Once again a friend of Job condemns Job for his bitterness against God. Eliphaz tries to convince Job that no human is so righteous as to escape the wrath of God.
I am a problem solver. My mind is always on overdrive to find solutions to problems that pop up all around me daily. I need a place to write notes to my kids so they don’t forget their chores – so I paint my cabinets with chalkboard paint and keep a supply of colorful chalk in a tin nearby. I can’t visit with my friends or family when I am cooking and they are in the dining room visiting – so I take a sledge hammer to the wall and create a kitchen island there instead. Yeah, I’m that person.
The trouble is I used to believe it was also my job to solve the problems of others. My son didn’t want to take the bus to school, so I helped him earn enough money to buy a beater so he could drive himself to school. My daughter was obsessed with dogs and wanted to learn to train them so I got her a dog for her birthday. It might be ok to help my kids to develop their gifts and to help them become independent. But not everyone is thrilled with my problem solving (meddling) skills. My husband, for instance, doesn’t appreciate my attempts to educate him on the ways of women. He doesn’t appreciate my tidying up his messy garage so that he can’t find anything. Shocking!
I don’t do it (much) anymore. He needs to live his own life and solve his own problems – or not. As soon as I learned to let him be, our relationship has grown closer. I appreciate him, problems and all. And he appreciates me. (He even helped me build a chicken coop for the baby chicks I picked up on a whim one weekend – fresh eggs, y’all!)
Maybe Job would have responded better to Eliphaz’s words if they were less patronizing and more supportive. Sometimes the problem to be solved is the meddling problem solver. Maybe the solution is caring, support, unconditional acceptance, a listening ear, and love.
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered: “Should the wise answer with windy knowledge, and fill themselves with the east wind? Should they argue in unprofitable talk, or in words with which they can do no good? But you are doing away with the fear of God, and hindering meditation before God. For your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the tongue of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; your own lips testify against you.
“Are you the firstborn of the human race? Were you brought forth before the hills? Have you listened in the council of God? And do you limit wisdom to yourself? What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that is not clear to us? The gray-haired and the aged are on our side, those older than your father. Are the consolations of God too small for you, or the word that deals gently with you? Why does your heart carry you away, and why do your eyes flash, so that you turn your spirit against God, and let such words go out of your mouth? What are mortals, that they can be clean? Or those born of woman, that they can be righteous? God puts no trust even in his holy ones, and the heavens are not clean in his sight; how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, one who drinks iniquity like water!
“I will show you; listen to me; what I have seen I will declare— what sages have told, and their ancestors have not hidden, to whom alone the land was given, and no stranger passed among them. The wicked writhe in pain all their days, through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless. Terrifying sounds are in their ears; in prosperity the destroyer will come upon them. They despair of returning from darkness, and they are destined for the sword. They wander abroad for bread, saying, ‘Where is it?’ They know that a day of darkness is ready at hand; distress and anguish terrify them; they prevail against them, like a king prepared for battle. Because they stretched out their hands against God, and bid defiance to the Almighty, running stubbornly against him with a thick-bossed shield; because they have covered their faces with their fat, and gathered fat upon their loins, they will live in desolate cities, in houses that no one should inhabit, houses destined to become heaps of ruins; they will not be rich, and their wealth will not endure, nor will they strike root in the earth; they will not escape from darkness; the flame will dry up their shoots, and their blossom will be swept away by the wind. Let them not trust in emptiness, deceiving themselves; for emptiness will be their recompense. It will be paid in full before their time, and their branch will not be green. They will shake off their unripe grape, like the vine, and cast off their blossoms, like the olive tree. For the company of the godless is barren, and fire consumes the tents of bribery. They conceive mischief and bring forth evil and their heart prepares deceit.”