Bible Studies and Highlights in the Book of Job
Job Chapters 8-14: Job vs his friends - Round one, part two!
by I Gordon
In the last study we saw Job pleading for some compassion and kindness
from his friends. A fair enough request given his current situation you
would think. So far we have only heard from the first friend, Eliphaz.
He relayed his experience with a 'spirit' whose message, Eliphaz
thought, would really speak to Job. It didn't. In this study we shall
hear from two more 'friends' - Bildad and Zophar. We shall also see
Job's response. We shall look at a few chapters so we'll focus on the
'highlights' (or in some cases 'low-lights') from chapters 8-14. We'll
start with Bildad and see if he has taken Job's plea on board and can
speak with grace and truth into the life of Job.
Bildad's intro - Job, You are a wind bag!
Job 8:1-7 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: (2)
How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind
. (3) Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is
When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the
penalty of their sin.
(5) But if you will look to God and plead with the Almighty, (6
) if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on
your behalf and restore you to your rightful place. (7) Your
beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.
'You, my friend, are full of hot air!' That is fairly much how Bildad
begins his reply to Job. So much for Job's plea for a little kindness!
Bildad has heard Job's words but had not felt his pain. In fact, in
gets even worse because after saying that about Job, Bildad then
proceeds to state that God is just and when Job's children sinned, God
dealt with them by taking their lives! Oh thanks a lot Bildad... Your
contribution has been really helpful! Bildad's central message is the
same in essence to that of Eliphaz - 'God is just, so if bad things
happen then you are being judged for your sin.' With that as his basis,
he then tells Job that if he was to look to God and be pure and
upright, then God will restore him. Now God will restore Job. I've read
the end of the story and it does end well! So Bildad's comment in verse
7 is true, but not for the reasons he thinks.
The precarious position of the unbeliever
Job 8:8-20 'Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers
learned, (9) for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our
days on earth are but a shadow. (10) Will they not instruct you and
tell you? Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?
(11) Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive
without water? (12) While still growing and uncut, they wither more
quickly than grass. (13) Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so
perishes the hope of the godless. (14)
What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider's web.
(15) He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it
does not hold.
He is like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, spreading its
shoots over the garden; (17) it entwines its roots around a pile of
rocks and looks for a place among the stones.
(18) But when it is torn from its spot, that place disowns it and says,
'I never saw you.' (19) Surely its life withers away, and from the soil
other plants grow.
Bildad now instructs Job to learn from history. Bildad believes that
history teaches that the wicked are cut off and do not last. They are
like a reed without water according to Bildad. There is a wee problem
with this. While certainly true in view of eternity, does history
actually teach that the wicked are judged in this life? Often, as
several Psalms attest to, the wicked actually seem to prosper and the
righteous are those with trying circumstances. Yet the precarious
position of the wicked is expressed well in this passage. They are seen
as frantically trying to hold onto something as flimsy as a spiders web
. Bildad also pictures them like a plant trying to entwine its roots
around rocks and stones in an ultimately futile attempt to secure its
place on this earth. What sad but true imagery Bildad uses here! It
doesn't actually relate to Job but leaving that aside for a moment, we
can still agree with the truth that he speaks concerning the fragility
of the life of unbelievers.
Job's reply: How can anyone be righteous before God?
Job 9:1-11 Then Job replied: (2)' Indeed, I know that this is true. But
how can a mortal be righteous before God? (3) Though one wished to
dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand.
(4) His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and
come out unscathed? (5) He moves mountains without their knowing it and
overturns them in his anger. (6) He shakes the earth from its place and
makes its pillars tremble. (7) He speaks to the sun and it does not
shine; he seals off the light of the stars. (8) He alone stretches out
the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the
Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. (10)
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be
counted. (11) When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I
cannot perceive him.'
Job agrees with much of what Bildad has said (though possibly not the
part about Job's words being nothing but wind!) Job's question though
is how can a human being be righteous before God? It is an important
question! Job says that even if we wanted to argue and dispute with
God, we would not be able to answer one thing He said! Now this is
true, and Job is on the right track, but as we proceed in our study of
this book we shall hear Job slowly change his tune on this as he
becomes more and more sure of his own self-righteousness. This is not
good. Have you argued with God? Did it get you anywhere? Maybe you
thought that you were being treated unfairly? Maybe you believed that
God was not giving you the things you deserve? All of our arguing with
the Lord is, at the end of the day, simply unbelief concerning His
power and intentions toward us.
