The “truth” of Job’s three friends?
We had a long break since our last CG bible study and we met for our fifth session today.
We studied the first round of debate between Job and his three friends from Job 4-14. Oh yes, it was a long eleven chapters worth of passage that we tackled bit by bit using the questions in our workbook.
We couldn’t complete the lesson because in the midst of studying and asking questions, we also spent time reflecting on other matters that arose based on the reading of Job and stories we share. And it was valuable.
One takeaway for me was an answer to something that had bugged me for a long, long time.
I find Job a difficult book to figure out. When I read the arguments given by the three friends, I always found that they were not wrong in what they said. But in the end though, the final verdict from God is that they were wrong.
It was also brought up that the book of Psalms says about the same things and so why do we quote and pray the Psalms and not Job?
The conclusion I got was that what the three friends said wasn’t entirely wrong, though at times they were depending on context, but that their version of the truth was not complete.
Their basis was in the retribution theology, with no understanding or knowledge of the grace of God, that God can forgive through the work of his Son even if we are the greatest of sinners.
So in reflection, if we look at the book of Job, Psalms and the New Testament chronologically, Job was at the outset of the revelation of God, and so they only knew so much.
Moving onto Psalms, the psalters knew more from further revelation from the prophets of the time, and by the time we get to the New Testament, God was revealed perfectly in the person and work of Jesus, his Son.
But even that is not fully revealed to us yet. We will definitely see a fuller picture the day we come to see our Lord face to face.
And with that, what can we learn from Job’s three friends?
For me it’s this: we only know so much and so we should not behave like we know it all, even though we are confident in the truth that we have come to believe. (This may swerve us to the other side of the pole where all truth is relative and this is not desireable. But this another story altogether.)
Therefore when we counsel someone or when we are with someone who is suffering a great pain, watch what we say, or say nothing at all but just be there with them. Our presence would serve as a better albeit inadequate comfort.