Job 15:14 (CSB)
14 What is a mere human, that he should be pure, or one born of a woman, that he should be righteous?
Eliphaz has listened to Job reply to himself and the other friends, and now begins his second monologue, a reply to Job. He immediately attacks Job, accusing him of being unwise, and condemning himself with his words. It is clear that Eliphaz, just as the other friends, have presupposed Job’s guilt, and therefore assume anything Job says only continues to pile upon his guilt before God.
Eliphaz then charges Job with arrogance. Through a series of rhetorical questions he implies that Job has taken a vain position of greater intellect and knowledge not only of his friends, but of the elders. He even charges that Job holds himself in such high esteem that Job finds himself above God, as evidenced by Job’s words against God.
Eliphaz now broadens his speech to address the human condition of falling short of God’s purity and righteousness. In Job 15:14 is a fantastic example of the sinfulness of man, in the form of a rhetorical question. He then follows it up with another rhetorical question that supports the charge that if not even the angels are seen as pure by God, how much more corrupt is man, who “drinks injustice like water”! Although the charge is against all men, obviously the intent is to contrast Job’s speech with the quite accurate depiction of man’s status before God.
Eliphaz then begins his provision of advice and guidance for Job. He obviously values the wisdom of elders, and cites it as the his source. Even if we grant that Eliphaz is genuinely trying to help Job by providing what he feels is reliable guidance, we see that he continues based upon an incorrect presupposition of Job’s guilt, and therefore his remedy, however theologically sound, is off target.
Eliphaz again equates Job with a wicked, unrepentant sinner in the closing portion of his speech. He essentially reminds job of the principle of reaping what is sown. In other words, the man who stands opposed to God, reaps the terror, dread, darkness, poverty, and trouble that comes from such a stance. There seems to be at least a hint of Eliphaz correlating much of the trouble of the wicked to what Job has experienced. It would seem hard to mistake Job 15:29 and Job 15:34 as paralleling Job’s loss of wealth and his children. Although Eliphaz prefaces all this as applying to the generic “wicked man”, it seems clear he is directing it towards Job, and the accusations seem hard to miss in context.
Lord, thank you for the wisdom that you often pass along even in the words of one who is missing the mark! You have used the words of Eliphaz to Job to remind us of our place before you, of our depravity and sin, and our need for your mercy and love. We praise you for Jesus, and your gift of grace through faith! I pray that we would be convicted of your truth, and not unjustly condemn our brothers and sisters, but certainly speak your truth in love. Amen.