What does it say?
Thinking back on my lowest points gives me a hint of Job’s misery, as he reacts to his friends’ attacks (Job 17). Bildad concludes (Job 18) that Job is simply wicked and doesn’t know God (18:21). Try reading these conversations in a contemporary translation or paraphrase to better connect spiritually and emotionally with the story. There are other times for academic study; this is a devotional time.
Job’s response in chapter 19 reminds me of times when those I counted as friends turned against me. Look carefully at 19:21-22. Who is really persecuting Job? Do I sometimes also place blame wrongfully? Despite his deep pain, the depth of Job’s faith is truly amazing (19:25-27). Zophar (Job 20) agrees with the others that Job is obviously wicked, his false faith now stripped away by sin (20:29).
What does it mean?
Devoting such space to these men’s judgments against Job for some hidden sin causes me to ask why this is so important to keep repeating. Consider: not all, but most everything these three men say is absolutely true and consistent with scripture. I must remember (repeatedly) that truth can be a terrible hammer inflicting deep pain when wrongly applied. The first principle of Bible study is to read scripture in its proper biblical context. Just as important is the need to apply biblical truth in the proper life context. The misuse of truth is so prevalent and serious that I need to be constantly aware of the danger.
How will I respond?
How often do I misjudge or misunderstand someone while using biblical truth incorrectly to justify myself? Could it be that my personal hurt blinds me from seeing that my attackers may be reacting to hurt even deeper than mine? Will I just keep arguing, or could God use me to be part of his or her healing process and bring healing to me at the same time? Some people are just evil and do not want help. But I’ll never know unless I am willing to set aside the “Bible bombs” I’m tossing and discover what the other party is really feeling.
Is there active conflict in my life? Have I made a genuine attempt to listen without interrupting to understand the other party’s situation? Maybe if we sit down and talk transparently, we can apply biblical truth together to bring healing to us both. Today would be good for me to make the first move. Relationships are complex and often messy because they involve humans. Using my mouth to quote scripture is always more effective if I totally engage my ears and my heart first.