6 Then Job replied:
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—
no wonder my words have been impetuous.
4 The arrows of the Almighty are in me,
my spirit drinks in their poison;
God’s terrors are marshaled against me.
5 Does a wild donkey bray when it has grass,
or an ox bellow when it has fodder?
6 Is tasteless food eaten without salt,
or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow?
7 I refuse to touch it;
such food makes me ill.
Job’s response to Eliphaz is recorded in verses 6:1 – 7:21. Initially Job does not respond but just continues in his lament. He appears to have patiently allowed Eliphaz complete his religious rant without interruption prior to responding at all.
Job used several metaphors to describe his suffering:
(1) the Sand of the sea, which implies a vast amount (Genesis 22:17; 32:12) and profound weight (Proverbs 27:3).
(2) as though shot with “arrows” which is an Old Testament expression for judgment (Lamentations 3:12-13),
(3) tasteless, like the “white of an egg.” Job’s point being that life had lost all its pleasure.
Job gave his answer to Eliphaz. Surely Eliphaz could not understand the full weight of what Job was enduring. He struggled to find the right words to express his own grief no wonder he could not articulate or express himself with the correct theological position on his suffering but Eliphaz was way off the mark.
Job said that some of his statements might have been a little rash. His troubles were more than the weight of all the sand of the sea.
“The arrows of the Almighty … terrors of God” are metaphors for judgment or trials that come from God.
His greatest wound in all of this was in his heart. He felt that God had taken his spirit. He was fully aware that all of this had to be allowed by God even if it wasn’t directly caused by him. His heart was broken, because he had loved God with all of his heart and honoured him with his life. This was hard to bear. He was struggling with this.
Animals are noisy when they have no food or it’s basic needs are not met. For Job this was not about food it was about great loss and suffering.
The loss of his children had taken the joy out of his life. This disease had caused his life to be a dread, and nothing pleasant.
Job describes his sickness to be like nauseous, tasteless, unpalatable food. (Psalms 42:3; 80:5; 102:9). He excuses his complaining.
8 “Oh, that I might have my request,
that God would grant what I hope for,
9 that God would be willing to crush me,
to let loose his hand and cut off my life!
10 Then I would still have this consolation—
my joy in unrelenting pain—
that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.
11 “What strength do I have, that I should still hope?
What prospects, that I should be patient?
12 Do I have the strength of stone?
Is my flesh bronze?
13 Do I have any power to help myself,
now that success has been driven from me?
Job’s request was that God would finish whatever process he began. Death seemed to be the only option for relief from this unrelenting suffering.
Job was unable to see what God was allowing to occur here and had no idea of how this might pan out. There would be many years of life and prosperity in store for him.
Eliphaz had spoken of God granting long life to those who loved God. That was the very thing that Job did not want. He could not see beyond his present suffering.
I can relate to this. In my darkest and most painful times it is easy to lose sight of what God might be doing and my prayer moves from one of surrender and walking with God to one of requesting different circumstances.
There is always a bigger picture at play. I don’t see too far in front of me in the darkness.
Jobs motives to request this blotting out of life were pure motives though. He did not want to insult God (Job 2:9-10). Job was struggling to control his speech. His spirit and body were weak. He wondered how useful to God he might be.
It must have been hard. He used to be a a significant influencer on his community whom everybody respected (Job 1:3; Job 29:1-10; Job 29:21-25). He was a leader of his people. But now, he was the one who needed help. And his friends were not helping him.
Job realized that he was very ill. All of his strength was gone.
He was now the one in need. He had nothing to support himself, nor to be useful to others, such as the poor. He had lost all power, authority, and influence, among men, and no one now was coming to him for counsel and advice. He was now misjudged as a hypocrite by his friends, and had lost his reputation for character.
These thoughts and observation resonate with me. The only difference being that Job was innocent and I am not. I used to be an influencer, a leader, respected in my community. Today I am branded a hypocrite. I don’t say this with pity. In some ways it’s freeing. I have nothing to prove to anyone. I have nothing to protect and this movement from being helper to the cone being helped is a work of God. He is doing something here.
