God is on Job’s case. He won’t ignore him, although Job sometimes prays for Him to; but neither will He condemn Job. This is, of course, where Job and his friends are in such bitter disagreement. In fact, Job’s friends are so rigid in their views that they cannot conceive of God as doing anything other than spitting His judgment on Job, and so they are convinced that He deserves it. Bad things never happen to good people, they reason. And they will not be moved.
But bad things do happen to good people. They are, quite simply, wrong.
Eliphaz’s charges are absolutely searing: Job has been wicked, demanding pledges, stealing the clothes from people’s backs, denying them the basic necessities of life, abusing widows and orphans (vv.6-9). No wonder all this trouble has fallen on him, no wonder that his life is “so dark you cannot see” (v.11). For Eliphaz, Job in his sin joins the legions of men who have ignored God and wished God would disappear (vv.12-19).
The second half of the chapter is a beautifully-worded celebration of trust in God (vv.21-30). He is as gold and silver, and He alone brings peace and saving power. This is all true, gloriously so. It’s just that Job’s trust is already in Job, tough as it is for Him. Job’s trust should also be in kind and wise friends. When that trust is broken – for Job as well as for any of us – it’s a long, long way back.
A Prayer to Pray
Lord, help me to be a better friend to others. So often my words are ill-chosen. So often my feelings and attitudes towards others are wrong. Put a guard on my mouth, Lord, and work through more careful thinking, that I might be slow to speak, quick to listen, quick to pray, and a genuine, trustworthy friend. May I minister Christ in His wisdom and tenderness to others. Amen.