The Cruel God: Job's Search for the Meaning of Suffering

By Margaret Brackenbury Crook | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Eliphaz Counsels Job . . . Job 4-5

Eliphaz, concerned and kindly, takes Job to task for charging God with injustice. Job is inviting punishment. No man can bring a charge against God and win his case, if, to do so, he must prove God wrong. If Job humbly submits his cause to God, all will be well.

The Poet and his students are discovering that they must face the problem of unmerited suffering in ways more searching than anyone has faced it thus far. Against the distressful Job stand the three wisemen, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Somewhere, above and behind them all, is the remote Almighty.1 The heavenly council is in existence and is referred to upon occasion, but the satan is nowhere in evidence. The satan had proposed a test of the integrity of Job; but in the Poet's Argument everyone is on trial, including the Almighty. The questioning Job is akin to the patient Job in that his integrity is known to all. The wisemen will be required to vindicate their teachings, and the Almighty invited to reveal His way with mankind in this tremendous search that is to span the heavens.

Job has brought weighty charges against God. The wisemen must, if they can, persuade him to withdraw them. So much attention is given to their attempts that it has sometimes been said that the Poet's sympathies are with Job's three friends. The Poet cannot be indifferent to the threatened collapse of teaching in which he has himself been trained. At the same time it is inconceivable that he should not have great sympathy for Job, whose case he states in such masterly fashion.

The obvious truth is that the Poet can see both sides. He is under intense pressure to find out what can be said for God. There are signs in the book that he has not yet made up his mind about this. His students are critical of God; but he must,

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