Interpreting Job's Freinds

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Puritan Board Freshman
This happens to be my first post after just reading for a while, so hello!

I recently read through the book of Job to try and put some personal struggles in perspective, and I had a couple questions about how to view the events of the book.

The first question I have is how should we treat the words of Job's comforters? Job says they are lousy, and God says they are completely wrong. However, many of their sayings seem to gel with other passages of scripture. (Eg. "œBehold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.") My thought is that maybe there is truth in what they are saying, but it is not true to the circumstance, like they are simply barking up the wrong tree with their advice. However, God says that they did not speak of Him what was right. If so, can we glean anything worthwhile from what they are saying? Just for purposes of studying the book, how worthwhile is it then to read what they have to say?

The second question is, what exactly should have been their response? God seems to simply come in at the end and hold up a big red sign that reads "I am everything, who are you?" It seems to me that the greater reliance on God's sovereignty and perfect will is the answer, in spite of what Job may be suffering. It also seems that God allowed Job to come to an end of himself so that God could be glorified completely and Job could become silent in his circumstances, all for the end result of God blessing Job even more than before. It almost seems like one of those situations where there is no other good answer other than to look to God who is almighty, awesome, and far too wonderful for us to comprehend, but demonstrably worthy of our trust.

The other thing I noticed for the first time as I read it recently is that in the very last chapter, Job's freinds and family return to comfort him and they each give him a piece of gold and a ring. It kind of made me think of James, where it says if you tell your brother to go in peace, be warmed and be filled, but don't give him what he needs for his body, you are no help at all. Perhaps tangible comfort is what we need sometimes, and not just words.

Hope this makes sense. Would appreciate others´ input.


Puritanboard Librarian
Also recommended: The Argument of the Book of Job Unfolded by William Henry Green.

This volume is not a detailed commentary; rather it furnishes an overview of the principal persons and themes in the book of Job: Job's happy estate, Satan, Job in affliction, Job's three friends, Job's conflict, Job's triumph, Job's refutation of his friends, Elihu, the Lord, and the place of the book of Job in the scheme of holy scripture. William Henry Green (1825-1900) was a professor at Princeton Seminary. His volume about the book of Job was originally published in 1874.

Job's friends essentially assumed that Job was to blame for the suffering he was going through. Many of their words were true in the abstract, but misapplied. They were of no real comfort to Job in light of his actual situation. One can say to a suffering friend that "you are getting what you deserve" and it may in fact be true, but are those words fitly spoken (Prov. 25.11)?

See also this study.
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