And what Job will be reacting to is Eliphaz’s assertion – from his own personal experiences – that wicked people suffer. And therefore Job must be wicked on some level. He looked so good – but apparently there’s some wickedness that Job is hiding. And finally God is dealing with him. That’s what Eliphaz is thinking.
But the problem is that Eliphaz doesn’t understand that Job is righteous and that God is not doing this to Job as punishment or even as chastening for any sin in his life. God is doing this to prove to Satan and to all that God is worthy of worship simply for who he is – not just for the things he gives those who worship him.
But none of this makes sense to Eliphaz. And none of it even makes sense to Job.
These men are having great difficulties understanding God’s ways. And therefore, they need to get to the point where they trust his wisdom.
But – they’re not there yet. And that’s why we’re in the middle of the first of three whole cycles of debate and dialog between men who are really confused about what God is doing in Job’s life.
Job 6 Summary | Intro
And that’s how we enter chapter 6.
1 But Job answered and said,
Job explains his previous statements in chapter 3…
2 Oh that my grief were throughly weighed,
and my [calamity/misfortune] laid in the balances together!
3 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea:
therefore my words [are swallowed up/have been wild].
4 For the arrows of the Almighty are within me,
the poison [whereof/of them] drinketh up my spirit:
the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.
So, I think that Job is appealing to his friends here. He wishes that he could convey accurately his grief. As if he could quantify it and put a label on it so that they could understand the enormity of it.
It’s like when my wife Lori was pregnant with our two boys and would feel sick. And I just could not get it through my skull what that was like. I would ask her to rate her sick feeling on a scale of 1 to 10. Somehow knowing that answer helped me interact more compassionately with her.
And that’s what Job ultimately wants – as we’ll see later. He wants compassion from his friends.
And it’s interesting that Job admits that his words are swallowed up – or in another translation – wild.
And his words are indicative of his sense that God has abandoned him. And even worse – that God is positively against him.
Job 6 Summary | Additional Suffering
Now, at this point, I want us to consider that Job’s sufferings extend beyond what we heard about in chapters 1 and 2. Loss of children, loss of possessions, and his skin disease were not the only distresses that Job had.
We actually hear of the additional struggle that Job had of not being able to eat starting in verse 5…
5 Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass?
or loweth the ox over his fodder?
The answer is no. Animals don’t cry out for food when food is right in front of them.
6 Can that which is [unsavoury/tasteless] be eaten without salt?
or is there any taste in the white of an egg?
The answer again is no. No one likes eating tasteless food.
Job 6 Summary | Difficulty Eating
And so, Job is going to follow-up those questions by relating that he has great difficulty eating anything – whether tasteless or salted.
7 [The/These] things that my soul refused to touch
[they…] are as [my/to me] [sorrowful meat/loathesome food].
And for this reason – on top of all the others we’re aware of – Job wants God to kill him…
8 Oh that I might have my request;
and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!
Well, what’s that?…
9 Even that it would please God to destroy me;
that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!
Because in Job’s troubled mind – if he were to die, the following would be the case…
10 Then should I yet have comfort;
yea, I would [harden myself/rejoice] in sorrow: [let him not spare/unsparing];
for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.
Compared to Job’s miserable life, death would be a comfort. And even though this verse is somewhat puzzling – I think the gist of it is that at least he would die not having concealed God’s words. Even if he died in the midst of unsparing sorrow – he could die in comfort – he could harden or encourage his own heart, knowing that he had been a faithful hearer and doer of God’s words in this short and miserable life of his.
Job 6 Summary| Lack of Strength
Then Job goes on to speak of his lack of strength in verses 11-13…
11 What is my strength, that I should [hope/wait]?
and what is mine end, that I should prolong my life?
In other words, he’s wondering why he should even continue to be strong and live. Why not die? He has nothing to live for.
12 Is my strength the strength of stones?
or is my flesh of brass?
No – of course it isn’t. Man’s flesh – compared to stone and metal is supremely weak and destructible.
13 Is not my help in me? [i.e., as weak as he is…]
and is wisdom driven quite from me? [he lacks wisdom to help himself…]
So, Job says that he lacks both strength and wisdom. He can’t help himself by either of those means. He is utterly powerless to stop his unceasing suffering.
Job 6 Summary | Help!
But – as the book of Ecclesiastes says – two is better than one. Because if one is overcome, the second is able to help him.
And that’s true. But Job is not experiencing that kind of help – either from Eliphaz and the other two or from his own family, according to verse 14 and following…
14 To him that is afflicted [pity/kindness] should be shewed from his friend;
[but/even if] he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.
So, even if a man turns into a fool and forsakes the fear of the Almighty – if that man is under some extreme pressure and suffering – the least a true friend could do is to show him some kindness. Maybe that would win this one back to wisdom.
