Job 4:1-7:21 Reading the Passage

Compassion: The First Response to a Suffering Brother – Job 4:1-7:21

4 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied, (2) If someone ventures to speak a word to you, will you be irritated? But who can keep from speaking? (3) Look; you have instructed many, and you have strengthened feeble hands. (4) Your words have helped the tottering to stand, and you have braced up those with shaking knees. (5) But now trouble has come to you, and you faint; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. (6) Should not your fear of God be your confidence? Is not the integrity of your ways your hope?

(7) Consider this: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? (8) According to what I have observed, it is those who plow evil and sow trouble who reap the same. (9) By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed. (10) The lion may roar, and the fierce lion may growl, but the young lion’s teeth are broken! (11) The lion perishes for lack of prey, and the lioness’s cubs are scattered.

(12) Almost imperceptibly, a word came to me; my ear caught just a whisper of it. (13) In the midst of disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep overtakes men, (14) fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shudder. (15) A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. (16) It stood still; but I could not tell what it was. A form was before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice. (17) It asked, Can a mortal be righteous before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? (18) If God puts no trust in his servants and charges his angels with folly, (19) how much more is this true of those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more easily than a moth? (20) Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever. (21) Are not the cords of their tent pulled up from them so that they die—and do so without wisdom?

5 Call now; but who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn? (2) Surely, vexation kills a fool, and envy slays the simple. (3) I have seen a fool taking root; and I declared that his estate would be cursed, doomed to sudden destruction. (4) His children are far from safety; they are crushed in the court without a defender. (5) His harvest is devoured by the hungry—they take it from among the thorns, and the thirsty pants for his wealth.

(6) Hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground; (7) on the contrary, man gives birth to trouble, just as surely as sparks fly upward. (8) But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would present my case to him. (9) He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed; miracles that cannot be counted. (10) He gives rain to the land; he sends water to the countryside. (11) He sets the lowly on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. (12) He thwarts the plots of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. (13) He captures the wise by their own shrewdness, and the counsel of the clever is swiftly brought to confusion. (14) Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. (15) But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. (16) So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.

(17) Blessed is the man whom God corrects; therefore, do not reject the discipline of the Almighty. (18) He inflicts wounds, then he bandages them; he strikes, then his hands heal. (19) From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you. (20) In famine he will redeem you from death, and in battle he will deliver you from the stroke of the sword. (21) You will be protected from the scourge administered by the tongue; and you will not need to fear when destruction comes. (22) You will laugh at the devastation caused by drought; and you will not need to fear the beasts of the earth. (23) You will have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you. (24) You will know that all is well with your tent; you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing. (25) You will know that your children will be many, and your descendants will be like the grass of the earth. (26) You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves of grain gathered in their season. (27) Listen; we have investigated this, and it is true; therefore, pay attention and apply these things to yourself.

6 Then Job responded, (2) If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! (3) It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas—that is why my words have been rash. (4) The arrows of the Almighty stick in me, my spirit drinks their poison; God’s terrors are arrayed against me. (5) Does the wild donkey bray when it has grass, or does an ox bellow when it has fodder? (6) Is bland food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the white of an egg? (7) I refuse to taste it; such “food” makes me ill!

(8) O that my request were granted, that God would fulfill my hope, (9) namely, that God would be willing to crush me! May he release his grip and cut me off! (10) But this would still be my consolation—my joy in the midst of unrelenting pain—that I have not denied the words of the Holy One. (11) What strength do I have to keep on waiting? What is my future prospect, that I should be patient? (12) Do I have the strength of a stone? Is my flesh like bronze? (13) Is there any help left in me since wisdom has been driven from me?

(14) To him who is ready to faint, kindness should be shown by his friend; or else he might forsake the fear of the Almighty. (15) But my brothers are unreliable like a wadi: like wadis that overflow (16) when they are murky with ice and are swollen with melted snow. (17) But they cease to flow in the dry season, and when it is hot the water vanishes from their channels. (18) Caravans turn aside from their routes; they go up into the wasteland and perish. (19) The caravans of Tema look for the wadis; the traveling merchants of Sheba set their hope on them. (20) They are disappointed, because they had trusted in them; they come there, only to be confounded. (21) Now you, too, have proven to be of no help; you see something dreadful and you are afraid.

(22) Have I ever said, “Make a gift on my behalf, pay a ransom for me from your wealth?” (23) Have I said, “Deliver me from the hand of my enemy, rescue me from the clutches of the ruthless?” (24) Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have erred. (25) How forceful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? (26) Do you intend to rebuke my words, when the words of a despairing man should be treated like wind? (27) You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter over your friend! (28) But now be so kind as to look at me. Surely I will not lie to your face. (29) Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my cause is righteous. (30) Is there any false testimony on my tongue? Can my palate not discern deceptive words?

7 Is not man forced to labor on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired laborer? (2) Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired man waiting eagerly for his wages, (3) so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. (4) When I lie down I think, How long before I get up? The night drags on, and I toss until dawn. (5) My body is clothed with worms and clods of dirt; my skin forms scabs and then festers again. (6) My days pass swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope.

(7) Remember, O God, that my life is a mere breath; my eyes will never see happiness again. (8) The eye that now sees me will soon see me no longer; you will look for me, but I shall be gone. (9) As a cloud fades and vanishes; likewise, he who descends into Sheol does not ascend again. (10) He will never again return to his house; his neighborhood will never see him again. (11) Therefore, I will not keep silent; I will speak from the anguish of my spirit, I will complain from the bitterness of my soul. (12) Am I the sea, or the sea monster, that you set a guard over me? (13) Whenever I think that my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, (14) even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions. (15) Therefore, my soul prefers strangling and death rather than these bones. (16) I despise my life; I would not want to live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are only a breath.

(17) What is man that you exalt him, that you pay such close attention to him, (18) that you examine him every morning, that you test him every moment? (19) Will you never look away from me? Will you not leave me alone long enough for me to swallow my saliva? (20) If I have sinned, how have I affected you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? (21) Why do you not pardon my transgression and forgive my iniquity? Soon I will lie down in the dust; then you will eagerly seek me, but I will be gone.

Now proceed to the next section of this study, entitled, Exploring the Passage.