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Bible: What Does Job 16-19 Teach Us About Counseling the Sufferer?

Updated on September 9, 2016



Job: God is My Enemy

Job reproaches his pitiless friends, inquiring why they answer him the way they do (vv. 1-3).

He then contrasts the effects of their words of "comfort" upon him with how his counsel would affect them if their situations were reversed (vv. 4-5).

Verse six continues the contrast and serves as a transition into a review of his divinely-caused sufferings.

Not only does Job mention his physical pain and weakness (vv. 7-8), but also his spiritual and emotional turmoil (v. 9).

He believes that God is his enemy, actively involved in betraying him to the wicked (vv. 10-11) and spiritually “attacking” him (vv. 12-14).

In the face of this grief and pain, Job maintains his innocence (vv. 15-17).

He calls the earth to witness to this fact, even while believing that God knows everything already (vv. 18-19).

What he ardently desires is a mediator—one who will plead his case before God for him (v. 21)—before he dies (v. 22).

[Job's state of mind seems to be a mixture of trust in God and complaint about what He has allowed to happen].

The Motive of the Three "Friends"

Why do Job's friends not leave him alone?

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Job 17

The old sufferer believes he is about to die (v. 1), but laments that he still must endure his friends' provocation (vv. 1-2).

In verse three, Job asks God to covenant with him because no one else will; certainly his friends—whom God has kept from understanding and whom He will not allow to win—will not (v. 4).

[The text of the NKJV is puzzling (v. 5), but the NIV rendition somewhat clarifies the meaning.

Who is denouncing whom for reward here?

Certainly it is not Job, because he states that such will not prosper.

Perhaps his friends think that by denouncing Job, they will merit a reward from God; Job states that they are mistaken. This interpretation makes more sense].

Job again returns to the theme of God as his traitor, believing that He has caused him to become an object of ridicule (v. 6).

His physical torment causes the righteous to wonder (vv. 7-8); still, he resolves to remain steadfast (v. 9).

Absolutely certain that their arguments are foolish (v. 10), Job calls his friends back for more dialogue, yet proceeds to paint for them a picture of his hopelessness (vv. 11-16).

He sees his life as coming to a close, and admits that his thoughts and purposes will not accompany him into the grave.

[Job’s only satisfaction now seems to be the knowledge that he is right, and that he can defeat the arguments of his friends].

Description of the Wicked Man

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Bildad's Response

Job 18

Responding first (v. 1), Bildad calls Job, in essence, an ignorant windbag (v. 2), and rejects his characterization as stupid and irrational (v. 3).

He reproves this miserable wretch for his supposed arrogance (v. 4), and then discourses on the life and times of the wicked (vv. 5-21).

The wicked man:

(1) lives in darkness (vv. 5-6),

(2) has little strength (v. 7a),

(3) makes decisions that lead to fear and bondage (vv. 7b-12),

(4) is diseased (v. 13),

(5) is homeless and tormented (v. 14),

(6) is under the judgment of God (v. 15),

(7) is dying (v. 16),

(8) is forgotten among men (v. 17),

(9) is ostracized (v. 18),

(10) is childless (v. 19), and

(11) is the cause of fear and wonder (v. 20).

His description is typical of the traditional wisdom view (v. 21).

[In Bildad's eyes, Job is the wicked man.

The sufferer's friend came at first as a comforter, but his counsel has deteriorated to the level of prejudice].

Job and "Friends"




Job's Complaint Against God's Treatment of Him

Job 19

Job expresses distress at the duration, frequency and unabashed arrogance of his friends' reproaches, for he believes they have not uncovered any error in him (vv. 1-4).

He discloses to these self-aggrandizing companions that he believes God has wrongfully treated him (vv. 5-6).

Verses 7-20 show how Job thought God made his life like a living Hell:

(1) No one listens to his cries for justice (v. 7);

(2) he has no freedom (v. 8),

(3) he has no honor (v. 9),

(4) he has no hope (v. 10);

(5) an angry God and His army are against him (vv. 11-12);

(6) he is isolated from, ignored, and hated by everyone close to him (vv. 13-19);

(7) he is barely alive (v. 20).

Crying out for pity from his friends, Job asks why they persecute him (vv. 21-22).

Then turning away, he exclaims his desire that his words would find permanence (vv. 23-24).

Why? He contends that they will stand as a witness for him when he appears before his Redeemer; in the resurrection, Job believes he will be publicly vindicated (vv. 25-27).

Finally, he warns his friends of the judgment that they will experience unless their treatment of him changes (vv. 28-29).

[It is so very important to interpret well-known statements in context.

Yes, verses 25-27 express an early belief in the resurrection, but in context they also serve as the background for Job's vindication before all the redeemed when his recorded words are read].

© 2014 glynch1


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