Job (03) - When Friends Don't Help
Job (03) - When Friends Don’t Help
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. 12 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. 13 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. Job 2:11–13
In our last two studies, we considered the overall structure and meaning of Job, as well as some of God’s purposes for suffering. Despite the confusion of the middle dialogues between Job and his friends, the prologue (ch. 1) and epilogue (ch. 2) show us a very clear progression. It is a progression of blessing, as well as sanctification. Job is becoming a “son of God.” Job is a story of pain and suffering, yes, but also a story of maturity. In the midst of our pain and suffering we ask, Why is this happening? Does knowing the “first” and “last chapter” help? Job begins as a faithful “child of God” and by the end we have him receiving the “double portion” as a firstborn son with glorious daughters. The structure of the book can be mapped as follows (from the JSB):
In the next few weeks (until Advent) we will consider the dialogues with Job’s “friends.”
This middle section provides much confusion and many difficult passages to interpret. The major lesson from the structure is that, just as in life, the endurance of suffering without knowing all the answers is very hard. The beginning of Job and the end of Job are somewhat neat and tidy; “and Job lived happily ever after.” It’s the middle that provides the trouble, as in life.
Consider Job’s responses. In the first Satanic attack, Job endures the loss of his property and children with this response: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” In the second attack Satan appealed, “Skin for skin!” Job endures the loss of his health and a plague in his own body with this response: “‘Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” However, when his friends come, Job responds, “‘Oh that my grief were actually weighed And laid in the balances together with my calamity! For then it would be heavier than the sand of the seas’.” Job 6:1–3
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more