“A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends”

Dr. Kim Riddlebarger comments on Job 6

Job cannot take anymore. And so in 6:1-7:2, he responds to his friend. Eliphaz’s words do not bring Job comfort. Instead, they bring forth an emotional outbrust and protest from Job against the insinuation that there is some hidden sin in his life which has caused God to punish him. Knowing he has done nothing wrong, Job’s reaction is to cry out in terror because he feels like God has become his enemy. In Job 6:2-4 we hear haunting words from Job.

If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas- no wonder my words have been impetuous. The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God’s terrors are marshaled against me.

The Hebrew text speaks of the armaments of God in a battle array against him. The thought of God bringing an army against Job brings terror to his heart.

In 6:14, Job speaks directly to his counselor.

“A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow, but that cease to flow in the dry season, and in the heat vanish from their channels.”

Job will not let this go–he will defend himself. As he points out in 6:25 and following,

“How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat the words of a despairing man as wind? You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter away your friend. `But now be so kind as to look at me. Would I lie to your face? Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake. Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice?”

Job has done nothing wrong. He has not spoken evil, nor done evil. He now tells Eliphaz to relent and back off. Job’s integrity is at stake.