Day 10

Eliphaz’s Second Speech and Job’s Reply

from the Job reading plan


Job 15:1-35, Job 16:1-22, Job 17:1-16, Romans 12:9-15, James 5:8-11

BY Guest Writer

How many times has some very well-meaning person tried to assuage your heartache with words, saying something along the lines of this: “God will comfort you and see you through this. He always does.” Or this: “Just hang in there. Evil people always get what they deserve.”

Look closely, and you’ll see those two sentiments are basically parts of Eliphaz’s second conversation with Job. So why are they a problem? Well, for one thing, the latter suggests that Job must be evil too—why else would he be suffering badly? Their conversation leads to the question: How do we truly weep with, mourn with, and comfort those who are broken? How do we become true comforters? (Romans 12:15).

First, we need to read and truly absorb Job’s scorching honesty in chapters 16 and 17, where the stakes are even higher. Just a reminder: God refused to allow Satan to take Job’s life, which means Job’s torment was as bad as it could possibly get with no relief anywhere, falling just short of death—and Job couldn’t exactly turn to morphine to numb the pain. So now the question becomes one of self-reflection: If we are the ones in the fiery furnace, how do we cling to our relationship with God when it feels as if it is all going up in smoke?

These two questions are tied together, because those who weep and mourn most effectively will have climbed into that fiery furnace of suffering in some way. In doing so, they join the “Jobs” of the world. So for both situations, we wonder:

What does true faithfulness look like, both for the one who comforts and the one who suffers?
What part does prayer play in our suffering?
What does it mean to bring all our emotions—even our anger, doubt, and feelings of betrayal—before God?

After all, Job’s protests were laced with accusations. If his suffering teaches us anything, it is to strip away all pretenses—physical and spiritual. God had worn out and torn up Job, seized him by the neck and dashed him to pieces to the point that Job’s face was red from weeping (Job 16:7–9,12,16). His dark anger boiled over in agonizing questions, as he protested the stony silence of God.

Still, more than anything else, Job longed for his shattered relationship with God to be mended. He’d already sought out a mediator to bring them together (9:33–35; 16:21). He also repeatedly begged to talk with God—which he ultimately did in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Most importantly, Job returned to this understanding: his “advocate” and “witness” were set apart on high (16:19). Job remembered who he was and who he was not—he was not God. All of this points to Job’s faithfulness and his very real relationship with God.

So how do we sit with someone in their despair? How do we pray in the midst of others’ suffering, as well as our own? In my own experience, words like “Lord have mercy! Christ have Mercy!” bring me back to the truth of God’s character, of both His unfailing lovingkindness and ultimate sovereignty through Jesus Christ. Our Savior reaches through our blinding pain to comfort and deliver us. Our prayer for mercy, offered with humility and hope, binds us together before the God who comforts, even from on high.

Elaine A. Phillips received a BA in social psychology from Cornell University, an MDiv from Biblical Theological Seminary, and an MA in Hebrew from the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem, where she and her husband, Perry, studied and taught from 1976–79. She holds a PhD in rabbinic literature, and teaches Biblical Studies at Gordon College. She also serves as a historical geography field instructor for Jerusalem University College. She has published a commentary on Esther in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary; a devotional book, With God, Nothing Is Impossible; and, most recently, An Introduction to Reading Biblical Wisdom Texts.

Post Comments (49)

49 thoughts on "Eliphaz’s Second Speech and Job’s Reply"

  1. Patricia Cruz says:

    I lift up my parents who are undergoing adversity in Church community. They have been patient in tribulation but I know God is doing something good. I pray that I will be able to comfort them through the leading of the Spirit during this time. Spirit of the Lord, lead us to where you want us to be. Fill us with Genuine, Brotherly Love so that we can share this with those who have hurt us deeply. You are always good, Lord. You are good.

  2. Monica Davis says:

    Help me to be less judgmental and more of a comforter to others. Help me to treat people as I would want to be treated.

  3. Beth Hinson says:

    Reading in Job have been much more difficult than some of the other chapters. I think it puts me face to face with the fact that what I consider to be my “suffering” in this season of life, is so minuscule to what Job went through. Equally as important though, I have to realize that even though my own suffering or others may not visibly look like Job’s, sometimes it can truly feel like that on the inside. It can feel like we have been kicked, bruised, beaten, thrown away on our hearts even when we put on makeup and a nice outfit to face the world. I pray that through this teaching that I learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and in the fact that I do not have the right words always to bring peace to others. With this generation, I always so desperately want to find an immediate fix, but we see Job’s suffering here go on and on. Yet, he still always knows that no matter his trials, God is good through it all.

  4. Melodie says:

    Steph,
    Please find a good psychiatrist for your daughter. They often specialize in medication management and can help restore the chemical balance in your daughter’s brain. I work for a wonderful psychiatrist and I have seen firsthand how much the correct medication can help.
    Prayer for her and with her every step of the way will be an integral part of her healing, but please also seek help from those who have been blessed with the knowledge and skills to ease her suffering. Depression is a very serious illness.

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