Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Job 4

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-21

Eliphaz speaks (4:1-5:27)

The first of the three friends to speak is Eliphaz, who is probably the oldest of the three. He is also the least severe in the accusations brought against Job (4:1-2). He begins by noting that in the past Job comforted others in their troubles, but now that he has troubles himself, his faith has failed. If Job truly honoured God and was upright in his ways, there would be no need for this despondency (3-6). The person who is innocent, argues Eliphaz, need not fear suffering or death. Such calamities are God’s judgment on wrongdoing, and not even the strongest or most defiant person can withstand his judgment (7-11).
Eliphaz now tells of a hair-raising vision he saw one night (12-16). (It becomes clear, as we read Eliphaz’s speeches, that this vision has become for him a standard by which he judges others.) The main point that Eliphaz learnt from his vision was that no person can be righteous before God. If angels, who live in the heavenly realm, are imperfect, how much more imperfect must human beings be who live on the earth (17-19). Their brief lives comes to an inglorious end, like a tent that collapses when its cords are cut (20-21).
According to Eliphaz, it is useless for Job to expect the angels to support his protest against God’s laws (5:1). The person who rebels against God in such bitterness is a fool and will only get himself into more trouble. His house may be destroyed, his sons convicted of lawbreaking, or his fields plundered by raiders (2-5). For Eliphaz, this shows that suffering does not spring up by itself. Suffering is caused by a person’s sin, just as sparks are caused by a fire (6-7).
In summary, Eliphaz’s suggestion is that if he were in Job’s position he would stop complaining and leave the whole matter in God’s hands, for he has infinite wisdom and power (8-10). God blesses the humble and the needy, though he opposes those who think they are clever (11-16). The sufferings God uses to punish and correct people are likened to wounds. He will heal the wounds of those who submit to him (17-18). He will then bless them with protection from famine and from enemies (19-22); wild beasts will not destroy their flocks or herds (23-24); their families will multiply, and they will die contented in old age (25-26). Such is Eliphaz’s advice, based on much research, and he suggests that Job accept it (27).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on Job 4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/job-4.html. 2005.
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