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"The Wicked Man Writhes With Pain All His Days" (Job 15) March 11-12

Eliphaz now speaks a second time. It seems that Job's statements are taking their toll on him. They are uncomfortable and, rather than really consider them, Eliphaz decides to lash out at Job in a torrent of accusation.

Job's words, Eliphaz says, are like a destructive east wind that brings harm. Notice verse 4 in the NIV: "But you even undermine piety and hinder devotion to God." The Bible Reader' Companion notes on this verse: "Some today are also shocked that anyone would ask questions about matters of faith. To express doubt or uncertainties, or to struggle with difficult questions, is viewed as an attack on belief in God. But God is great enough to survive our questions and doubts. Anyone who is honest in his or her struggle to understand God is far more likely to come to faith than lose it. The person who truly undermines piety is the one who insists others be satisfied with superficial or pat answers, is unwilling to face difficulties, and is afraid to ask questions. Remember again, it is Job who is the man of faith and the three friends that God condemns at the end of this book" (Lawrence Richards, 1991).

Eliphaz goes on to state that all Job is saying is condemning himself (verse 6). He refers to his earlier statements to Job as "the consolations of God...spoken gently" (verse 11)—yet which Job has arrogantly rejected. Eliphaz then repeats the thought from his night vision that lowly, vile man cannot stand before God (verses 14-16; compare 4:17-19). So how dare Job call on God to question Him?

In Eliphaz's mind, the time for soft words is over. He proceeds to really blast Job. He says outright that it is the wicked who writhe continually in pain (verse 20), who live in dread and whose prosperity is destroyed (verse 21), who are hopeless (verse 22) and who defy God (verses 25-26). In short, he is calling Job wicked.

As Eliphaz sees it, the wicked might prosper for a moment—illustrated by the fatness of verse 27—but they will soon get their deserved comeuppance (verses 28-35). Once again, there is truth in this in the context of eternity—and often even in this life over the long haul. Yet Eliphaz does not see the frequent reality of the wicked prospering for years—or the righteous suffering for a long time.

Regarding the final remarks of this speech, The Expositor's Bible Commentary points out that "Eliphaz made sure that all the things that had happened to Job were included—fire consumes (vv. 30, 34; cf. 1:16), marauders attack (v. 21; cf. 1:17), possessions are taken away (v. 29; cf. 1:17), and houses crumble (v. 28; cf. 1:19). Although the modern reader often misses the point that these barbs are all directed at Job, we can be sure that Job himself felt their sting" (note on verses 21-35).

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