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Job 6:14-27 – Job’s Rebuke of His Counselors


In his first response to his friends' efforts to comfort, Job already expresses his displeasure at what Eliphaz has said.


Eliphaz is the only one who has spoken so far. What he has said does not, on the surface, sound so bad. His belief that sin leads to suffering and that God can work positive results from suffering are found throughout the Bible and are often used in contemporary theologizing and sermonizing. Yet Job seems all riled up and argumentative at what he has heard. Better if they had remained silent.

There are a number of possible reasons why Job seems so upset. Perhaps Eliphaz has hit a tender spot by suggesting that Job should draw on the same words of advice that he was so willing to give to others. Maybe Job actually regrets that he had been too willing to give answers, too flippant in response to others' pain. Now that it has happened to him, he has a whole new outlook on what it is like to be on the receiving end of overzealous comforters.

When Eliphaz talks about the certainty of the connection between sin and suffering, Job is smart enough to take this personally and to recognize the implication that he deserves his suffering. The idea that suffering can lead to some greater value is way beyond his ability to comprehend in the midst of his present pain. After all, you do not punish your children by killing them. What lesson can be learned from that?

Further, though they are present with him, Job's friends actually feel distant, not truly with him, even afraid that Job might ask difficult questions that they are unable to answer and that could challenge their tidy theological system. Job feels like he is treated as a difficult theological problem, rather than as a person in trouble who needs to be understood and loved.

Job 6:14-27

14 ‘Those who withhold* kindness from a friend
   forsake the fear of the Almighty.*
15 My companions are treacherous like a torrent-bed,
   like freshets that pass away,
16 that run dark with ice,
   turbid with melting snow.
17 In time of heat they disappear;
   when it is hot, they vanish from their place.
18 The caravans turn aside from their course;
   they go up into the waste, and perish.
19 The caravans of Tema look,
   the travellers of Sheba hope.
20 They are disappointed because they were confident;
   they come there and are confounded.
21 Such you have now become to me;*
   you see my calamity, and are afraid.
22 Have I said, “Make me a gift”?
   Or, “From your wealth offer a bribe for me”?
23 Or, “Save me from an opponent’s hand”?
   Or, “Ransom me from the hand of oppressors”?

24 ‘Teach me, and I will be silent;
   make me understand how I have gone wrong.
25 How forceful are honest words!
   But your reproof, what does it reprove?
26 Do you think that you can reprove words,
   as if the speech of the desperate were wind?
27 You would even cast lots over the orphan,
   and bargain over your friend.

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