Job’s Three Friends–and a Fourth

post date: September 8, 2010

Job’s three friends were Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. The fourth person who spoke was a young man named Elihu.

In responding to Job the three friends make many of the same points, but there are differences among them.

Eliphaz defended the justice of God and assumed that Job’s suffering must be a result of his sin.

Bildad believed that Job’s children must have sinned because they died suddenly. Sinners can expect nothing but suffering in life and dishonor in death. 

Zophar was the harshest of the three friends. He said Job deserved even more suffering that he was experiencing and told Job he needed to repent.

Elihu was a younger man who waited for all the speeches to end. He was angry at Job and at the three friends. At Job for trying to justify himself. At the friends because they condemned Job unfairly. Elihu argued that Job’s sufferings were instructive, meant to draw him to a deeper knowledge of God. 

When God finally speaks after Elihu, he doesn’t explain to Job why the sufferings had come to him. Instead he calls on Job to admit how little he understands about who He is and how He works. The climax of the book comes in Job 42:2-6 where Job confess that God alone is sovereign and repents of his own folly.

See The First Law: He’s God and We’re Not


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