Monday, June 15, 2009

Divine Behavior Management

Eliphaz continues his advice to Job. Here are a few selections from chapters 4 and 5:
8 As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.
6 For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground.
17 "Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
First he asserts that trouble doesn't come from "nowhere." In his observations of life, those who plow and sow wrong shall reap wrong. Psychologists call this the "Just World Phenomena." Many of us are stuck in the world view that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Of course our world is full of cause/effect and probability; sex is likely to lead to pregnancy, deceit is likely to lead to strained relationships, aggression is likely to be met with retaliation. The danger of this thinking lies in how it leads us to judge those who face unfortunate circumstances, or blaming the victim.

In our search for meaning in this world, this attitude can serve our society well as individuals are motivated to "do good." But in regards to social justice it also makes it easy to lack sympathy for those who are down and out. So far, we don't seem to have any indication that Job "deserved" this in any special sense. If anything this tragedy comes as a result of him being so righteous.

Eliphaz asserts that God must be putting Job through this trial for some reason, that Job must have erred in some way to bring this misfortune on himself and his only hope is in throwing himself at the mercy of God. This thinking must be tempting for Job, he seems to be at the end of his rope, but wouldn't that play right into the plan of Satan. What will Job choose?

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