Chapter 5:17-27 (ESV) - Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal.
He will deliver you from six troubles;
in seven no evil shall touch you.
In famine he will redeem you from death,
and in war from the power of the sword.
You shall be hidden from the lash of the tongue,
and shall not fear destruction when it comes.
At destruction and famine you shall laugh,
and shall not fear the beasts of the earth.
For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you.
You shall know that your tent is at peace,
and you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.
You shall know also that your offspring shall be many,
and your descendants as the grass of the earth.
You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,
like a sheaf gathered up in its season.
Behold, this we have searched out; it is true.
Hear, and know it for your good.
Question to consider: How do we know if an affliction is the result of God’s discipline?
Eliphaz ended his arrogant discourse with an exhortation for Job to consider himself blessed for having lost all of his children, workers, and wealth and see it as merely the discipline of the Almighty. He then ended with a benediction that God would restore Job in all things, let his offspring be many, and would live a long time. While his benediction did indeed come to pass, his exhortation had no merit.
As the writer of Hebrews wrote, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) Nobody is expected to enjoy God’s discipline while in the midst of it. The key to this verse is that discipline is used to produce the fruit of righteousness from someone who is beset with a particular sin. As a reader of Job, we know that he was already considered righteous by God, and that these afflictions were basically a foil that helped everyone (including Satan) see Job’s righteousness. A foil is a dark bit of cloth that is used as a contrast for a beautiful jewel. A black piece of felt causes a diamond to shine more brightly.
We are not always able to see our own sin so it is not always easy to tell when we are experiencing the discipline of God. In fact, we usually view it in hindsight when we can clearly see the righteousness that it produced. If it is hard to recognize our own discipline, it can also be almost impossible to recognize it in other people unless there is some obvious sin involved. I would exhort everyone reading this to avoid telling other people to consider themselves blessed in whatever pain they are experiencing. All you would be doing is creating a sense of bitterness that may prolong someone’s state of pain.
Instead, we should walk alongside our neighbor to love and comfort him in the midst of his pain. Unless someone asks for advice, we don’t need to offer it. We can simply listen and console in the same way we would like for someone to do for us.
Dear heavenly father, when we do face times of discipline, we ask that You give us the wisdom to bear the fruit of righteousness. When our neighbor suffers, help us to be good listeners and give us wisdom to give sound advice when called upon to do so. Amen.