Eliphaz's Ill-Aimed Counsel: When Soul-Care Misses the Mark

Brian Mahon - 3/1/2020


Call to worship: Psalm 20

Text: Job 4-5

Big idea: Our aims in counseling the suffering soul best focus, first, on two things: speak the truth in love and fill it all with Christ.

  1. The ill-aimed counsel of Eliphaz, Job 4-5
    • 'Job, receive your own counsel—and repent,' 4:1-11
    • 'But stop this questioning of God—that's a futile exercise in arrogant folly,' 4:12-5:7
    • 'Instead, humbly seek God and submit to His discipline—that's the wisdom-ticket to renewal,' 5:8-27
  2. Aiming to aim better than Eliphaz
    • Speak the truth in love
      Fill your counsel with Christ


Questions to Consider:

  1. In 4:1-11, Eliphaz is the first of Job's friends to venture a response to Job's lamentation. Why might he be the first one to go? In his opening, how does he commend Job? How does he exhort him? What's the staple of his theology and argument? See 4:8. Do you think this verse implicates Job? Consider 'trouble' here, then look back to 3:26 in Job's lament.
  2. In 4:12-21, Eliphaz recounts a dream-vision. What did he see? What did he hear? In applying it to Job, what might his point be in 4:17 to the end of the chapter? Put another way, in these questions, we're shown how Eliphaz has processed Job's lamentation. What does Eliphaz presume here? How might we on this side of the empty tomb answer that question in 4:17?
  3. What about the question in 5:1? Is there anyone who will answer Job's questions (like say, any risen sufferer)? Can you begin to feel how Eliphaz is missing the mark in his counsel? In isolation, he may speak some truths, but what about 'in love'? How might love call forth different counsel? Is the greatness of God mutually exclusive with our questions for God? Are we fools to seek understanding in our suffering?
  4. In 5:8-27, Eliphaz exhorts Job to seek God (in prayer) and submit to His discipline. Has Job not sought God already? Is Job's suffering a discipline from God? Is Eliphaz not missing the mark? More, should Job do these things for a reversal of his fortunes alone, as it appears Eliphaz suggests? What is the story of Job all about? Is God _________ for us?
  5. Is it enough that our counsel says true things? Is that good soul care—true statements!? Partly. But what is Eliphaz missing? See Eph 4:15. How would love for Job have, perhaps, unearthed different truths to share? What's missing in all of Eliphaz's counsel? See 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Colossians 1:28.
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