This next section of the study of Job begins in chapter four. Often, before he lost all his possessions and became ill, Job would encourage others who were hurting or cast down. Now that Job was hurting and very sad, he needed someone to help him and lift him up. But this was not to be. Throughout the next thirty-three chapters of Job, his friends judge, accuse, and criticize him mercilessly. They believe that Job has sinned against God and that all this terrible trial and sorrow have come upon him because of God’s judgment. They even suppose that they know what sins he committed. Over and over again they describe his sin to him, and the punishment God surely must be inflicting upon him because of it. Perhaps they desired to help Job, but they did not seek to know God’s way of helping him.
Job tried to answer his friends, but they would not listen to him. Their minds were made up. Job must be hiding some kind of sin.
Eliphaz Begins the Exchange
(Note: some of the thoughts from the following section come from referring to Matthew Henry’s Commentary.)
“1Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said, 2If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? but who can withhold himself from speaking?” (4:1,2)
“Job,” Eliphaz was saying, “Will you be grieved even more if we talk to you? But we cannot hold back our words any longer.”
Eliphaz goes on to say, “3Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. 4Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.” (4:3,4)
What a commendation of Job! When others did not know what they ought to do, he instructed them. If they needed help, he lent them a strong helping hand. When their hearts were filled with discouragement so that they wanted to give up, Job encouraged them so they would have strength to go on and not stumble and fall in the way. Surely Job’s friends could do as much for him. Now that he was sad and hurting, they could lift him up.
But no! Eliphaz goes on to say, “But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.” (4:5)
“You helped others and told them how to be strong,” Eliphaz accuses. “But now that you are in trouble, you want to give up. You are fainting in the face of adversity.”
Yes, Job did want to give up. In fact he wanted to die. Almost everything he had owned was gone, his children were gone, and his health was gone. He was sick and in constant, severe pain. Death would bring relief. How he looked forward to seeing his Redeemer! In this life he faced loneliness, sorrow, and suffering. In the life to come, he would experience freedom and joy.
Eliphaz was quick to judge, but he judged without understanding. He had not dealt with these problems. His faith had not been tested in this way. He was critical of Job for fainting in adversity, but would he have endured if he had been in Job’s place? Eliphaz was calling Job a quitter, but God said Job was His upright servant.
We should never judge those who seem to faint during a trial of their faith unless we have gone through that same trial ourselves and come out of it without wavering in any way. The Bible says, “The heart knoweth his own bitterness.” (Proverbs 14:10a) None of us can know the sorrow of another. We must each drink our own bitter cup. Perhaps the one who wants to give up has a cup far more bitter than ours. Rather than accuse him of weakness, we should support him, and hold him up.