The Word Made Fresh
1Then Eliphaz the Temanite spoke. He said, 2“Does a wise person give windy answers full of hot air? 3Or argue in long speeches full of meaningless pronouncements? 4What you’re leaving out, Job, is the fear of God, and that makes it difficult for you to listen to God. 5Your mouth is being ruled by your sinfulness, and your speech is crafty. 6But you are found guilty by your own words, and your own mouth convicts you.
7“Are you the first man ever to be born? Were you birthed before the hills were formed? 8Have you personally sat in on God’s council, and think you’re the only human who is wise? 9What do you know that we don’t? What do you understand that we can’t grasp? 10Your father’s elders, the gray-haired and elderly, are on our side. 11Are you not satisfied with God’s assurances, and the way God deals kindly with you? 12Why is your heart so easily carried away so that your eyes flash with anger, 13and your spirit is turned against God, and you let such words come out of your mouth? 14How can mere humans be spotless? Has anyone born of woman ever been truly righteous? 15God doesn’t even completely trust the holy ones, and even the heavens are not perfect in God’s judgment, 16so how much less someone who is foul and sinful, who drinks sinfulness like water?
17“If you’ll just hear me out, I’ll explain things I have seen, 18things wise people have spoken of that they learned from their ancestors. 19They are the ones to whom the land was given before there were any foreigners around. 20The wicked are in pain through all the years they have been given. 21They are terrified because they have heard that if they have prospered, destruction will visit them. 22They think they can never escape their dark future, and that they are surely destined to a violent death. 23They wander around looking for bread, asking, “Where is it?” knowing that their dark days are already at hand. 24Their fears terrify them, coming at them like an enemy prepared for war. 25And it’s because they point their hands at God and dare the Almighty to defy them. 26They attack God with heads high, hiding behind gaudy shields.
27“Even their faces are fat just like their bellies. 28They will live in abandoned houses in abandoned towns that will surely become piles of rubbish. 29They will not be rich because they can’t keep their wealth, and they will have no place in this world. 30Darkness will surround them. Their crops will be dried up by the heat and carried away by God’s breath. 31They deceive themselves if they think they can trust in their empty hands, because emptiness is all they will receive, 32and it will be given to them in due time and their efforts will be worthless. 33They will shake the unripe grapes off their vines and nothing but blossoms from their olive trees. 34Their neighbors will have nothing to give them, and the tents of those who deal in bribery will be burned up. 35They think of nothing but making trouble, and their hearts are filled with deceit.”
1-6: Eliphaz has been listening since his first monologue in chapter 4. Now he complains that Job has no fear of God, and if that is the case, then there would be no longer a need to communicate with God. I’m not condemning you, he says. Your own words condemn you.
7-16: He continues to judge Job: Are you really innocent as Adam was innocent when he was formed? You would ignore the wisdom that has been passed down through the generations. How dare you make light of the blessings God gives! Do you think anybody has a right to do that? In verse 15 he makes a disturbing statement: God doesn’t trust anybody or anything. In other words, nothing in the world is entirely without blemish, let alone you, Job.
17-35: This is what I have seen with my own eyes, he says: the wicked suffer horribly for their waywardness. He goes into great detail about how the wicked are punished in every way. Accordingly, Eliphaz concludes that if Job is suffering as he has seen wicked people suffer, Job must therefore be wicked.
I wonder if that has anything to do with the way people today tend to shun those who are suffering; subconsciously do we think on some level that they must deserve what they’re getting?
We continue to be surprised (shocked?) at the way Job’s “friends” are counseling him. Unfortunately, it seems to be human nature that when one of us suffers, there are people around who wonder what we did to deserve it. They assume the one suffering must in some ways have brought it on themselves. That is not true, of course, and we must continually struggle to understand God is with us through thick and thin. God does not always prevent our suffering, but always in suffering there are things we can learn about ourselves and about God.