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The first of Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, has finished giving Job his advice.
Though he seeks to instruct Job in as gentle terms as possible, he still makes the accusation that there must be some hidden sin in Job’s life for this much suffering to have happened to him.
The problem is that his counsel does not fit with Job’s situation.
Neither has Eliphaz taken the time to really listen to Job and attempt to put himself in Job’s situation.
So, even though it was done with good intentions, Eliphaz gave Job some unhelpful, damaging, and bad counsel.
When I was in college as a freshmen I also received some bad counsel.
It was nearing the end of the semester and I was just in the initial stages of friendship with Sharon.
I was very interested in her and wanted to get her a gift (I think it was for Christmas).
I knew exactly what gift I was going to get.
She needed a new music stand for practicing her flute.
My plan was to simply give her the gift after chapel, but then I talked to my room mate.
I told him my plans and asked his advice.
He was like, “You can’t just give her the gift- you have to do things properly.
Take her out on a date.
Have dinner, then give her the gift.”
This seemed like a pretty good idea at the time.
So I worked up my courage and one afternoon in the library I nervously asked her out on a date.
Up until this point everything was going well.
She was smiling and we were talking and just having a good time.
As soon as I finished asking her out, things took a turn for the worse.
Her face turned beat red, she looked down at the floor, and quietly replied, “You have to talk to my father.”
Now, I was fairly new the Maranatha scene and I had really no idea of the concept of asking her father if I could date her.
However, my room mate really should have known better.
He was familiar with how things worked (at least better than me), but he never mentioned it to me.
He gave me bad advice, and guess what?
I never asked him for dating advice again.
Bad counsel had sometimes dangerous consequences.
After hearing the bad counsel from Eliphaz Job responds in much the same way as his first speech, with raw emotion, paid, and bewilderment.
Sadly, rather than making Job’s situation better, Eliphaz has only made things worse.
Bad counsel is dangerous and it can lead to some negative consequences and reactions.
Today we will examine some of the damaging consequences of bad counsel.
I. Bad Counsel May Result in Distrust
How does bad counsel create distrust?
A. Bad counsel leaves the impression that you do not understand what the sufferer is going through
Job wishes that a huge scale could be made available and on one side of the scale the weight of his grief and calamity would be placed.
“Grief” or “Vexation” describes the angry feelings aroused by the hateful actions and disrespectful attitude of an adversary
The term is used of Hannah’s emotional state in
“Calamity” translates a rare Hebrew word that is again used in contexts where someone’s actions have hurt another
Combined his grief and his vexation would outweigh the sands of the sea.
How much sand is there in the world?
7.5 x 10-18 grains of sand, or seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains- in deserts and beaches
The point is that Job is hurting and his friends have no idea how he feels.
His pain is so great that it would take a scale large enough for all of the sand of the sea to be measured, and even then his pain would be more extreme.
And as Job now understand from Eliphaz’s speech they have no idea what he is going through.
Job continues to attempt to explain his sorrow in v. 4
Notice two metaphors at work here.
Job claims that God, the superb marksman, has shot a rain of arrows at him.
The arrows have hit their mark, unleashing poison in his entrails, thus causing his spirit (rûaḥ) to drink deeply of their poison (ḥēmâ) (Hartley, 132).
I am a bow hunter and I have seen first hand the devastation caused by an arrow.
They are quick, lethal, deadly.
Notice who is shooting the arrows.
Job’s vexation and calamity are the results of God’s actions so Job believes.
Remember, while God allowed it to happen, Satan was the one doing the shooting.
The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.
God’s terrors are arrayed against me.
Expanding the metaphor in the third line, Job imagines that God, like a general marshaling a mighty army against a well-fortified city, has arrayed against him an army of terrors.
The same horror that the occupants of a besieged city feel floods Job’s soul.
(Hartley, 132).
Again all of this imagery is an attempt to get his friends to understand what he is going through, for clearly they have missed the mark.
B. Bad counsel leads the sufferer to doubt future advice.
Even animals will not complain if they have adequate food.
Job says he would not either, unless he had adequate cause.
I am no farmer, so I don’t have the personal experience of donkeys or oxen.
However, I do have five boys.
(Sometimes it seems like I have livestock in my house).
When they are babies, if they were hungry they let you know about it.
Right now Jonathan is in that stage.
Sharon usually feeds him late at night, she will wake him up to feed him so he will last through the night.
When he first wakes up and he doesn’t have anything in his belly he is not very sociable.
If I even look at him he cries.
But after he is full, he will smile at me until he gets put to bed.
Job is saying that his laments are not without reason.
Tying in the food metaphor Job states that tasteless food is repulsive.
Job is similarly repulsed, like one who eats food with no taste and must spit it out.
It’s like oatmeal.
Have you ever tried plain oatmeal without any sugar, or milk, or fruit?
It’s is bland, tasteless mush and all you want to do is spit it out.
The idea here is that Job’s appetite refuses to touch tasteless food.
For they are as food that is loathsome to him.
Job describes Eliphaz’s speech as insipid, like tasteless food which can be nauseating if not seasoned.
In other words the counsel from Eliphaz had left a bad taste in Job’s mouth.
If you have had a bad experience with something or someone, do you want to go back and have that same bad experience?
No, you no longer trust that person- you begin to doubt in their abilities because of your previous experience.
In my example of asking Sharon out on a first date- do you think I was eager to go back to my room mate for more dating advice?
No- he was the last person that I wanted to get counsel from.
He didn’t completely understand my situation and his suggestion caused me embarrassment and rejection.
I no longer trusted him for advice.
Remember sometimes there is a great lag between you and the one you are offering counsel to.
These men sat with Job for a whole week without speaking a word, yet they were still unable to enter into how Job was feeling.
This is even more true in our culture.
You might only have a text, or a short phone call or a brief conversation.
We need to realize that there is a lot more going on behind all of it than what someone is telling you.
But it is our job to attempt to sympathize with those that are suffering.
If we don’t then people are going to see us as someone who doesn’t understand them, as someone who gives bad advice and they will stop trusting us- and worse than that- any godly advice you might have been able to give them.
Bad Counsel May Cause Discouragement
A. The sufferer may return to their original struggle
We are right back to chapter 3 where Job wished for death.
Eliphaz counseled Job to repent of his great hidden sin and seek God.
But this didn’t fit with Job’s experience, so Job goes right back to the agony that he is experiencing having found no solace in Eliphaz’s words.
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