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FRAMEWORKS: Job 4: Eliphaz (1/3) Part 1


v.1-6 Appeal to Job's Maturity (Piety)
v.7-11 Supposed Logic: the righteous will be saved, the wicked perish
v.12-16 He appeals to a mystical revelation
v.17-21 The content of the revelation


[Preliminary Comments: As the arguments, advice etc. pour forth from the three ‘friends' it requires us to carefully assess just what they are saying. We will try and do this at the end of each chapter with a final chapter summary.

As our heading suggests Eliphaz speaks three times and this first time covers two whole chapters, hence we've called this chapter, Part 1.

In the first part of this chapter, Eliphaz appeals to Job's own history that can act as a resource right now.[v.1-6]. He then appeals to a popular belief that the righteous will always be saved, [v.7-11] and then concludes with recounting a mystical revelation he seems to have had [v.12-16] that reminds us [v.17-21] not to put ourselves on an equal footing with God.]



v.1-6 Appeal to Job's Maturity


v.1  Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied

v.2  “If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking? 

v.3 Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. 

v.4 Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. 

v.5 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. 

v.6 Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope? 


[Notes: Can I appeal on equal terms? You've been a teacher who has had to correct or encourage those who are stumbling, so if I see you stumbling, I'm just coming to you in the same manner. Can I appeal to your maturity, what you have learned, that you can now trust in for yourself?]



v.7-11 Supposed Logic: the righteous will be saved, the wicked perish


v.7 “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? 

v.8 As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. 

v.9  At the breath of God they perish; at the blast of his anger they are no more. 

v.10 The lions may roar and growl, yet the teeth of the great lions are broken. 

v.11 The lion perishes for lack of prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered. 


[Notes: Look, you and I know (implied) that the righteous are saved by God, it's the wicked who perish, so now you can trust that your righteousness will save you (implied). The strong and violent are not as strong as they would make out, they are just as vulnerable as anyone else as the animal kingdom shows.]



v.12-16 He appeals to a mystical revelation


v.12 “A word was secretly brought to me; my ears caught a whisper of it. 

v.13 Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on people, 

v.14 fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake. 

v.15 A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end. 

v.16 It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice: 


[Notes: We know these things are true (implied) but I also had a strange and mystical experience that I trust came from heaven (again implied) to teach me.]



v.17-21 The content of the revelation


v.17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker? 

v.18  If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, 

v.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! 

v.20 Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever. 

v.21 Are not the cords of their tent pulled up, so that they die without wisdom?'


[Notes: The voice helped me see that we cannot put ourselves on an equal footing with God. If God mistrusts His angels, how much more human beings who are so vulnerable that life can just sweep them away without notice.]



1. [v.1-6] Yes, it's good to start from a positive note, being reminded of God's past blessings and impartation of maturity.

2. [v.7-11] Be careful in equating righteousness or unrighteousness with acts of judgment. Jesus taught that this was unwise. [Lk 13:1-5] We'll see more of this poor logic as we go on.

3. [v.12-16] Beware mystical, spooky, ‘revelatory' experiences that are very different from the ‘Thus says the Lord' clarity of the prophets of old or the strong revelation of Holy Spirit gifting in the New Testament.

4. [v.17-21] Yes, we should always have a holy respect for God and a wise, humble assessment of ourselves but this is not to demean us as human beings, for God was not ashamed to come to the earth in human form and die for human beings. The full picture is we are redeemed sinners who needed saving, loved by God.]

Concluding Comments: So what has this chapter been about?


•  appeals to Job to trust his piety [v.1-6] – not a smart thing to do,

•  brings some inaccurate home-spun wrong wisdom [v.7-11] – the innocent do suffer sometimes,

•  puts forward a dubious-source ‘revelation' [v.12-16] that

•  brings a very negative outlook on life [v.17-21].


If Job had hoped for understanding of his terrible anguish, seen in chapter 3, he certainly doesn't get it from Eliphaz who gets it wrong on all counts in this chapter.

Eliphaz looks for answers rather than simply empathizing with Job.



Continue to Chapter 5