Read Job 4
4 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2 “If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
But who can keep from speaking?
3 Think how you have instructed many,
how you have strengthened feeble hands.
4 Your words have supported those who stumbled;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
5 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
it strikes you, and you are dismayed.
6 Should not your piety be your confidence
and your blameless ways your hope?
7 “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?
Where were the upright ever destroyed?
8 As I have observed, those who plow evil
and those who sow trouble reap it.
9 At the breath of God they perish;
at the blast of his anger they are no more.
10 The lions may roar and growl,
yet the teeth of the great lions are broken.
11 The lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
12 “A word was secretly brought to me,
my ears caught a whisper of it.
13 Amid disquieting dreams in the night,
when deep sleep falls on people,
14 fear and trembling seized me
and made all my bones shake.
15 A spirit glided past my face,
and the hair on my body stood on end.
16 It stopped,
but I could not tell what it was.
A form stood before my eyes,
and I heard a hushed voice:
17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?
18 If God places no trust in his servants,
if he charges his angels with error,
19 how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundations are in the dust,
who are crushed more readily than a moth!
20 Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces;
unnoticed, they perish forever.
21 Are not the cords of their tent pulled up,
so that they die without wisdom?’
In Job 4, we see Eliphaz calling upon Job to remember the advice that he has given to others. Eliphaz is from Teman, a city that is known as a center of wisdom. Eliphaz begins his speech by asking, “If one attempts a word with you, will you become weary?” This may sound rather blunt; however, Eliphaz and Job are close confidants. Eliphaz sat wordless with Job for an entire week to show his empathy and care for him. He felt compelled to speak and confront Job with what he saw as his problem. Eliphaz pointed out Job’s contradicting lament, recorded in Chapter 3. Job has comforted others in their times of need and is now in despair in his own time of need.
Eliphaz quickly steps in when he notices Job’s despair and questions him further, showing Job that his despair has caused him to lose confidence and hope. Eliphaz is insinuating that Job’s problems have come upon him because of some sin that Job has committed, and that he should confess and repent. In verse 7, Eliphaz gets to the heart of his speech by stating that no one has perished if they are innocent. To further his point, Eliphaz tries to reason with Job, saying that he would not complain unless he also believed that he was guilty of some sort of sin. Eliphaz is only speaking from his own observations and experiences as to why these things are happening to Job.
Job and his friends have built their lives on the belief that God helps the good and brings suffering upon the bad. It makes sense as to why Eliphaz is implying that Job’s suffering is the result of God’s judgment. As readers, we know that Eliphaz’s assumption is false. Eliphaz attempts to recover at the end by stating that we have all fallen short of the glory of God and that man is sinful, meaning that Job is not alone. Although no doubt well-intentioned, Eliphaz fails to comfort Job or reveal the true reasons for his suffering.
- What do you notice about Eliphaz’s response to Job in this passage?
- Do you have a Christian community to reach out to in times of need?
- How would you respond to Job in this situation?
Did You Know?
Satan had to ask God to test and punish Job. Satan was given permission by God to cause natural disasters, wars, and other unfortunate events in Job’s life, testing his faith. But Job’s faith only grew stronger in the Lord. Be encouraged that, in whatever season or situation you are currently facing, our God is bigger than our situations. Job is a walking testimony of unfailing faith and trust in the Lord.
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6 thoughts on “Job 4”
At some point Eliphaz must have grown weary of sitting on the ground watching Job suffer and lament and starts to reason it out. Notice he asks the question to Job “Will you be patient and let me say a word?” He doesn’t wait for Job’s reply and jumps right in with his assumptions. He comes across as both brave, calloused & offensive. Point to remember: Avoid making assumptions based upon my own experiences. A much better response would have been to cry out to God on behalf of Job in prayer. I want to remember Proverbs 10:19 “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise.” My biggest takeaway today is the good and innocent will sometimes suffer, I must not ever limit God to my limited perspective and finite understanding of life.
So true!!! Agree!
Eliphaz’s response is very much like many theologians and bible teachers today who will tell you if are experiencing Pain and Suffering that you must have done something wrong. “If you obey God and are a good person” you will experience His Favor with good health and success. Do not listen to this! We will all suffer at some point in our life, whether we are good and bad. During this time, do not try to understand the WHY or meaning behind it… but, lean on HIM and realize that HE has a much bigger plan that we cannot fully see.
Oh, the utter disquiet we feel in the face of suffering! If only we would stay quiet when we don’t know what to say—or when there simply is nothing to be said. Eliphaz’s words, though misguided and hurtful, were just as well-intended then as ours are today, any time we attempt to speak sympathy into suffering.
And we can blunder as badly as he did.
While (I hope) none of us would respond to someone in such pain with “This must be God’s judgment” (read “you brought this on yourself”), we can default to Christian cliches that hurt far more than they help:
“God will never give you more than you can handle.”
“Your loved one is in a better place.”
“Time heals all wounds.”
Thanks. That makes it all better…
We can get better though, with prayerful resolve to offer true comfort instead of platitudes. Learn more at:
• “How not to say the wrong thing” https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407-story.html
• “What to Say Instead of a Christian Cliche” https://cherigregory.com/what-to-say-instead-of-a-christian-cliche/
My thoughts for today: What kind of friend would I be if I knew someone in a similar situation like Job? I have a tendency to speak in haste or try to fill up the silence with words. As Ella mentioned Proverbs 10:19 in her comment, when it comes to words less is better!
I hope I would pray WITH my friend and go to God on their behalf. I know I have told people I would pray FOR them, but then forgot. I need to remember this thought to speak less when a friend is hurting/struggling and when led to pray for someone that I should see if I can pray WITH them.