Bible Studies and Highlights in the Book of Job
Job Chapters 4-7: Job vs his friends - Round one, part one!
by I Gordon
Proverbs 17:3 the refining pot is for silver and the furnace for
gold, But the LORD tests hearts.
Ding ding! And so starts the first of many rounds that Job will have to
'fight' against his so-called 'friends'. And a fight it will be. Not a
physical fight as such... Though, given some of the comments, I'm sure
if Job wasn't so weak that may have been tempting from time to time!
No, this conflict will be one of words... a battle of thoughts and
ideologies. What is interesting is that the same thoughts still surface
and harass true believers today - and sometimes from those that are
meant to be 'friends' as well!
So this study will look at the first round of insults, and arguments
between Job and his friends found in chapters 4-7. So far we've seen
Job's trials, heard his cries and felt his pain. The question is, has
this spoken to his friends and will they help?
Eliphaz enters the ring...
Job 4:1-6 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied: (2) If someone ventures a
word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking?
(3) Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened
feeble hands. (4) Your words have supported those who stumbled; you
have strengthened faltering knees. (5) But now trouble comes to you,
and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. (6)
Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your
After seven days of silence, Eliphaz is the first to speak to Job. On
the whole Eliphaz will prove to be the most gentle with Job but his
conclusion over Job's predicament is still consistent with the other
friends nonetheless. But more on that later! Eliphaz starts by asking
whether Job minds if he says a few words. And, before Job can answer,
he proceeds to say that he is going to say it anyway! Eliphaz
acknowledges that Job has helped many, but you get the feeling that
this might just be the calm before the storm! His opening is a bit like
someone saying 'with all due respect...' then kaboom! You know
something is coming and the buttery beginning will soon expose the
knife! The first point Eliphaz makes is that you have helped others,
but now you can't help yourself
. Sound familiar? It's the same point that those mocking around the
cross said to Jesus.
You reap what you sow, or do you?
Job 4:7-9 Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where
were the upright ever destroyed? (8) As I have observed, those who
plough evil and those who sow trouble reap it. (9) At the breath of God
they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish.
We've had 6 verses so far. Eliphaz has only spoken roughly 70 words
before getting to the heart of matter with Job. 'Here is what has
caused your suffering' he says to Job. 'YOU HAVE! You are reaping what
you have sown. No innocent person has ever perished' he says. Oh
really? We need to remember that Job and his friends lived a long time
ago, probably around the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, before the
first books of the Bible had been written... but had he not heard about
Abel? Did Abel deserve or cause his own death when slain by Cain?
Eliphaz's conclusion is one that many hold in all ages - If something
goes wrong with a person then that person must have caused it.
You had better listen because this is straight from the spirit!
Job 4:12-21 A word was secretly brought to me; my ears caught a whisper
of it. (13) Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls
on men. (14) Fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake.
(15) A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on
end. (16) It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood
before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice: (17) 'Can a mortal be more
righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? (18) If God
places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error,
(19) how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations
are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth! (20) Between
dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish
forever. (21) Are not the cords of their tent pulled up, so that they
die without wisdom?'
I love this little bit so I have quoted it in full. Eliphaz sees the
need to back up what he is saying and what could be better than with a
spiritual dream or vision where a spirit instructs him! Many today try
and do the same thing
. And oh how he builds it up! 'All my hair stood on end my bones did
shake!' You can actually imagine the first few verses of this passage
being read by a narrator in hushed tones with eerie music at the start
of a suspense movie! Now the message from this 'spirit' was that God
finds fault with all, and mankind, being just dust, is easily broken
and done away with. Thanks for that... I'm sure that really gave Job
great comfort! Now the message is true in a general sense but isn't
exactly much use to Job now is it? He hasn't done anything wrong!
Job 5:1-7 'call if you will, but who will answer you? To which of the
holy ones will you turn? (2) Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays
the simple. (3) I myself have seen a fool taking root, but suddenly his
house was cursed. (4) His children are far from safety, crushed in
court without a defender. (5) The hungry consume his harvest, taking it
even from among thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth. (6) For
hardship does not spring from the soil, neither does trouble sprout
from the ground. (7) Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly
To further back up his argument, Eliphaz asks Job to call on any saints
or even angels that would disagree that sin is always followed up with
judgement. He believes that he has the weight of history and heaven
behind his arguments! Man is sinful and sin always leads to trouble...
as surely as sparks fly upward! Well, that is true and this world is
full of trouble. Just watch the evening news. A lot of it is from the
work of fallen mankind. No doubt about it. But there is a bigger
picture than all of Job's friends miss and that is what is going on in
the heavenlies and in the spiritual realm... a picture we were privy to
in Chapters 1 and 2 of this book. Without such insight we would be no
wiser than Job's friends. Though hopefully more compassionate!
