Today I was studying from the Book of Job. This book is believed to be the first book of the bible actually written. The Book of Job, which is often included among the “poetry” books of the Bible, centers on the life of a man, Job, who we believe was a contemporary of Abraham. Job was a righteous man, and a prosperous one.
Job suffers at the hands of Satan, because of Satan’s contention that Job was only good to God because of the way God blessed him. God allows Satan to test Job, first through the loss of his belongings, then his family, and, finally, his health. Through it all, Job remains steadfast in his righteousness.
The largest portion of the book consists of the interactions between Job and three friends, who come to be with him, in his time of trouble:
Job 2: 11-13:
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.
What do we learn about comforting friends in times of trouble?
- Job’s friends came because they heard he was in trouble.
- When they saw him at a distance, they became distressed and began mourning for his calamity.
- They sat with him for a week, just listening and not speaking.
- They waited this long, because they could see that he was deep in despair.
What does that tell me about how I should react when someone is hurting?
Let’s read on to see what they say when they do begin to speak. The Bible Study Tools at Christianity.com suggest marking the words “if” and “then” or “surely”. I’ve bolded them, here…
Bildad:“If you would seek God and implore the compassion of the Almighty, If you are pure and upright, surely now He would rouse Himself for you and restore your righteous estate. (Job 8:1, 5–6 NASB)
Zophar: “If you would direct your heart right And spread out your hand to Him, If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents; “Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect, And you would be steadfast and not fear. (Job 11:1, 13–15 NASB)
Eliphaz: “If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored; If you remove unrighteousness far from your tent, And place your gold in the dust, And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks, Then the Almighty will be your gold and choice
silver to you. (Job 22:1, 23–25 NASB)
What did his friends say he should do?
- Turn his heart back to God.
- Ask for mercy and forgiveness.
- Stop sinning.
- Get rid of all his “stuff” that distracted him from God.
Then, they said, God would:
- Restore Job’s righteous status.
- Allow Job to lift up his head without shame and fear.
- Return to Job.
They think this is Job’s fault! They even go so far as to say he must be doubly wicked, because on the outside, he appears so righteous, that his sin must be so secret — how dare he live a double life and fool everyone!
God allowed Satan to try Job, because He already knew that Job would pass each test. His false friends gave him poor counsel, not understanding that no degree of “goodness” on our part is enough to “buy” God’s attention.
While our own decisions can certainly lead to facing consequences, if someone tells us that God is punishing us because we harbor a secret sin, that is not godly. And if someone we love is suffering, we should just be quiet and listen!
- “Job’s Loss, Job’s Gain: Our Suffering, Our Pain,” by Ritchie Johnson (Crosswalk Contributor)
- “The Book of Job — A Study Guide,” by Mark A. Copeland (Executable Outlines)
- “An Introduction to Job,” Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown (Christian Foundations)
- Job 40-42 (mybiblereadingplan.wordpress.com)
- Being and Counseling Job (thechristianpundit.org)
- GPS (God’s Patient Sovereignty) – An understanding of the book of Job (albertbeltran.wordpress.com)
- His Purpose (momsfirstscreenn.wordpress.com)
- How the Devil Attacks When You Lose Someone (Pt.1) (thegloryofgodismanfullyalive.wordpress.com)
- Why God Permits Evil (divinityhc.wordpress.com)