Reading Through the Bible, Tuesday, May 17. Job 11-13

    With Zophar and Job’s response, we reach the end of the first cycle of speeches, the first round of this debate.

    By far, Zophar is the most “crusty” of the three.  He is offended at Job.  He is offended at Job’s other two friends.  Eliphaz was complimentary toward Job, reminding him of all the good he had accomplished and encouraging him to not give up hope, but to trust in his works.  Bildad took up God’s side and urged Job not to speak what he felt.  He believes there is hope God will yet come to Job’s aid.

    Zophar, however, is tired of the coddling.  He calls Job a witless talker and simply tells Job to repent before his “hope becomes a dying gasp.”

    You often cannot know enough about a person’s circumstances to know if they really deserve the fate that has befallen them.  Zophar was certainly right: God’s ways are unfathomable.  He will forgive the penitent.  But none of this applied in this circumstance to Job and Job is right: In this case, silence from his friends would have been better than speeches.  You don’t have to talk to bring comfort.  The mere presence of a friend in time of trouble is better medicine than a friend who thinks he knows why you are suffering.