Once Job had been clobbered with disaster, some of his friends heard about his plight and came to give him comfort. At first they reacted in a way that truly gave Job solace. We see this in Job 2:13:
And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
If you’ve ever suffered loss or known someone who has, you know that words become meaningless at such a time. To have someone simply there – present – silently supporting is a gift. For these men to have given their time was truly a blessing to Job.
As the narrative continues. We’ll see that Job’s friends absolutely ruin what was first good by opening their mouths. Isn’t that often the truth? As long as we’re silent, we’re representing God well. The moment we decide to speak, our words betray us.
However, before this happens, Eliphaz begins a dialogue with Job. Initially, I think he gives good advice. He recounts how Job has blessed many. He’s been a mentor and an encourager. Through his advice and presence in other’s lives, he has kept them from turning down a wrong path.
Eliphaz then says something very wise in Job 4:5-6:
“But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?”
Did Job think he was immune from trouble? Who is? Trouble can come upon any of us at any time for any of a number of reasons. As we understand from the early chapters of Job, his difficulties came because Satan wished to discredit God. Yahweh says, “Go for it. Give it your best shot,” knowing that Job will not fall. However, even as a man of God seen by Him as blameless and upright, Job had to endure much hardship.
This is where the advice of Eliphaz is quite good. God’s promises are our confidence. It is His faithfulness that gives us hope. Our hope is in the promises that God makes and that we know He keeps. Through our reverent fear of God, we can trust that He will deal with us justly because He is good. When we walk in the integrity of trust and faith in Him through the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ who dwells within us, our way is secure. The hope we express isn’t the vain hope of the world; rather it’s a hope that is rooted in the character of God.
As the dialogue continues we end up asking the question: With friends like these, who needs enemies? Some of what they say reflects the truth of God; others words they utter are foolish because of their lack of discernment. A good example of this is in the continuation of Eliphaz’s monologue in Job 4:15-17:
“A spirit glided past my face;
the hair of my flesh stood up.
It stood still,
but I could not discern its appearance.
A form was before my eyes;
there was silence, then I heard a voice:
‘Can mortal man be in the right before God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?’ ”
It seems that Eliphaz attributed this spirit to be that of God. Nothing could be further from the truth. This spirit caused him unreasonable fear that made his hair stand on end. This wasn’t the reverent fear of the Lord that comes with a righteous spirit of God. When we see the words of this spirit, we gain confirmation from our initial sense of its origin. Consider what it said. It made Eliphaz question the goodness and righteousness of God. How typical of demonic spirits! They sow doubt and uncertainty in our walk with the Lord.
From this exchange, we learn that it’s critical that we know who or what is speaking into our lives. We should continually ask God to reveal Himself so as to give us wisdom and discernment. There are many false doctrines in the world today promoted by false teachers who have demonic spirits as their counsel, falsely representing themselves as being from the Lord.
The only way to truly counter this is to be daily in the Word so as to know the real from the counterfeit. When we give our hearts to God regularly through our faithful pursuit of Him, He will enable us to know the truth.