The innocent and righteous shall not suffer?
2 “If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
But who can keep from speaking?
3 Think how you have instructed many,
how you have strengthened feeble hands.
4 Your words have supported those who stumbled;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
5 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
it strikes you, and you are dismayed.
6 Should not your piety be your confidence
and your blameless ways your hope?
7 “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?
Where were the upright ever destroyed?
8 As I have observed, those who plow evil
and those who sow trouble reap it.
17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?
18 If God places no trust in his servants,
if he charges his angels with error,
19 how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundations are in the dust,
who are crushed more readily than a moth!
When I first read this passage, I wasn’t sure what the true intentions of Job’s friend Eliphaz the Temanite was.
In the first paragraph, it would seem that he was admonishing Job for all the good works he has done – he instructed people, strengthened them, supported them. And Eliphaz expressed surprise at how Job can be dismayed when he was troubled. He states that Job’s righteousness should be his confidence, and his blameless ways his hope.
However, if you read on, you realize that this friend was actually mocking Job.
He goes on to say that the innocent and the upright can not be destroyed or perish. Or that only the evil people will sow trouble. I believe there are two inherent flaws here. First is that, this presumes that there is a ‘just’ formula to which the world subscribes to. Do good, and no harm will ever befall you. That does not hold true in this fallen world of ours. Second, that it takes away the sovereignty of God. God does not promise an easy life for those who follow His ways, but rather, He promises to be with us. The early Christian martyrs are prime examples. God however is still and always in control. He will do as he pleases.
So here his friend was making the assumption that, if Job was righteous, surely he would not have had all this calamities. In essence, he is putting the blame of all this squarely on Job’s ‘lack of righteous behavior’. Imagine you getting into a car accident, and your best friend telling you, ” Hah! Surely you must have done something bad to deserve this. Surely your acts of kindness to people weren’t good enough!”.
In the last section, Eliphaz further emphasizes that no man should question God’s judgment and decisions, again making the assumption that God was punishing him for all the ‘wrong’ that Job had committed.
How do you view suffering and punishment?