Each of them set out

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights...
— Job 2

I am no Job scholar. I open the book when I need to; or when I am asked to, by the family of God.

Sister Courtney Allen is fixing to speak to these three, come Sunday. I’m not trying to preach before the preacher. I am definitely using this moment to reacquaint myself with Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.

Elphaz, Bildad, and Zophar minus their hometowns would seem to suffice. Except in having to say all of those –ites, it may dawn on us that this trio put some serious effort into being with Job.

“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home (v.11).”

That’s something. [I don’t dare ask myself how many times I have failed to set out from my home to console old out-of-town friends.]

Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar sit with him. They keep the silence. They see his suffering (v.13). They are present in these ways for seven days and seven nights. This is nothing to sneeze at.

Yes, they are fixing to say all the wrong things. Yes, we might learn from this book how we humans tend to overestimate our grasp of the truth and the value we bring to dire straits. Job’s friends are going to put their understanding of how the world turns before their relationship with Job. They’re going to talk about God ‘til their blue in the face without actually talking to God. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are going to speculate and then defend their speculation as truth-telling.

They’re going to get it wrong, this spiritual friendship thing.

But that doesn’t mean that they do nothing right. Or that we can afford to overlook how the story begins.

The story begins with a man who has lost everything. Three friends go to where he is. They see his suffering. They respond. That’s something, That’s an awful lot.

 

Rachel May