Job 5, Exegetical Notes from Abner Chou

Job 5

Now Eliphaz plays good-cop bad-cop…bad-cop comes first.

He claims Job’s fear of the Lord is false. He doesn’t say Job needs to repent, but he implies it.

Job 5:1

No one will vindicate you. There are three ironies here: One, Job has been vindicated in heaven before the angels (Eliphaz and Job don’t know that); two, Job does in fact have a heavenly helper in the heavenly court. He has Jesus (e.g., Romans); they just don’t know that yet. Third, Eliphaz is speaking things he doesn’t know.

Job 5:2

This is a proverb. “Vexation slays the evil one.” “Fool” here is a reprobate. “Curiosity kills the cat;” folly slays the fool. You get what you deserve. Since people are bent on their own destruction, you can’t prevent their demise. You can’t help people who don’t help themselves.

Job 5:3

“I have seen it”… he becomes the historian. He says he is the agent of divine retribution. He says he is God’s hit-man. There is no safe place because there is no deliverer. You can’t stop the flow of bad choices.

Job 5:6-7

He concludes his argument with the nature of man. He says, Man is made of dust. The dust doesn’t cause folly, but it makes people who cause folly. People are intrinsically foolish and evil; this is why no one can be righteous. So God has no option but to punish those who are righteous. This is how the world works. The implication is that Job must repent.

Job 5:8

His advice is to repent, to seek the Lord, which implies he thinks Job hasn’t been (repenting and seeking). The irony here is that yes, God can do wonderful things, but Eliphaz can’t even entertain the thought that God can do such a wonderful thing as break out of the DR Principle.

Job 5:10

Weather as example. (Important later in Job 38, etc.)

Job 5:11

God causes reversals in society. He makes the high lowly and lowly high. The irony here is that this is what happened to Job—it doesn’t mean Job is evil; this is just what God does.

The ironies continue…

Job 5:13-14

Irony of ironies. Eliphaz himself is the wise guy and it is he who will be caught in his wise schemes. The cross reference here is 1 Cor 3:19. 1 Cor 1-3 is about divisions in the church, and how the Gospel is the great equalizer which should humble us. No one can boast that we saved ourselves or even figured out how we could be saved. Human wisdom can’t ever figure out how to get right with God—it never even had the epistemology for it. But God does.

So Paul says in 1 Cor 3:18 that we should humble ourselves to become wise, to be able to make sense of the world around us. He plays off Job to illustrate the wisdom of man can’t figure out the wisdom of God. Job illustrates the point.

Job 5:15

There is a possibility for deliverance.

Job 5:17

This is wise advice, Proverbs and Hebrews sound like this.

Job 5:18-26

This will refine you. You will have ultimate assurance of protection in famine, and in harsh words (ironic because that’s what Eliphaz is doing to Job right now). Creation will be on your side (Job 5:23). You will die a blessed and full man (5:26). The logic is: if you repent, everything will work out for you in the end. It’s almost a Rom 8:28…almost. If Job will only repent. The irony is all this does happen in the end, but not for the same reasons. So Eliphaz is right and wrong. Job is the example that disproves his elaborate patterns from history.

Job 5:27

He is a historian and all this is carefully thought through.


Eliphaz has two fundamental problems. One, he didn’t answer the question: Why? That’s the whole point! Job’s original question was Why? What’s the purpose? Is God kind? (Job 2:11-26). Eliphaz didn’t answer the question. We can identify with his problem. Two, Why will everything work out in the end? How can you know that? What is your epistemological grounding for that claim? This is the problem we have. You can’t appeal to Rom 8:28 in a counseling situation unless you understand what the verse means and how God can make that epistemological claim. Plus, that answer is not helpful. It shows the folly of human wisdom. We can’t understand the way the world works, and so we can’t answer questions properly. Eliphaz show that history is not an adequate way of answering our questions. He doesn’t have the epistemological certainty to make that claim.