Job Chapter 5: Eliphaz Continues Against Job

Jan 12th, 2010 | By | Category: Job, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Job Chapter 5: Eliphaz Continues Against Job

Job 5:1 Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?

While Eliphaz was inferring that Job tried to justify himself before God, he said, “Is there any other holy person here on earth who could justify himself?” The implied answer was no. By using the angelic counsel, Eliphaz was questioning the wisdom of Job and his reputation of the past. Eliphaz hoped that Job would listen to him, confess the real problem, and repent.

Job 5:2 For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.

“Job, do you think you are any different from any other holy person? Wrath kills the foolish, and envy slays the silly.” Eliphaz digressed from the counsel of the demon to his own personal counsel.

Job 5:3 I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.

Eliphaz was calling into question, in a tentative fashion, whether the reputation of Job in the past was really merited. He changed from a comforter to a counselor to having suspicions, all the while hoping Job would interrupt him and say, “Eliphaz, you are right. I made a mistake,” etc. But Job was honest and wanted to defend his integrity, which was real and proper.

Job 5:4 His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.

Job 5:5 Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.

While Eliphaz may have had a reputation as being a wise man, his observation was not accurate, for these things happened back there and they happen now. Both those who are living reasonably proper lives and those who are living improper lives experience robberies and calamities. In fact, as time goes on and man becomes more fallen, the majority may fit into the characterization that Eliphaz gave the wicked. But certainly in his own day, there were other righteous individuals besides Job who got sick and had troubles and problems. To suit his purpose, Eliphaz focused on just one side of the equation. He lacked a proper understanding.

Job 5:6 Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;

Job 5:7 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.

Eliphaz now started to take a different tangent. He was saying that we cannot blame inanimate nature (the ground, stones, etc.) because the trouble, the iniquity, arises in man himself. Eliphaz was using a detached mode, but he was insinuating to Job, “You cannot put this blame on anyone else or on nature. What is causing your trouble must be in you yourself. You are the problem, for the wicked have calamitous experiences. Sin is not a genetic disorder.” The curse on Adam was not fully realized. Eliphaz was saying that man, instead of being born and shapen in iniquity, is introduced into the world at birth, and what develops is based on his disobedience to his very nature. Therefore, one should curb himself from making wild statements such as those Job had just uttered. Eliphaz was rubbing in these digs to Job but doing it as if he were talking about general conditions. He was insinuating, “Job, don’t you realize that you are falling into the category of the wicked? There is something you need to confess. Instead of revealing your fault, you are trying to maintain your integrity. The facts utterly contradict your statements.”

Job 5:8 I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:

Job 5:9 Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:

Job 5:10 Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields:

Eliphaz continued to give advice to Job concerning the latter’s trauma. Eliphaz had previously mentioned that seeking counsel of men, or flesh, would be of no avail, and he related his dream of an angel who had appeared to him. In the dream, the angel said, “Even God does not trust angels,” so the question was, “To whom should Job go for advice?” The suggestion was that Job should seek counsel from God Himself in order to get the necessary advice to bring him to his senses.

Throughout the chapter, Eliphaz spoke worldly wisdom. This wisdom contained a lot of truth, and the world regarded him as a wise man to whom one should go for advice and counsel.

However, the problem was that his words did not fit Job’s experience. Eliphaz had said, “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (verse 7); that is, trouble is continuous. Just as gravity causes water to fall downward to the earth, so sparks go in the reverse direction, upward.

Eliphaz was saying, “I would seek unto God, and unto God I would commit my cause.” Then he began to talk about the wonderful things of God that are evident in the heavens and the tenderness and mercy that are manifest in nature. God “doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number.” A hymn contains similar words. God’s mercies in our own personal experience are numberless. In fact, they are so multitudinous that we are not even aware of many of them. God “giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields.” Wherever the fields are—whether they are cultivated or in uninhabited portions of the earth—the Lord supplies moisture. (Of course deserts are the exception.) Many uninhabited places are very beautiful.

Comment: As proof that Eliphaz had the wrong slant on Job’s sufferings, he said, “Therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” (verse 17).

Reply: The bottom line was the failure to understand the permission of evil and the misapplication to Job’s experience. The three comforters were thinking that for Job, who formerly was so honored, to be in this tragic state, he must have done something wrong, and they were searching for the cause and continuously trying to get him to confess. Of course Job would not confess, for he properly believed in his own integrity.

