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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Job 15

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Eliphaz Speaks in the Second Round of Speeches

A. Eliphaz criticizes Job a second time.

1. (Job 15:1-6) The answer and accusation of Eliphaz.

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
"Should a wise man answer with empty knowledge,
And fill himself with the east wind?
Should he reason with unprofitable talk,
Or by speeches with which he can do no good?
Yes, you cast off fear,
And restrain prayer before God.
For your iniquity teaches your mouth,
And you choose the tongue of the crafty.
Your own mouth condemns you, and not I;
Yes, your own lips testify against you."

a. Should a wise man answer with empty knowledge: Eliphaz was not impressed by Job's eloquent dependence on God as expressed in the previous chapters. He replied with a sharp rebuke of Job, accusing him of empty knowledge, of unprofitable talk, and of having cast off fear.

i. "As Job becomes more vehement, his friends become more severe. At first Eliphaz was gentle and courteous (Job 4:2). Now his politeness diminishes, and he bluntly accuses Job of folly and impiety." (Andersen)

ii. As the discussion becomes more heated, it also becomes more coarse. "In his opening lines Eliphaz accused Job of belching out a hot wind of useless words." (Smick) "The word translated himself is literally 'belly' (AV). The intriguing possibility arises from the use of the pi'el verb fill as privative. This would reverse the meaning to 'empty', which suits the context. Eliphaz has become coarse. Job's speeches are an excretion of belly wind." (Andersen)

b. Or by speeches with which he can do no good: Eliphaz sought to discourage Job from his self-defense. "It isn't doing any good, Job. We aren't listening to you. You are not persuading us."

c. And restrain prayer before God: Eliphaz was wrong in his judgment of Job; though Eliphaz could not see Job's secret prayer life, he was a man of piety and prayer as Job 1 demonstrates.

i. Nevertheless, certainly some people do restrain prayer before God. Spurgeon considered ways that some do this.

- Some restrain prayer before God because they do not pray often or regularly.
- Some restrain prayer before God because they do not prepare their hearts properly to pray. They do not consider who they are praying to, the way their prayer should be made, that they are sinners, what they should ask of God, and thankful for what He has done in the past.
- Some restrain prayer before God because they pray in such a formal, strict manner that they never really pour out their heart before God.
- Some restrain prayer before God because they pray with little faith and much unbelief.

d. Your own mouth condemns you, and not I: Eliphaz insisted that Job was also condemning himself more every time he spoke. This is because in the perspective of Job's friends, the only words Job should speak are words of humble repentance for the sin that put him in this place.

2. (Job 15:7-13) Eliphaz accuses Job of a lack of understanding.

"Are you the first man who was born?
Or were you made before the hills?
Have you heard the counsel of God?
Do you limit wisdom to yourself?
What do you know that we do not know?
What do you understand that is not in us?
Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us,
Much older than your father.
Are the consolations of God too small for you,
And the word spoken gently with you?
Why does your heart carry you away,
And what do your eyes wink at,
That you turn your spirit against God,
And let such words go out of your mouth?"

a. Were you made before the hills? Eliphaz argued along similar lines as God later did with Job in chapters 38 and 39. They both appealed to Job to consider that he did not know as much as he thought he did. Yet, what Eliphaz thought Job didn't know was entirely different than what God knew Job didn't know.

b. What do you know that we do not know? Job could not claim to be the first man who was born, or could not claim he was made before the hills, or claim that he had heard the counsel of God. Yet Job could rightly claim to know more than his friends did in his situation. They "knew" Job was a particular and notorious sinner who needed to repent; Job knew that he was not, and that there must be some other reason for his crisis.

i. "Thus he goes on to jeer Job, and to accuse him of insolent arrogancy, as if he had taken himself to be of God's cabinet-council, and so to have known more of his mind than any other." (Trapp)

ii. "The charges are not deserved. Job has made no such exaggerated claims. He had claimed only to be as intelligent as his friends (Job 12:3), not to have a monopoly of knowledge (Job 15:8)." (Andersen)

c. Are the consolations of God too small for you? It is important to remember that Eliphaz considered the consolations of God to be the advice of he and his friends. He assumed that if Job rejected their advice, he was rejecting God's consolations. Therefore, he thought that Job had turned his spirit against God.

i. "However wrong Eliphaz may have been in reference to Job and in reference to him his remarks were grossly unjust-yet many of them are correct in themselves, and may usefully be applied to our own hearts. Inasmuch as Eliphaz, in this verse, teaches no doctrine, but only asks two searching questions, he cannot mislead us; but he may do us good service." (Spurgeon)

ii. Spurgeon suggested what some of the consolations of God are that are considered by some to be too small and neglected or rejected:

- The consolations of God are applied by the Holy Spirit, who is the Comforter.
- Jesus is the substance of these consolations, for He is called "The Consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25)
- The consolations of God deal with our problem of sin; its guilt and stain and power.
- The consolations of God assure us of a new heart and nature.
- The consolations of God reveal a reason for sorrow that remains.
- The consolations of God show us One who suffers with us; Jesus Christ.
- The consolations of God compensate us for all trials and sufferings.
- The consolations of God tell us of our heavenly destination and hope.

B. Eliphaz groups Job with the wicked deserving of and receiving judgment.

1. (Job 15:14-16) The universal impurity of mankind.

