Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,…
Let us avoid the error of Eliphaz, the Temanite, who, in reproving Job, maintained that the statute of requital is enforced in all cases, rigorously and exactly — that the world is governed on the principle of minute recompense — that sin is always followed by its equivalent of suffering in this present life. This is not so. To the rule of recompense we must allow for a vast number of exceptions. The penalty does not always follow directly on the heels of sin. It is oftentimes delayed, may be postponed for years, may possibly never be inflicted in this world at all And meantime the wicked flourish. They sit in places of honour and authority. As it is said, "The tabernacles of robbers do prosper, and they that provoke God are secure. They are not in trouble as other men. They increase in riches, and their eyes stand out with fatness. Yea, I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree." "Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper?"
1. It is not because God is unobservant. Ah, no. "The iniquities of the wicked are not hid from Mine eyes," saith the Lord. He seeth our ways, pondereth our goings, hath set a print upon the very heels of our feet.
2. Nor is it because of any indifference on the part of God. Seeing our sin, He abhors it; otherwise He would not be God.
3. Nor is it for want of power. The tide marks of the deluge, remaining plain upon the rocks even unto this day, attest what an angry God can do. Why then is the sinner spared? And why is the just penalty of his guilt not laid upon us here and now? Because the Lord is merciful. Sweep the whole heavens of philosophy for a reason and you shall find none but this, the Lord is merciful. "As I live," saith the Lord, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked."A few practical inferences —
1. The fact that a sinner is afflicted here will not exempt him hereafter from the just penalty of his ill-doing. We say of a man sometimes when the darkest waves of life are rolling over him, "He is having his retribution now." But that cannot be.
2. The fact that a sinner does not suffer here is no evidence that he will always go scot-free. If the sentence be suspended for a timer it is only for a time — and for a definite end. The Roman emblem of Justice was an old man, with a two-edged sword, limping slowly but surely to his work.
3. The fact that the wicked are sometimes left unpunished here, is proof conclusive of a final day of reckoning. For the requital is imperfect. Alas, for justice, if its administration is to be regarded as completed on earth!
4. The fact that compensation is often delayed so long, in order that the sinner may have abundant room for repentance, is a complete vindication of God's mercy though the fire burn forever.
5. The fact that all sin must be and is in every case, sooner or later, followed by suffering, proves the absolute necessity of the vicarious pain of Jesus. God sent forth His only-begotten and well-beloved Son to bear in His own body on the tree the retribution that should have been laid upon us. So He redeemed the lost, yet did no violence to justice. And thus it comes about that God can be just and yet the justifier of the ungodly.
(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,