Front Page
Meditations Contents
Series Theme: The Anguish of Job
Meditation No. 13
Series Contents:
Meditation Title:   Troublesome Mankind

1 to 10

11. Naïve Thinking

12. A Dubious Vision

13. Troublesome Mankind

14. Dubious Counsel

15. Discipline

16. Fruits of Anguish

17. Needs within Despair

18. Incomplete Vision

19. Words from Hopelessness

20. Why bother with us?

61 to 68



1-10 roughly cover Ch.1-4

11-20 roughly cover Ch.4-7

21-30 roughly cover Ch.8-11

31-40 roughly cover Ch.12-15

41-50 roughly cover Ch.16-21

51-60 cover Ch.22-33

61-68 cover Ch.34-42


Job 5:7    Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.


As we start in chapter five, Eliphaz continues to roll out his world view that he uses to seek to bring Job to a place of repentance. The only trouble is, as we've seen from the early chapters, this isn't about Job's sin. He hasn't sinned. For some of us, the idea that a person hasn't sinned causes a difficulty. Recently I was in a conference where the speaker asked us, “Who here hasn't sinned today.” Not wanting to cause an upset I kept quiet, but my heart said, “I haven't, or at least I have not been conscious of sinning. If I had, if the Holy Spirit had convicted me of a wrong thought, word or action, I would have repented of it, but that had not happened."  Do we struggle over this? The apostle John said, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin (1 Jn 2:1). Most of the time we should not be sinning as children of God led by His Spirit but, yes, there will certainly be occasional times when we will get it wrong and need to repent.

So Eliphaz continues: “Call if you will, but who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn?” (v.1) Which angel can you call upon who will side with you and listen to you, knowing you are in the wrong (implied). That's what he is saying. How different from today when we know we have an advocate. The apostle John who we quoted above continued, “But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 Jn 2:1b) Isn't that wonderful! Jesus who is seated at his Father's right hand speaks up for us when we get it wrong, because he's died in our place to deal with that particular sin!

Then Eliphaz brings more oblique criticism: “Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.” (v.2) He is obliquely warning Job against feeling resentful and implies if he does get resentful about what is happening to him he reveals himself as a fool and will be killed by that resentment. If Job feel envious about his friends who aren't suffering as he is, that too will be destructive. More and more oblique condemnation! This is not what Job needs to hear, but perhaps it is all part of the testing process that he is going through. Eliphaz's condemnation continues as he brings authority to what he's just said: “I myself have seen a fool taking root, but suddenly his house was cursed. His children are far from safety, crushed in court without a defender (v.3,4) Surely this has got to apply directly to Job. It is too close to what has happened to be coincidence. Could Eliphaz have two people of acquaintance whose family appears to have been cursed and crushed? Again he is indirectly implying that Job is a fool. Not nice!

Then he turns to an analogy based on what he has seen, upon this very situation: “The hungry consume his harvest, taking it even from among thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth.” (v.5). Yes, when this rich man is brought down the poor and needy swarm in and “consume his harvest” and grab for everything there is. Everything of his is up for grabs. But why is he saying this? Because he wants to apply it in his analogy: “For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground(v.6) When these people come and plunder the rich man's harvest, it's not the soil or the harvest that cause the hardship or even the people taking the harvest that is just lying there in the fields. No, that came before. The hardship and trouble was caused by sin (implied). “A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal 6:7). That is true. Sin does bring its own harvest, but you can have trouble without having sinned and that is what this whole story is all about and Eliphaz doesn't understand that because a) he hasn't been in the courts of heaven to see what caused all this and b) he has this simplistic view of sin and judgment that is not the whole picture.

He concludes this part with that verse that is so well known that we have at the start of our meditation: “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” It is so simple this philosophy. In the same way that sparks from a fire naturally go up in the heat, so it is natural for any human being to suffer. Suffering, says this doctrine, is a natural part of human life. And there we have a half truth. Yes, we live in a fallen world where sin and its effects prevail and so we suffer, but that is only half of the picture. The other half is that we have a loving God who sends a Saviour for us, to help us, deliver us, lift us, encourage us, heal us, and generally bless us.

Yes, get all miserable about the tough world in which we live if you have to, but the picture is far bigger! That is a godless picture left like that, but this world is not God-less, this is His world and He is here with us in it! He is here to redeem us and deliver us in it. Sometimes He redeems us by delivering us out of this world into the next (e.g. James Acts 12:2), and sometimes He delivers us from death and prison in this world (e.g. Peter – Acts 12:5-11). Sometimes he brings healing and deliverance (e.g. man at Gate beautiful – Acts 3) and sometimes He asks us to live with it (Paul – 2 Cor 12:7-9). Sometimes He calls for us to die as martyrs (ten of ‘the twelve') and sometimes He grants us to die of old age (the apostle John). Don't try and make a doctrine out of what God will do, because He's not a machine. He decides on the basis of His wisdom, of what is the right thing in every situation, and it will be unique for that situation – but He will be there for us working for our good in it (Rom 8:28). That is the wonder of this story and of our lives, God is there in the background working out His purposes and they are for our good.

I wonder, when we get to heaven, if we encountered Job, what he would say to us? Wow, yes, it was tough for a few days (weeks or months?) and the anguish was almost unbearable, but actually I had an encounter with God like I'd never had before and I was a different man afterwards and it was good. But that is all yet to come. For the moment Job is having to tolerate pain and anguish – and a ‘friend' with some unhelpful religion! We need the bigger picture, Eliphaz! Trouble isn't all there is!