Eliphaz Speaks: The Innocent Prosper
4 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.
“Now a word was brought to me stealthily;
my ear received the whisper of it.
Amid thoughts from visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men,
dread came upon me, and trembling,
which made all my bones shake.
A spirit glided past my face;
the hair of my flesh stood up.
It stood still,
but I could not discern its appearance.
A form was before my eyes;
there was silence, then I heard a voice:
‘Can mortal man be in the right before God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?
Even in his servants he puts no trust,
and his angels he charges with error;
how much more those who dwell in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed like the moth.
Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces;
they perish forever without anyone regarding it.
Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them,
do they not die, and that without wisdom?’
Job 4 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It’s easy to weigh in on a matter from a distance. We look at the circumstances, the ‘facts’ presented through word and observation and make decisions based upon them. Sometimes we also decide to speak our mind on the matter as to what we believe to be true in that situation. There are even times we spiritualize our thoughts, tagging God in our them. I mean, God can be the ultimate ‘trump card’ played with people by using the phrase, “God told me…”
I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of this and definitely each of us to some degree have been on the receiving end of such dialogue.
Here begins some of the fascinating and painful conversations Job’s 3 friends have with him. After 7 days of silence, they begin to weigh in on the matter. One by one each speaks his mind to something Job has said, to which he will respond back. God will then settle the matter as He speaks. This will go for 3 rounds of recorded conversation. What we will read is the way these men tried to be helpful or observant of Job’s situation, but often missed the mark to truth. They weighed in with human thought, many times spiritualized their words, and on some cases are absolutely offensive.
How many times have we done the same thing? This is what I pray these conversations reveal to us.
Well-intentioned thoughts are not necessarily Godly.
What Eliphaz states as the first responder to Job has some truth to it, but he also is misguided. Oh it’s true that we reap what we sow, sin catches up to us. Eliphaz however speaks the mindset that anyone who is good and innocent will not suffer. We all know this is not true. He makes the leap that Job brought all these calamities on himself through a secret sin.
It’s a common-sense thought. It’s also wrong. To compound the matter, Eliphaz says he had a literal hair raising experience where God revealed a divinely inspired vision of this being Job’s fault. The problem with what he speaks is once again there is truth to some of the statements he makes to Job – however, his shallow outlook to suffering and Job himself is based upon his own opinion and not divine inspiration. For as we will read in a few chapters when God responds – he rebukes Eliphaz for misrepresenting Him.
We must be careful when we speak to others and the hardship they are going through. We must be in prayer for the opportunity but also be deeply wrestling with God over our words. As a friend or loved one, our words matter. Don’t over spiritualize. This brings more damage than good.
Job 4 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
There is a difference between theology and common sense. I know that the word ‘theology’ sounds like a churchy, religious concept that only “the holiest people” can understand. The truth is, we all have a theology of some kind. The word literally means “the study of the nature of God.” The word itself encompasses faith, the kingdom of Heaven, and experiencing true life. Its depth reaches the eternal realm where common sense falls short. The temptation for us even today is to apply common sense practices to spiritual concepts, and then justify them by faith.
What do I mean? Take Eliphaz for example.
Consider: who has perished when he was innocent? Where have the honest been destroyed? 8 In my experience, those who plow injustice and those who sow trouble reap the same.Job 4:7-8 HCSB
So basically, if you live as a ‘good person’ your life will be rosy, but if you live as a “bad person” you will reap what you sow. A loose, modern-day equivalent to this would be the idea of “karma.” Common sense justifies this logic. If you drink alcohol and then go drive, there will be consequences. If you cheat on your spouse, you will reap the ramifications of that decision. On a very basic level, all this is true.
However, in God’s kingdom we know this is not always the case. Were the apostles martyred because they were withholding a secret sin? Did Elisha, after all his incredible miracles, experience a life-threatening disease because he was not an upright man? These are questions common sense cannot explain. These are questions of theology. What we believe about God will reflect how we repond.
I think Eliphaz was trying to be a good friend. He had good intentions. But he let his common sense and assumptions dictate his response to Job. To say that wherever there is suffering, there is sin, is not accurate. Jesus would emphatically disagree. In fact, in God’s Kingdom, where there is suffering, there may also be veiled blessings.
As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.John 9:1-3 NASB
Do you see that last part? So that the works of God might be displayed in him! It’s so powerful. It doesn’t really reconcile well with common sense does it? It takes faith to understand how such a horrible situation can produce a great work of God. But we know from the Scriptures that God loves to use the least likely candidates to accomplish unbelievable miracles. 1 Corinthians 1:27 speaks boldly of this truth.
Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one can boast in His presence.1 Corinthians 1:27-29 HCSB
Of course, I’m not saying this is an easy attitude to acquire. But what if this was our “normal” mindset? What if, when suffering or tragedy strikes, our first response is to expect and anticipate a mighty work of God? He has told us the works of God will be displayed in those who trust Him despite the struggles. That’s all of us. Lord, help us to trust Your work even in the valleys of life!