Just turn to God and everything will be alright! But what if you
hadn't turned from Him?
Job 5:8-18 but if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my
cause before him. (9) He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted. (10) He bestows rain on the earth; he
sends water upon the countryside. (11) the lowly he sets on high, and
those who mourn are lifted to safety. (12) He thwarts the plans of the
crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. (13) He catches the
wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away...
(17) Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the
discipline of the Almighty. (18) For He wounds, but He also binds up;
He injures, but His hands also heal.
Eliphaz instructs Job to turn to God and see the wonders that He
performs. Good advice for a sinner but there are two problems with this
in Job's case. Firstly, as stated in the title, Job hasn't actually
turned from God. He feared God and was blameless in the sight of God.
Secondly, this trial was from God Himself. Turning to God or pleading
his case before God wasn't going to change anything. God had specific
reasons for this trial and it would last just as long as it had to last
to accomplish those purposes. What about you? Are you going through a
difficulty or having to endure a trial at the moment? If you have moved
from God then it could be something from His hand to draw you back to
Him because of His love for you.
But maybe you never moved from Him in the first place. If so all the
advice in the world to repent and turn back to Him isn't going to help.
There are trials from the hand of God that are for our development, not
discipline because of wrong doing. This is the type of trial Job was
experiencing and of which Job's friends had no concept of. Eliphaz ends
the chapter by giving seven things that God will protect us from if we
turn to Him (vs. 19-27) but again this is not helpful to Job for he
hasn't moved from Him! It's time for Job to reply.
Job's reply - There is a pretty obvious reason for my complaint!
How about some compassion?
Job 6:1-5 Then Job replied: (2) If only my anguish could be weighed and
all my misery placed on the scales! (3) It would surely outweigh the
sand of the seas-- no wonder my words have been impetuous. (4) The
arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison;
God's terrors are marshalled against me. (5) Does a wild donkey bray
when it has grass, or an ox bellow when it has fodder?
I get the feeling that Job was a little surprised by the 'help' that he
received from his 'friend' Eliphaz. So he starts his response by
explaining how bad his sufferings actually are. And fair enough too! He
hadn't received a word of comfort or sympathy to help ease the pain.
Job agrees that his outburst of heartache (as expressed in chapter 3)
was 'impetuous' or 'rash' (NASB) but just wants them to see why he
speaks as he does. Using an example from nature, Job reminds them that
a wild donkey doesn't bray for no reason and nor does an ox bellow if
unprovoked. What about you? Have you spoken to someone in the midst of
deep darkness and hardship? Did their words seem bleak? We need to
understand that when people are going through a prolonged time of
difficulty, it is often hard to see any light or a way out and thus the
words from such a person can be very dark. Be patient and kind with
such people and try to understand what they are going through!
Job 6:8-18 (NASB) "Oh that my request might come to pass and that God
would grant my longing!' (9) "Would that God were willing to crush me,
That He would loose His hand and cut me off!' (10) "But it is still my
consolation, and I rejoice in unsparing pain, that I have not denied
the words of the Holy One.' (11) "What is my strength that I should
wait? And what is my end that I should endure?' (12) "Is my strength
the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze?' (13) "Is it that my
help is not within me, and that deliverance is driven from me?' (14)
"For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend;
So that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty.' (15) "My
brothers have acted deceitfully like a wadi, like the torrents of
wadis which vanish,
(16) which are turbid because of ice and into which the snow melts.''
(17) "When they become waterless, they are silent, when it is hot, they
vanish from their place.' (18) "The paths of their course wind along,
they go up into nothing and perish.'
Job still wants to die as his pain is unending. Yet he still takes
consolation in the fact that he has not denied the words of the Holy
One. This will be tested even further as the time goes by. But he
reminds his friends again of this one thing - 'For the despairing man,
there should be kindness from a friend! You guys have acted like a
deceitful waterless wadi - you promise much and deliver nothing! All I
am after from you is some simple kindness!' It is a reminder that we
should all learn from. There are times when things are completely out
of our control and we feel hopeless in the face of overwhelming
problems. Sometimes people go through things that we seemingly have no
answers for. Learn from Job in this! He was a man that was going
through such a time and what did he want from his friends? Their
friendship, that's all! He carries this thought on in the next passage.
Job 6:22-30 have
I ever said, 'Give something on my behalf, pay a ransom for me from
your wealth, (23) deliver me from the hand of the enemy, ransom me
from the clutches of the ruthless'?
(24) Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong.
(25) How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove?
(26) Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat the words of a
despairing man as wind? (27) You would even cast lots for the
fatherless and barter away your friend. (28) But now be so kind as to
look at me. Would I lie to your face? (29) Relent, do not be unjust;
reconsider, for my integrity is at stake. (30) Is there any wickedness
on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice?
