In the closing part of this first speech by Eliphaz, we again receive wonderful instruction in wonderful language about God and His dealings with man. Only Eliphaz applies it in the wrong way because he applies it to the wrong person.
Eliphaz speaks about God Who chastises and punishes the mortal with whom he means Job. Yet he calls that mortal “happy” (verse 1717“Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves,
So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
; Psa 94:1212Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O LORD,
And whom You teach out of Your law;
). Here he means to say that discipline or punishment has such important advantages that we should submit to it without complaining about it. What eludes Eliphaz is that God can discipline someone, without this necessarily being an expression of His displeasure with such a person. Discipline indicates the existence of a relationship. God wants to improve that relationship through discipline (Heb. 12:5-6,10; Pro 3:11-1211My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
12For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father [corrects] the son in whom he delights.).
Eliphaz sees the discipline of God as proof that there is something sinful in the life of Job. He calls upon Job to listen to this discipline and not to despise it, but to obey it. Job must know that the sorrow and wounds that are his share have been inflicted on him by the Almighty (verse 1818“For He inflicts pain, and gives relief;
He wounds, and His hands [also] heal.
). They come from Him. But Job must also know that the same Almighty is able to give relief and that His hands heal. Salvation will come from the same hand that strikes (cf. Hos 6:11“Come, let us return to the LORD.
For He has torn [us], but He will heal us;
He has wounded [us], but He will bandage us.
For the first time, Eliphaz does not speak to Job in veiled terms, but speaks directly to him with ‘you’. We can apply the “six troubles” (verse 1919“From six troubles He will deliver you,
Even in seven evil will not touch you.
) that struck Job as follows: three in his possessions, the fourth in his children, the fifth in his health, the sixth in his wife. There is a seventh trouble. We recognize it in his friends. As with the six previous plagues, we must also acknowledge that the coming of the friends has been arranged by God. Their contribution to Job’s suffering must be seen as coming from God. God also has with their actions His purpose in His upbringing of Job. He wants to use them to discover Job to himself through them.
Perhaps we can also say the following of these numbers. Six is the number of man’s toil, seven is the number of perfection. This leads to the thought that after the toil of man, rest with God follows.
Eliphaz presents Job with further blessings that will be his share if he accepts the discipline of the Almighty. Thus God will not let him die of starvation, but deliver him from it (verse 2020“In famine He will redeem you from death,
And in war from the power of the sword.
). Nor will he be killed if war is waged against him. If he trusts in God, God will protect him in times of hunger and war.
God will also ensure that his reputation is not tarnished by slanderous tongues (verse 2121“You will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
And you will not be afraid of violence when it comes.
). He does so by ensuring that the truth exposes the lie and slander. Nor will he have to fear imminent destruction, as he has now experienced. If such devastation comes to pass, he will be safe and happy. He will even laugh at them (verse 2222“You will laugh at violence and famine,
And you will not be afraid of wild beasts.
), which means that he does not take them seriously because they are not a threat to him.
The same goes for wild animals, which must always be taken into account. He doesn’t have to be afraid that these animals will attack him. Nor will they cause any damage to his harvest.
There will be no stones on his land that make his way impassable or prevent the corn from rising (verse 2323“For you will be in league with the stones of the field,
And the beasts of the field will be at peace with you.
; 2Kgs 3:1919Then you shall strike every fortified city and every choice city, and fell every good tree and stop all springs of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.’”; Isa 5:22He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected [it] to produce [good] grapes,
But it produced [only] worthless ones.
; 62:1010Go through, go through the gates,
Clear the way for the people;
Build up, build up the highway,
Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples.
). He will live in peace with the wild animals. Such harmony between man and animals will be a reality in the realm of peace (Isa 11:6-96And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
7Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
9They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
; Hos 2:1717“For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth,
So that they will be mentioned by their names no more.
). All elements of nature that can be against man will then work together with the righteous.
There will also be peace in his home (verse 2424“You will know that your tent is secure,
For you will visit your abode and fear no loss.