14 “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend
forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
15 But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams,
as the streams that overflow
16 when darkened by thawing ice
and swollen with melting snow,
17 but that stop flowing in the dry season,
and in the heat vanish from their channels.
18 Caravans turn aside from their routes;
they go off into the wasteland and perish.
19 The caravans of Tema look for water,
the traveling merchants of Sheba look in hope.
20 They are distressed, because they had been confident;
they arrive there, only to be disappointed.
21 Now you too have proved to be of no help;
you see something dreadful and are afraid.
22 Have I ever said, ‘Give something on my behalf,
pay a ransom for me from your wealth,
23 deliver me from the hand of the enemy,
rescue me from the clutches of the ruthless’?
24 “Teach me, and I will be quiet;
show me where I have been wrong.
25 How painful are honest words!
But what do your arguments prove?
26 Do you mean to correct what I say,
and treat my desperate words as wind?
27 You would even cast lots for the fatherless
and barter away your friend.
28 “But now be so kind as to look at me.
Would I lie to your face?
29 Relent, do not be unjust;
reconsider, for my integrity is at stake.
30 Is there any wickedness on my lips?
Can my mouth not discern malice?
Job believed that his friends were like brothers to him (verse 15). But Eliphaz’s words were harsh, simplistic and judgmental. Job felt misunderstood, judged harshly and could no longer trust his friends.
He appeared to answer the tone of Eliphaz’s speech rather than the specific charges.
Job answered that even if a man has forsaken God (which he hadn’t), should not his friends still show kindness to him? How can Eliphaz be so unkind as to continually accuse him?
Job described his friends as being about as useful with their counsel as a dry river bed in summer. “You are no help,” he said (verse 21)
Job’s friends seemed like those dry streams. When Job’s life was good, his friends were good friends. But when Job had trouble, they could not help him. When Job needed their help (verse 13), they did not support him.
Job was calling them fair weather friends. Their friendship dissolved at the very first sign of trouble.
Job mentions Tema and Sheba. The troops of Tema were in the north. They were Arabs descended from Ishmael (Genesis 25:15; Isaiah 21:14), and Sheba was in the south (Jeremiah 6:20). It was part of the Arabian Desert, where water was precious.
When they came to the places where they hoped to find water. Finding none were ashamed of their vain hope, and reflected upon themselves for being so foolish as to raise their expectations upon such a groundless speculation.
These nomadic caravans came to sell, and were disappointed when their benefactor was no more.
Job had looked for and needed friends who loved him, and would stand beside him. He was ashamed of his friends when they did not stand beside him in his grief and sorrow.
Job is effectively saying that his friends are about as much use as a dried up stream is to the caravan. They might as well not be in existence.
As far as Job was concerned these so-called friends were nothing in his eyes. They stood against Job for fear they might be incriminated.
Job knew that his friends could not help him. His troubles were too great. His friends’ money could not help him. And they could not defend him. They were too late. Job’s trouble had already happened before they arrived.
Job was starting to realise that he needed God’s help. Only God could rescue him. However, he was perplexed by what had happened and could only see that God was against him at this point.
He had not asked for any help at all from his friends, even though everything had been taken from him. He did not even ask for them to intervene with prayer. They had come of their own freewill with no comfort for Job in the physical, or in the spiritual sense.
He asked that his friends show him where he had sinned.
Now Job told them if he was wrong about them, he would say no more. He could not understand what he had done to cause their friendship to not mean more to them.
Job expressed a willingness and readiness to listen to words of truth and wisdom. He complained that the language or the approach they were using was of no benefit his heart.
Had they spoken truth, he would have gladly listened. They had done nothing to help. They had just given him less hope than he had before they came.
“Fatherless” was both a personal lament and a reminder to Job’s friends that all of his children had died.
This was a way Job had of expressing their lack of feeling for those in need. They had given him no way out. They had already dug his grave in their thoughts.
Job said that he was innocent. He did not pretend that he was perfect (Job 31:33). But Job’s friends did not believe this (Job chapter 22).
Job was saying they should know in their own hearts that he was telling them the truth.