We see also in this passage that Job had a good understanding of the
Lord as the creator of Heaven and Earth. He knew about the
constellations in the heavens and God's ways in creation on this earth.
But did Job know of God's mercy and faithfulness? I think that is part
of what he still needed (and would) learn. Job says at the end of this
section that God could pass right by him and he wouldn't see or even
perceive Him. It is like this in the midst of a trial! This is normal.
It often seems that God is far away. We do not perceive that He is
right there in it all!
Job would learn this. One day we will all see it.
Oh if only there was a mediator between us!
Job 9:27-35 if I say, 'I will forget my complaint, I will change my
expression, and smile, (28) I still dread all my sufferings, for I know
you will not hold me innocent. (29) Since I am already found guilty,
why should I struggle in vain? (30)
Even if I washed myself with soap and my hands with washing soda,
(31) you would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes
would detest me.
(32) He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might
confront each other in court. (33) If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to
lay his hand upon us both, (34) someone to remove God's rod from me, so
that his terror would frighten me no more. (35) Then I would speak up
without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.'
Job continues with his thought of 'who can be righteous before God' and
determines that he certainly can't be! But the reasoning for this isn't
that Job sees himself as sinful. No... Job's thoughts concerning God
are slowly but surely slipping towards God being an unjust judge who
would nit-pick if needed to find something and hold Job accountable.
Job also sees God as someone far away, removed and unmoved by the
extreme difficulties he has experienced. Job wishes that there could be
a mediator between them - someone who knew what he was going through...
someone that had access to God and could speak on his behalf. But
alas... such an arbitrator cannot be found. But this of course what we
have in Jesus! A mediator who CAN sympathise with us in our weakness
and does stand before God on our behalf! Look at what the New Testament
1Ti 2:3-6 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, (4) who wants all
men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (5)
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man
Christ Jesus, (6) who gave himself as a ransom for all men
--the testimony given in its proper time.
Heb 4:14-16 'Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone
through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the
faith we profess. (15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable
to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted
in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. (16) Let us then
approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive
mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
The downward slide continues... 'God - You did this!'
Job 10:1-9 'I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to
my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. (2) I will say
to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against
me. (3) Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your
hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked? (4) Do you have
eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees? (5) Are your days like
those of a mortal or your years like those of a man, (6) that you must
search out my faults and probe after my sin - (7) though you know that I
am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand? (8) Your
hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? (9)
Remember that you moulded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust
Job 10:16-17 'If I hold my head high,
you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power
(17) You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward
me; your forces come against me wave upon wave.
The slide of Job proceeds where he now wants to talk back to an unjust
God in his 'bitterness of soul'. Job even sees God as gaining
'pleasure' by oppressing him! The enemy must be smiling about now.
Satan was given the right to afflict Job physically, but it seems that
his whispers and lies are starting to make inroads mentally as well.
Gone are the days when Job would say
'The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the
LORD be praised.'
To Job, God is like a lion prowling around, stalking him, and waiting
for the moment when he'll come suddenly in power against His prey. Does
that sound familiar? The imagery of a lion stalking its prey certainly
is biblical - but it's not God doing the stalking!
1Pe 5:8 'Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls
around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.'
Unfortunately Job was not familiar with the heavenly conversations that
led to his troubles so he now blames God for the destruction, death and
devastation that Satan, the prowling lion, had caused.
Light from Zophar? Hmmm... don't hold your breath on that one!
Job 11:1-6 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered, (2) "Shall a multitude
of words go unanswered, and a talkative man be acquitted? (3) Shall all
your boasts silence men? And shall you scoff and none rebuke? (4) For
you have said, 'My teaching is pure, and I am innocent in your eyes.'
But would that God might speak, and open His lips against you, (6)
and show you the secrets of wisdom! For sound wisdom has two sides.
Know then that God forgets a part of your iniquity.
Zophar, being the youngest of Job's friends, speaks last. He has less
depth and seems, well, irritated by Job! Zophar wishes that God would
speak so that He may give Job a blast or two! But, because God is
remaining tight lipped, he decides to speak for God and give Job a good
old tongue lashing himself! Well... Zophar will eventually get his wish
and God will speak, but he should be careful what he wishes for as he
may well find out God is none too impressed with his words either!
