[June 05]--With Friends Like These. . .

Job 2:11-13

In today’s passage we meet the infamous friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Apparently they believed in the same God as Job, since he never questioned that fact in the entire book. However, if you’ve read the book of Job, you know that neither Job nor God was impressed with their work. They said a lot of things and made a lot of long flowery speeches, but most readers of this book, even if they don’t remember the friends’ names, will forever perceive these men as well-intentioned people who absolutely stunk at what they set out to do.

But not at first.

What are you talking about, Keith? Today’s reading says that they came to comfort and sympathize with Job, and everyone knows that they utterly failed at their self-appointed task. Yes they did, but I don’t think they started out as failures. I thoroughly believe that when they came to Job and sat with him in silence for seven days and nights, they did the best job of comforting that they--or anyone else--could do. The problems started when they couldn’t keep their traps shut and just had to talk.

I certainly believe that they had the best of intentions regarding their friend. There’s no indication from Scripture that they meant to hurt Job. But just like his wife, they were being used as pawns of Satan to try to tip Job over the edge into abandoning the Lord once and for all. We’ll examine their main arguments and points in a couple of days, and they weren’t all wrong in what they were saying. But my point here is that if Job had listened to them, he would've believed that his relationship with God was severed because of sin, and he might've finally given into despair. I could be wrong, but I think that these friends were Satan’s absolutely last weapon in his arsenal to bring the man of God down.

So what lesson can I draw from this? As a guy, when I see someone in trouble, I want to jump in and solve the problem. When someone is experiencing tragedy, my first instinct is to quote Scripture that applies to their situation. There's a time and a place for that, but a lot of times I just need to keep my trap shut. When someone is mourning a loss, the most important thing for me, at least at first, is just to offer a shoulder to cry on and promises that I’ll be praying for them. I might have the best of intentions, but you know from the cliché concerning where that road can lead.

Lord Jesus, I desperately need your wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent. When it’s time to let loose my tongue, may my words be few and full of humility, grace, and truth. Let them be your words, not mine.

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