Job 11

Job 11 has the third friend, Zophar the Naamathite, finally speaking.  And speak he did – very confrontationally and probably the arrogantly of the three.  “Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and a man full of talk be judged right? Should your babble silence men, and when you mock, shall no one shame you”?  He blasts Job and speaks without fear or pity.  He sees his role to call Job out as prideful and in need of being put in his place, and attempts to do exactly that.  He only speaks one other time in the entire story – in chapter 20 – so he makes the most of his interaction here.

He calls Job’s words to question – “My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God’s eyes”.  Zophar is not buying that but he also did not truthfully represent Job’s words here. Job did not claim to be pure and clean, as if he were sinless and perfect, only that he didn’t believe he had done anything that caused his circumstances.  Job knew there was no special or specific sin on his part behind the losses he experienced, and also knew that he was a sinner in a general sense and could not be considered righteous compared to God.

So Zophar comes at Job with this.  “But oh, that God would speak and open his lips to you, and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!”  If only you could hear God on this Job, you’d know you were as guilty as can be.  Zophar believed that Job was actually so guilty before God to deserve far worse than he had suffered.  He hadn’t really gotten what he deserved.  Not much compassion or support there.  Sort of the attitude that I don’t want to be too close to you when you get what you should.

Zophar does get one thing right – the need for us to repent of our sin.  “If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents”. He emphasizes the need for Job to get right with God.  And then lists the outcome of that action:

  • Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish
  • you will be secure and will not fear
  • You will forget your misery
  • you will remember it as waters that have passed away
  • your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning
  • you will feel secure, because there is hope
  • you will look around and take your rest in security
  • You will lie down, and none will make you afraid
  • many will court your favor

There are things to admire in the theology Zophar speaks.  He says much that is generally true and backed by scripture. He knows that God would forgive Job as a sinner and take him back into favor if he responded correctly to his experiences.  The issues is that he has no idea what God is doing in the background, so this advice truly doesn’t apply to Job’s situation.

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