Eliphaz Speaks Out
Now You’re the One in Trouble
Then Eliphaz from Teman spoke up:
“Would you mind if I said something to you?
Under the circumstances it’s hard to keep quiet.
You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words
that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit.
Your words have put stumbling people on their feet,
put fresh hope in people about to collapse.
But now you’re the one in trouble—you’re hurting!
You’ve been hit hard and you’re reeling from the blow.
But shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now?
Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?
“Think! Has a truly innocent person ever ended up on the scrap heap?
Do genuinely upright people ever lose out in the end?
It’s my observation that those who plow evil
and sow trouble reap evil and trouble.
One breath from God and they fall apart,
one blast of his anger and there’s nothing left of them.
The mighty lion, king of the beasts, roars mightily,
but when he’s toothless he’s useless—
No teeth, no prey—and the cubs
wander off to fend for themselves.
“A word came to me in secret—
a mere whisper of a word, but I heard it clearly.
It came in a scary dream one night,
after I had fallen into a deep, deep sleep.
Dread stared me in the face, and Terror.
I was scared to death—I shook from head to foot.
A spirit glided right in front of me—
the hair on my head stood on end.
I couldn’t tell what it was that appeared there—
a blur . . . and then I heard a muffled voice:
“‘How can mere mortals be more righteous than God?
How can humans be purer than their Creator?
Why, God doesn’t even trust his own servants,
doesn’t even cheer his angels,
So how much less these bodies composed of mud,
fragile as moths?
These bodies of ours are here today and gone tomorrow,
and no one even notices—gone without a trace.
When the tent stakes are ripped up, the tent collapses—
we die and are never the wiser for having lived.’”
Don’t Blame Fate When Things Go Wrong
1-7 “Call for help, Job, if you think anyone will answer!
To which of the holy angels will you turn?
The hot temper of a fool eventually kills him,
the jealous anger of a simpleton does her in.
I’ve seen it myself—seen fools putting down roots,
and then, suddenly, their houses are cursed.
Their children out in the cold, abused and exploited,
with no one to stick up for them.
Hungry people off the street plunder their harvests,
cleaning them out completely, taking thorns and all,
insatiable for everything they have.
Don’t blame fate when things go wrong—
trouble doesn’t come from nowhere.
It’s human! Mortals are born and bred for trouble,
as certainly as sparks fly upward.
What a Blessing When God Corrects You!
“If I were in your shoes, I’d go straight to God,
I’d throw myself on the mercy of God.
After all, he’s famous for great and unexpected acts;
there’s no end to his surprises.
He gives rain, for instance, across the wide earth,
sends water to irrigate the fields.
He raises up the down-and-out,
gives firm footing to those sinking in grief.
He aborts the schemes of conniving crooks,
so that none of their plots come to term.
He catches the know-it-alls in their conspiracies—
all that intricate intrigue swept out with the trash!
Suddenly they’re disoriented, plunged into darkness;
they can’t see to put one foot in front of the other.
But the downtrodden are saved by God,
saved from the murderous plots, saved from the iron fist.
And so the poor continue to hope,
while injustice is bound and gagged.
“So, what a blessing when God steps in and corrects you!
Mind you, don’t despise the discipline of Almighty God!
True, he wounds, but he also dresses the wound;
the same hand that hurts you, heals you.
From one disaster after another he delivers you;
no matter what the calamity, the evil can’t touch you—
“In famine, he’ll keep you from starving,
in war, from being gutted by the sword.
You’ll be protected from vicious gossip
and live fearless through any catastrophe.
You’ll shrug off disaster and famine,
and stroll fearlessly among wild animals.
You’ll be on good terms with rocks and mountains;
wild animals will become your good friends.
You’ll know that your place on earth is safe,
you’ll look over your goods and find nothing amiss.
You’ll see your children grow up,
your family lovely and lissome as orchard grass.
You’ll arrive at your grave ripe with many good years,
like sheaves of golden grain at harvest.
“Yes, this is the way things are—my word of honor!
Take it to heart and you won’t go wrong.”
Job Replies to Eliphaz
God Has Dumped the Works on Me
“If my misery could be weighed,
if you could pile the whole bitter load on the scales,
It would be heavier than all the sand of the sea!
