‘(Eliphaz said:) “Please remember — who ever perished, being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off?…. I have seen that those that plow iniquity and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the Blast of God, they perish; and by the Breath of His nostrils, they are consumed!”‘ Job 4:7-9
Job, filled with pain, had just cursed not God but his own birthday (Job 3:1-16). Then his friend Eliphaz, still believing Job to be a righteous and a God-fearing man, replied that Job should remember the afflictions of the righteous are disciplinary. They are not designed for his destruction. For whatever innocent person, ever perished?
The righteous do not perish under affliction. It is the wicked that so perish. For it is those who plough iniquity, who reap it.
When I, Eliphaz, saw those who ploughed iniquity — they reaped it. Eliphaz recognizes that affliction may affect both the righteous and the unrighteous. The righteous may no doubt sin, and be chastised for their sin. But they do not perish under their chastisements.
The wicked, however, for whom sinning is a business, keep sinning unto their own perdition. For they practise that business, like a tiller plows and sows his field. And their harvest of destruction, is unfailing.
As often as Eliphaz saw those who planned and worked out evil, he also saw that they reaped it. ‘He who sows iniquity, shall reap vanity; and the rod of his anger, shall fail’ (Proverbs 22:8).
That which the wicked plough and cast into the ground, is iniquity and wickedness. They reap it, in the form of affliction and trouble. ‘They have sown the wind; and they shall reap the whirlwind’ (Hosea 8:7). ‘You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity!’ (Hosea 10:13).
‘By the Breath of God, they perish; and by the Blast of His anger, they are consumed’ (Job 4:9). The destructive judgment of God upon the wicked, is described as a fiery Breath coming forth from His mouth — like the hot wind of the desert which withers and burns up the grass. ‘The grass withers, the flower fades; because the Spirit of the Lord blows upon it’ (Isaiah 40:7). ‘The Lord will roar from Zion…, and the top of Carmel shall wither’ (Amos 1:2).
That the ungodly, and they alone, perish — is shown also by lions. ‘The teeth of the young lions are broken; the old lion perishes’ (Job 4:10-11). The sudden destruction of the wicked is described by Eliphaz as the break-up and dispersion of a den of lions.
Yes, both the lions and the wicked are strong and violent. But by a sudden stroke, the lion’s roar and tearing of his prey is silenced. His teeth are dashed out. He perishes, for lack of prey. And his whelps get scattered abroad. That is the way the home of the wicked gets broken up! However, does the blast of God cut off the righteous? No!