“Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said: ‘If one attempts a word with you, will you become weary? But who can withhold himself from speaking? Surely you have instructed many, and you have strengthened weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees; but now it comes upon you, and you are weary; it touches you, and you are troubled’” (Job 4:1-5).
Eliphaz and his other 2 friends, Bildad and Zophar came to comfort their friend Job in his hour of adversity (Job 2:11). To their astonishment when they come to see Job, they did not even recognize him because the boils that covered him from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head (Job 2:7, 12). Following their arrival, for seven days they simply sit with him not saying a word because they saw that his grief was great (Job 2:13).
However, after listening to Job complain about his misery and how he wished he had never been born (Job 3:2-26), Eliphaz feels compelled to speak up. As the opening verses above indicate, he says he cannot withhold himself from speaking (Job 4:2). He tells Job about a dream he had (Job 4:12-21). In this vision, he hears a voice saying, “Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” (Job 4:17).
Eliphaz feels that this dream must be a message from God and that He wants to tell it to Job. The problem is Eliphaz then begins to jump to conclusions and make false assumptions as to why all this is happening to Job. Eliphaz asserts that God must be correcting Job for some sin Job had committed. He states, "Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole” (Job 5:17-18). It is hard to believe, but Eliphaz concludes Job should feel “happy” about the things which have happened to him, because God is trying to correct Job for the error of his ways. Can you imagine how Job must have felt upon hearing these words from his “friend”?
Moreover, Eliphaz declares that Job will live a long and prosperous life and have more offspring if he will turn from his sin which he believes is the reason Job is suffering so: “You shall also know that your descendants shall be many, and your offspring like the grass of the earth. You shall come to the grave at a full age, as a sheaf of grain ripens in its season” (Job 5:25-26). Eliphaz is absolutely certain in his conclusions to which he has jumped: “Behold, this we have searched out; It is true. Hear it, and know for yourself” (Job 5:27).
As I read these words of Eliphaz I am amazed at how wrong he was. Job had not sinned (Job 1:22; 2:10). God still viewed Job as blameless and upright (Job 2:3). What was happening to Job was a result of Satan afflicting Job, not of God chastening Job! However, before I am too quick to point out Eliphaz’s faults, I need to look at myself. How often do I attempt to suggest that I know the reason things are happening to other people or even to myself? How quick I am to jump to conclusions and assert that I know the answer to the problems in people’s lives before I really even have a proper grasp on the facts. Praise God that he has revealed these words of Eliphaz to us so that we may learn to listen to others and not be quick to jump to conclusions. Today, I will strive to be a better listener and less of a “conclusion jumper”!
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19)