Job’s Reply to Eliphaz (6:1 – 7:21)
Job responded to Eliphaz’s sanctimonious moralizing in a pointed and direct way. Gleason L. Archer, Jr. captures the essence of Job’s response:
“Under the terrible pressure of my afflictions — much beyond anything you, Eliphaz, have ever known or could even imagine, I have been driven to express myself in rash and extreme language. But you must understand my ill-considered words in the light of the terrible stress to which I have been subjected. I have become virtually demoralized by the poisoned arrows that the Almighty (Shaddai) has shot into my soul, and the frightful losses and pain that He has inflicted upon me. The patronizing advice, with its unfair insinuation that I have been hiding some secret, unconfessed sin, is as loathsome and tasteless as unsalted albumen of an egg.”
Job repeated his desire to have his request to die granted (6:8-9). He felt that death would be a welcome relief to the awful pain that had touched his life. Job knew that he could die with the satisfaction that he had never once denied or spurned God through his sufferings (6:10). He saw no point in continuing to live (6:12-13).
Job expressed his disappointment in his (professed) friends. As Steven J. Lawson points out, Job needed them on his team, not on his back. Job said that the counsel of friends should help a person keep their grip on God. Instead, the counsel of Eliphaz, however well-intentioned, served to do the opposite (6:14). His friends were a disappointment to him. Job likened his friends to a wadi (seasonal desert stream) which promises refreshment to the thirsty traveler but proves to be just a dusty and dry stream bed (6:15-20). A wadi is full of water and ice in the winter but dry in the summer when it is most needed. Job’s friends were full of kindness when none was needed and of no help when kindness was called for. Job reminded his friends that he had asked no favors, counsel or financial or otherwise, from his friends. They turned out to be worse than useless to him.
Job directly addressed Eliphaz in reference to his counsel. Job asked Eliphaz to bring up specific charges, instead of his thoughtless inferences, to prove his case against Job (6:24). Eliphaz assumed that Job was guilty until proven innocent, but failed to offer any specifics on Job’s guilt. Job told Eliphaz that he could handle specifics, however painful (6:25). He also told Eliphaz that he needed to take into consideration that the language of one in pain is often exaggerated. “Who,” asked Job, “can fault a person in pain for expressing himself in language of anguish and hurt?” (6:26). Anyone calloused enough to not make allowances for the words of one in pain would likewise deal legalistically with a poor orphan (6:27). Job asked Eliphaz to look him in the eye and give him an honest appraisal. “If there is injustice in my life,” said Job, “then specifically point it out. Otherwise, stop trying to pressure me into thinking that I have sinned against God and have thus brought this calamity on myself” (6:28-30).