Today: [Job Six] Never Answer Your Critics. In this chapter Job responds to the accusatory diatribe of Elipaz against him. Elipaz and Job’s other two friends are entrenched in their opinion that God has smitten Job. Job agrees (wrongfully) that God has indeed smitten him but is unjust in doing so unless He explains Himself to hapless Job. In both cases hidden motives and deep fracture is revealed in Elipaz and in Job himself as he grapples with the enormity of his personal suffering.
[Job 6:1-30 KJV] 1 But Job answered and said, 2 Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! 3 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up. 4 For the arrows of the Almighty [are] within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. 5 Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder? 6 Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there [any] taste in the white of an egg? 7 The things [that] my soul refused to touch [are] as my sorrowful meat. 8 Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant [me] the thing that I long for! 9 Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! 10 Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.
Thus far in the book of Job we see Satan accusing Job before the throne and Job’s friend Elipaz repeating that accusation before Job and his two friends. In chapter 6 Job answers Elipaz complaining about his suffering and declaring that Elipaz’ words only made matters worse. Elipaz has given in the previous chapter an eloquent but inaccurate analysis of Job’s predicament. Elipaz has condemned Job as an unrepentant hypocrite which Job rejects and God Himself corrects in Job 42:7 telling Elipaz “…you have not spoken of Me that which was right as My servant Job has…”
The primary correction to Elipaz’ monologue from the Lord is that he has misrepresented God as a God who exults in suffering and rejoices to rain blows down upon hapless humanity for his own (falsely construed) enigmatic purposes. This isn’t who God is. The god of Elipaz is a fiction contrived from a religious mind full of envy and lacking in love for his fellow man.
The words of Job in this chapter are an outburst on his part full of emotion. He does not curse God but he does hold God responsible for what is happening to him. Again we are reminded of Satan’s conversation with God when God says to Satan in Job 1:12 “behold all that he has is in your power…”. God is not initiating the condition rather He is pointing it out. How did Job come to be in such a vulnerable state? Job 3:25 tells us that the thing that Job feared came upon him. Job’s fear made him vulnerable. He was a good man and righteous but his fear opened him up to the assault of the enemy.
Job feels that God has shot poison arrows at him, causing his suffering. Elipaz feigned the effort to comfort his friend but Job said his words are tasteless as an egg without salt. Elipaz’ words were devoid of comfort and of no value to a suffering Job. Job justifies his outburst and longs for death wherein he would expect to find rest in his trial and his suffering.
11 What [is] my strength, that I should hope? and what [is] mine end, that I should prolong my life? 12 [Is] my strength the strength of stones? or [is] my flesh of brass? 13 [Is] not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me? 14 To him that is afflicted pity [should be shewed] from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty. 15 My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, [and] as the stream of brooks they pass away; 16 Which are blackish by reason of the ice, [and] wherein the snow is hid: 17 What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place. 18 The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish. 19 The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for them. 20 They were confounded because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed.
Job continues his lament complaining that his wisdom and understanding have fled from him. He complains that his friends have failed to show pity and that they are treacherous as black ice in winter – a hidden danger in an unexpected place. Elipaz has rained down criticism on Job and Job responds in argument and debate that help his situation not at all. In times of trial and difficulty you will be impugned and come against but better not to answer your critics lest you get pulled into an exchange that will not help your situation nor distinguish you before God. Job is correct that Elipaz should have given him comfort but he did not. Elipaz succeeded in doing nothing other than revealing the condition of his heart and his true feelings toward Job.
When you are criticized and stung by blows of vexation from a so-called friend realize this: Your friends who speak thusly have not come to their opinions lately. There is nothing you have done to foster their venom. They will suggest that you have brought about their viewpoint and that somehow you have failed them but in fact all they have done is revealed how they felt about you all along. Criticism is seldom accurate or even based on facts, rather the skewed one sided view of facts – but it does reveal the true nature of the person speaking. The critic simply reveals his true character as Elipaz did when he spoke against Job.
21 For now ye are nothing; ye see [my] casting down, and are afraid. 22 Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your substance? 23 Or, Deliver me from the enemy’s hand? or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty? 24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. 25 How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove? 26 Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, [which are] as wind? 27 Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig [a pit] for your friend. 28 Now therefore be content, look upon me; for [it is] evident unto you if I lie. 29 Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness [is] in it. 30 Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?
Job continues his monologue pointing out that he didn’t ask for any material help from his friends or that they would bail him out in some way. He is so convinced that he is in the right that he challenges them to reveal his hidden sin. Throughout the entire book of Job we will see veiled accusation, recitations on moral principles, and assertions that Job would not be suffering if he hadn’t done something wrong. It goes without saying of course that Job is not sinless but that is not the point. A time of trial and suffering is not the time to tear your friend apart and tell him everything he has done in error. Likewise Job in his reactionary response goes too far insisting how right he is and how righteous he is – suggesting that if anyone is at fault it is God Himself who (in Job’s view) has attacked Job without cause.
Job dismisses the words of Elipaz as tasteless food without the salt of truth in them. For all of this Job has exhausted his minimal energy and accomplished very little. He isn’t going to change Elipaz’ mind. Elipaz will remain full of himself and Job’s friends will not be moved from their conviction that such suffering only comes upon someone because they are an offender. We can learn from the pointlessness of Job’s rants and self-justification in our own time of trial. Learn to be quiet. Sometimes saying nothing is the most powerful faith statement you can make. The Psalmist said “silence waits for thee Oh God…” Learn to settle in to the silence between your own thoughts. This is where God makes His voice known that drowns out all the contaminating influences around you in a time of suffering.
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