Job is impatient with friends who are tearing him down instead of building him up. Do we sometimes assume that a sick person is contagious? We react to the ugly appearance of disease out of the natural fear of infection. But in faith should we reach out to sinners even as a doctor does to the sick? Should we at least recognize that their suffering is real and offer the relief which we have discovered in Christ?
Then Job answered and said, I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all. Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief. Job 16:1-5
Job suggests that he could be a miserable friend to these men if they were in his place. But he would not do that, but instead he would encourage them by his words.
Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased? But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company. And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face. He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me. They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me. Job 16:6-10
Now God has made him tired and the signs of illness seem to testify of his sin. His friends are now gathered against him as enemies.
God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark. His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground. He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant. I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust. Job 16:11-15
Job thinks that God has taken his comfort and delivered him to ungodly friends. He feels targeted by invisible tormentors and run over by a giant oppression.
My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure. O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place. Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God. Job 16:16-20
We know that Satan is the tormentor, and Job knows he is not in deep sin. He can’t understand how this torment has come to him. His friends are turned to reject his claims of innocence and he weeps for help.
O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour! When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return. Job 16:21-22
Job yearns for friends who would pray for him as they might for a neighbor who needs help. He knows he will face death like everyone does at some point. He might hope to have some comfort until that day comes.
We remember the Good Samaritan for rescuing a Jew who was beaten by a robber. That Samaritan was not considered to be a proper Jew, but he did what a good person should do in God’s view. He didn’t ask if this Jew had sinned to earn this beating. He didn’t question the theology of this victim. He overlooked the way Jews had rejected Samaritans for many years of their history. He sacrificed his own money to provide healing to a neighbor who had been wounded. He demonstrated mercy.