Scripture to meditate on:
Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
“Would a wise person answer with empty notions
or fill their belly with the hot east wind?
Would they argue with useless words,
with speeches that have no value?
But you even undermine piety
and hinder devotion to God.
Your sin prompts your mouth;
you adopt the tongue of the crafty.
Your own mouth condemns you, not mine;
your own lips testify against you.
“Are you the first man ever born?
Were you brought forth before the hills?
Do you listen in on God’s council?
Do you have a monopoly on wisdom?
What do you know that we do not know?
What insights do you have that we do not have?
The gray-haired and the aged are on our side,
men even older than your father.
Are God’s consolations not enough for you,
words spoken gently to you?
Why has your heart carried you away,
and why do your eyes flash,
so that you vent your rage against God
and pour out such words from your mouth?
“What are mortals, that they could be pure,
or those born of woman, that they could be righteous?
If God places no trust in his holy ones,
if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes,
how much less mortals, who are vile and corrupt,
who drink up evil like water!
“Listen to me and I will explain to you;
let me tell you what I have seen,
what the wise have declared,
hiding nothing received from their ancestors
(to whom alone the land was given
when no foreigners moved among them):
All his days the wicked man suffers torment,
the ruthless man through all the years stored up for him.
Terrifying sounds fill his ears;
when all seems well, marauders attack him.
He despairs of escaping the realm of darkness;
he is marked for the sword.
He wanders about for food like a vulture;
he knows the day of darkness is at hand.
Distress and anguish fill him with terror;
troubles overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack,
because he shakes his fist at God
and vaunts himself against the Almighty,
defiantly charging against him
with a thick, strong shield.
“Though his face is covered with fat
and his waist bulges with flesh,
he will inhabit ruined towns
and houses where no one lives,
houses crumbling to rubble.
He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure,
nor will his possessions spread over the land.
He will not escape the darkness;
a flame will wither his shoots,
and the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away.
Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless,
for he will get nothing in return.
Before his time he will wither,
and his branches will not flourish.
He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes,
like an olive tree shedding its blossoms.
For the company of the godless will be barren,
and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes.
They conceive trouble and give birth to evil;
their womb fashions deceit.” – Job 15
Chapter 15 begins what scholars refer to as “the second cycle” of speeches in the Book of Job. Eliphaz, the leader of Job’s three friends continues his assessment of Job’s suffering. The theme of this remains consistent. Eliphaz insists that Job’s suffering is a direct result of Job’s sinful actions.
In fact, Eliphaz seems to have a simple bumper-sticker approach to suffering. He might have a sign on the back of his camel that reads: “The wicked suffer and sufferers are wicked.” (His other camel might well have a sign reading: “The Godly are blessed and the blessed are Godly.”)
Contrast this idea to what we read in Psalm 73. Here we see the Psalmist questioning his own assumptions about good and evil and coming to a more complex and honest assessment of his own attitudes. “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
One of the lessons we can take away from Job is found in the misdirected ideas of his friends. Often in life there are not immediate consequences for sin in the present, but God is just and He will weigh all things in eternity.
“For they stretched their hand against God, they defied the Almighty.” – Job 15:25
Questions to ponder:
- Have you, like the Psalmist ever been envious of the prosperity of the wicked?
- Have you ever been anxious for God’s judgment against someone who hurt you?
- How can the example of the Psalmist help correct these attitudes?