Bad news travels fast they say and the news of Job’s afflictions soon reaches the homes of Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. Their reaction to the news is a demonstration of what true friendship is.
Job had reason to call his three friends, miserable comforters are ye all, 16:2. However, the failure of his three friends to comfort him stemmed not from any lack of genuine affection on their part. Rather, it arose because of their wrong interpretation of God’s providence.
I. TRUE FRIENDSHIP IS PROVED IN TIMES OF AFFLICTION
The afflictions of Job were no ordinary events. They were of such a catastrophic nature that his former acquaintances forsook him, 19:13-21; 42:11. It was in such circumstances that these three men came to Job. They came uninvited. While it is proper to await an invitation to visit in days of prosperity, we need none to come to the house of mourning.
1. They proved themselves true friends by coming. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity,” Proverbs 17:17. The Lord Jesus was such a spectacle of woe upon the cross that all His friends forsook Him, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not,” Isaiah 53:3. “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger,” Lamentations 1:12.
2. They thus gave evidence of grace within their hearts. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world,” James 1:27.
3. Here is a picture of the Friend of sinners coming to comfort them. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound,” Isaiah 61:1.
II. TRUE FRIENDSHIP IS PRACTICAL
1. These men put themselves out. They left home and business to be with Job.
2. They were greatly distressed for Job. “And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven,” Job 2:12. What changes suffering makes. Ruth 1:19, Christ's face— Isaiah 52:14.
3. They came to mourn with Job. They can not comfort us who cannot mourn with us. They took their place alongside him in his sorrow.
Christ is the sympathising Saviour. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” Hebrews 4:15.
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted,” Isaiah 53:4.
”In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old,” Isaiah 63:9.
III. SILENCE IS OFTEN THE LANGUAGE OF TRUE FRIENDSHIP
“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great,” Job 2:13.
1. Silence is sometimes necessary because we do not know what to say. Only Christ can speak to all in the times of greatest sorrow. Isaiah 50:4; 61:3.
To be silent when we are in ignorance of the providential workings of God is wise. Amos 5:3.
2. Silence is sometimes necessary because the sorrowing cannot hear. Their grief is so bad that they cannot bear a word from any.
May we seek to cultivate such true friendship one for the other.