Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

In my next move in the book of Job, I decided to go through each of the "cycles" of his speeches. Chapters 8-15 historically make up "the first cycle of speeches." Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz, Job's friends, all mean well, but it's not making things any better. You need to read these chapters yourself to get the long version, but here's the "very short blunt version":

Bildad: "Aw Job, you can't be running around saying that God is not just. You're just asking for trouble. Your kids died because they were sinful and you can't do squat about that."

Job: "Bull. None of us are any more or less righteous than anyone else. Why would God whack one person over another? Leave me alone. I wish I had never been born."

Zophar: "You must have done something wrong. Maybe you're just stupid, and you ought to get your heart right with God and it will straighten itself out."

Job: "I'm not stupid, you know...and who the hell are you to tell me what I need to do with God? I just want my say with God here. I'm the one who's gotten hurt here. You're so sure I've done something wrong, you tell ME what it is."

Eliphaz: "Quit whining. You talk too much. Your wailing and carrying on is what is separating you from God. What can you possibly know what we, and the elders and sages don't know? Methinks thou protesteth too much, buddy. You're guilty of SOMETHING before God or else you would not be carrying on so much."

Job (I'm borrowing ahead in Chapter 16 here, we'll talk more about this in a later post): "Bite my ass, all of you. You just don't know. You can't possibly understand. I don't even understand why God has treated me like this."

So, in the first cycle of speeches, Job makes a shift. He had started out prior to Chapter 8, simply wailing he was miserable. Then he morphs from there to Bildad's speech where his reply is basically, "God, just kill me now. I wish I had never been born. I suck."

Zophar's speech ires him to the point that now Job shifts to a little more of the "I want my day in court," mode. Now instead of just being miserable in front of God, he wants to argue his case.

But by the time he gets to Eliphaz, now he's just tired of all of THEM, and lashes out at them, because who died and made them prophet?

How many times do we march through this drill when we've been hurt beyond belief ourselves? We withdraw in misery, sort of just wishing we don't exist. We ask God to relieve us of our pain, even if it means we die to escape it. That, I believe, is the place people get stuck when they decide suicide is an option. It just hurts so much, and they want it to go away, and if THEM going away is the way out, so be it.

That second shift in Job's attitude is that shift we see in the Kubler-Ross stages of death, dying and grief--bargaining. We want to have it out with the Almighty. We want some sort of "intervention" with others where we can have our say. We want someone else, or God, to be an impartial arbiter of our despair, and award us "damages" for it.

Job's third shift, I think, is that place where we just want our friends to shut up and get off our cases. I think of the well-meaning friends who urge us to just "drop it," "get past it," "let it go," and "get on with our life." They sometimes seem to side with the person who wronged us, or the situation that humiliated us. It's annoying as hell, even if there IS a kernel of truth in it. It feels like abject betrayal when they do that. It's heaping coals on what is already a furnace running at "red line."

But oh my's so utterly human. It's timeless. It happened in Job's day, it still happens today. Painful as it is, it's also so REAL. I find the older I get, I'd rather take "real" even if "real hurts."


I love your summary of this cycle of speeches. I've always found Job's friends to be just about the most annoying collection of people in the Bible. You're spot on when you categorize the as the "Just get over it" types.



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I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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