Job 5:8-27 – Eliphaz's Words Become Trying

He prattles on poetically while Job writes in pain.

Job 5:8-27 (ESV)

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: he gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields; he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end. They meet with darkness in the daytime and grope at noonday as in the night. But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth and from the hand of the mighty. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts her mouth. 

“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal. He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no evil shall touch you. In famine he will redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword. You shall be hidden from the lash of the tongue, and shall not fear destruction when it comes. At destruction and famine you shall laugh, and shall not fear the beasts of the earth. For you shall be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you. You shall know that your tent is at peace, and you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing. You shall know also that your offspring shall be many, and your descendants as the grass of the earth. You shall come to your grave in ripe old age, like a sheaf gathered up in its season. Behold, this we have searched out; it is true. Hear, and know it for your good.”

Parts of this passage would make a pretty good hymn.

As for me, I would seek God.
He gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the field.
He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no evil shall touch you.

Eliphaz’s theology does have some flaws, but that’s not the problem here. His words could be useful – in another place and time.

But right now Job needs this like a hole in the head. The comfort Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are giving to Job isn’t comforting – and it’s going to get worse. This is the nicest thing Job will hear from these guys. Their message will get so harsh that it’ll constitute a third trial.

And this one will prove decisive.

Eliphaz has made a common mistake – he didn’t think through whether he’s about to do more harm than good. We all know that we should think before we speak, but about what? Think about the case for remaining silent.

This is like the classic trick for improving your grocery shopping. Just before checking out, put back 10% of the items in your cart. We need to do something like that with our speech.

But more importantly, by hesitating we open the door to hearing the Holy Spirit. That’s where the real problem is anyway. Eliphaz’s words sound good – to Eliphaz. They sound good to us too.

But Eliphaz has little chance of knowing how they sound to Job.

Only the Holy Spirit can help with that.

To download a 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.