With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz Chs. 6-7)

27 Dec

We do not know if Job has left the ash-heap, but that place of silence and suffering now becomes a lengthy and painful platform of debate on the ways of God. This first friend Eliphaz, no doubt deeply concerned about Job, could no longer remain silent. His own understanding of life and the Person and works of God must be given voice. Now Job responds to this first lecture. Job matches Eliphaz’s two chapters of exhorations with two chapters of response.

III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Ch. 6)

Job begins by wishing that he could physically weigh his anguish, for it would be greater that the sand of the sea (v. 2).

But Job does not blame natural disasters or the wind or the marauding armies for his losses. He makes it quite clear that these are the Almighty’s poisoned arrows which have pierced him (v. 4). And it seems that all of God’s terrors are marshaled against him.

Job has one request: that the Lord would end his life. But he says he would have “joy in unrelenting pain.” What would be that joy? “That I had not denied the words of the Holy One” (v. 10).

Job then attacks his counselors and hurls a direct charge against his friends: They are guilty of withholding kindness from him and in effect are themselves forsaking the fear of the Almighty! (v. 14).

He compares his friends to intermittent streams that overflow when they shouldn’t and dry up when they are most needed (vv. 15-17). Caravans are desperate for their refreshing water, but find only dry disappointment. You, my friends, Job says, have proved to be of no help (v. 21). Job has not asked them for any sort of deliverance.

He then challenges them to show him where he is wrong, accusing them of casting lots for the fatherless and bartering away their friend (v. 27). His own integrity, he says, is at stake (v. 29).

III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Ch. 7)

Describing himself as an overworked, hired laborer, Job says he has been “allotted months of futility” (v. 3). He is unable to sleep and his body is clothed with worms and festering scabs (v. 5). Although some time has passed, his wounds have not healed.

He directly addresses the Lord by reminding Him that his life is but a breath and that his eyes will never see happiness again (v. 7). He anticipates his death, a time when he will “be no more”, never to come to his own house again. (vv. 9-10).

But Job is not resigned to silence. He will not keep silent; he will complain in the bitterness of his soul (v. 11). His torture even invades his sleep with terrifying dreams and visions (v. 14). He despises his life, would prefer to be strangled to death, and wants God to leave him alone (v. 16).

Job is convinced that God has made him His target, that he has become a burden that God will not forgive. And he hopes soon to “lie down in the dust” of death (v. 21).

But a second friend waits in the wings — and we will examine his intervention in Job’s life.

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Posted by on December 27, 2022 in the book of Job


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