Basically Zophar sees Job as a talkative proud mocker who sees himself
as totally innocent and with pure God-given wisdom! And Zophar doesn't
like it. Zophar does make an interesting comment however. He says that
wisdom has secrets and two-sides. This is true. In any trial there are
always two sides - the human side and the divine side. Unfortunately we
are well skilled at seeing the former and very slow at learning the
latter! We are good at making 'wise' judgements based on what we see
but are often blind to what God is seeking to achieve in the
This takes diligence on our part in seeking the wisdom that comes from
above. Job 11:14-17 'If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and
do not let wickedness dwell in your tents; (15) Then, indeed, you could
lift up your face without moral defect, and you would be steadfast and
not fearing. (16) For you would forget your trouble, as waters that
have passed by, you would remember it. (17) "Your life would be
brighter than noonday; Darkness would be like the morning.
Zophar offers Job some advice: Repent and turn away from your sin and
you shall shine like the noonday sun! Not bad advice for the wicked but
like the other 'friends' Zophar can see no further than that difficulty
comes because of sin. So... question time. What other reasons and
purposes does God have for trials? Check the fine print for a few
Time for a little sarcasm from Job!
Job 12:1-6 Then Job replied: (2) '
doubtless you are the people, and wisdom will die with you!
(3) But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who
does not know all these things? (4) I have become a laughingstock to my
friends, though I called upon God and he answered-- a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!
Men at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose
feet are slipping.
(6) The tents of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God
are secure-- those who carry their god in their hands'.
Job's reply makes me chuckle. 'Doubtless you are the people and wisdom
will die with you!' The problem is that Job's friends were always on
the attack and so he was always defensive, having to justify himself.
The end result is that neither learned anything really.
Job just sees himself as righteous and blameless and his friends see
him as hiding some secret sin that led to all this judgement. His
friends have not been able to teach him about God's grace or purposes
for difficulties (because, I assume, they didn't know about it) so Job
slowly becomes more assured of his own righteousness. The Apostle Paul
was a righteous man under the law. Yet he came to the point where he
saw his true heart and cried out 'what a wretched man that I am!' Job
is nowhere near this point yet. He will get there... but only through
the intervention of God!
Job does make an interesting comment in verse 5 saying ' He who is at ease holds calamity in contempt. (NASB)' That is,
for those who seemingly have life easy, they cannot see the purposes of
trials and difficulties and despise such things. You could put
Prosperity teachers into this camp. But God does not despise
difficulties, nor does He hold them in contempt. He sees their value
when man sees none.
God reveals mysteries in the darkness
Job 12:13-22 "With Him are wisdom and might; To Him belong counsel and
understanding. (14) "Behold, He tears down, and it cannot be rebuilt;
He imprisons a man, and there can be no release... (20) He deprives the
trusted ones of speech and takes away the discernment of the elders.
(21) He pours contempt on nobles and loosens the belt of the strong.
reveals mysteries from the darkness and brings the deep darkness
There are two points that stood out to me in Job's speech here.
Firstly, Job notes that God imprisons a man and there can be no
release. Have you been there? Have you been in a trying situation where
you have wanted to get out, yet try as you might (and pray as you
might), the doors seem firmly shut around you? We like to think of God
as one who opens doors that no man can shut. We like open doors! But He
also shuts doors that no man can open (Rev 3:7) - until He Himself
opens that door! Job knew all about this. Maybe you do too. Well if
that all sounds a little gloomy for you, take a little bit of heart
from what Job said next for there is often a reward for enduring such
times and trials. Job says that God reveals mysteries from the
darkness! There are rewards that God will only give through such times.
Isa 45:3 "I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden
wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The
LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
Even if no one else really knows what you go through, you can be
assured that God watches and He is a rewarder of those that He asks to
go through the darkness.
Now here's a thought - show your wisdom by shutting your mouth!
Job 13:1-5 'My eyes have seen all this; my ears have heard and
understood it. (2) What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to
you. (3) But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case
with God. (4) You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless
physicians, all of you! (5) If only you would be altogether silent! For
you, that would be wisdom.'
Job declares that what he wants is to speak with God, not these
friends. He realises that they can't help him and it is the Lord that
he needs to present his case to. He says that if his friends want to
actually show some wisdom they should keep their mouths shut! There is
a lot of truth in that! James says the same thing: '
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to
listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger
does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.' Jas
The Bible actually declares that
'even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if
he holds his tongue.'
(Prov. 17:28) It is better to say nothing than to say something based
on no evidence as Job's friends were doing here. It is for this reason
that Job said that he was being 'smeared with lies' and that they were
all 'worthless physicians!' Have you ever gone to the doctor and had a
wrong diagnosis? A remedy based on a wrong diagnosis can often do more
harm than good!
