Throughout history, the value of salt has ranked high in commerce and daily living. Salt adds flavor to food; it is a cleansing agent, and a resource to promote health and healing. Salt represents purity, hospitality, durability.
For anyone who has experienced a salt free diet for any period of time, you understand why Job compares the counsel he has received from his three friends with unsalted food. It isn’t palatable to his soul anymore than unsalted food is palatable to our taste buds. He has just experienced some of life’s most dreaded losses, the loss of his children, his health, his possessions and his livelihood. In the face of all this grief he also has lost his honored place within his society. As Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, his friends, attempt to comfort him, the ineffective, graceless words they use, even with elements of truth, cause Job more pain. His three friends are unable to encourage, offer hope or point him toward a restorative, redemptive God, even to the point that all three receive a rebuke from God. Job is cast down, judged, criticized, misunderstood, and patronized. He is left defensive, graceless, without hope. Job declares in chapter 6 verse 30 (AMP), “Is there wrong on my tongue? Cannot my taste discern what is destructive?”
Finally, when the three men and Job can find nothing else to say, a fifth man, Elihu begins to express his thoughts. He is a younger man, who has sat quietly listening to all the dialogue between the four men, Job, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. Spiritually, the number five symbolizes grace. With this fifth main character, Elihu, grace is factored into the equation. Elihu’s name means “He is my God” and his father’s name, Barachel, means “God blesses“.
In chapters 32-37, Elihu repeatedly offers grace to Job. He affirms Job’s place before God 33:6. In 33: 7 (AMP), Elihu declares to Job, I shall not make you afraid, neither shall my pressure be heavy upon you. Numerous times in Elihu’s dialogue, he encourages Job to trust in God, while correctly presenting a clear insight into God’s gracious heart. Obviously, Elihu knows God, has had time to become acquainted with His character, and can share from a genuine overflow of his own experience with God. Elihu teaches, corrects and challenges Job’s self-righteous thoughts, while lovingly encouraging him and directing him to trust God. Balance is the key to fruitful ministry of reconciliation. Too much salt in the soil prevents or retards any type of plant growth, while gracious words are never flattery. I once heard someone say the best way to correct a child or offer corrective counsel is to mimic a Oreo cookie, a sliver of corrective insight sandwiched between two encouragements. Elihu didn’t exactly follow this pattern, but his words of correction are often surrounded by words of comfort and hope.
Elihu declares in chapter 32 :17-22 – (NKJV)
17 I also will answer my part, I too will declare my opinion. 18 For I am full of words; The spirit within me compels me. 19 Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent;It is ready to burst like new wineskins.20 I will speak, that I may find relief;I must open my lips and answer.21 Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone;Nor let me flatter any man.22 For I do not know how to flatter, Else my Maker would soon take me away.
There is so much more I don’t understand about the Book of Job. However, I wanted to share what He has taught me….so far. I have been on both sides of pain and have come to appreciate grace so very much. It truly is amazing. There is still at least one more blog about Job, but I am waiting on the Lord to help me understand it more clearly 🙂
connecting with love