Here’s an old friend. But Eliphaz has no new perspective to bring to Job’s sufferings. In fact, his tone against Job is even more strident: “you even undermine piety and hinder devotion to God” (v.4). Eliphaz says what Job already knows – that God is perfect, whilst we are not (vv.14-16), and that life is nasty and short (vv.17-24), that riches bring no security (vv.28-30), and that all life will end with the grave (vv.31-35). Notice, though, that his words are spoken against Job. In Epliphaz’s eyes, here is the arrogant godless man whom the Lord has laid low.
Poor Job has to listen to this speech, so no wonder he explodes after it: “miserable comforters are you all” (v.2). He’s had enough of their words (v.3), and protests that, if the tables were turned, he would seek to encourage them (v.5). He has no encouragement, now: there is no crumb of comfort from these three men, and Job struggles to give himself any help, either. Chapter 16 and 17 are amongst the most desolate in the whole book. God comes at Job as the enemy (s0 he feels, vv.6-9), men do, too (vv.10), and his misery is a shared project between God and his creatures (vv.11-15). Death is all that there is to look forward to (22-17.1), since this world has no comfort and no comforters, least of all Job’s so-called friends (vv.3-16).
No comfort, or comforters? Not quite. There is one, Job, who is your intercessor (16.20). There is one who has pleaded not just for friends, but for enemies (16.21). The is one who is making a true and eternal home for you beyond the grave (17.13), and there is one who has descended into the dust for you (17.16). Look up, take heart. And that means you, too.
A Prayer to Pray
Lord, I am a creature of tears, dust and death. I am a child of Adam. I look, though, to the Last Adam, the obedient and conquering Lord Jesus Christ. Save me, through His glorious merits, I pray. Set my aching heart on Him, and teach me to see beyond the grave to worlds unknown, which one day I shall know, all because of Jesus. Amen.