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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Job 4

 

 

Verses 1-21

ELIPHAZ: COMMENDATION TWISTED INTO REBUKE

(vv.1-6)

The three friends of Job could only think of God's justice in reference to Job's sufferings, and had no idea of God's love. Eliphaz no doubt thought he would help Job by his remarkable knowledge and ability in speaking, but his diagnosis of Job's ailment was totally wrong. He begins gently and kindly, "If one attempts a word with you, will you become weary? But who can withhold himself from speaking? (v.12). Then he rightly reminds Job that he (Job) had instructed many, he had strengthened weak hands, his words had supported those who stumbled, he had strengthened the feeble knees (vv.3-4). Since this was true, should Eliphaz not have given due weight to such excellent character on Job's part, and expressed some genuine appreciation of it?

Instead, Eliphaz virtually thrust a sword into Job's soul by criticising him for being depressed when trouble comes to him (v.5). Why did Eliphaz not do as he says Job had done in the past, strengthening the weak hands and upholding those who stumbled? It is easy for us to discern what we think is wrong in another without providing for him what might be for his help. He asks Job, "Is not your reverence your confidence?" Because Job had true reverence toward God he had confidence in regard to all his former life. Also he speaks of Job's integrity (which he knew to be true) being his hope, that is, that Job had a right to look forward to the future because of his integrity.

ELIPHAZ INFERS THAT JOB HAD SINNED

(vv.7-11)

Eliphaz therefore comes quickly to the conclusion that Job must have badly compromised his reverence and his integrity, since he was now reduced to a pathetic state. He had absolutely no evidence that Job had sinned but he considered Job's condition evidence enough that he must have sinned. He says, "Who ever perished being innocent?" But Job had not perished." "Where were the upright ever cut off?" But Job was not cut off. God might indeed cut off a wicked man because he continued to refuse God's reproofs, as Proverbs 29:1 tells us, "He who is often rebuked and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, And that without remedy." But there was not the slightest indication that this applied to Job, whom God said was "a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil" (Job 1:8).

In verse 8 Eliphaz appeals to his own observation as though this was a final authority. He had seen that those who plough iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. This was true enough, but had he seen Job ploughing iniquity or sowing trouble? Certainly not! But he assumed that since Job was suffering trouble, he must have secretly engaged in evil. He does not even consider the difference between a believer and an unbeliever in the way in which God deals toward them. An unbeliever, because of his sin, may perish by the blast of God and by the breath of His anger. The strength of this evil may be compared to the roaring of a lion, but even the teeth of the young lions would be broken. Since Job could be compared to a lion in the previous strength of his wealth, now he was like a lion that perishes or the lioness losing her cubs. Eliphaz does not say this to encourage Job, however, but to imply that Job must have brought this calamity on himself by secret sin.

A SOUL-STIRRING VISION

(vv.12-21)

Eliphaz describes in most graphic language a night vision he had experienced in quiet secrecy that had a profound effect upon him. He was evidently in a deep sleep when he was shaken by a paroxysm of fear and trembling (v.14). A spirit passed before his face, causing his hair to stand up. A form was present, but undiscernible in its appearance. No doubt God intended by this to awaken the serious attention of Eliphaz, and He succeeded.

The vision was not the most vital thing here, but the message to which the vision drew attention. After a brief silence, Eliphaz heard a voice, "Can mortal man be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? If He puts no trust in His servants, if he charges His angels with error, how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before a moth? They are broken in pieces from morning to evening; they perish forever, with no one regarding. Does not their own excellence go away? They die, even without wisdom" (vv.17-21).

How true and applicable are such words to all of mankind, but Eliphaz was applying it only to Job, not to himself, because Eliphaz did not consider himself "crushed before a moth" and "broken in pieces." This had happened to Job, so that Eliphaz considered his vision as applying directly to Job. But a vision or dream is intended to apply directly to the one who has it, and Eliphaz missed that one important fact. Similarly, we may hear good ministry which we think to be more applicable to others than to ourselves. Eliphaz could see that Job's excellence was going away, but the fact was that the excellence of Eliphaz would go away too, as in the case of all men. It appeared to him that Job's condition was such that he was about to die, but death would eventually claim Eliphaz also. Job did not die until years later, yet "it is appointed unto all men once to die" (Hebrews 9:27). If Eliphaz had learned the lesson God intended, he would not have spoken to Job the way he did.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 4:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/job-4.html. 1897-1910.

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