Chapter 5:1-16 (ESV) - Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
Surely vexation kills the fool,
and jealousy slays the simple.
I have seen the fool taking root,
but suddenly I cursed his dwelling.
His children are far from safety;
they are crushed in the gate,
and there is no one to deliver them.
The hungry eat his harvest,
and he takes it even out of thorns,
and the thirsty pant after his wealth.
For affliction does not come from the dust,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground,
but man is born to trouble
as the sparks fly upward.
As for me, I would seek God,
and to God would I commit my cause,
who does great things and unsearchable,
marvelous things without number:
he gives rain on the earth
and sends waters on the fields;
he sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
He catches the wise in their own craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.
They meet with darkness in the daytime
and grope at noonday as in the night.
But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth
and from the hand of the mighty.
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts her mouth.
Question to consider: How does scripture define a fool?
In today’s passage, Eliphaz seems to get bolder in his accusations against Job. He first tells Job to call on God or seek counsel from other wise elders to discover what he must have done to receive the punishment he had received. He doesn’t directly accuse Job of being a fool but warns of the wrath a fool brings, and he sees such things taking root in Job’s life. In scripture, a fool is someone who says in his heart, “There is no God,” and therefore can only expect judgment.
As evidence, Eliphaz points to the judgment against his sons and those who came after his harvest and his wealth, and reiterates that such troubles don’t just spring up from the ground. Eliphaz points out that a man is born into trouble as sure as sparks fly upward. If it wasn’t Job who committed the sin, maybe it was something he could attribute to his father.
This way of thinking reminds me of the disciples in John 9:1-5, “As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’”
While it is wise for Eliphaz to tell Job to seek God’s comfort during his time of affliction, he was wrong to assume that all affliction is a punishment given by God for scheming some kind of evil. His accusations and assumptions only highlight the necessity for us to love one another and provide comfort during times of difficulty. The apostle Paul gave the following advice to the Galatians, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)
Although sin should be dealt with in its due time, I honestly think that our primary responsibility is to bear one another’s burdens. Eliphaz obviously was not displaying to Job a spirit of gentleness, and there was no transgression from which Job needed to be restored.
Dear heavenly father, help us to be quick to listen and comfort those around us who are experiencing pain. Please protect us from the false accusations of others and stir up in us a desire to defend those who are falsely accused and mistreated. Amen.