The Most Hurtful Comments of Job’s Friends?

What has hit me in reading Job in my devotions recently are the hurtful comments his friends make with respect to children.

Of all that Job lost, the deaths of his children had to be the most painful. Some may argue that in Satan coming a second time before God and asking to harm Job himself that his own health was most dear to him. No, that was Satan’s wicked, selfish logic (2:4) that any loving parent will tell you is untrue, for you would rather suffer yourself than see your own child suffer or die. Indeed, the gospel faith that Job had (19:25) is centered on the searing pain of the Father watching his own Son suffer and die. The loss of his children was Job’s greatest sorrow. The boils on his flesh and the bitter curse of his now child-deprived wife merely represent the awful pain of his loss.

 

Each time I read through the drama of the Book of Job, some new theme seems to stick out to me. The limit of Satan’s power. The majesty of God in his creation and rule. The incredible insights into the Lord’s sovereignty. The depths to which human suffering can take us. Or, as James pointed out earlier this year which pertains to the theme I want to share, how the Lord restored Job’s fortunes, including blessing him with children again.

For what has hit me in reading Job in my devotions recently are the hurtful comments his friends make with respect to children. Though Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar made many barbed remarks through the three cycles of their discourse with Job that impugned his character, questioned his faith, and mocked his knowledge, perhaps the ones that must have struck most deeply into the heart of Job were the ones they spoke regarding children?

Before I point these remarks out, remember the context. Job had seven sons and three daughters (1:2). The sons appeared to have been adult males at the time, each having their own homes. Apparently, during a season of the year much like the holiday time we are currently in, they had a week-long feast where each son took a day to invite the family into his home where they enjoyed a meal together (1:4). So they appear to have been close-knit siblings. As a father, Job clearly cared deeply for their spiritual well-being, as he ended the feast by having them join him for a consecration service where he offered sacrifices and prayers on their behalf (1:5). Not only did Job care for his own children, but for orphans as well (29:12; 31:18). In Job’s chest beat the heart of a loving father.

As we know, on one fateful day not only was all of Job’s wealth stolen and destroyed, but a strong wind came and struck a son’s home where the children were all gathered and killed them (1:18-19). Of all that Job lost, the deaths of his children had to be the most painful. Some may argue that in Satan coming a second time before God and asking to harm Job himself that his own health was most dear to him. No, that was Satan’s wicked, selfish logic (2:4) that any loving parent will tell you is untrue, for you would rather suffer yourself than see your own child suffer or die. Indeed, the gospel faith that Job had (19:25) is centered on the searing pain of the Father watching his own Son suffer and die. The loss of his children was Job’s greatest sorrow. The boils on his flesh and the bitter curse of his now child-deprived wife merely represent the awful pain of his loss.

When his friends arrived, their best ministry to him was the first seven days when they mourned and said nothing (2:12-13). For, as we know, when they open their mouths they bring even further hurt to Job. Here then is where we see them only adding to Job’s loss and suffering, especially with respect to his grief over his children.

Eliphaz starts it off. In a philosophizing voice, he makes the case that the one who sins suffers as do his offspring. In being the first to address Job, Eliphaz said of the wicked (which he is implying Job must secretly be),

His children are far from safety; they are crushed in the gate, and there is no one to deliver them” (5:4).

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