Job 4

Job 4 Devotional
by Pastor David Groendyk

If only Job’s friends would’ve remained where they were in 2:11–13. They do fine work comforting Job and mourning with him, but as soon as they open their mouths, they prove that they don’t really know what God is up to in Job’s trials. The proverb rings true: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”

Each of Job’s three friends will take turns addressing Job and trying to explain why God is doing what he’s doing. Generally speaking, each of the three friends rebuke Job for some sort of sin in his life. Eliphaz is the first to speak in chapters 4–5. The mantra that Eliphaz states first and all the friends will repeat is verse 8: “Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” In other words, if you commit evil, then evil will happen to you. Does that sort of mantra sound familiar? Even as Christians, we speak light-heartedly about this kind of thing: karma. This is how Eliphaz and Job’s other friends believe God works with mankind. Even though Eliphaz asserts that Job does have some good qualities and has helped many people (vv. 3–4), he must somehow be in the wrong before God, and he has no right to complain and protest against what God has done to him (v. 17). If even angels are held guilty before God, how much more should a mortal man like Job? But God does not act with his people according to the principle of karma. God is not bound to bless or curse us on account of anything we do. He is free to do as he pleases. What do you think makes karma such an attractive principle to live by? Are there ways you might be tempted to live as though karma were true?

One of the tricky parts of interpreting Eliphaz’s speech is that there are some good, hard questions that we must all answer for ourselves. As already referenced, he says in verse 17, “Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?” How can any man or woman stand before God justly and righteously? The answer to this question is one of the biggest themes throughout all of Scripture. The only way any man or woman can stand in the right before God is if it’s Christ who stands on their behalf. Christ’s righteousness must be credited to your account, and if it has been, then you do have the right to protest and complain before God as Job does. This does not mean that we can accuse God of wrongdoing or treating us unfairly, but we do have the right to ask him why he’s doing what he’s doing if we ask in the midst of obeying him in faith. What would you say gives you the right to stand before God’s throne? If your answer is anything other than your being united to Christ, I encourage you to read 1 Timothy 2:5–6; what does Paul say about Jesus in those verses?

Eliphaz has some true knowledge, but he is quick to speak and slow to listen. Perhaps Eliphaz himself could’ve used some of the patience that he accused Job of not having (vv. 2, 5). We must be very careful when we counsel fellow believers who are hurting that our words are true according to Scripture and not simply what we think ought to be true. The Word of God gives life and trains and equips us in every area of life for righteousness and godly living, but it takes much wisdom to apply it well. What does Eliphaz’s bad example of counseling tell us about the necessity of prayer in ministry?