Here Eliphaz continued his thoughts from the last chapter – namely, that outward affliction is a sure mark of inward sin. And he called upon Job to answer his arguments. “Were any of the saints or servants of God ever visited with such Divine judgments as Job had?” he reasoned. “Or did they ever behave like him under their sufferings?” Eliphaz based his thinking upon the supposition that the sin of sinners always results in their ruin during their lifetime. Therefore, to his mind, Job had surely done some foolish and wicked thing, by which he had brought himself into this lamentable condition.
But this application to Job’s case was unfair and severe. It is certain that all the prosperity of the wicked is only like the perishable grass. But it is wrong to make a sweeping judgment against all persons whom we see in misery, sadness, or calamity. Outward difficulties do not prove that their recipient is a child of the devil. The Lord sometimes sends chastisements and afflictions even to His children, but His love is at the bottom of them all! (Heb. 12:5-6)
Eliphaz reminded Job that troubles and trials happen to us according to the will and counsel of God. We must not attribute our afflictions to “random chance” or “bad luck,” because they come from the hands of the Lord. Mankind is born in sin; and therefore, he is born to trouble. Indeed, there is nothing in this world that we can truly call our own, except sin and trouble. Our transgressions are like sparks that fly out of the furnace of original corruption. Such is the frailty of our bodies, and the vanity of all our enjoyments, that our troubles arise swiftly out of them, just as sparks fly upward from a fire.
Eliphaz advised Job to seek the Lord under his afflictions, instead of quarrelling with Him. “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray” (James 5:13). This advice is truly Scriptural, although it is to be feared – when viewed in connection with what he said before and after – that Eliphaz was implying that Job did not seek God in his afflictions. Nevertheless, as we read the words of Eliphaz, we may focus more on the goodness of the Temanite’s counsel, rather than his motives. One of the sweetest signs that grace is in the heart, and that our troubles will be sanctified, is when those troubles lead the heart to God, and not away from Him.
No matter what Eliphaz’s views concerning Job’s situation were, we must acknowledge that he gave a most sublime description of the sovereignty and goodness of God, in verses 8-16. Let us mark down some of the sweet and precious truths contained within these verses. First, Eliphaz spoke of the Lord’s government of the kingdom of nature. To Him – and not to random chance or accident – Eliphaz ascribed all the great things that are produced, such as the rain and the dew. Next, he contemplated the works of God in the Kingdom of His Providence. He stated how the Lord sets up one, and lowers another. And while men are concluding that they see results from their own plans, wisdom, and foresight; Eliphaz reasoned, with precision and certainty, that it is God Who takes the wise in their own craftiness, and causes the counsels of the wicked to fall. But Eliphaz did not stop there. His language included thoughts on the works of God in the Kingdom of His grace. He talked of the Lord saving the poor sinner from the sword, and giving hope to the poor by stopping the mouth of iniquity. This is true Gospel! And therefore, it may said in a particular manner that the person is happy indeed, who is made sore by the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and then bound up and healed by the blood and righteousness of Christ!
In verses 17-27, Eliphaz gave Job a word of caution and exhortation: “Despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty!” The chastenings that our Father sends to us come from His love, and they are designed for our good. A righteous person may still have comfort, even in the midst of afflictions; for through them all, he has not lost his enjoyment of His Savior, nor his title to heaven. Correction mortifies his corruptions, weans his heart from the world, draws him nearer to the Lord, brings him to his Bible, and lowers him to his knees. Although God sometimes wounds His people, yet He supports them under their afflictions; and in due time, He delivers them.
Eliphaz gave Job precious promises of what God would do for him if he humbled himself. Whatever troubles the righteous may be in, they shall not receive any ultimate harm. And even if the servants of Jesus are not delivered from all outward troubles, the Lord ultimately makes them more than conquerors over them, so that they shall finish their course with joy and honor. Christ will be with His servants wherever they are – both in life and in death. They are not to expect great wealth, long life, or freedom from trials; but the Lord will order all things for the best for them.
One thing that we may learn from Job’s history is that steadiness of the mind and heart under trials is one of the highest attainments of faith. There is little exercise for faith when all things go well. But when God raises a storm, permits the enemy to send wave after wave, and seemingly stands aloof from our prayers; then to trust Him still in the prospect of shipwreck, when we cannot see Him – that is the triumph of faith! How sweet it is, in such moments, to look unto our blessed Redeemer – the Author and Finisher of our faith!
Thank You, Lord, for delivering us in all our trials and afflictions! We thank You that all nature and every Providence minister to our ultimate well-being, when we have found peace with You in the blood and righteousness of our Lord Jesus. Amen.
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