Most of us have that one family member/coworker. You know the one: it seems like they just won’t stop talking, and just the time you think they’ve paused long enough that you can jump in, they say, “Oh and one more thing…” It’s painful and sometimes even laughable how oblivious they are to the fact that somebody else MIGHT want to be involved in the conversation, that maybe this could be a dialogue instead of a monologue!
Job spends chapters 16 and 17 lamenting his position. I’m going to briefly paraphrase/summarize his comments. “You guys are terrible friends! If the roles were reversed, I could act like you guys are, but I wouldn’t. I’d be trying to comfort you. I don’t know why God is doing this, I didn’t do anything wrong. I wish you guys would stop scolding me and start praying for God to ease up on me. This is just killing me. I used to be respected, and now God has turned me into a joke. And here you guys are with not one of you having any wisdom to offer. Since nobody’s going to help me, I guess I’ll just DIE!”
Now if you were one of Job’s friends, you might think he was being a bit melodramatic. In fact, Bildad says, “Hey Job, when you’re done, just let us know so we can have a chance to say something.” This was a sarcastic remark because he doesn’t wait for Job, he just jumps into his own response. “Job, I’m not sure what you did, but I do know that stuff doesn’t happen for no reason. If an animal gets caught in a trap, he walked into it on his own. You’re relying on your own skewed viewpoint. All that will get you is in more trouble. With all this going on, you better make sure you even have a relationship with God, because this is the kind of stuff that happens to wicked people.”
What a great friend. Job responds again. “How long are you guys going to keep attacking me like this? I keep praying, but it doesn’t seem like God is listening. It’s like He really has it in for me. Now, my family and best friends are abandoning me. Even my servants ignore me! And even with all that going on, you guys are still on my case. I may get to ask God myself here pretty soon because if this keeps going I’m going to die. God is going to judge somebody. Maybe you should check yourselves. Maybe you’re the problem?!”
Now it’s Zophar’s turn. “Watch it there Job. God allows wicked kings to prosper for a while, but then he judges them. Maybe that’s what God is doing to you. He let you prosper for a while, but now it’s judgment time. God reveals sin in due time and punishment comes. That’s what happens to wicked people.”
It’s easy for us to look at Job’s friends and talk about how they weren’t good friends and they should have responded more like what Job wanted them to. But we are looking at it from the outside. We know that Job was righteous. We know the reason for God allowing these trials. But Bildad and Zophar didn’t know that. They did however know God’s consistent character. They knew what the Psalmist knew in Psalm 15: God rewards those who do right. A person who follows God will not be destroyed.
In the end, Job wasn’t destroyed, in fact he was rewarded for his faithfulness just like Psalm 15 says. So what should we learn from this dialogue? First of all, when things happen in our lives, it’s not always because of sin. Jesus even said as much in the beginning of John 9. Sometimes “bad things” happen to show God’s power. However, Job’s friends also did bring up a good point. God does and will judge sin. Whether bad things are happening or not, we should be evaluating our own hearts to see if there is sin. In Psalm 139, David prayed that the Lord would show him areas in which his heart was not pure and to lead him in the way everlasting. Ultimately, everything that happened to Job and everything that happens in your life is done with one goal in mind: the glory of God.
Give God Glory today!