Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

Friendship – Day 12

Lessons from Job (Part 3): Zophar

Bible text(s)

4You claim that what you say is true;

you claim you are pure in the sight of God.

5How I wish God would answer you!

Job 11:4-5GNBOpen in Bible reader

11God knows which people are worthless;

he sees all their evil deeds.

If Eliphaz approached Job with cautious tolerance and Bildad was moderately offended with Job, the third friend to speak, Zophar, is seething with anger and downright cruel.

Whereas Eliphaz does not include Job among the unrighteous and Bildad is uncertain of Job’s moral status, Zophar is quite certain that Job is morally deficient. Whereas Job’s argument offends Bildad, we get the sense that Job himself offends Zophar. This is the best explanation for the unexpected and cruel words he speaks to his friend. As far as Zophar is concerned, God has let off Job lightly. It is an act of mercy that something worse has not occurred.

Eliphaz was kind, but misguided because he relied solely on his own experience. Bildad was quick to tell Job that he was wrong about God’s character and Zophar told Job, outright, that he was sinful and stupid. Job’s friends thought they understood why he was suffering. They refused to believe Job was innocent and stubbornly kept on giving him bad advice. When he did not listen to them, they left.

How many times have you rolled your eyes or lashed out at a friend in anger because you have thought that, somehow, they have brought something on themselves? How can we avoid this?

It is right that we should turn to the word of God, but we need to apply God’s truth in love, so that it builds up and edifies (Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:5). Job’s friends assumed that Job was the one in need of correction when, in truth, they were the ones who needed to change their approach.

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