the book of Job on Wednesday nights, and when we got to these verses last night there seemed to me to be a real chilling effect apparent on our group.
"He laughs at the death of the innocent." - yeah, that'll do it.
Further word study didn't help.
Hebrew Strong's Number: 3932
Hebrew Word: לָעַג
a primitive root; to deride; by implication (as if imitating a foreigner) to speak unintelligibly :- have in derision, laugh (to scorn), mock (on), stammering.
—Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary
But other scholars shed some light.
One may think that here Job spoke wrongly about God (9:23), for is it true that God really "laughs when a plague suddenly kills the innocent"? But the meaning of the word "laughs" must be understood in the context of 9:23-24, where Job was speaking of times of calamity or when wicked persons were in power. God destroys both the guiltless and the wicked in military or natural disasters (9:22), and in that sense he does mock the despair of the innocent. Innocence is no plea against suffering in this world. That sentiment is of one piece with the teaching of Ecclesiastes, which shows that being either good or bad is no guarantee of prosperity in this life because death mocks everyone.—Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary
And Spurgeon wrote some very helpful words when he opined:
"As one is startled by a shriek, or saddened by a groan, so these sharp utterances of Job astonish us at first, and then awake our pity. Physical sufferings had placed a strain on Job's mind, and he sought relief by expressing his anguish. Like some solitary prisoner in the gloomy keep of an old castle, he carves on the walls pictures of the abject despondencies which haunt him. His afflictions are aggravated by vain efforts to alleviate them: he wounds his hand with the rough hammer and nail with which he is engraving his griefs.
Of such tortures many of us have had a taste." - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Yes we have.
And if we are not careful, our experiences can twist our view of God and place us in error. Job was not describing God as He is. He was describing God as He appeared to be based on Job's knowledge of Him and his situation at that time.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” )
37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39 (NLT)