Job 5:11 To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.

Comment: Here is an example of Eliphaz’s understanding of the permission of evil. Now the wicked are set up, but in the Kingdom, the situation will be reversed and the righteous set up.

Reply: He was saying to Job, “God is merciful to those who repent.” He was looking for Job to bring forth such words, but they were not forthcoming. Eliphaz was praising God, but his words did not fit Job’s situation at all. It is interesting that Eliphaz did recognize to a certain extent the instructional value of hard experiences—but more in the way that Peter said, “What glory is there in suffering for the things you do wrong?” (1 Pet. 2:20 paraphrase). Eliphaz did not see the perspective that to be kings and priests in the next age, we must have disciplinary experiences now. And if faithful, we will have more discipline, for all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). Thus the aspect of sorrow and trauma in one’s life can have a great value and can be the reward of faithfulness rather than unfaithfulness.

Comment: Strong’s Concordance defines “safety” as “deliverance” (from mourning).

Job 5:12 He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.

Job 5:13 He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.

Job 5:14 They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night.

Job 5:15 But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty.

Job 5:16 So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.

Eliphaz had just said that God’s mercy was over all of His works and that He exalts the humble.

Now he was saying that God darkens the wise and the crafty and saves the poor in spirit from harm and poverty. Although these words made sense, they did not apply to what Job was experiencing.

Q: Most of the Book of Job is bad counsel from the three comforters and from Elihu, but  brethren often quote some of their statements to support a premise as if they are Jehovah’sthinking. Is the thought that what they were saying was not necessarily incorrect, but it just did not apply to Job?

A: Yes, the Apostle Paul gave similar counsel but to those who deserved the darkening of their counsel and made foolish the wisdom of this world.

Imagine how Job felt listening to this advice that did not apply to him! His response in chapters 6 and 7 to the words of Eliphaz was very much to the point.

One problem is that the three, who came from a distance to comfort Job, had learned about Job’s situation through hearsay. When they saw him, they were surprised and startled. Then Eliphaz began to interpret and suspicion in his mind that Job’s previous reputation was unmerited, that he was not worthy of his reputation. The three comforters felt that Job had been crafty and that the Lord was now humbling him to expose his unworthiness to have such a reputation. This thinking seems to underlie the advice that the three gave Job. Therefore, their counsel was not only worthless but also frustrating to Job; it added to his misery.

Instead of counseling and helping Job, Eliphaz was giving a talk or lecture: “They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night. But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty. So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.” Eliphaz was carried away in his own eloquence. Moreover, his statements were not necessarily true in all cases. Does God always save the poor from the sword? Do the poor always have hope? No, for there are many exceptions. The words of Eliphaz were empty. A famous poet said, “Hope springs eternal from the human breast.”

Generally speaking, that statement is true but not always. The poor are often in a rather hopeless situation, not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

Job 5:17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:

Eliphaz was thinking that the Almighty was chastening Job for something done wrong and that if Job confessed, God would deliver him. Proverbs 24:16 is often quoted: “A just man falleth seven times” and is lifted up. Thus there is a certain wisdom in the words of Eliphaz, but they did not fit Job’s situation. God permitted Satan to have the upper hand in Job’s experiences to show his obedience and strength of character. The permitted testing also showed that no one else on earth was like Job at that time.

Comment: The words of the supposed comforters were like a backdoor persecution by Satan. The counsel heaped even more misery on Job, trying to convince him that he had done something wrong.

Reply: Yes, he lost all of his goods and family except his wife, who told him to curse God and die to end his misery. Then the comforters added to his grief with their inappropriate counsel. What an unusual person Job was to survive the repeated traumas!

Job 5:18 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.

Job 5:19 He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.

Eliphaz was giving a speech and trying to be eloquent. He could have just said, “God shall deliver you in seven troubles.”

Job was being judged by hearsay. The good that he had done will come out in later chapters, and some of his accomplishments were startling and unusual. If just, the contemporaries who saw Job would have said he had innate goodness, and they would not have attributed an evil motive. But when the three comforters heard about Job from a distance, that was another matter. Moreover, a lot of judgment is based on either genetics or environment. Part of the counsel of the three comforters was the result of the type of life that they lived. Dwelling as nomads, they could soliloquize and philosophize, and they had plenty of time to think. But Job was in corrupt civilization, where he marvelously maintained his integrity. To a certain extent, the three counselors failed to appreciate the real Job.