"What is man, that he could be pure?
And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?
If God puts no trust in His saints,
And the heavens are not pure in His sight,
How much less man, who is abominable and filthy,
Who drinks iniquity like water!"

a. What is man, that he could be pure? Job and his friends have already argued over this point, with Zophar (among others) accusing Job of claiming to be pure and clean (Job 11:4). Job's own admissions of sin have meant nothing to persuade his friends that not only is he a sinner in a general sense, but he must also be one in a particular and wicked sense.

b. How much less man, who is abominable and filthy: Eliphaz seems to have the angels in mind with the reference to saints in Job 15:15. If God puts no trust in His saints, then it is entirely logical that He has even less confidence in man, who drinks iniquity like water.

2. (Job 15:17-26) The suffering that comes upon the wicked.

"I will tell you, hear me;
What I have seen I will declare,
What wise men have told,
Not hiding anything received from their fathers,
To whom alone the land was given,
And no alien passed among them:
The wicked man writhes with pain all his days,
And the number of years is hidden from the oppressor.
Dreadful sounds are in his ears;
In prosperity the destroyer comes upon him.
He does not believe that he will return from darkness,
For a sword is waiting for him.
He wanders about for bread, saying, 'Where is it?'
He knows that a day of darkness is ready at his hand.
Trouble and anguish make him afraid;
They overpower him, like a king ready for battle.
For he stretches out his hand against God,
And acts defiantly against the Almighty,
Running stubbornly against Him
With his strong, embossed shield."

a. What I have seen I will declare, what wise men have told: Again, Job's friends appeal to the idea of tradition and "all the wise people know this." They speak in terms of cause and effect associations between human wickedness and received judgment, and assume that this principle is always true in all cases - especially in Job's particular case.

i. "When once the sledge-hammer of tradition is brought to bear there is nothing more to say. . . . The Pharisees adopted this method with Jesus. . . . The 'Eliphaz' method has hindered more souls in developing the life with God than almost any other thing." (Chambers)

b. The wicked man writhes in pain all his days: "Job, it is only the wicked who suffer as you do. You are suffering in great pain; therefore you must be one of the wicked. The sooner you confess this and repent of it, the better it will be for you."

i. "If the friends are right, these and the army of the defeated whom they represent, those, the victims of the chances, as we say, of life, 'on whom the Tower of Siloam fell' are all rejected of God, all sinners beyond their brethren. And behind these, is the form of One, who was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, from whom we, his fellow-men, who stood around his cross - hid as it were our faces, He was despised and we esteemed Him not." (Bradley)

c. He stretches out his hand against God, and acts defiantly against the Almighty: By association, Eliphaz clearly accuses Job of this arrogance and defiance; of virtually attacking God (running stubbornly against Him with his strong, embossed shield).

i. "If Eliphaz had been wise he would have seen what Job was getting at - 'Job is facing something I do not see; I don't understand his problem, but I will treat him with respect'. Instead of that he said, 'According to my traditional belief, you are a hypocrite, Job'." (Chambers)

ii. "There is no tenderness here. The philosophy of life is stated wholly on the negative side, and it was impossible for Job to misunderstand the meaning." (Morgan)

3. (Job 15:27-35) The certainty of God's judgment against the wicked.

"Though he has covered his face with his fatness,
And made his waist heavy with fat,
He dwells in desolate cities,
In houses which no one inhabits,
Which are destined to become ruins.
He will not be rich,
Nor will his wealth continue,
Nor will his possessions overspread the earth.
He will not depart from darkness;
The flame will dry out his branches,
And by the breath of His mouth he will go away.
Let him not trust in futile things, deceiving himself,
For futility will be his reward.
It will be accomplished before his time,
And his branch will not be green.
He will shake off his unripe grape like a vine,
And cast off his blossom like an olive tree.
For the company of hypocrites will be barren,
And fire will consume the tents of bribery.
They conceive trouble and bring forth futility;
Their womb prepares deceit."

a. Though he as covered his face with fatness … He dwells in desolate cities: Eliphaz poetically explained that the wicked may seem to succeed for a while (as Job did), but their success is only an illusion. They actually are lonely, poor, and in darkness (a true description of Job's present state).

i. "Being fat in that world was not objectionable. It was the proof of prosperity. Here Eliphaz was admitting that the wicked do prosper; but as he said in Job 15:29, 'His wealth will not endure.'" (Smick)

ii. There was wisdom in Eliphaz's description of the ungodly and their destiny. The problem was that they did not apply to Job and his situation. "Apart from the fact that these words did not fit the case of Job, they constitute a magnificent description of the unutterable folly of the man who rebels." (Morgan)

b. They conceive trouble and bring forth futility: In this indirect manner, Eliphaz accuses Job of all kinds of sin including hypocrisy, bribery, trouble-making, and lying.

i. "It was hard to convince Job, and it is hard to convince us, that that fair and dutiful life had been based on guilt and hypocrisy; that all this misery was the well-deserved, well-measured requital of a life that was a lie." (Bradley)

ii. "As the discussion deepens we see all three of the friends goring more and more convinced that Job is his own worst enemy and that his trials are entirely of his own making." (Mason)

iii. "Poor Job! What a fight of affliction had he to contend with! His body wasted and tortured with sore disease, his mind harassed by Satan; and his heart wrung with the unkindness, and false accusations of his friends. No wonder he was greatly agitated, often distracted, and sometimes even thrown off his guard. However, all his enemies were chained; and beyond that chain they could not go. God was his unseen Protector, and did not suffer his faithful servant to be greatly moved." (Clarke)

© 2007 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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