Our study this week deals with Job's friends who initially did exactly what good friends should do, they sat with him seven days and wept. Jesus wept when Lazarus died. He taught us to weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh. When we weep with a friend we show how much we really love them. Death, tragedies, losses, and sickness would all leave any of us feeling lonely and lost in an unfriendly world. The last thing a grieving person needs is to be told off for expressing his or her grief.
That is what Job's friends ended up doing in a series of debates that ran on for 30 chapters. They assaulted Job with criticism, condemnation, judgment, shame, blame, and name calling. All this was cloaked in a garb of holiness and righteous indigation against Job's honest feelings. We look at the case of many other prophets and biblical characters who similarly bellowed out their grief to God in angry words of betrayal. Job was not alone in his deep grief of feeling that God forgot about him.
How you treat your friends in their deepest darkest hours is proof of your love or your insincerity or your immmaturity. We have heard of the patience of Job, but it was Job's friends who needed patience with their friend.
Eliphaz - the oldest of the friends speaks first. He is a man full of life experience. He's seen it all and assures us that 2+2=4 and that means if you are suffering it is because you did something wrong and deserve it.
Bildad- is the theologian among them. He is a legalist and a Pharisee full of religious pride and pseudo holiness. He too believes in the cause and effect doctrine that evil only happens because of some sin or infraction on our part. Thus, Job is guilty of some hidden sin.
Zophar - is the emotional hot head. He seems to have no bridle on his lips and no filter for his brain. He says whatever comes into his head though it is hurtful, unkind, even biligerant.
Elihu - arriving late on the scened is Elihu, the youngest, probably an aspiring seminary student with all the arrogance of youth condemns all three and Job for their limited insights and shallow intelligence.