V. Eliphaz’s Second Speech and Job’s Response (Job 15:1–17:16)

PLUS

V. Eliphaz’s Second Speech and Job’s Response (15:1–17:16)

15:1-35 Eliphaz signaled the mood for the second round of speeches as he began blasting away at Job without a hint of mercy. Job’s three accusers must have huddled together before this and said, “Well, we tried the kid gloves approach, and it didn’t work. It’s time for the gloves to come off. We’re going bare-knuckle.” They were ticked that Job hadn’t just thrown in the towel, admitted their superior wisdom, and begged God and them for forgiveness.

There’s a distinct lack of sympathy here. Eliphaz essentially said all of Job’s words were useless. His suffering friend had filled himself with the hot east wind (15:2). In other words, he thought Job was just a windbag. Then, as if that wasn’t insulting enough, Eliphaz hit Job below the belt: he claimed that Job’s own words proved he didn’t really fear God and was nothing but a hardened sinner (15:4-6)! Even with this, though, old Eliphaz was just getting warmed up. He also accused Job of being so arrogant that he believed he was smarter than anyone else (15:7-10).

To twist the knife with which he had struck Job, Eliphaz called his own speech God’s consolations that Job should appreciate because Eliphaz had spoken words that [dealt] gently with him (15:11). It’s possible to become so convinced of your own wisdom that, if it’s ever called into question, you simply buckle down and defend yourself rather than reevaluating your words. That’s the warning sign that you’re arrogant and unteachable.

Finally, to top off his accusations, Eliphaz spelled out in great detail the terrible, well-deserved things that happen to wicked people like Job (15:21-33). He saved his cruelest punch for the end, clearly implying that Job had lost his children and everything else because he was godless and was getting what he deserved (15:34-35).

16:1–17:16 Eliphaz may have thought he had hit Job with a knockout blow, and Job’s answer leaves no question that Job was reeling like a fighter who had taken some hard punches but refused to go down. He called his friends miserable comforters (16:2). If he were in their place, he said, he would encourage with his words and bring relief (16:5). Here too, however, the real object of his complaint was God. Though his friends had an atrocious bedside manner, God was the one who had devastated [his] entire family (16:7-8). And if that was not bad enough, Job added, God was also handing him over to the unjust and throwing him to the wicked (16:11)—a message that I’m sure his friends got.

In 16:19-21, Job returned to his main desire. He wanted a hearing before God, but he knew he couldn’t get a court date on his own. So, he asked again for someone to step in and take his case to heaven. Job wished that someone might argue for a man with God just as anyone would for a friend (16:21). He was confident that if God would just give him a hearing, he would come out clean and prove to everyone that he hadn’t done anything wrong.

In chapter 17, Job fell into further despair, as part of a pattern that we’ve seen before: he had desperate hope that God would intervene and end his grief, and then the realization that it wasn’t going to happen hit. Job felt he had nothing to look forward to but the relief of a graveyard (17:1). He challenged his friends to try again, but was convinced there was not a wise man among them (17:10). He had no hope (17:15).