Thursday 29 January 2015

Bible Book:

“How happy is the one whom God reproves…” (v. 17)

Job 5:6-27 Thursday 29 January 2015

Psalm: Psalm 90


In this passage, Job is addressed by his 'friend' Eliphaz theTemanite. We know relatively little about Eliphaz - Teman was inEdom, in the area we now know as Jordan, a region renowned in theBible for its wise men. We can assume, as he speaks first, that heis the oldest and best respected of the three friends. However, inhis well-meaning kindliness towards Job, Eliphaz falls back onstock phrases and comforting traditions that, in fact, do nothingto help Job in his predicament.

In the previous chapter, Eliphaz rebuked Job for his lack ofpatience, following his recent outburst (Job4:2, 5), which must have been fairly galling after a solid weekof silence. In chapter 5, he falls into the tradition of several ofthe Psalmists, who held fast to the belief that disaster wouldbefall those who carried out evil deeds. He maintains thateverything is under God's control, from the rain falling on thefarmers' fields (verse 10) to the rescue of the needy from theiroppressors (verse 15). Therefore, Job's suffering must be a form ofdiscipline from God for an (unnamed) transgression, and if Jobwould simply put his trust in God, he would be delivered from hissuffering and protected from any future evils.

Job, who is vehement in maintaining his innocence,unsurprisingly does not find Eliphaz's words to be a source ofcomfort (instead, complaining that "my companions are treacherouslike a torrent-bed" in Job6:15). Passages such as this can lead us to despair if webelieve that justice will be done during our time on earth.Clearly, God does not always "[frustrate] the devices of thecrafty, so that their hands achieve no success" (v. 12) - it is atruth universally acknowledged that the crafty often prosper. Inthe Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus offers reassurance that thejustice and restoration described by Eliphaz will be brought aboutin the kingdom of God - but not, perhaps, on this side ofheaven.

To Ponder

  • In a sense, Eliphaz's predictions are proved correct, as Jobultimately places his trust in God, and his fortunes are restored(and even increased). To what extent does this mean Eliphaz iscorrect in his reasoning?
  • Christians are often asked "why do bad things happen to goodpeople?" Have you ever been asked "why dogoodthings happentobadpeople?" How did you respond? Or how would you respond?

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