Is it any wonder that I’m screaming like a caged cat?
The arrows of God Almighty are in me,
poison arrows—and I’m poisoned all through!
God has dumped the whole works on me.
Donkeys bray and cows moo when they run out of pasture—
so don’t expect me to keep quiet in this.
Do you see what God has dished out for me?
It’s enough to turn anyone’s stomach!
Everything in me is repulsed by it—
it makes me sick.
Pressed Past the Limits
“All I want is an answer to one prayer,
a last request to be honored:
Let God step on me—squash me like a bug,
and be done with me for good.
I’d at least have the satisfaction
of not having blasphemed the Holy God,
before being pressed past the limits.
Where’s the strength to keep my hopes up?
What future do I have to keep me going?
Do you think I have nerves of steel?
Do you think I’m made of iron?
Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps?
Why, I don’t even have any boots!
My So-Called Friends
“When desperate people give up on God Almighty,
their friends, at least, should stick with them.
But my brothers are fickle as a gulch in the desert—
one day they’re gushing with water
From melting ice and snow
cascading out of the mountains,
But by midsummer they’re dry,
gullies baked dry in the sun.
Travelers who spot them and go out of their way for a drink
end up in a waterless gulch and die of thirst.
Merchant caravans from Tema see them and expect water,
tourists from Sheba hope for a cool drink.
They arrive so confident—but what a disappointment!
They get there, and their faces fall!
And you, my so-called friends, are no better—
there’s nothing to you!
One look at a hard scene and you shrink in fear.
It’s not as though I asked you for anything—
I didn’t ask you for one red cent—
Nor did I beg you to go out on a limb for me.
So why all this dodging and shuffling?
“Confront me with the truth and I’ll shut up,
show me where I’ve gone off the track.
Honest words never hurt anyone,
but what’s the point of all this pious bluster?
You pretend to tell me what’s wrong with my life,
but treat my words of anguish as so much hot air.
Are people mere things to you?
Are friends just items of profit and loss?
“Look me in the eyes!
Do you think I’d lie to your face?
Think it over—no double-talk!
Think carefully—my integrity is on the line!
Can you detect anything false in what I say?
Don’t you trust me to discern good from evil?”
There’s Nothing to My Life
1-6 “Human life is a struggle, isn’t it?
It’s a life sentence to hard labor.
Like field hands longing for quitting time
and working stiffs with nothing to hope for but payday,
I’m given a life that meanders and goes nowhere—
months of aimlessness, nights of misery!
I go to bed and think, ‘How long till I can get up?’
I toss and turn as the night drags on—and I’m fed up!
I’m covered with maggots and scabs.
My skin gets scaly and hard, then oozes with pus.
My days come and go swifter than the click of knitting needles,
and then the yarn runs out—an unfinished life!
“God, don’t forget that I’m only a puff of air!
These eyes have had their last look at goodness.
And your eyes have seen the last of me;
even while you’re looking, there’ll be nothing left to look at.
When a cloud evaporates, it’s gone for good;
those who go to the grave never come back.
They don’t return to visit their families;
never again will friends drop in for coffee.
“And so I’m not keeping one bit of this quiet,
I’m laying it all out on the table;
my complaining to high heaven is bitter, but honest.
Are you going to put a muzzle on me,
the way you quiet the sea and still the storm?
If I say, ‘I’m going to bed, then I’ll feel better.
A little nap will lift my spirits,’
You come and so scare me with nightmares
and frighten me with ghosts
That I’d rather strangle in the bedclothes
than face this kind of life any longer.
I hate this life! Who needs any more of this?
Let me alone! There’s nothing to my life—it’s nothing
“What are mortals anyway, that you bother with them,
that you even give them the time of day?
That you check up on them every morning,
looking in on them to see how they’re doing?
Let up on me, will you?
Can’t you even let me spit in peace?
Even suppose I’d sinned—how would that hurt you?
You’re responsible for every human being.
Don’t you have better things to do than pick on me?
Why make a federal case out of me?
Why don’t you just forgive my sins
and start me off with a clean slate?
The way things are going, I’ll soon be dead.
You’ll look high and low, but I won’t be around.”