Focal Passages: Job 4:6-7; 6:2-3, 24; 8:4-8; 11:6b, 13-15; 13:4, 22-25
A friend once told me the following story: He and his wife and their two children were visiting his parents. His daughter, age 7, went to use the bathroom. Meanwhile his son, age 9, went into the adjacent bedroom. A minute or so later they heard what sounded like a gunshot. Their daughter screamed.
Immediately the father and mother rushed to both rooms. Their daughter was safe and their son had a rifle in his hands. He had pulled the trigger and tragedy was averted by about two feet as the bullet passed through the connecting wall and exited the bathroom window. The family was both relieved and upset.
Yes, they had dodged a bullet, literally, but who was at fault? Who was to blame? Was it the one who had left the ammunition in the gun? Was it the parents? Was it the son?
Accidents and misfortune happen to all of us. Sometimes we call it an act of nature. Sometimes it is carelessness. Sometimes it is ignorance. Sometimes it is malice.
Today’s text covers the first series of speeches between Job and his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. The conversations were an effort to sort it all out, to find out who was at fault and why, to make sense of events that were almost incomprehensible. Let’s look at it from both vantage points.
Job: He admits to overwhelming grief, his feelings are raw. He wants to know what he did wrong.
He is saying to God, “Just show me. I can take it. Just don’t leave me in the dark.” The trio of friends: Their thesis is found in 4:6-7, “This wouldn’t happen to the innocent and honest.” They make an analysis of possible or probable causes and come up with two – either the sins of Job’s children or his own.
Because there must be sin or sins involved, Job needed to confess any possible discretion, to “come clean.” He needed to redirect his heart. Somehow Job or his family must be at fault.