November 17, 2018: He Himself SufferedJosh Moody
Eliphaz continues with his firm rebuttal to Job’s sensitive complaint. Job is suffering deeply. Extraordinarily. And in his suffering he is surrounded by the famous “Job’s comforters” who give not just poor advice, but make his situation worse by attempting to shame him into feeling guilty. The reason why Job is suffering is because he has done something wrong! That is why they are arguing. And Job is resisting.
How will Eliphaz drive in the point of the sword of his legalistic lecture? In this second half of this chapter, he adopts a simple tactic. With Job sitting in ruin next to him, he describes how the wicked are the ones who are suffering. The implication is clear: Job is suffering and therefore he must be wicked.
All his days the wicked man suffers torment.
And therefore, Eliphaz none too subtly implies, Job must be wicked! That is why he is suffering torment.
On and on Eliphaz goes making the same basic point: it is the wicked who suffer (and therefore because Job is suffering he himself must also be wicked).
Before we dismiss Eliphaz as the worst possible counselor (and not much of a friend either), we should ask ourselves whether even today there are similar tendencies around that offer similar kinds of advice, even under different terms and perhaps not so blatantly. For instance, it is sadly common in some Christians circles to come across a person who is in difficulty and to ask them to “search their heart” to find out what they might have done wrong. Of course, sometimes we do suffer because we have done something wrong. But it is a mistake to try to take the place of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. And especially so when we see a person in undeserved and unnecessary, unsought for, and unsolicited suffering. When you see a person unjustly suffering, do not seek to find out what could have justly caused their suffering, but offer that person comfort and the courage of your support – accepting that in this fallen world sometimes the righteous do suffer.
We should also take these words of Eliphaz as an encouragement if we have been surrounded by such kind of “Job’s comforters” ourselves. All these things are written to teach us, and here we have an example of giving legalistic advice so that we might notice when we are given similar kinds of legalistic advice in our own lives. And do not be surprised or dismayed. But instead turn to Christ for his strength and power as we follow the crucified Lord, the Righteous One.
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:18).