Eliphaz, the Temanite was the first of Job’s friends to speak. His words of comfort were not comforting. He reminded Job of his righteousness in the times that he had been merciful to the unfortunate. Circumstances had changed and he was the unfortunate one. In the words of conventional wisdom, Eliphaz pointed out that the innocent do not perish. That indicated that Job was guilty of some grave sin that had caused his calamity. If angels can sin, surely Job, a mere man was not more righteous than they.
With Job supposedly steeped in sin, Eliphaz asked him if there was anyone he could call upon to help him in his trouble. Evil did not occur to him without a cause. Therefore, he was surely guilty of some great sin. The best solution to Job’s misery was to call upon God rather than depending upon himself. That bit of advice is true. He enumerated many of the capabilities of God. Man is strengthened by suffering and overcoming hardships in life. Whatever befalls man can be eased by complete trust in God. However true, those principles were misapplied by Eliphaz as he “comforted” Job.
Job began his reply to Eliphaz with a defense of his complaint. Well-fed animals do not cry out for food without a reason, but they remain content. His words had been harsh because the pain of his misery was so great. He longed for the relief of comforting death from a life that had no hope.
True friends should show love, kindness and comfort to their suffering comrades. Eliphaz had been a disappointment to Job. Like winter streams that disappear in the summer when they are needed, his friend’s words had hurt him instead of easing his mind.
When one is accused of a wrong, he deserves to be informed of the nature of his offence. Job sought an explanation for the sin of which Eliphaz had accused him. If none could be presented, Job asked for a concession of his righteousness.
After replying to Eliphaz, Job turned to speak to God. His was not a prayer of thanksgiving, but a lament and question of why. He felt that his faithfulness deserved a reward as the hired servant desires rest and refreshment at night and looks for his pay. Nights were long and filled with scary dreams. There were no antiseptic lotions or creams to soothe his scabbed worm-infested flesh. In those days, the worms may have been literal or figurative. However, his death would be a welcome blessing.
Job asked God for an explanation of his sin, if he had sinned; why He had allowed him to suffer and would there be a pardon for whatever his transgression had been.