). When he is on the road, he does not have to worry about what happens at home. He has flawlessly arranged the care for his home, for everything that happens. God will take care of it for someone who trusts in Him. The same goes for his offspring (verse 2525“You will know also that your descendants will be many,
And your offspring as the grass of the earth.
). It will be many and prosperous (Psa 128:1,31A Song of Ascents.
How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
Who walks in His ways.
3Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
Within your house,
Your children like olive plants
Around your table.
Finally, Eliphaz points to the long life that is the part of those who trust in God (verse 2626“You will come to the grave in full vigor,
Like the stacking of grain in its season.
). He will grow old and not be torn from life prematurely due to sickness or accident as a result of sin. He will not be taken away from life until he is fully satisfied with life and the fruit of righteousness has ripened in his life. Eliphaz compares it to a “stacking of grain” which, when the corn is ripe, is brought in “in its season”. Grain is not cut off when it is still green, but only when it is golden yellow.
Of the whole picture sketched by Eliphaz, nothing can be recognized in Job. So there must be something wrong with him. That is why Eliphaz concludes his first speech to Job by emphasizing once more the research he and his friends have done into the cause and effect of sins (verse 2727“Behold this; we have investigated it, [and] so it is.
Hear it, and know for yourself.”). Again we hear that he is basing himself on his observation: they have “investigated” it. The results of his investigation and those of his friends are not open to discussion, for “so it is”. It is the certainty of someone who says: “I have the truth, and I alone.”
Eliphaz here resembles someone who was called to account for a very unhealthy interpretation of Scripture once. The answer this person gave was: ‘We spent a lot of time in that explanation and certainly didn’t go over night.’ An answer like that silences any criticism. It means that you have to be impressed by their research and that you have to accept the result, the explanation, on that basis. Such an approach is of course reprehensible. Someone who adopts such an attitude disqualifies himself as a trustworthy interpreter of Scripture.
Eliphaz says something similar to Job. Now, let Job be sensible enough to resign himself to the results of their investigation and make use of them. To oppose this is, of course, very stupid. Then you just put their ‘thorough’ investigation aside. That would be very stubborn. It’s the soothing: “Listen to us, and everything will be fine.’ Responding in such a way to the need in which someone is, we call ‘manipulating’ today. But Job does not allow himself to be manipulated as the following two chapters show.
The attitude of Eliphaz and his friends in the beginning can be an example for us. They first start by observing a silence of seven days, a full week. But as they begin to speak, we see that Job’s personal struggle encounters a high wall of incomprehension. Eliphaz comes with strong criticism (Job 4:1-111Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered,
2“If one ventures a word with you, will you become impatient?
But who can refrain from speaking?
3“Behold you have admonished many,
And you have strengthened weak hands.
4“Your words have helped the tottering to stand,
And you have strengthened feeble knees.
5“But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
It touches you, and you are dismayed.6“Is not your fear [of God] your confidence,
And the integrity of your ways your hope?
7“Remember now, who [ever] perished being innocent?
Or where were the upright destroyed?
8“According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity
And those who sow trouble harvest it.
9“By the breath of God they perish,
And by the 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.), with watertight theological arguments (Job 4:1717‘Can mankind be just before God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?
; 5:77For man is born for trouble,
As sparks fly upward.
), with personal experience – a vision he wrongly attributes to God (Job 4:12-2112“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,
14Dread came upon me, and trembling,
And made all my bones shake.
15“Then a 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 before God?
Can a man be pure 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.’). He speaks with such conviction of his own right that he challenges Job to turn to God himself; then he will hear from God the same thing he has heard from him (Job 5:88“But as for me, I would seek God,
And I would place my cause before God;
). Finally, to top it all off, Eliphaz in his pride declares his own right as an omniscient – as if he were God himself – by saying “so it is” (Job 5:2727“Behold this; we have investigated it, [and] so it is.
Hear it, and know for yourself.”).