The first of Job’s three friends speaks in Job 4-5. It would have been much better if all three of them would have just kept silent (as they did in Job 2)!
Eliphaz clearly believes in God and understands glimpses of God’s character. I’m sure he means well, but his words are filled with false assumptions and presumptuous claims. But most damaging, he places his own observations and dreams above the truth of God’s word.
For example, in Job 4:7-11, Eliphaz makes sweeping generalizations when he says that the innocent never suffer – only the evil are destroyed. Later he presumes that God is “disciplining” Job (5:17-18) and promises that God will restore all of Job’s blessings if Job learns from the Lord’s reproof. Eliphaz even goes so far as to suggest that Job is a “fool” (5:2-6)!
Poor Job. He has lost everything, and now he must deal with disappointment in his friends (Job 6:14-21).
But the hardest thing that Job has lost is his belief that God loves him.
The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God’s terrors are marshaled against me (Job 6:4, NIV).
Ironically, it is because of God’s great love for Job that God has entrusted him with this trial! Satan suggested that Job’s love for God was really just love for his blessings – not for God, Himself. So God has entrusted his beloved Job to stand firm in this test to prove to Satan that God, alone, is worthy of our love.
And Job’s only comfort through this trial is that he has not “denied the Holy One” (Job 6:10).
So even though Job has sunk into complete despair and is devoid of all hope, he is standing firm in his faith in God. Satan has not won!
But here’s where I relate to Job the most… Job magnifies his pain because he seeks to know the “why” behind the suffering. How many of us have echoed Job’s question to God in the midst of suffering?? “Why me, Oh Lord??!!”
Why have you made me your target? (Job 7:21)
In Frances Bennett’s bible study on Job, (Job, Lessons in Comfort; CEP, 2009), she asserts that we must not seek after the “why” of suffering but the “Who.” She writes, “God teaches from Genesis to Revelation that all we really need to know is Who.”
Job has temporarily misunderstood God. He has assumed that God doesn’t love and care about him. This false belief has led him into hopeless despair. He needs to remember Who God is – and then the why of suffering will fade in the splendor of God’s character!