Chapter 4:1-11 (ESV) - Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
“If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
Yet who can keep from speaking?
Behold, you have instructed many,
and you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
“Remember: who that was innocent ever perished?
Or where were the upright cut off?
As I have seen, those who plow iniquity
and sow trouble reap the same.
By the breath of God they perish,
and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion,
the teeth of the young lions are broken.
The strong lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
Question to consider: What advice does Eliphaz give to Job?
If Eliphaz had stopped after the first half of today’s passage, I could chalk up his comments to “guy talk”. Granted it would be entirely insensitive guy talk, but guy talk nonetheless. If Eliphaz were talking to him today, it would sound something like, “With all due respect Job, suck it up! You’re always telling others to trust God in hard times, but now you are sitting here whining. Why don’t you follow your own advice?”
Describing Job’s plight as being “dismayed” is the understatement of the century. If one of my friends did that to me, I’d probably tell him to go somewhere not very nice. Of course, I can’t imagine any of my friends being that calloused. There is a time in which people may need a nudge forward or a different perspective, but it is also necessary for someone to take time to grieve. It is perfectly righteous to ask God to take away our suffering as long as we don’t curse God in the process. Even Jesus fell on His knees and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) The only reason to cut short someone’s time of grief is if inaction puts them in immediate danger.
The second half of today’s passage should mark the end of the friendship, for Eliphaz proved that he was no friend. God’s word prohibits us from speaking falsely against our neighbor and of us misusing the name of God. Eliphaz assumed that the affliction which had come upon Job was because Job had committed some kind of egregious sin. In this, Eliphaz misused the name of God by tying something to Him that He did not do, and he falsely accused Job of sinning when he hadn’t.
It is honestly not our place to proclaim knowledge of why God acts in a given situation whether it is over our own lives or someone else’s. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15) Eliphaz started out so well in silence. It is unfortunate that he ruined it by opening his mouth.
Dear heavenly Father, please help us to rejoice at the success and happiness of others and to be a source of wisdom and comfort to the grieving and to grieve along with them. Thank You for giving us brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage one another and spur one another on to holiness in Christ. Amen.