Eliphaz's First Speech (Part 2)
We continue considering Eliphaz's first response to Job in this lesson.

Eliphaz begins chapter 5 by asking Job who he is going to call out to. Eliphaz rightly believes that only God can save Job. He will soon encourage Job to seek God, but first he has some other observations to share.

Eliphaz states in 5:3 that he has responded immediately to fools in the past (and why should he act any differently toward Job?). He insinuates Job is a fool and must be corrected and cursed because of sin he has evidently committed. After all, trouble doesn't come from nowhere--does it? "Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). According to Eliphaz, Job's problem is sin and he has no one to blame but himself for his present calamities.

Eliphaz continues:

"But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would 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 cannot carry out their plans. He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the cunning comes quickly upon them. They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope at noontime as in the night. But He saves the needy from the sword, from the mouth of the mighty, and from their hand. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts her mouth" (Job 5:8-16).

Eliphaz tells Job that if he were in Job's sandals, he would "seek God." But what exactly does Eliphaz mean by this? He means that Job needs to confess his sin and repent before the Almighty. He wants Job to mourn over his sins, not just over his circumstances. This is the very thing Job cannot do, however, because he does not know what sin or sins he has committed that warrant this treatment. Job is seeking God, just not in the penitent way his friends advocate.

It is true that God "does great things...marvelous things without number" (cf. Matt. 5:44,45). However, punishing Job with these afflictions because of his sins is not something God has done. As the reader well knows, Job is suffering for a different reason, but Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar do not understand. They believe Job's "evil actions" (although hidden to them) are now catching up with him. As in Job 4, much of what Eliphaz affirms is true, but his timetable is amiss (as well as his understanding of the cause of Job's suffering). God will glorify the humble and crush the wicked, but such justice is never administered completely on planet Earth (cf. Psa. 73; e.g., Luke 16:19ff).

"Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty" (Job 5:17). What Eliphaz states is true, but his application to Job is faulty. God does in fact discipline those whom He loves, and we should be grateful for divine correction in our lives. Discipline, if responded to properly can save one from a host of future problems and help put one's life back into proper focus (i.e., by avoiding what is wrong and seeking what is right). But, Job is not being corrected but tested. The dialogue recorded in this book would be much different if the friends understood this important point.

Eliphaz's comment in Job 5:25 must have been very hurtful to Job. Eliphaz affirmed that one who truly seeks God has nothing to fear. In fact, such a one's "descendants shall be many" and his "offspring like the grass of the earth." Job had fathered ten children and had lost all of them in one day. Eliphaz's implication is that God would never have allowed such to happen to one truly seeking the paths of righteousness. Eliphaz is way off base on this point (cf. 42:7,8).

Job's friend concludes his first speech by declaring - "Behold, this we have searched out; it is true. Hear it, and know for yourself" (Job 5:27). In other words, Job, we are your friends and we know what we're talking about. If you are going to be wise, listen to what we say and know it for yourself!