Eliphaz speaks. Because of the amount of spiritual material in the words of Job, we will not be spending much time on the words of his friends. However, it is of value to read their speeches nevertheless. At the end of the book God judges them to have spoken falsely on his behalf. Much that the friends said was true, but it was not the Truth. Only true wisdom can speak the truth. Their judgment of the situation was prejudiced and partial. They were prejudiced because they had been brought up and taught on a diet of maxims and proverbs which clearly defined why people suffered. Suffering came to the wicked and health and prosperity to the righteous. Otherwise how could there be a wise and just God ruling over the earth.
Ch. 3 v. 7 sums up their constant argument. - “Who being innocent ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?
Bildad in ch. 8 v. 3 says “Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? Also in ch. 8 v. 20 “Surely God does not reject a blameless man?”
Later Elihu in ch. 34 v. 17 says; “Can he who hates justice govern?” implying that if the wicked were not punished and the righteous rewarded then anyone who set up a system like that must hate justice. It will benefit of course if you read their speeches, but don’t expect anything spiritual or profound. They mainly reiterate over and again proverbs about the fate of the wicked. Like us they lived in a world of sickness, suffering, disaster and death, and because all men are sinners, and were then, they could easily surmise that everyone who so suffered misfortune must have been receiving their just reward, though on the surface their friends or family perhaps would not have seen anything especially wicked about them. But God, being God, with his far reaching eye must have seen what man could not see and detected a wickedness worthy of his judgement. As has been said, they spoke true things but in this case they did not speak the truth. They were prejudiced by their dogmatic beliefs, and also they were partial. No good judge of any situation should be partial but should judge solely on the evidence before him. They felt it was their bonded duty to defend the ways of God, but Job felt that God did not need defending. especially by them. However the evidence as seen by Job, as a judge, did not bear out the proverb that the wicked alone suffered. For He now knew that was not the case, and in ch. 13 v. 7-8. he accuses his friends of speaking wickedness in their attempt to speak on God’s behalf, for they were showing partiality. Their judgement was not true wisdom. If you read Proverbs, you will again see many of the old and ancient maxims and similar sayings accumulated by Solomon, and more especially you will no doubt know Ps. 1 off by heart. But is Ps. 1 borne out by experience all the time? Do the righteous always prosper and do the wicked perish like chaff? If so then why do we find David crying to God in his sufferings and the enemies rejoicing over him saying “Where is your God now?” Anyone with half an eye who has travelled more than half a mile from his mother’s apron strings will tell you that they can’t see any evidence of this (Ps 1.) being the rule. After we have fully studied Job we may journey into the book of Psalms and the other books of experience and we shall find that experience does not always match the ideal pattern. What has gone wrong? Why God has planned it all like this, is really the quest of this study, for if the Book of Job is about anything, it is about Wisdom and the search for it. (chap 28.- Classic chapter on Wisdom). Man needs it to judge what is going on by the evidence before him, so that he can contribute to God the praise that His greater wisdom deserves. Wisdom is judged by its fruit or finish. To make a true and wise judgement you need to know all the facts, and to know all the facts one needs to see into the unseen world for it is the unseen world that governs the seen world. We shall see that although Job did not know there was a person called Satan involved, yet he had amazing flashes of spiritual insight into that world by the help of the Holy Spirit, issuing forth in some of the most amazing prophesies in scripture. So then I think we can dispose of the arguments of Eliphaz , Bildad and Zophar, until we have fully absorbed the richness of the speeches of Job. In any case their speeches are reflected in Job’s words. Perhaps we shall find that Elihu is worthy of more thoughtful consideration later in the book. Nevertheless, here are just a few note-worthy references in this first speech; 1. Job, who is renowned for his patience is accused of being impatient. (ch. 4 v 2.) 2. Men reap what they sow (v 8.) 3. He testifies to a spiritual experience in which a spirit spoke to him. All that the spirit said is perfectly true. 4. Verse 19. He uses the phrase,‘ ‘Houses of clay”, to describe the human body. It is well known and well worn now, but no doubt this was the first time the phrase was used. In ch. 10 v. 9 Job uses the phrase. Clay to them was merely hardened mud. Man being formed from the soil is well described as having a “house of clay”. It is a true scientific fact that all the elements that constitute the human body can be found in the soil of the earth. It could be argued that we are but 33% soil and 67% water. 5. Ch 4 Verse 21. Obviously a maxim is eluded to here. Reference is made to it later in ch. 21 v. 28 by Job. The difference in NIV & A.V. is amazing. The key to seeing why is that in the A.V. “Their excellency” in Hebrew means “an overhanging, or cord or rope”. Which for a tent means security, to stop it being blown away. 6. Ch. 5 v. 1. reference to praying or calling upon “Holy Ones”. Perhaps they prayed to saints and angels in those days.!! 7. Ch. 5 v. 2. A maxim - but very, very true. The book says a bit about resentment, as we said earlier, it is the chief inspirer of the wicked to do evil. 8. Ch. 5 v. 7. contains quite a well known saying still used today. 9. Ch. 5 v. 17. “Blessed is the man whom God corrects.” Without doubt a true statement. Hebrews tells us the same. “Him the Lord loves he chastens” Suffering is very definitely used to chasten and to correct. "If you play with fire you get burnt".... but then, we are now just quoting maxims also. Nevertheless they are true. 10. Ch. 5 v. 26, sounds rather funny. It seems as though he is saying to Job, if you repent, God will forgive and you will be healed and restored, and that eventually “you will die healthy.” 11. Finally a lovely description of a dying man with all his family and descendants around the bed “like sheaves gathered in season”.