Wednesday, September 14, 2011

With Friends Like These...

Job has been quite an interesting read. One thing that I had not noticed before was both the good counsel and the bad counsel of Job’s friends. Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite are easily remembered for their poor advice and scolding of Job throughout the book. Their dialogue takes up 9 chapters alone. Throughout their portion of the dialogue they insist that what has happened to Job must be the result of some sin. No matter how much Job protested that he was not guilty his friends kept telling him that all of his losses were his own fault. It turns out that at the end of Job that both the friends and Job were wrong. God allows the rain to fall on the fields of both those that follow him as well as those that do not. And, for reasons we do not always understand, God allows the sun to scorch the land of both as well.

But what I had missed before in my reading of Job was that at one point Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar did provide good counsel for Job. I have to admit that the only reason that I saw it was because my Old Testament teacher in Seminary pointed it out to the class. So this time around I was aware of it:
Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him 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.
          Job 2:11-13
They sat with him…on the ground…for seven days and seven nights. And no one said a word to him because of they understood just how great his suffering was. I realize that there are going to be times when words will need to be said in times of great suffering. My problem is that I tend to like to talk a lot. What I need to remember is that in these occasions that less is more. How willing would I be to sit in silence on the ground and covered in dust for seven days?

Matthew 26:36-46 tells of Jesus going to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray just before he was arrested and crucified. He knew what was coming and he went to pray with his disciples. But they kept falling asleep on him. Jesus was not upset at them for not having just the right thing to say. Rather he said, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” Jesus simply wanted his friends to be with him during his time of need. I think that it is very good advice for anyone comforting someone in need.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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