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Job 4:1-11 – Eliphaz Weighs in With Faulty Theology

He thinks this must be punishment for some specific sin.

Job 4:1-11 (ESV)

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.”

Eliphaz’s advice is off the mark. Job’s trials are not the result of any specific sin on his part. He means well, but Eliphaz is definitely not helping.

There’s a lesson for us in this. Notice how Eliphaz sounds like he’s talking to his pastor. “Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands.” His advice to Job is, in some ways, analogous to the advice we give to our church leaders.

One of the toughest aspects of being a pastor is dealing with a steady stream of feedback on just about everything. We mean well, and our words are generally lightyears better than Eliphaz’s, but with so many people offering advice it can still get draining.

This wouldn’t be a problem if we gave out complements as often as we give out criticism. But our natural tendency is to only transmit the things we think are important – the things with substance – and those are often suggestions.

We tend to make the same mistake in our marriages, but we’ve been taught to correct for this natural tendency in that context. So, we make a point of complementing our spouses (or should!)

We need to do that with our pastors. Constructive criticism is important, but complements should vastly outnumber criticisms. The same holds for other church workers.

Everyone needs encouragement, and those Satan would destroy need it more.

The same rule applies to prayer. We often forget the spiritual warfare aspect of church. In Job, it’s obvious that everything is about spiritual warfare. But we don’t usually think of the church as a field of war.

It is never anything else. Pray for your pastors. Pray for your church. Pray for all your church staff and volunteers.

Do not take this lightly. It’s called warfare for a reason.

To download a free study guide with this week's devotionals, plus some discussion questions, see:


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.

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