Job Replies: Miserable Comforters Are You
16 Then Job answered and said:
“I have heard many such things;
miserable comforters are you all.
Shall windy words have an end?
Or what provokes you that you answer?
I also could speak as you do,
if you were in my place;
I could join words together against you
and shake my head at you.
I could strengthen you with my mouth,
and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.
“If I speak, my pain is not assuaged,
and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me?
Surely now God has worn me out;
he has made desolate all my company.
And he has shriveled me up,
which is a witness against me,
and my leanness has risen up against me;
it testifies to my face.
He has torn me in his wrath and hated me;
he has gnashed his teeth at me;
my adversary sharpens his eyes against me.
Men have gaped at me with their mouth;
they have struck me insolently on the cheek;
they mass themselves together against me.
God gives me up to the ungodly
and casts me into the hands of the wicked.
I was at ease, and he broke me apart;
he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces;
he set me up as his target;
his archers surround me.
He slashes open my kidneys and does not spare;
he pours out my gall on the ground.
He breaks me with breach upon breach;
he runs upon me like a warrior.
I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin
and have laid my strength in the dust.
My face is red with weeping,
and on my eyelids is deep darkness,
although there is no violence in my hands,
and my prayer is pure.
“O earth, cover not my blood,
and let my cry find no resting place.
Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven,
and he who testifies for me is on high.
My friends scorn me;
my eye pours out tears to God,
that he would argue the case of a man with God,
as a son of man does with his neighbor.
For when a few years have come
I shall go the way from which I shall not return.
Job 16 Commentary
by Hank Workman
What kind of friend are you when it comes to comforting another?
I’ve seen and experienced all kinds who have tried to be a comforter. There are those who are long winded and never shut up. Seriously, they talk nonstop through whatever is going on and you as the person in pain isn’t given one inch of an ability to speak as what’s said really isn’t heard. Um… this is kind of what Job gets at in his opening lines of Job 16 to these men who sat there in condemnation before him.
There are those who while you’re talking are not really listening but thinking of what they’re going to say back. Sometimes there are those who take the theology route and shove their own spiritual opinions down your throat with little to no compassion. And there are those who are simply vacant. They know you are going through a hardship but simply won’t wade into any form of conversation as they don’t have the time. Avoided like the plague, they simply disappear from your life.
As we know, when we are struggling many times we don’t want to engage in conversation. We don’t want to really open up about what is going on and become vulnerable. But as we also know, working things out verbally and having someone who is there to listen is important; just many times we don’t want their commentary unless invited in.
There is an art of being a good listener and also bringing comfort to those who are hurting. But that also is completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit working in us and being open to His lead in the situations that arise where we are needed. All too often however, we tend to deflect to our own ways or personality and in the end really don’t offer much help or encouragement.
If anything, Job’s response back to these 3 speaks toward what is needed when another is in crisis. We shouldn’t talk just for the sake of conversation. We shouldn’t give our own miniature sermons or throw Christian lingo and lofty thoughts at them. Truly in such instances when we are invited into such a conversation we shouldn’t use that opportunity to criticize or accuse of what they did wrong.
As a friend, we should be there when they are needed or even when they don’t realize we are. Pain and affliction runs rampant in our lives. Like a tidal wave, we can feel the flood of hardship and suffering. The worst thing is the feeling we are alone on this earth as we deal with it. We need one another. But as one who is there to bring encouragement we must monitor our responses, take our own opinions out of the formula and simply be a presence to these who are grieving or struggling. –
Job 16 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
This is Job’s fourth response. He makes it clear that if he was in their position he would stop trying to get the last word in and speak encouragement with tenderness. Do you know anyone like this? Sometimes in trying to get their point across, and change your mind, they lose sight of grace in their speech.
In my opinion, verse 21 is the most powerful thought in this chapter.
My friends scoff at me as I weep before God. 21 I wish that someone might arbitrate between a man and God just as a man pleads for his friend.Job 16:20-21 HCSB
The application of this passage is twofold. I’ve already commented on the fact that Job is searching for a Mediator. He desires an Advocate. This is the most direct he has been in asking for this person. Even back then, humanity longed for a man to come walk among them and reconcile God’s plan. This is an amazing thought, and it should drive us to thankfulness for our Savior. The second part of this application is Job communicating what he really needs from his friends. As if the pain and suffering wasn’t enough, he just longs for some support!
Our words and encouragement go so much further than we could ever imagine. Some of the most memorable events in my life are centered around someone rallying in my corner. Sometimes they were correcting me, in grace, and others times they were urging me to believe in the impossible.
When I first got into ministry, I remember receiving a phone call from a mentor who had invested in me many years before. At the time, I was so overwhelmed with the tasks before me. I didn’t have any formal training or education in ministry. I was lacking confidence. I was questioning if this was even the right decision. I remember he spoke such powerful words to my heart that day. He prayed very specifically for me and even said he knew I would come to this moment one day when I would face a crossroads of sorts. His words meant more then he will ever know.
Unforgettable moments like these create divine appointments. Do not neglect your ability to encourage and support in the midst of trials. We are called to do it!