Today's Lectionary Text
After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, he said to Eliphaz from Teman, “I’m angry at you and your two friends because you haven’t spoken about me correctly as did my servant Job. So now, take seven bulls and seven rams, go to my servant Job, and prepare an entirely burned offering for yourselves. Job my servant will pray for you, and I will act favorably by not making fools of you because you didn’t speak correctly, as did my servant Job.”
Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuah, and Zophar from Naamah did what the Lord told them; and the Lord acted favorably toward Job.
Sometimes we get what can only be described as bad advice. Oh, the person who gave us that advice meant well. They were trying to help. But their analysis of our situation and the ideas they shared missed the mark.
Of course, we might have been on the giving end of bad advice from time to time, too.
We’re kind of listening in on God’s assessment of advice given to Job by three friends. As you likely recall, the book of Job is a story about a man of integrity whom Satan is allowed to inflict much anguish. Job loses his children, his wealth and, finally, his health. It’s the primary story we as followers of the God of Abraham and father of Jesus Christ turn to when we are exploring why bad things happen to good people.
Job may have lost many other things, but he still has his friends, right? In fact, he has three of them — Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. They turn out to be more like the “Three Amigos” — a 1986 moving putting Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase together as clueless silent-movie actors who think they’re being hired for an acting job but instead are hired to take on gang of outlaws.
These three guys are in way over their heads, and they don’t realize it for a really long time.
Such was the case with Job’s friends. They tried to help him come to grips with whatever he had done wrong to face God’s wrath. Of course, Job had done nothing wrong. He was merely a victim of circumstance. But I would argue their continued attempts to “help” Job are what finally causes their ailing friend to get a little testy with God, prompting the Creator of the universe to rebuke Job by asking where he was when the sun, moon and stars were crafted in the heavens.
These three kept trying to solve Job’s problems, even though they really couldn’t solve a problem of this magnitude for him. Like the movie characters, they were in far over their heads. They would have done far better to sit with Job and just listen. Instead of talking, they should have just been present in support of their friend.
This passage tells us that God rebukes them for assuming they understood God when they clearly did not, but God also shows mercy toward them, even giving them instructions on how to rectify things.
Luckily, this time, they didn’t speak. They just listened.
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Merciful God, we thank you for your care for us when bad things happen. We ask that you help us to remember that often it is better to just listen and be present in times of sorrow instead of assuming we know how to fix the situation. We know the way ahead is far better in your hands. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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