Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Job 17: Job Responds to Eliphaz (3)

In his closing remarks following Eliphaz's speech, Job had something to say to everybody.

This post is part of an ongoing series on the book of Job. Click here to start at the beginning. At the end of each post you will find a link to the next.


Below is the last of Job's second response to Eliphaz  It has a staccato feel to it. It moves from one pithy statement to another. Collectively, they once more describe his situation and voices his complaint about the treatment of his friends. He spoke alternately to God ("Make then my pledge with you.") to the bystanders ("Upright men are appalled at this; the innocent man is troubled with the godless.) to his friends ("I will not find a wise man among you.") and to himself ("If I hope for the grave to be my home...). In quoting these lines below, I have added some brief commentary in italics.

My spirit is broken, my days have faded out, the grave awaits me. Surely mockery is with me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility. This could be spoken to the bystanders, to the Lord, or to himself. You can imagine the expression on the faces of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar as Job spoke these words. They glared as he spoke.

Make then my pledge with you. Who else will put up security for me? Spoken to the Lord as a request for vindication. Regardless of his confusion about his circumstance, Job still believed the solution was in God's hands.

Because you have closed their minds to understanding, therefore you will not exalt them. Job stated his belief, possibly correct, that the Lord could have enlightened his friends, but chose instead to close their minds. He entertained the possibility that the Lord would vindicate himself and humble his assailants. 

If a man denounces his friend for personal gain, the eyes of his children will fail. I see a double meaning here. In the first case, Job separated himself from those who would denounce a friend. In the second case, he warned his friends to he careful. In the case of Job's friends the personal gain is status gained from putting him down.

He has made me a byword to people, I am the one in whose face they spit. Spoken to his friends and bystanders. It reveals another aspect of his suffering. Passersby have spit on his face. 

My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow. A reference to his physical devastation.

Upright men are appalled at this; the innocent man is troubled with the godless. This is Job's principle thesis. Job's friends had a belief that suffering comes from sin. Now that they had seen a righteous man in the same kind of trouble they would attribute to a godless man, they could not handle it.

But the righteous man holds to his way, and the one with clean hands grows stronger. Job stated that he has held his own and has become stronger for their accusations.

But turn, all of you, and come now! I will not find a wise man among you. My days have passed, my plans are shattered, even the desires of my heart. Job challenged his friends to say something worthwhile.

These men change night into day; they say, ‘The light is near in the face of darkness.’ The problem with the advice of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar was that it was not connected to the real situation. Therefore, it  could not bring light to Job's situation. There was no wickedness to repent of, so a change based on that premise was far removed.

If I hope for the grave to be my home, if I spread out my bed in darkness, If I cry to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My Mother,’ or ‘My sister,’ and where then is my hope? And my hope, who sees it? Will it go down to the bars of death? Will we descend together into the dust?” Job concluded by lamenting the finality of the grave and its inevitable decay. (Job 17:1-16, The Net Bible)

Bildad spoke next.

Wednesday: Bildad's second speech.

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>


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