Job prevents us from reading Proverbs and becoming like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.
Job’s three friends are those smug guys in our neighborhood Bible Studies. They apply the proverbs with “discernment” by diagnosing your problems confessed during Prayer Request Time. They explain your error, quote a proverb, and then say “Next!” I used to be that guy, and I anguish that sometimes I still am. But while the Lord tarries, the Church needs Job to humble and teach the know-it-alls about the intricacies of life.
A simple reading of Proverbs would lead us to suspect that Job is getting his just desserts.
“The fear of the wicked will come upon him, and the desire of the righteous will be granted. When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation.” (Prov 10:24-25)
But Job is blameless. “The basic error of Job’s friends is that they overestimate their grasp of truth, misapply the truth they know, and close their minds to any facts that contradict what they assume.”1 They “go even further as they turn the equation of sin and suffering around. They insist that if you suffer, then you are a sinner.”2 We must avoid this error by recognizing that proverbs “are not divine promises for the here and now, but true observations that time will bear out.”3 We must avoid the pitfalls of reading the proverbs in either an absolute or isolated manner. Individual proverbs assume the wise will know which situation calls for their application, and will use the context of all the proverbs (and the totality of Scripture) to make wise decisions.
(Continue reading here.)