1 ¶ Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn? 2 For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one. 3 I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation. 4 His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them. 5 Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.
Verse 1 – Go ahead Job, find someone among those of God’s people who have had something like this happen to them. Can you find just one instance of something like this happening to someone who was actually saved? God would never allow this to happen to one of His people.
But bad things do come to God’s people. The noted sixteenth century Anglican preacher, Richard Hooker, said that sorrow and grief does come to people of faith and that it is a good thing that they do lest the Christian’s mind become superficial or wanton, as he put it. He said, “…God will have them that shall walk in light to feel now and then what it is to sit in the shadow of death. A grieved spirit therefore is no argument of a faithless mind.”(13)
Verse 2 – Eliphaz points out the truth that the sin of sinners tends to their own ruin. Wrath and envy are their undoing. Job, you must be guilty of some great thing and just won’t repent so you curse the day you were born instead.
Verse 3 – I’ve seen others just like you, doing well for a time, seemingly justified in their behavior by getting away with it and then God smashes them.
Jeremiah 12:2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.
Psalm 37:35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
Eliphaz speaks the truth about how we often see the wicked seem to get away with things even though he draws the wrong conclusions about Job out of ignorance.
Psalm 73:1 ¶ « A Psalm of Asaph. » Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. 2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. 8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. 11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. 13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
15 ¶ If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. 16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; 17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. 18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. 19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. 20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.
21 ¶ Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. 22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. 24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
Verses 4 & 5 – The children of the wicked are not safe, the wealth of the wicked is not safe, and there is no one to save and deliver the wicked in the day of their trouble. So goes Eliphaz’s diatribe against Job.
(13) Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Books 1 to 4, ed. Ronald Bayne (1592; repr., London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1907), 7.