The Trial of Job

Chapter 4

Eliphaz reproves Job for lack of religion, 1-6. He teaches God's judgments to be not for the righteous, but for the wicked, 7-11. His fearful vision to humble the excellency of creatures before God, 12-21.

1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,

2 "If we essay to commune with you, will you be grieved? But who can refrain from speaking?

3 Behold, you have instructed many and you have strengthened the weak hands.

4 Your words have upheld him who was falling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees.

5 But now it has come upon you, and you faint. It touches you, and you are troubled.

6 Is this not your fear, your confidence, your hope, and the uprightness of your ways?

7 Remember, I pray you: whoever perished, being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off?

8 Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow wickedness reap the same.

9 By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils they are consumed.

10 The roaring of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions are broken.

11 The old lion perishes for lack of prey, and the stout lion's whelps are scattered abroad.

12 Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and my ear received a small sound of it.

13 In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men,

14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.

15 Then a spirit passed before my face. The hair of my flesh stood up.

16 It stood still, but I could not discern its form. An image was before my eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying,

17 'Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his maker?

18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants, and his angels he charged with folly.

19 How much less in those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before the moth?

20 They are destroyed from morning to evening. They perish forever without any regarding it.

21 Does their excellence which is in them not depart? They die, even without wisdom.'"

Commentary

Matthew Henry Commentary - Job, Chapter 4

Notes

John Gill's Chapter Summary:

Job's sore afflictions, and his behavior under them, laid the foundation of a dispute between him and his three friends, which begins in this chapter, and is carried on to the end of the thirty first; when Elihu starts up as a moderator between them, and the controversy is at last decided by God himself. Eliphaz first enters the list with Job (verse 1); introduces what he had to say in a preface, with some show of tenderness, friendship, and respect (verse 2); observes his former conduct in his prosperity, by instructing many, strengthening weak hands and feeble knees, and supporting stumbling and falling ones (verses 3-4); with what view all this is observed may be easily seen, since he immediately takes notice of his present behavior, so different from the former (verse 5); and insults his profession of faith and hope in God, and fear of him (verse 6); and suggests that he was a bad man, and a hypocrite; and which he grounds upon this supposition, that no good man was ever destroyed by the Lord; for the truth of which he appeals to Job himself (verse7); and confirms it by his own experience and observation (verses 8-11); and strengthens it by a vision he had in the night, in which the holiness and justice of God, and the mean and low condition of men, are declared (verses 12-21); and therefore it was wrong in Job to insinuate any injustice in God or in his providence, and a piece of weakness and folly to contend with him.

[v.2] - "It is foolish pity not to reprove our friends, even our friends in affliction, for what they say or do amiss, only for fear of offending them." —Matthew Henry

[v.3-4] - "Those who have abundance of spiritual riches should abound in spiritual charity." —Matthew Henry

[v.7] - From John Calvin's Sermons on Job: "God has promised to have a care of the righteous, as it is said, 'The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers,' to hear them and to help them at their need (Psalm 34:15). The Scripture is full of this matter, that is, that God's hand is stretched out to preserve the righteous, which call upon him and put their trust in him. For the devil would have been stronger than God, if the righteous might have perished. And therefore let us always have recourse to this sentence of Jesus Christ: 'The father who has you has put you into my hands is stronger than all' (John 10:29). His meaning is, that our welfare should never be in hazard, for so much as God takes us into his keeping. Why? For he will spread out his power over us to maintain us."

[v.8] - Reference Galatians 6:7-8.

[v.10-11] - In these verses, the lions represent tyrants and cruel oppressors. Eliphaz may be alluding to Job, who was the greatest of all the men of the east (Job 1:3), that he gained his estate by spoil.

[v.12-14] - From Mathew Henry's Commentary: "The people of God had not then any written word to quote, and therefore God sometimes notified to them even common truths by the extraordinary ways of revelation. We who have Bibles have there (thanks be to God) a more sure word to depend upon than even visions and voices (2nd Peter 1:19)."

[v.18] - "If there is such a distance between God and angels, what is there between God and man?" —Matthew Henry

[v.19] - This verse is referring to the physical body of man and the means by which man was made. The house of clay is man's body, in which his soul dwells. His foundation was in the dust, meaning, God formed man from the dust of earth (Genesis 2:7). Finally, what is given is likely an allusion to the frailty of man in that he is crushed with the same amount of effort that it would take to crush a moth, for death threatens us incessantly and any one breath can be our last. If God doesn't put trust in his angels (verse 18), why should trust be put in such a frail creature as man? To put it another way, if God finds fault with the angels, what righteousness can be found in man who is a lesser creature to the angels?

[v.20a] - "They are destroyed from morning to evening" - Day by day we grow older and draw nearer to our passing (see Isaiah 40:6-8). Though this verse, and also the previous verse, shows us that we have no hope in ourselves and that death can come at any moment, there is a lesson to be learned from it. John Calvin, in his Sermons on Job, said this: "But we must come to [this] point: namely, that when we have well beheld how brittle our life is, we must also mark how we are repaired again by God's grace, and especially how we are sustained and upheld by the same... We see then what we have to mark: namely, that when we know ourselves to be less than nothing, and that we are so subject to death... we must understand also, that in this so great weakness, God holds us by the hand, so as we are upheld by his power, and strengthened by his grace."

[v.20b] - "destroyed" - Literally, "beaten in pieces."

[v.21] - "They die, even without wisdom" - This may also be read as, "They shall perish, but not in wisdom."

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