In our study of Job chapter four we examine the fact that even though we may have had many experiences it does not mean that we have all of the answers to the questions of life. In these days, debates were like the sport of the time as crowds would gather to watch an intellectual contest between great men. As we shall see, that is what was starting to happen here.
"Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied: 'If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking?'" NIV translation
The debate begins with Eliphaz and we are reminded that he would have been a grandson of Abraham through the line of Esau. The prophet Jeremiah refers to the fact that Teman was an Edomite town that was known for its wisdom (see Jeremiah 49:7).
Eliphaz basically says that he has been listening to Job's words as he had cried out for his suffering to cease and he cannot wait to share his wisdom concerning the situation. Job had been wondering why this was all happening to him and Eliphaz was trying to say that he knew and would give him all the answers if he was patient. At this point, Job was desperate and so you can imagine how his hopes were up at the thought of a friend that had the answers to his questions.
"'Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed.'' NIV translation
You can almost feel Job's hopes being dashed by this opening part of his friend's speech. It starts off in what appears to be a complimentary way but quickly turns to accusation. Eliphaz basically tells Job that he has been a tower of strength in advising others about their trials and troubles but now, when he faces them, he is failing to follow his own advice. In a sense, Eliphaz is telling Job that he is a phony and that he talks a good game but doesn't listen to his own teaching.