Let the court case begin...
Job 13:9-24 'Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive men? (10)
He would surely rebuke you if you secretly showed partiality... (12) Your
maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defences are defences of clay... (15) Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will
surely defend my ways to his face. (16) Indeed, this will turn out for
my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him! (17)
Listen carefully to my words; let your ears take in what I say. (18)
Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. (19)
Can anyone bring charges against me?
If so, I will be silent and die... (21) Withdraw your hand far from me,
and stop frightening me with your terrors. (22) Then summon me and I
will answer, or let me speak, and you reply. (23) How many wrongs and
sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. (24) Why do you
hide your face and consider me your enemy?'
Job continues by attempting to turn the focus back on his accusers (aka
'friends'). 'Would you stand if God examined you?' Job asks. 'If you
had to come into the courts of God, could you deceive Him as you
deceive men?' The fact is that it is easy to look good before men, but
God looks at the heart, the inward desires, and who we are when no one
else is looking on. True character, as D.L Moody once said, 'is what
you are in the dark.' Job considers their 'wise words' to be nothing
more than 'proverbs of ashes'. They have no substance and no goodness
left in them! Yet in the midst of his lament, Job provides us with
another gem: 'though he slays me, yet I will trust in Him.' It
is a moment of great faith. Though his thoughts do waver under these
trying circumstances, this is a high. And Job will find, as Proverbs
tells us, that:
'When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in
death the righteous have a refuge.'
But Job wants to come into the courts of God and present his case.
Listen to his words - '
Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. Can
anyone bring charges against me?'
This theme will develop and grow. What do you think about that
statement of Job's? If he did so, would he be vindicated? Can anyone
bring a charge against him? I'll let J. Vernon McGee answer this in the
fine print as he has some good words to say!
Three important questions!
Job 14:1-24 "Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of
turmoil. (2) Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees
like a shadow and does not remain. (3) You also open Your eyes on him
And bring him into judgment with Yourself. (4) Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one! (5)
Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You;
and his limits You have set so that he cannot pass... (7) For there is
hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and
its shoots will not fail. (8) "Though its roots grow old in the ground
and its stump dies in the dry soil, (9) at the scent of water it will
flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant. (10)
"But man dies and lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he...
(13) "Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, That You would conceal me
until Your wrath returns to You, That You would set a limit for me and
remember me! (14) "If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes.
In the last chapter of the first round of this debate, Job's thoughts
turn to life and, especially, death. Through his current situation, Job
was forced to contemplate the brevity of life. While there are many
good points in this chapter (and I encourage you to read it all), I
want to focus on three questions that Job asks. The world in general
would be a lot better off if people spent more time thinking about
these questions! Here they are:
Q1: Who can make the clean out of the unclean? (vs4)
Q2: When man dies, where is he? (vs. 10)
Q3: Will we live again after death? (vs.14)
The first question is who can make the clean out of the unclean? Every
person born into this world is the product of two parents with a fallen
nature. And thus, we are all born with the same nature. We are all
unclean. What hope is there then? Who could make us clean? Job says 'no
one'. But there is one. God Himself, and only God, can make the clean
out of the unclean. He does it with every person who is born again, for
He, in a great mystery, makes a 'new creation' in the heart of man.
The second question is when a man dies, where is he? This troubled Job.
He can see from nature that even a tree that is cut down has hope that
it can grow again. But what of man? This is a question that has plagued
mankind since the death of the first human born to Adam and Eve. What
happens to the dead?
The third question is will we live again after death? Is there a place
where man still exists after death? Can a man come back to life after
he has died? Such questions, especially at the time of Job, were a
mystery. In fact the Old Testament as a whole doesn't reveal a lot of
information on this (though there is some, and later in chapter 19 Job
himself will have a profound revelation on this very question!). But
full light on this topic was left for the coming of the Messiah Jesus.
Then such important questions were answered!
2Ti 1:9-11 Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not
according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace
which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, (10)
but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour
Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and
immortality to light through the gospel,
(11) for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a
Jesus 'abolished death' and through the gospel 'life and immortality'
was brought to light. We don't have to be in the dark anymore! There is
life after death. There is no 'death' for those in Christ... only a
passing from this life to the next. Jesus Himself said that "I am the
resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he
dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you
believe this?" (John 11:25-26)
So thus closes round one. A clear points decision to Job at this stage.
Round two is about to begin!