Reading through the Bible together
Eliphaz is the first friend of Job to respond to his outcry. These friends of Job had no knowledge of the Rebellion in Heaven history and the subsequent drawn out difference between Satan and God over Job’s faithfulness. It was absent from their thinking.
Some scholars want to see the good in Eliphaz and try to excuse him that he is just speaking the prevailing thinking of his day. He is saying that Job use to be a counselor and help to many (v. 3) but now that tragedy came his way, he is impatient, and needs a counselor. From verse 7 Eliphaz explains his view of things, which is wrapped up in “according to what I have seen” (v. 8). The source for his knowledge is his experience and senses. He has the idea that God punishes the wicked in the present and rewards the faithful in the present. “Those who sow trouble harvest it.” It is by God’s anger that the wicked come to an end even now (v. 9).
While Eliphaz was trying to sleep one night, a spirit passed by his face (v. 15). He became afraid and was shaking (v. 14). His hair stood up and he jumped out of bed (v. 16). He could not evaluate the form properly even though it was in front of his face. The voice blamed God for doing things that reminds us of the roles Lucifer played in the Rebellion in Heaven. The intention of all of this is to throw doubt on God’s justice. “Can mankind be just before God?” (v. 17). “Can a man be pure before his Maker?”
The doubting questions imploring a negative response is strengthened by an accusation of God: “Look, He does not trust His servants” (v. 18). Connected to this blame on earth is the blame of God for having charged all “error/folly upon His angels” and expelling them from heaven.
Satan is trying the same game he used with Eve in Genesis 3. If angels are not spared, humans can not expect any better. Between morning and evening it is God who breaks humans to pieces. The spirit of blame continues, and Eliphaz repeats (v. 20). “They perish from withholding,” meaning that the blessing of heaven is withheld from these people by God. The anchors in their lives are plucked out within them so that they are left to die without wisdom.
Dear God, also we face tragedies. People and our conscience want to accuse us of wickedness that deserves God’s immediate punishment, but we know You will reward all in the future. Keep us in the hollow of Your hand. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea