I’ve always struggled with Job.
While I consider God’s admonition in the last chapters of the book my second-favorite Scripture passage, I am never quite sure what to do with the rest of the lengthy chapters.
If you’re not familiar with the biblical Book of Job, the short version is that Satan asks God for permission to afflict Job with many painful situations after God cites that Job is His most faithful servant on earth. So God allows it. Job’s children are all killed, all his riches taken away, and his body inflicted with boils from head to toe. Wearily, he sits on his doorstep and scrapes at his boils with broken pottery.
That’s when his three buddies come to visit. Over the course of many chapters, they try to convince him of all kinds of crazyness. Then in the end God swoops in, reprimands Job and his dumb friends, and then restores everything to Job. Of the friends, God says, “I am angry with you … you have not spoken the truth about Me, as My servant Job has” (42:7).
So here’s what I’ve always battled with: is there any merit in the words of Job’s friends throughout the Book of Job? Can we quote those passages out of context as Truth?
It seems to me that they do say some insightful things:
“See how happy the man is God corrects; so do not reject the discipline of the Almighty” (5:17).
“We were born only yesterday and know nothing. Our days on earth are but a shadow” (8:9).
“It is impossible for God to do wrong and for the Almighty to act unjustly” (34:10).
Working in the world of Bible studies, I know we HAVE done exactly this, taken the friends’ words for the wisdom they seem to be. But God Himself said the friends were fools? It’s a strange dichotomy.
I believe that everything in Scripture is there for a reason. Certainly there are many truths that can be scraped from the falsehoods in this text. It’s a life lesson not to let even your most trusted friends draw you away from what you know to be true. A perfect example of standing up for what you believe in and remaining pure in heart.
But still, I wonder. Can we quote the words of fools as good, as Truth?
What do you think?