NO IMPOSING OUR WILL
Lord, Your ways surpass my ability to understand them.
Read JOB 5:1–27
5 “Call if you will, but who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
2 Resentment kills a fool,
and envy slays the simple.
3 I myself have seen a fool taking root,
but suddenly his house was cursed.
4 His children are far from safety,
crushed in court without a defender.
5 The hungry consume his harvest,
taking it even from among thorns,
and the thirsty pant after his wealth.
6 For hardship does not spring from the soil,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground.
7 Yet man is born to trouble
as surely as sparks fly upward.
8 “But if I were you, I would appeal to God;
I would lay my cause before him.
9 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
10 He provides rain for the earth;
he sends water on the countryside.
11 The lowly he sets on high,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
12 He thwarts the plans of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
13 He catches the wise in their craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are swept away.
14 Darkness comes upon them in the daytime;
at noon they grope as in the night.
15 He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth;
he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
16 So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.
17 “Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
18 For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
19 From six calamities he will rescue you;
in seven no harm will touch you.
20 In famine he will deliver you from death,
and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
21 You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,
and need not fear when destruction comes.
22 You will laugh at destruction and famine,
and need not fear the wild animals.
23 For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals will be at peace with you.
24 You will know that your tent is secure;
you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing.
25 You will know that your children will be many,
and your descendants like the grass of the earth.
26 You will come to the grave in full vigor,
like sheaves gathered in season.
27 “We have examined this, and it is true.
So hear it and apply it to yourself.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Lament needs a voice.
Eliphaz’s lecture on the human condition continues in verses 1–7. He then models for Job a doxology, praising God’s power, justice and providence (8–16). In addition to the principles of retribution and human depravity in chapter 4, Eliphaz proposes one more—divine discipline—which underscores God’s loving chastisement on wrongdoers through discipline to bring them back to him (17–27).
When Eliphaz utters the doxology, he says to Job, “But if I were you, I would appeal to God [in my distress]; I would lay my cause before him” (8). Eliphaz demonstrates to Job how to cope with suffering. Then he praises God’s great deeds: unsearchable and marvelous actions (9); sending rain (10); rescuing and exalting the lowly and bereaved (11); thwarting the schemes of the crafty (12–14); and bringing hope and justice to the needy (15,16). Job utters curses and laments, whereas Eliphaz sings praise. Yet advocating upbeat and triumphant worship amidst dismay is unhealthy. Lament needs a voice, and it shouldn’t be bottled up. As Lindsay Wilson writes: “A fundamental insight from both Job and the lament psalms is that praise and lament need to be held together in tension. If we neglect lament, we will not fully understand praise” (Job: The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary, 248).
Eliphaz suggests that Job should submit himself happily to divine discipline (17), because it will eventually bring forth restoration and prosperity (23–26), despite the pain of correction (18–21). It implies that Eliphaz views Job’s calamity as God’s rod of discipline. He concludes, “We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself” (27). He tries to impose a standard answer on Job. If Job had listened to Eliphaz, the motive of pursuing prosperity would have destroyed his integrity of disinterested piety. What Job desires is vindication, not restoration and prosperity.
Do we treat our long-standing experience or belief as a model answer to others? May we learn to set people free instead of putting them into our boxes!
Lord, I do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. In faith I accept it as coming from a God who has my best interest at heart.