February 12, 2015.
Daily Reading: Job 11.
Background: Job 9-10.
Concepts and Connections.
1. When comfort turns into accusation: After Job has given two rebuttals to his friends ever pressing judgment on him, Zophar the Naamathite decides it is his turn to try to talk some sense into Job. However, probably due to his frustration with how the previous dialog between the men has gone, Zophar’s words of counsel quickly turn into accusation and harsh words. Zophar calls the words of Job “babble” and his speech mockery. He quotes Job as saying his doctrine is pure and then calls on the Almighty that He might answer Job and show him that his path has gone astray. He goes so far as to say that the situation that Job is in (see Job 1-2 for more details about this) is actually less than what he deserves! We can see from this story how frustration often turns into harsh words and accusations, especially when we are dealing with people who are close to us. Job needed comfort, not condemnation. He needed silence, not pointed words. But his friends had come to the conclusion that they knew the situation better than he did, and they knew how to fix it (see below). We need to learn to guard our words when dealing with the downhearted and learn to meet their needs instead of satisfying our pride.
2. Double standards: It is very interesting how each of Job’s friends reply to him with double standards, but perhaps the most evident is Zophar’s. Zophar stands up to Job and says things like “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?” He tells truth about the knowledge and power of God being outside the realm of man, impossible to search out. The Almighty Himself makes this known to Job when He comes to Job out of the whirlwind (see Job 38-42). So what was Zophar’s problem? He had a double standard. He told Job that man could not search out the mind of God so as to know the deep things the Almighty, but then Zophar turns around and speaks for God himself! If Job weren’t able to search out the deep wisdom and knowledge of God, then why was Zophar so easily able to grasp it? Why were all three friends of Job able to tell him the wisdom of the Almighty, yet Job had woefully misunderstood the righteousness of God? This is a double standard, and they often happen in arguments. It is so easy for us to forget the overall picture when we simply think our answer is right and we are trying to get our point across. Things that are in our mind make so much sense that it doesn’t stand to reason that anyone else should think any differently. Sometimes we are quick to judge Job’s friends as harsh and judgmental, and yet the irony in the situation is that we do the exact same thing as they did. We can take lesson from this and evaluate the things we say before we say them. In this way, we can learn to become better comforters.
3. The answer is simple- just fix it: Isn’t it funny that the answer always seems so simple when you are not in the situation? It seems so easy to look at someone else’s problem or situation and find where they went wrong or what they should do to fix the problem. This is the mindset that Job’s friends had taken. Notice what Zophar tells Job at the end of his rebuke (see verses 13-19): Put away your iniquity and everything will be okay. Repent and God will surly bless you and bring you back into prosperity and success. The answer actually seemed quite simple to Job’s friends, which was probably why they were so frustrated with Job, since he was denying their accusations. But the thing is, they were wrong. It was so clear to them, and yet the thing that was clear was a false idea. To often when we are outside of a given situation, we do not know all the facts. This can lead to a formulation of a plan based on mistaken knowledge. One can imagine how frustrating it would be if someone was trying to fix his or her problems without actually knowing what was going on; yet we too can fall into this trap. Job’s friends thought they knew the problem, but they didn’t. Sometimes silent presence and/or sympathy are all that are needed to help those who are in mourning (see Romans 12:15).
Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 29-33.
Learn to comfort.