Job 6 Summary | What Eliphaz Did
But Eliphaz has not done that – as we saw in chapters 4 and 5. Rather…
15 My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a [seasonal…] brook,
and as the stream of brooks they pass away;
These streams can be concealed by cold…
16 Which are [blackish/dark] by reason of the ice,
and wherein the snow is hid: [piles of snow hide them…]
These streams can disappear due to heat…
17 What time they [wax warm/are scorched], they vanish:
when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.
18 The paths of their way are turned aside;
they go to nothing, and perish.
Then Job continues the metaphor of bad friends being like vanishing streams as he pictures thirsty wanderers looking for water from these streams but finding none…
19 The [troops/caravans] of Tema looked, [for these streams…]
the [companies/traveling merchants] of Sheba waited for them.
20 They were [confounded/distressed] because they had [hoped/been so confident];
they came thither, and were [ashamed/disappointed].
So, Job is comparing both his three friends and his own relatives to these middle-eastern wadis – these shallow streams that are filled with water during the rainy season – and then disappear just as quickly in the dry season.
And he makes that point absolutely clear in verse 21.
21 For now ye are nothing [like those streams…];
ye see my casting down, and are afraid.
In other words, instead of being there to support Job, these men are now afraid of his calamity and they’re not ready to help their friend – but rather they’re proving to be unreliable like those vanishing streams.
Job 6 Summary | No Comfort
And so, Job asks them a few questions to help them see how foolish their refusal to comfort him truly is in verses 22 and 23.
22 Did I say, Bring [something…] unto me?
or, Give a [reward/gift] for me of your substance?
Job hasn’t asked them to give him anything – though after being robbed by the Sabeans and Chaldeans he surely could have used something from them.
23 Or, Deliver me from the enemy’s hand?
or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty?
So, neither is he asking these men to deliver him from some enemy of his.
These kinds of questions would be imposing upon them. That at least would explain why they are being standoffish and aloof in terms of not comforting him.
Job 6 Summary | Why No Comfort?
And so, therefore, there must be some other reason that they refuse to sympathize with Job. Maybe he’s missing something. And he says as much in verse 24.
24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue:
and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.
And Job’s being honest. If the friends have something substantive to say, he will readily listen.
Job 6 Summary | He Wants Reproof
Job even admits that he appreciates this kind of reproof – even if it’s forcible in verse 25…
25 How [forcible/painful] are [right/honest] words!
but what doth your arguing [reprove/prove]?
That’s the key. The words need to be honest. It’s OK if they’re forcible and painful – as long as they’re right and honest.
But that’s not how Job views Eliphaz’s words. Eliphaz’s arguments have proved nothing. They haven’t helped Job to understand at all why he’s suffering. And of course – that’s what Job is looking for. An explanation. A way in which he can understand God’s ways in his life.
Job 6 Summary | No Gain From Attack
But Eliphaz’s speech didn’t do the trick. Eliphaz just attacked Job. And Job tells Eliphaz in verse 26 that he really doesn’t gain anything from attacking Job. Because Job admits that his words are just wind…
26 Do ye imagine to [reprove/criticize] [mere…] words,
and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind?
And Job compares Eliphaz’s actions in verbally accosting him in his desperate state to one who would – as it were – take candy from a baby. Or – Job states it in a more ancient near eastern manner when he says…
27 Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless,
and ye dig a pit for your friend.
Job feels as though he’s the fatherless and Eliphaz has overwhelmed him in his helpless state. Even though he’s supposedly Eliphaz’s friend – he feels as though this man has attempted to bury Job alive!
And what seems to be hurting Job most about Eliphaz’s criticisms of Job is that Eliphaz is indicating that Job is lying. In order for Eliphaz’s statements in chapters 4 and 5 to be true, then Job needs to be a deceitful liar.
Job 6 Summary | He’s Not Lying
And so, Job tells Eliphaz and his friends to look right at him – and Job is confident that if Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar take a careful look at him, they will know that Job is not lying in verse 28.
28 Now therefore be [content,/good enough to] look upon me;
for it is evident unto you if I lie.
And what’s interesting about that challenge is how it corresponds to Eliphaz’s emphasis on his own personal experiences. Remember? Eliphaz several times made reference to his own personal experiences in attempting to prove that Job was hiding sin for which God was now punishing him.
Well – now Job says – gain some personal experience, Eliphaz. Look at me. You will personally experience the fact that I am not lying. You put such confidence in your own reckoning of things? Well, reckon this – I’m not lying. Look, you’ll see.
And here’s what Job is not lying about – verse 29…
29 [Return/Relent], I pray you, let [it not be iniquity/there be no falsehood];
yea, [return again/reconsider for], my righteousness is [in it/intact].
30 Is there iniquity in my tongue?
cannot my taste discern perverse things?
Again, in other words, I’m innocent! Not sinless, but innocent.
So, Job takes Eliphaz’s explanation for Job’s sufferings – that is, that he sinned and God is punishing him – and flatly denies it.