Eliphaz Needs a Hearing Aid

We all do.

Job 22:12-30 (ESV)

“Is not God high in the heavens? See the highest stars, how lofty they are! But you say, ‘What does God know? Can he judge through the deep darkness? Thick clouds veil him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the vault of heaven.’ Will you keep to the old way that wicked men have trod? They were snatched away before their time; their foundation was washed away. They said to God, ‘Depart from us,’ and ‘What can the Almighty do to us?’ Yet he filled their houses with good things—but the counsel of the wicked is far from me. The righteous see it and are glad; the innocent one mocks at them, saying, ‘Surely our adversaries are cut off, and what they left the fire has consumed.’

“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents, if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’; but he saves the lowly. He delivers even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

Have you ever had someone react to something you said with, “So you mean that …” and then they say something totally strange to you? This isn’t rare. People don’t hear what you say; they hear what they think you mean. They filter everything they hear through their assumptions.

That’s what Eliphaz is doing here. He says to Job, “But you say, ‘What does God know? Can he judge through the deep darkness? Thick clouds veil him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the vault of heaven.’

Job not only didn’t say that, he never said anything remotely close to that. How could Eliphaz hear something so different from what Job said?

Eliphaz assumes that God’s justice is immediate; God acts on every injustice He sees. Thus, he “heard” Job saying that God’s vision is obstructed.

Different people see things differently. This presents special challenges when teaching the Bible. Everyone interprets each Bible passage through the lens of their own world view. For example, someone who thinks that miracles never happen will see the parting of the Red Sea in terms of how it could happen naturally.

But this isn’t just about how some people think; this is how all human perception works. For a thorough explanation, see:

This is why listening is so essential to sharing the gospel. If you don’t take the time to learn how someone thinks, you won’t be communicating what you think you’re communicating.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.