Job 15:1-17:16 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What charges does Eliphaz make against Job in chapter 15 verses 1-6 (printed below?)

Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied, (2) Should a wise man answer with empty notions or fill his belly with the hot east wind? (3) Should he argue with useless words, with speeches that have no value? (4) Indeed, you are undermining godly fear and are hindering devotion to God; (5) because your iniquity prompts your mouth—you have adopted the tongue of the crafty! (6) Your own mouth condemns you, not I; your own lips testify against you. (Job 15:1-6)

In verses 1-3 Eliphaz sarcastically charges Job with being “a wise man” who answers with “empty notions” (i.e.; meaningless thoughts and conceptions). Job, who has a reputation for being wise and claiming to possess godly wisdom, is, by his present discourses, displaying a total lack of knowledge—such is Eliphaz’s estimation of Job’s speeches. In verse 4 Eliphaz declares that Job, by his inquiries and discourses, is “undermining godly fear and hindering devotion to God.” In other words, as Job expresses his concern—and even his doubts—with regard to how God is dealing with him, Eliphaz fears that Job is promoting impiety, disrespect for God, even blasphemy against God. In verses 5-6 Eliphaz actually charges Job with being impious and ungodly; addressing Job, he declares, “your iniquity prompts your mouth.” According to Eliphaz, Job’s speech is articulating the evil attitude and thoughts that originate in his heart.

2. What does Eliphaz recommend that Job do? See chapter 15 verse 11 (printed below)

Are God’s consolations not enough for you, words that have been spoken gently to you? (Job 15:11)

Eliphaz recommends that Job take comfort in “God’s consolations.” “God’s consolations” apparently is a reference to the counsel given by Job’s friends, who, as the community of believers, are representing God. The gist of these consolations is that God is faithful to reward the righteous, but He will inflict judgment upon the wicked; if Job repents, he will find mercy with God and be restored (note, especially, 11:13-19.)

3. How does Job respond to Eliphaz’s counsel and recommendation? See chapter 16 verses 1-8 (printed below)

Then Job answered, (2) I have heard many such things; all of you are miserable comforters! (3) Is there no end to your words of wind? What irritates you that you keep on answering? (4) I, too, could speak like you, if you were in my place. I could compose speeches against you and shake my head at you. (5) But I would encourage you with my mouth; comfort from my lips would ease your pain. (6) But in my case, if I speak, my pain is not eased, and if I refrain from speaking, the pain does not leave me. (7) Indeed, he has worn me out; O God, you have devastated my entire household. (8) You have shriveled me up—this has become a witness against me. Indeed, my gauntness rises up against me; it testifies to my face. (Job 16:1-8)

Job responds to Eliphaz’s speech by identifying his companions as “miserable comforters” who are of no value (16:1-3). It is ironic that here are comforters who inflict misery upon their suffering friend, rather than administering comfort. Furthermore, far from finding solace in the consolations of God, as Eliphaz counsels (15:11), Job declares of God, “he has worn me out” (16:7). Addressing God directly, Job says, “You have shriveled me up” (16:8a). God is viewed as having sapped Job’s strength and his very life so that he is withering away.

4. What does Job say about God in chapter 16 verse 9 (printed below?)

In his anger he tears me apart and assails me. He gnashes at me with his teeth; my adversary glares at me with his eyes. (Job 16:9)

Speaking of God to anyone who would listen to his agonizing complaint, Job cries out, “In his anger he tears me apart and assails me. He gnashes at me with his teeth; my adversary glares at me with his eyes” (16:9). Job portrays God as a wild animal voraciously tearing its prey in repeated assaults (The Book of Job, Hartley, p. 260): he gnashes upon me with his teeth. Job goes on to identify God as “my adversary.” In the midst of his inexplicable suffering, Job sees God assuming the role of Satan, making Himself the adversary of the righteous man—note 1:6 where the devil is identified as “Satan,” or, “the Adversary.” Here is the anomaly that the righteous man, who should be enjoying God’s favor and fellowship, is being treated like the wicked, for God is the Adversary of the wicked (cp. Numbers 22:32.)

5. What great statement of faith does Job make in chapter 16 verses 19-21 (printed below?)

But even now my witness is in heaven; my defender is on high. (20) My friends scoff at me; but my eyes pour out tears unto God. (21) O that a man might plead with God, like a man does with his neighbor! (22) A few more years will pass, then I will go the way from which there is no return. (Job 16:19-21)

In 16:19 Job boldly and confidently asserts, “But even now my witness is in heaven; my defender is on high.” Even in his present predicament of intense agony of soul and even as he is on the very edge of despair, Job utters a confident declaration that there is One in heaven who will intercede for him. Job has become aware that he can find no solace from his friends: my friends scoff at me (16:20a), so he looks to God: my eyes pour out tears unto God (16:20b). Job’s hope is that he might plead with God as a man does with his neighbor (16:21); i.e.; Job’s confidence is that God will be faithful to uphold justice. Despite the fact that he feels God has set Himself against him as his enemy (16:6-17), Job still is compelled to look to God as his only hope, the only source of his deliverance. Deeper than the confusion and doubt that presently plague his mind, at the very core of his being there remains an unshakable confidence in God—the evidence of true saving faith, the work of the Holy Spirit.