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Legends and Lessons

The Bible Reading Club: Legends & Lessons – Job’s friends: So right and yet so wrong! (Job 4:3-6)

Today’s Reading: Job 3-7

Today’s Reflection: Job 4:3-6

3) Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands.  4) Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees.  5) But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed.  6) Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?

Subject:  Job’s friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite

Background:  When great calamity struck Job, his three friends came to comfort him (Job 2:11-13) in his time of sorrow and mourning.

The best of intentions: The Bible says Job’s friends sat with him for a week without saying a word.  These were true blue friends, there for Job in his time of need.  There is nothing in scripture to suggest they wanted anything other than the best for Job.  But as Job began to pour out his sorrow and desolation, one by one, his friends began to accuse him of having sin he had not confessed to God.  Their justification?  God would never have allowed such disaster to come upon a faithful man.

Of course Job chapters 1 and 2 peeled back the curtain for us readers on the unseen conflict in the spiritual realm Job and his friends were completely unaware of.  We know and understand terrible things could happen to faithful men and women of God.  We even understand some of the reason why.  Job’s friends clearly did not.

Lesson:  It’s easy to assume that since Job’s friends were so misguided in their judgment that they were not men of faith (or at least of strong faith) themselves.  But the dialogue between Job and his friends suggests the opposite.  Today’s text, spoken by Eliphaz, is the wisdom and chastening of someone acquainted with scriptural principles and the knowledge of God and His ways.  And yet his council, like that of Bildad and Zophar, was largely wrong.  As God Himself would say, “you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has (Job 42:7).”  How could this be?

Quite simply, Job’s friends had the right word, but the wrong application.  They looked at faith and belief in God as a system, or a ‘spiritual ATM’.  Believe and do the right things and you will receive blessings.  But we’re not asked to surrender to rules, but to a relationship with God.  And within this relationship we come to understand seasons of plenty and of want, of blessing and disaster, and see that God is good through it all.

Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

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