Job 6 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
Job is having none of it. Eliphaz the Temanite sounded wiser in Job 2:11-13, when in verse 13, “they sat with him (Job) on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” Is this a cultural expression of grief or a spontaneous response to Job’s pain? It is hard to know who said this first but it is wise to remember this quote, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” This sounds like Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
Yes, sometimes we make mistakes when we try to interpret life’s ups and downs However, we are made to think comprehensively and to put the pieces together to form a larger narrative. We can’t help ourselves. So, what these counsellors are doing is what we do every day regarding politics, covid, and mistakes others make. Their observations about Job were not all wrong but their larger narrative and assigning of blame was.
Yet Job didn’t even consider their guidance. Job refused to listen or take their words to heart because he knew they were wrong. His pain is palpable or as Job says he wishes his vexation were able to be weighed and his calamity laid in the balances. When someone is in this kind of pain, we find it so hard to not say something to comfort them. We want to apply the Bible to their specific situation. We can’t help trying to understand what seems an injustice and we feel compelled to offer our explanation. That is not an improper impulse. Just because these counsellors were wrong doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to speak to hurting people. But far better to listen for a long time and be judicious in our speech.
Here is what is good about Job’s complaint. Look at verse 8 and following. He is talking to God and complaining to God. As you may have noticed as you read the Bible; it seems everyone is mad at God. “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hid yourself in times of trouble” Ps. 10:1. Then in Ps. 13:1, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hid your face from me?” But they are complaining to God because they know He is just. They know their present experience does not make sense with how they understand God normally treats His own.
Job does not agree that he needs to repent but rather complains that if you measured his suffering against Job’s wrongdoing, his suffering would be way out of proportion in verse 2. God’s arrows are in Job and God is against him in v. 4. Job has every right to complain just as an animal would (v. 5).
Job’s earnest wish is that God would kill him (v. 8-9) even though Job has not denied God or turned his back on God’s Word (v. 10). In vs. 11-13, Job feels compelled to let out his anguish rather than keep it bottled up inside. Job might reason that if he is going to die, why not speak the truth. In 12-13, Job seems to imply that he is at the end of his rope. He is not superman; he has limited resources to endure this affliction.
Then in v. 14ff, Job lets loose on his friends. Remember, that these friends were with him 7 days not speaking a word (2:13). These four probably have been good friends. And they continue to be after this. After all, do you have friends that would stay with you for 7 days and 7 nights if you were so afflicted? These friends wept, tore their clothes and sprinkled dust on their heads when they first saw Job. Yet their words revealed a theology that simplistic, hurtful, and just plain wrong. He claims they are unkind (v. 14), deceitful or treacherous (v. 15), fearful (v. 21). We find it hard to judge their motivation but the advice they offer is off-base. Even God in chapter 42:7, rebukes these friends. “. . . for you have not spoken of me what is right . . .” Yet, in 42:10, these three “miserable counsellors (16:2) are still “his friends.” This is a good reminder for all of us. Relationships are messy and forgiveness should be offered up as generously as ice cold water on a hot August day.
Job continues hitting back at his “miserable counsellors” (16:2). He is challenging Eliphaz to teach him the truth and that would shut him up . Job says Eliphaz treats Job’s words as mere wind in v. 26. He accuses him of gambling over orphans and willing to sell a friend. Maybe a bit of exaggeration but Job is beyond hurting.
Notice that not everything Eliphaz says is wrong and not everything Job says is right. These counsellors get some things right. Actually they say many things correctly about God but their application is horrible. This is a word of caution to those of us who speak, teach, and lead. This is also caution to those who listen. Learn from a wide variety of teachers and don’t just accept what one person says. We are all prone to error.
Holy Father, we all try to make sense of this world because that is the way you made us. But we live in a world where what or why You do things is hid from us. Yet we have Your Word which guides us if and when we understand it correctly. And there is the rub. We need Your Holy Spirit to know when to listen, when to speak, what verse to read, what truth to apply. Be with our suffering brothers and sisters around the world who daily face difficulties we will never know. Teach us how to comfort hurting people around us with tenderness, truth, and a two ears willing to listen quietly. In the name of our Suffering Savior.