Overwhelmed by his circumstances, Job’s friends surrounded him to provide comfort- namely Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Elihu. After Job’s monologue in Chapter Three, these friends would prove to be “miserable comforters.” During the three rounds of discussions, Job reveals five key points for comforting those in pain.
- Avoid babbling
- Do not lecture or give evasive answers
- Do not criticize
- Try to empathize by placing yourself in the other person’s place
- Identify ways to help and encourage then follow through
Job’s friends failed on all five points. Instead of providing comfort, they condemned Job for causing his own suffering. In addition to being miserable comforters, they all had flawed and differing viewpoints regarding suffering, wisdom, and their attitudes towards God.
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar shared the belief that Job’s suffering was due to sin. This was not the case with Job as God was using Job to silence Satan. Unlike the other three friends, Elihu believed that God was using suffering to mold and train Job. This answer was partially true, but incomplete.
Each of his friends varied regarding the source of wisdom. Eliphaz believed that wisdom was obtained through personal observations and life experiences. Bildad depended upon the secondhand knowledge of traditional proverbs and sayings. Zophar’s position was that wisdom belonged to the wise. Elihu recognized that God was the only source of true wisdom, but he did not use God’s wisdom to help Job. God is our ultimate source of wisdom. (James 3:13-18, NIV)
Job’s friends possessed conflicting views on God and how God operates. Through his personal observations, Eliphaz claimed to have a full knowledge of God and how he operates. Bildad contended that their predecessors understood God; therefore, following their knowledge is key. Zophar considered himself wise and believed that only the wise understood the nature of God. Elihu conveyed that God was speaking, but Job was not listening. Who can fathom all of God’s ways? (Isiah 55:8-9, NIV)
Although each friend had nuggets of truth within their explanations, their answers were incomplete and often misleading. It is imperative when seeking counsel that we scrutinize the character and values of the advisor. The Bible tells us of the benefits of godly counsel and the detriments of ungodly counsel. (Proverbs 12:5, NIV) To evaluate the merit of one’s advice we must factor in the person’s motives. Our friends and family may offer misleading advice based upon the own fears, insecurity, or obtuseness.
We should Identify godly counsel by testing the spirit. (1 John 4:1, NIV) Does this individual have a personal relationship with God? Is the advice offered in alignment to God’s word? Does the advisor have any ulterior motive? While it is wise to seek guidance from a group of advisors that form a harmonious consensus, we cannot assume that the majority is always correct. Therefore, test and ensure that the guidance we receive is true, honest, just, pure, loving, of good report that would glorify God. (Philippians 4:8, NIV) Before soliciting advice or entertaining advice offered, we must consider the source.