It’s hard to disagree with Zophar in chapter 20. In fact, his point is the same as that of Bildad in chapter 18: The wicked, though wealthy and powerful, will one day stand in judgment before God and give an account of themselves. It is the same point that comes to Asaph during worship in Psalm 73.
But it’s also hard to disagree with Job’s opposite position in chapter twenty-one. Zophar and Bildad are arguing points they know to be true from their (correct) understanding of God. Job, however, is arguing from life observation. The rich and the wealthy really aren’t like the rest of us. They have more money and fewer of the travails that afflict the middle class (or lower).
Besides all that, Job says, if the rich, powerful and evil are really so destined to a bad end, and everyone knows it (that’s what Zophar means when he refers to “how it has been from old” – 20:4), why do so many people want to be like the wicked (21:33)?
It is a conundrum of life.
For ourselves, it is worthwhile to note that while both sides are correct in this argument, neither really addresses the reason for Job’s suffering. Both sides are reasoning from what they know. They just don’t know enough.
Besides the lessons announced by both Job and Zophar, there is a third lesson: we cannot explain all the challenges of life. There are things we don’t know and, like Job, may never know. Humility can go a long way and it’s best always, when you don’t know an answer, to simply say so.