Chapter 4

Job having warmly given vent to his passion, and so broken the ice, his friends here come gravely to give vent to their judgment upon his case, which perhaps they had communicated to one another apart, compared notes upon it and talked it over among themselves, and found they were all agreed in their verdict, that Job’s afflictions certainly proved him to be a hypocrite; but they did not attack Job with this high charge till by the expressions of his discontent and impatience, in which they thought he reflected on God himself, he had confirmed them in the bad opinion they had before conceived of him and his character. Now they set upon him with great fear. The dispute begins, and it soon becomes fierce. The opponents are Job’s three friends. Job himself is respondent. Elihu appears, first, as moderator, and at length God himself gives judgment upon the controversy and the management of it. The question in dispute is whether Job was an honest man or no, the same question that was in dispute between God and Satan in the first two chapters. Satan had yielded it, and durst not pretend that his cursing his day was a constructive cursing of his God; no, he cannot deny but that Job still holds fast his integrity; but Job’s friends will needs have it that, if Job were an honest man, he would not have been thus sorely and thus tediously afflicted, and therefore urge him to confess himself a hypocrite in the profession he had made of religion: “No,” says Job, “that I will never do; I have offended God, but my heart, notwithstanding, has been upright with him;” and still he holds fast the comfort of his integrity. Eliphaz, who, it is likely, was the senior, or of the best quality, begins with him in this chapter, in which, I. He bespeaks a patient hearing, Job 4:2. II. He compliments Job with an acknowledgment of the eminence and usefulness of the profession he had made of religion, Job 4:3, 4. III. He charges him with hypocrisy in his profession, grounding his charge upon his present troubles and his conduct under them, Job 4:5, 6. IV. To make good the inference, he maintains that man’s wickedness is that which always brings God’s judgments, Job 4:7-11. V. He corroborates his assertion by a vision which he had, in which he was reminded of the incontestable purity and justice of God, and the meanness, weakness, and sinfulness of man, Job 4:12-21. By all this he aims to bring down Job’s spirit and to make him both penitent and patient under his afflictions.