Job again answers the accusations his counselors are constantly making about him. He calls them all “miserable comforters.” Do oxymorons confuse anyone besides me? Apparently, their counsel, initially intended to console, was so awkward and unskilled that it added injury wherever it sought to take it away.
Then Job answered and said:
2 “I have heard many such things;
miserable comforters are you all.
3 Shall windy words have an end?
Or what provokes you that you answer?
4 I also could speak as you do,
if you were in my place;
I could join words together against you
and shake my head at you.
5 I could strengthen you with my mouth,
and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain. ~Job 16:1-6
Unsolicited, ill advice exasperates the downtrodden and evidences immaturity – especially when it’s repetitive. Over and over Job hears the same unhelpful counsel. To a man in his position, it’s downright maddening. Just add that to the list of soul-wearying trials.
Job calls their words windy; vain; useless. Their intrusion coupled with their presumption thoroughly frustrates Job – so much so that he actually asks what on earth is prompting them to force their thoughtless words so relentlessly upon him.
Job reminds his counselors that all of their poking and prodding is, naturally, easy for them to say. Trade places with me, says Job, and only then will you see how hurtful your words and attitudes really are. Job claims that if the tables were turned, he surely would sincerely comfort and gently encourage them instead of presuming upon and accusing them as they did he.
Perhaps he would. Those who have been through the hottest fire of adversity do indeed tend to extend the most compassion to others stepping into the furnace. There is no better comforter that the one who has endured the same trial as his subject. Little wonder why the Bible assures us both that: 1. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are,yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) 2. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, (John 14:16)
“If I speak, my pain is not assuaged,
and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me? ~Job 16:6
Sometimes talking about our miseries is helpful. Sometimes not talking about our miseries is helpful. Neither was helpful for Job. In both, he was further afflicted. If he spoke, his words were maligned and misconstrued by those who did not understand them. If he kept silent, his silence was mistaken for agreeing that he was guilty as charged. There was no relief from his torment as his counselors watched and pounced on every word he spoke for their own haughty agenda and self-serving satisfaction. For them, being right and being heard was far more important than being kind or simply being there as a shoulder to cry on. Miserable comforters they were indeed.
God let me never insensitively speak this way to a hurting sister or brother again! God forgive my foolish arrogance!
My face is red with weeping,
and on my eyelids is deep darkness,
17 although there is no violence in my hands,
and my prayer is pure. ~Job 16:16-17
Why is Job weeping so? What is his cause?
In verses 7-15, Job explains how God has tried him. His complaints were thus: Job feels he has no one in the world. He is full of physical ailment and wasting disease. He feels the presence of the enemy and is terrified. Job is enduring severe abuse from all who surround him. He is not delivered from his enemies, but to them by the God he loves. Job believed God himself had joined in the pain-inflicting abuse. He is disgraced by his suffering.
Job wasn’t a pessimist. Surely he had more than adequate justification for his tears. Thanks be to God, he also had abundant rationale for his hope:
although there is no violence in my hands,
and my prayer is pure.
Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven,
and he who testifies for me is on high.
For when a few years have come
I shall go the way from which I shall not return. ~Job 16:17,19, 22
Job’s hope was his blamelessness; his sincerity; his God-given righteousness; his heavenly witness; his intercessor on high; his glorious future; his eternal life to come.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! No matter how painful our trials; no matter how injurious our counselors; no matter how wicked our Enemy, let us take heart in our blessed hope – our Redeemer! He has made us righteous! He vindicates and intercedes for us at all times. He is our true witness. He holds our future and we will live and reign with him eternally. May Jesus Christ be praised!