Troublesome Topic: Summary of Arguments Used in Job

Here is a summary of the arguments made by each participant, starting after the suffering of Job is described. You will notice many similarities (apart from the issue of innocence or guilt). Don’t get discouraged by the fact that they keep repeating themselves. Watch for the parts where the nature of God is brought out.

Job’s friends sat with him in silence for seven days and seven nights before anyone spoke, and it was Job who broke the silence.

Job: (3:1-26)

I wish I had never been born, that would have been easier. Why does God allow this to happen?

Eliphaz:  (4:1- 5:27)

If you were blameless you would not be suffering. God must be punishing you, so seek God because he will restore you and bless you.

Job:  (6:1- 7:21)

If only I could die, then I would know that I died without denying God’s words. My friends are no help because they are undependable. So, friends, get specific, if you are so confident I am in the wrong, show me where I’ve been wrong. God, if I have sinned then show me how I have sinned.

Bildad:  (8:1-22)

Your children died because they had sinned. If you return to God, he will restore you. Consider what history teaches, and those who have gone before us, that if you abandon God you will be punished. God is on the side of the righteous, but not on the side of the evil.

Job:  (9:1-10:22)

Before God I am nothing. All I can do is plead for his mercy. When bad things happen to good people, who allows it? If not God? If only there were someone to arbitrate between me and God (a hint toward Jesus). God, do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me. You are so powerful that you can do whatever you want to do. If I had sinned, you would punish me. If I am innocent, I am still full of shame.

Zophar:  (11:1-20)

I wish God would speak and show you your sin. You may think you are not guilty; God may see it differently. If you devote your heart to him, and stay free from sin, things will go better for you.

Job: (12:1-14:22)

God is the only one who knows all things. How well would it go for you if God examined your life carefully? Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him. I am confident he will vindicate me. But if I am found guilty, I will take my punishment.

Eliphaz: (15:1-35)

You must be guilty. Is it even possible for a man to be righteous? We have always been taught that the wicked will suffer, therefore you must be wicked.

Job (16:1-17:16)

If the roles were reversed, I could assume the same things about you. But I wouldn’t, I would try to be encouraging. God, you are being hard on me, more than I thought I could bear. But I know I am innocent. I also know that I have an advocate who is pleading my case before you (once again a hint at Jesus and the Holy Spirit). I have confidence in You, and I know that the righteous will be rewarded.

Bildad:  (18:1-21)

Why do you talk to us that way? We also know something. It is obvious that if someone suffers it must be because he is wicked.

Job: (19:1-29)

My guilt or innocence is my business alone, why do you keep making the same accusations that you cannot prove. God has chosen to turn against me. But I know there is a resurrection, and after what is left of me is destroyed, I will see my Redeemer with my own eyes. My heart yearns to see Him. You, my friends, should be fearful because if suffering and punishment are always directly connected to wrongdoing, you will not escape.

Zophar:  (20:1-29)

I am offended by your rebuke. From of old our understanding has been that the wicked will prosper and be happy for a short time, then they will perish. They will be destroyed so quickly that those around them will be amazed. Therefore, I assume you must have done something very wicked.

Job:  (21:1-34)

There are times that the wicked prosper yet punishment does not sweep them away. Some say God stores up punishment for a man’s sons. That would be unfair. One man has ease, another man has hardship. Why is this? You have not yet answered that question satisfactorily. Yet you have not learned from those who come from afar; their stories would tell you of wicked men with power that do what they want and are not punished in this life.

Eliphaz:  (22:1-30)

Does God rebuke you because you are righteous? If God is rebuking you and punishing you, then you must be wicked. You must have mistreated the needy and been heartless. But if you stop being wicked, change your ways and submit to God, he will restore you.

Job: (23:1-24:25)

If I could only have a hearing before God, I am sure He would not press charges against me. I look for Him, but I cannot find Him, to make my plea before Him and be proven innocent. Yet I know that when I am tested, I will be proved innocent. Does God judge the wicked immediately?  No, He lets them carry out their evil plans and live wicked lives. God may let the wicked feel secure for a time, but then their punishment will come, no matter how powerful they have become.

Bildad:  (25:1-6)

How can a man be righteous before God? It is impossible.

Job: (26:1-31:40)

I’m impressed by your insight, Bildad—NOT!

Go to footnote number

Of course no one can understand God. As long as I live, I will not deny my integrity, my conscience is clear. The wicked are indeed punished by God. Wisdom is found only in God. I was esteemed and respected because of the good I did. I was a provider, a protector, a priest and a judge for the needy. I am no longer shown respect even though I was good to others. If I have done evil, if I did not treat others properly, I can expect to be punished. But I have not done evil. Now let God answer me, I am ready to hear my indictment.

Elihu:  (32:1-37:24)

Job says he is innocent, yet God is inflicting him with incurable wounds. It is a contradiction. God does not do evil; He does not pervert justice. There is a direct connection between what a man does and how God treats him. God will repay a man according to what he deserves, so Job must deserve this. And God sees what everyone does, so He is able to judge justly. Job has tried to force God to accept him as righteous; this is a type of rebellion. Job says he is innocent but yet he does not understand why God is doing this to him. Just listen to me, for I have perfect knowledge. Doing right brings prosperity and contentment, doing wrong brings suffering and death. But if someone cries out to God, He will listen. Job, you should consider how great God is, fear Him, and not speak such blasphemy, for God does not oppress people unjustly.

THE LORD to Job:   (38:1 – 40:2)

Okay Job, I will take you up on your request; I will evaluate your claim of innocence.

Are you something great? How much do you really know?  How much can you do?

Job’s reply:  (40:3-5)

I am unworthy, how can I reply? I spoke once, but I will not say any more—I will not try to defend myself before You.

THE LORD to Job again: 40:6- 41:34)

Do you wish to accuse me of wrongdoing? Do you have the power or authority to make any accusations at all? If you can execute justice, and bring down on the wicked their just punishment, then I will admit that your own arm can save you. If you could do what I do, you would not need me. How much strength do you have? Are you powerful enough to capture the Behemoth or the Leviathan?

Job’s reply:  (42:1-3)

Surely, I spoke of things I did not understand. I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

THE LORD to Eliphaz and his two friends:  (42:7-9)

I am angry with you. You have not spoken of me what is right—your view of me is twisted. Repent, offer sacrifices, and ask Job to pray for you—I will accept his prayer.

(They did what God told them to do, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer for them.)

Conclusion:  (42:10-17)

Job was restored to health and wealth, and a full family again.

The next lesson is: Job’s Friends Did Not Understand the Nature of God



Read Job 26:1-4 and you will see that Job mocks Bildad.