Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

Friendship – Day 10

Lessons from Job (Part 1): Eliphaz

Bible text(s)

8If I were you, I would turn to God

and present my case to him.

17Happy is the person whom God corrects!

Do not resent it when he rebukes you.

Loss brings you closer to some people, but seems to create walls between you and other people. In The Book of Job, we meet a man who was once a rich and respected member of society, but now he has lost everything – his wealth, his property, his wife, his children and his health. Three friends turn up, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, and they try to make sense of why this calamity has broken out in Job’s life.

Over the next three days, we will be looking at these three men and how they responded to Job in his time of greatest need. Let us start with Eliphaz.

When you think about it, Eliphaz was in a difficult situation. He was the first to speak to a friend whose world had collapsed, and who was suffering considerable physical and mental pain. How do you approach such a person? Do you say you are sorry? That might sound trite. Do you launch right into what you want to say? That might be insensitive. Eliphaz does the best he can; he approaches Job in a friendly way.

He then goes on to tell Job that according to what he, Eliphaz, has experienced and seen in life, those who do wrong suffer. He thought that since Job was suffering, he must have sinned and was being disciplined. Eliphaz thought Job needed to change his thinking to be in line with God’s thinking and then, Job would prosper again. Although he had no idea why Job was suffering or what God was thinking, Eliphaz thought he had the solution to his friend’s problems. (I have been there before, haven’t you?)

Much of what he said was true. God does discipline the sinful, but this was something else altogether; something far beyond Eliphaz’s comprehension.

How do you respond to loss in a friend’s life? Do you assume to have all the answers from your own experience?

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