Job 4

Eliphaz: Innocent Do Not Suffer

Then Eliphaz the Temanite [a]answered,

“If one ventures a word with you, will you become impatient?
But who can refrain [b]from speaking?
“Behold you have admonished many,
And you have strengthened weak hands.
“Your words have [c]helped the tottering to stand,
And you have strengthened [d]feeble knees.
“But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
It touches you, and you are dismayed.
“Is not your [e]fear of God your confidence,
And the integrity of your ways your hope?

“Remember now, who ever perished being innocent?
Or where were the upright destroyed?
“According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity
And those who sow trouble harvest it.
“By the breath of God they perish,
And by the [f]blast of His anger they come to an end.
10 “The roaring of the lion and the voice of the fierce lion,
And the teeth of the young lions are broken.
11 “The lion perishes for lack of prey,
And the whelps of the lioness are scattered.

12 “Now a word was brought to me stealthily,
And my ear received a whisper of it.
13 “Amid disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night,
When deep sleep falls on men,
14 Dread came upon me, and trembling,
And made [g]all my bones shake.
15 “Then a [h]spirit passed by my face;
The hair of my flesh bristled up.
16 “It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance;
A form was before my eyes;
There was silence, then I heard a voice:
17 ‘Can mankind be just [i]before God?
Can a man be pure [j]before his Maker?
18 ‘He puts no trust even in His servants;
And against His angels He charges error.
19 ‘How much more those who dwell in houses of clay,
Whose foundation is in the dust,
Who are crushed before the moth!
20 ‘Between morning and evening they are broken in pieces;
Unobserved, they perish forever.
21 ‘Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them?
They die, yet without wisdom.’

And then Eliphaz puts his foot squarely in his mouth… Ok, well not before he says a few wise things. Eliphaz starts out well enough, as he reminds Job of how he helped others in difficult situations. Eliphaz points out that Job has strengthened others because his hope was in God.

Then he asks the question, “who ever perished being innocent?” Well, lots of folks, if we’re going to be honest. And yet, as Eliphaz later asks, “Can mankind be just before God?” Well, no, no we can’t. At least not on our own merit. We are only justified by Jesus death on the cross, and by God’s grace towards us.

Ultimately, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to wicked people, and it isn’t for us to figure that out, God knows well enough what He is doing. When our friends or family are going through hard times, we need to be there for them. That might mean giving them an encouraging word, “strengthening feeble knees” as it were.

Other times, it means just keeping our mouth shut and being in the moment with them. Lean on God at all times for wisdom to know the difference, and don’t get offended if your friend says hard things in the middle of a trial. Pray for them, and give them grace, and be humble enough to realize you don’t know the answer to “Why?”

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