Job says 'I'm not asking you to perform miracles. I'm not asking you to
get me out of this. You don't need to solve all the problems I'm
facing. But a little sympathy would be nice!' So where does sympathy
come from? Where does compassion come from? Why is it that some can
identify with a troubled man and some, like Job's friends here, seem so
removed and cold to it all? I would say that a lack of true experience
and theology both play a part in this. See the fine print for more
So Job pleads with them not to be unjust - 'Look at me' he says. 'Look
me in the eyes. I am not lying to you!'
No God, no hope. Know God, know hope.
Job 7:4-11 When I lie down I think, 'How long before I get up? The
night drags on, and I toss till dawn. (5) My body is clothed with worms
and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. (6)
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and they come to an
end without hope. (7) Remember, O God, that my life is but a
breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.
(8) The eye that now sees me will see me no longer; you will look for
me, but I will be no more. (9) As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so he
who goes down to the grave does not return. (10) He will never come to
his house again; his place will know him no more. (11)
Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish
of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.'
With nights filled with tossing and turning and days full of pain and
hopelessness, Job sinks further into the darkness that has engulfed his
existence. The valley of the shadow of death is all he can see and it
seems to stretch out forever. As he contemplates his current state, and
that he will soon be no more (in his words), Job becomes more and more
agitated and angry. He will not remain silent... He must complain and
speak out with an anguished and bitter soul! You know, if we think that
this life is all there is and that we do not return from the grave, it
is a pretty depressing thing! Especially if this life is not treating
you very well! This is the lot of the atheist. With no faith in God or
belief in a life to come, they place all their hope in a world filled
with trials, hardship and despair. No wonder such a person is
ultimately faced with only purposelessness and hopelessness.
But Christianity changes things! So how does the hope of the gospel
change our perspective concerning the difficulties of this life? And,
while we are at it, how does it change things concerning the thought of
death? Look at the hope of the Christian even in the midst of
difficulty in this life... Firstly, all troubles and trials that we go
through as Christians have eternal significance and an eternal purpose!
2Co 4:16-17 'Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we
are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an
eternal glory that far outweighs them all.'
Secondly, and importantly, death is not the end! There is a coming
resurrection and a death, of death itself!
1Co 15:51-55 'Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep,
but we will all be changed--- (52) in a flash, in the twinkling of
an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead
will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (53) For the
perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal
with immortality. (54) When the perishable has been clothed with
the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying
that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in
victory." (55) Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is
Are you being watched by the watcher of men?
Job 7:13-21 ' When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will
ease my complaint, (14) even then you frighten me with dreams and
terrify me with visions, (15) so that I prefer strangling and death,
rather than this body of mine. (16) I despise my life; I would not live
forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning. (17) What is man that
you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, (18) that
you examine him every morning and test him every moment? (19) Will you
never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? (20) If I
have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you
made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? (21) Why do you not
pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the
dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more."
As Job's thoughts slip into further darkness, so does his belief in the
intentions of God. Have you doubted the thoughts and intentions of God
towards you? Job begins to see God as one who watches constantly,
always testing and always looking for something that is wrong. It seems
to Job that God is out to get him. So does God watch us? Does God test
us? The answer to both is of course, yes. And, it is fair to say, that
others in the Bible have felt this same gaze of God and desired to be
free from it. King David experienced when he wrote:
Psalm 39:10-13 'Remove your scourge from me; I am overcome by the
blow of your hand. (11) You rebuke and discipline men for their
sin; you consume their wealth like a moth-- each man is but a
Look away from me, that I may rejoice again before I depart and
am no more.'
Yet the gaze and intentions of God towards his own children are never
for harm! Any use of the rod is ultimately for our good. And I should
also emphasise the positive aspect of this as well for primarily the
'watcher of men' looks for evidence of faith and dependence in His
Psalm 33:13-22 '
From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; (14) from
his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth
-- (15) he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything
they do. (16) No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior
escapes by his great strength. (17) A horse is a vain hope for
deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. (18)
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those
whose hope is in his unfailing love, (19) to deliver them from
death and keep them alive in famine.
(20) We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
(21) In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. (22)
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our
hope in you.'
But these thoughts have long slipped from Job's mind and they have been
replaced with accusations and doubt concerning the intentions of God.
'God', it seems to Job, 'has got it in for me! He doesn't like me and I
don't know why! He is happy for me to slowly slip into the grave and be
no more.' Oh so far from the truth is our friend Job, though I suspect
that we all have at one time had thoughts similar to this (and while
being under less testing than Job.) Maybe Job's next friend, Bildad,
will help light this darkened scene with truth once more? Well, we
shall see and we won't have to wait long for Bildad nails his colours
to the mast in the very first line of his reply!