When we finish this verse-by-verse study, we should have more insight into Job’s marvelous character. Seeing his exemplary qualities will make us wonder that Abraham, Job, and other Ancient Worthies were not promised the high calling. We will ask, “Am I worthy?”

Comment: In our judicial system, we say a person is innocent until he is proven guilty. It seems that throughout this whole experience, Job was presumed to be guilty without any proof.

Reply: Yes. In France, the presumption is reversed. When a person goes for trial, he is considered guilty until he is proven innocent. That approach is a carryover from the days of the Inquisition. The United States and England with its Magna Charta have been very blessed. The Bible has provided wondrous benefit in enlightening mankind, even from a natural standpoint in the judicial system.

Comment: When, for instance, a dispute occurs between two brethren, we may not know the nature of the dispute, either because it is not necessary to know all of the facts or because the information is not passed on correctly. How often the one who is in the wrong is given the sympathy, and the one who is in the right is treated with reserve! The mistreatment could be a chastening in one sense perhaps because the party was guilty of unwittingly doing something along this line to another brother or sister. Now, when the party gets the ill treatment himself, he can see the impropriety of his former actions. And, if taken rightly, the experience can be a wonderful way to develop a finer character with more noble principles. The Lord is looking for a class who will know how to judge righteously.

Comment: The Lord vindicates us; we do not vindicate ourselves.

Comment: We must be extremely careful to understand the facts of a situation before being predisposed one way or another. Job’s comforters presumed guilt without knowing the facts, and the same thing could happen among ourselves. We might presume that a brother’s or a sister’s experience is one of chastisement rather than one that the Lord permits for disciplinary purposes.

Reply: Yes, that is the sum of the matter.

Comment: When brethren are going through a trial, it is better for us to err on the side of encouraging them to lean on the Lord than to assume that the trial is a chastisement.

Reply: Yes. However, we certainly get experiences both for doing good and for doing wrong.

The hymn “How Firm a Foundation” has the words “Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.” The Lord’s people, no matter how faithful, get chastening experiences for doing wrong, but they also get experiences in suffering for righteousness’ sake. Of course we want the great majority of our experiences to be for the latter reason, rather than for wrongdoing, but both are necessary in the present life because of our imperfections.

Job 5:20 In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword.

Job 5:21 Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.

Job 5:22 At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth.

Job 5:23 For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.

Job 5:24 And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin.

Job 5:25 Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth.

Job 5:26 Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.

In verses 18 and 19, Eliphaz said, “He [God] maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” Eliphaz was saying that the Lord would do these things for those who are rightly exercised and confess their faults, which Job was not doing. Moreover, God would “deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.” In verses 20-26, Eliphaz continued to enumerate things God would do for those who are rightly exercised and confess their wrong. “In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth. For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin. Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.” In other words, Eliphaz was saying to Job, “If you are restored to good standing in God’s sight, you will be almost like Adam was before he sinned.” Adam was in harmony with nature and the beasts of the field. A beautiful oneness existed between Adam and God prior to the sin. The principle being enunciated was, “If you do good, you will be rewarded accordingly. But, Job, you did something wrong.”

Consider the statement “Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field”; that is, “You will be in harmony with inanimate nature, as well as with your fellow man.” This beautiful thought is true, but it did not apply to Job. At the time of the Civil War at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln’s address was preceded by that of a famous orator from New England, whose talk was more than an hour in length. Then Lincoln stepped up to the podium and gave an eight- or tenminute discourse that was a masterpiece. The orator later admitted that he had overspoken.

Here Eliphaz gave a wonderful speech, but it was not at all on the point.

As is stated at the end of the Book of Job, the very things Eliphaz was talking about did occur to Job later. He lived a longer life and had more children—in short, he was restored. Therefore, what Eliphaz said was true but not with Job at this time. The real crusher was the next statement, verse 27.

Job 5:27 Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.

Eliphaz was now talking on behalf of all three comforters, two of whom had not yet even spoken. “Lo … , we have searched it, so it is; hear it [Job], and know thou it for thy good.” Talk about rubbing salt in the wound! Eliphaz’s first discourse ended with this climax. According to their thinking and reasoning, the three comforters were the wise ones, and Job was the victim.

(2001-2003 Study)

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