Job 6:14-21 (NIV) 14 “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. 15 But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow 16 when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow, 17 but that cease to flow in the dry season, and in the heat vanish from their channels. 18 Caravans turn aside from their routes; they go up into the wasteland and perish. 19 The caravans of Tema look for water, the traveling merchants of Sheba look in hope. 20 They are distressed, because they had been confident; they arrive there, only to be disappointed. 21 Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid.
On verses 14-21: After lamenting his pain in verses 1-13, Job expresses his disappointment in his friends. Job thought that even if he was in a bad place with God (“even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (v14)), he would still have his friends’ support (v14). But in Job’s mind his friends have been “undependable” (v15). First, he compares his friends to intermittent streams that come and go depending on the season they are in (v15-17). Next Job compares his situation to a thirsty traveler riding in a fleet of caravans who goes off-roading into the wasteland to search for water, only to find nothing (v18-21). Job was thirsting for comfort so he sought refuge in his friends, but he didn’t find anything close to the comfort he was looking for.
What can we learn from this? All of us wish for dependable friends we can count on no matter what. But whether it’s because our expectations are too high or our friends lack in a certain area, sometimes we will be disappointed in our friends. What do you do then? When friends let you down, remember that God is the only 100% faithful friend you can count on.
Also, Job thought he would find comfort in his friends “even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (v14). But when we don’t make friendship with God our number one priority (or in Job’s words, when we “forsake the fear of the Lord”), it exacerbates our disappointment in people. That’s because we start looking to our friends to give us a peace, a joy and a satisfaction that only God can give. Job 6:22-23 (NIV) 22 Have I ever said, ‘Give something on my behalf, pay a ransom for me from your wealth, 23 deliver me from the hand of the enemy, ransom me from the clutches of the ruthless’?
On verses 22-23: Job’s disappointment in his friends is magnified because Job was a great friend who was there for others (see Job 4:3-4). Job was not the type to ask his friends for help, but he would habitually give help to his friends. Now, on this one occasion when Job needs his friends, his friends are not there for him the way he wants them to be. I know we tend to get down on Job’s three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar a lot, but at least they showed up to comfort Job! Think of all the other people whom Job had helped in the past who were now nowhere to be found as soon as Job lost his finances, family and power.
What can we learn from this? Your truest friends are those who are there for you not just when things are going well, but when things couldn’t seem to get any worse. As Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Job 6:24-25 (NIV) 24 “Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. 25 How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove?
On verses 24-30: Job invites his friends to show him where, if anywhere, he has gone wrong (v24). At the same time, Job is hurt by how his friends have shown little discretion when speaking honestly from their hearts (“how painful are honest words” (v25)). He is offended by how they are trying harder to correct him than to comfort him (v26). Job feels like his friends have treated him and his now deceased children as headlines to talk about instead of human beings to care for (v27). Job asks his friends to reconsider before concluding that he is suffering because of his sin (v28-30).
What can we learn from this? Your words matter. As Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” When you feel the need to say something that is not easy for others to hear, be careful to speak the truth in love. In Thrive Discipleship School Level 2, we give you several practical keys to speaking the truth in love. Keep those keys in mind the next time you want to say something difficult hard for others to hear. Especially when others are going through a difficult time, may your words bring life to others and not death.
Heavenly Father, whenever I am disappointed in my friends, help me to surrender that feeling to You, and give me the right perspective for moving forward. Thank You that in You, Your Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I have a faithful friend like no other. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!