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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

June 2, 2024

Rēad to Read …Again


Daily Reading: Job 5-7

 

Job 6:14

To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.

 

As much as it is about anything, the book of Job is about friendship. Frankly, the reader of the book learns more about being the wrong kind of friend than the right kind. Today’s verse is an example. Three of Job’s friends heard of his difficulties and made an appointment to visit him in his distress. For seven days and seven nights they watched him but said not a word. That in and of itself would be more than anyone could take. But then when they did begin to speak, Job probably wished that would have remained silent. 

 

Instead of showing pity to him in his affliction, Eliphaz began to upbraid Job in reproof. He leveled some harsh words at his friend. He started his discourse by telling Job that he (Job) instructed many in and through difficult times, his words upheld those that were falling, and he strengthened their feeble knees. Yet now that he (Job) was suffering, he fainted and was troubled. This may all be true, but it wasn’t time to communicate that to an anguished man. Now was the time for pity, not correction. On and on Eliphaz continued. He was rebuking a man that God had stated was …perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. (1:1)

 

Giving Eliphaz the benefit of the doubt, he didn’t know that which God knew, but he should have known how to make a visit to a suffering friend. Earlier in this chapter Job asked two questions. Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg? (vs. 6) This was a subtle hint that the words of his friend were unsavoury and tasteless. He, Job, could not tolerate his words, could not find comfort in them, nor any sympathy or compassion; goals every person should try to accomplish while visiting someone in their difficulties (whatever they may be). Kind words, words of sympathy, words to comfort, words to encourage and build up; not tear down.

 

Later Job would say of his friends: …ye dig a pit for your friend. (6:27) My friends scorn me… (16:20) All my inward friends abhorred me… (19:19) He even begged them: Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends… (19:21)

 

Yes, much can be learned on the topic “How not to be a friend” from the book of Job. However, another overriding truth is found in today’s verse which is this: God Almighty is the unseen person in every conversation. Friends, so called, that cannot hold their tongues in respect of the one hurting would do well to remember to hold their tongues in the unseen presence of God Almighty.

 

Romans 12:18 admonishes all: If it be possible, as much lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Job’s friends could have brought him peace with kind words; instead, unfortunately, they caused pain and heartache with words of rebuke. Someone once said that “When in trouble you will know who your real enemies are by the ones lining up to spank you.” Job’s friends spanked him instead of comforting him. All through careless and uncaring words.

 

Dr. William T. Howe

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