Job’s Second Reply to Eliphaz

I heard Professor Bruce Waltke describe a Christian’s response to pain this way: We once rescued a wren from the claws of our cat. Though its wing was broken, the frightened bird struggled to escape my loving hands. Contrast this with my daughter’s recent trip to the doct … More

Pain

The exchange of insults between Job and his friends continues. These so-called friends are a great disappointment to Job. They told Job nothing new, and they were miserable comforters (vv. 1-2) . They compounded, rather than eased his troubles. He doesn’t really want their pity, but instead wants  them to share his point of view that an injustice has been done (vv. 3-5). He is saying, “I would have thought you would have been ashamed to speak as you have” (v. 3). Job goes on to tell them that if their situations were reversed, he could have given a little speech of condemnation against them (v. 4). We must remember, as the reader, that we know Job is right, because we have been let in on the exchange between God and Satan in the first two chapters. If we didn’t know anymore than the three friends know, we might say things similar to what they said.

Job calls attention to his pathetic situation in spite of his innocence (vv. 6-17). Job accused God of grabbing him by the neck like a beast and crushing him (v. 9). Job was again wrong in attributing hostility to God. He could not understand why he was in such torment when he was not a terrible person. Following his denial of guilt, he called upon his heavenly witness to vindicate him (vv. 18-19). Since his friends scoffed at him Job turned to God, hoping that He would take up his cause and argue (vv. 20-21). Job’s time on earth was growing short, so He would need to decide quickly (v. 22). Job’s death was imminent.

Application

Job’s words tell me how to be a better counselor.

  1. Don’t talk for the sake of talking.
  2. Don’t preach sermons by giving pat answers.
  3. Don’t accuse or criticize.
  4. Try to put myself in the other person’s place.

Job 16:1-22 (English Standard Version)

Then Job answered and said: "I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all. Shall windy words have an end? Or what provokes you that you answer? I also could speak as you do, if you were in my place; I could join words together against you and shake my head at you. I could strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain. "If I speak, my pain is not assuaged, and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me? Surely now God has worn me out; he has made desolate all my company. And he has shriveled me up, which is a witness against me, and my leanness has risen up against me; it testifies to my face. He has torn me in his wrath and hated me; he has gnashed his teeth at me; my adversary sharpens his eyes against me. Men have gaped at me with their mouth; they have struck me insolently on the cheek; they mass themselves together against me. God gives me up to the ungodly and casts me into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, and he broke me apart; he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces; he set me up as his target; his archers surround me. He slashes open my kidneys and does not spare; he pours out my gall on the ground. He breaks me with breach upon breach; he runs upon me like a warrior. I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin and have laid my strength in the dust. My face is red with weeping, and on my eyelids is deep darkness, although there is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure. "O earth, cover not my blood, and let my cry find no resting place. Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high. My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God, that he would argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbor. For when a few years have come I shall go the way from which I shall not return."

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