Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come on him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite…
In this short section we have a beautiful picture of true friendship in its prompt sympathy, its ready offices. The three intimate friends of Job, on hearing of his troubles, arrange to visit him and offer the comfort of their presence and condolence. We are reminded -
I. OF THE BLESSING OF FRIENDSHIP. Sympathy is the indispensable need of the heart. It deepens the colour of all our pleasures; it throws a gleam of light athwart our deepest gloom. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice; and weep with them that weep." Our joys do not burst into flower till they feel the warm atmosphere of friendship. Our heaviest griefs only cease to be crushing when we have poured our tale into the ear of one we love. One of the humblest, yet best offices a friend can render to a sufferer is to be a good listener. Draw him out; get him to talk; movement and change of mind are what he needs. Exertion, if only the exertion of speech, will do him good. Do not pour upon him a cataract of well-meaning but stunning commonplaces. Imitate the kindness of Job's friends, but not their want of tact and perception. Let him only feel that in your presence he can relieve himself of all that is on his mind, and will not fail to be kindly understood.
II. SEASONABLE SILENCE IN THE PRESENCE OF SORROW. On the arrival of the friends, seeing the heart-rending condition of the noble chieftain, whom they had last seen in the height of his health and prosperity, now sitting in the open air, banished by disease from his dwelling, defaced by that disease beyond recognition, an utterly broken man, they express their grief by all the significant gestures of Eastern manners - weeping, rending their clothes, sprinkling dust upon their heads. They then take their places by his side, and keep a profound and mournful silence for a week, as Ezekiel did when he visited his countrymen captives by the river Chebar. What exquisite manners are taught us in the Bible! And the great superiority of its teaching in this respect over the common teaching of the world is that it founds all manners upon the heart. It is truth, love, sympathy, which can alone render us truly polite, refined, and delicate in our relations to others, teaching us always to put ourselves in thought in the other's place. "There is a time to keep silence." In great grief we recognize the hand of God, and he bids us be still and own him. Our smaller feelings bubble, our deeper ones are dumb. There are times when reverence demands silence, and a single word is too much. Leave the sufferer alone at first. Let him collect himself; let him ask what God has to say to him in the still, small voice that comes after the earthquake and the storm. "Sacred silence, thou that art offspring of the deeper heart, frost of the mouth, and thaw of the mind!" Sit by your friend's side, clasp his hand, say simply, "God comfort you, my brother!" In the earlier stage of a fresh and sudden grief this will be enough. We cannot doubt that the wounded heart of Job was greatly comforted by the silent presence of his sympathizing friends. It was better than all their spoken attempts at consolation. Let us thank God for friendship and for true friends; they are messengers from him. "God, who comforteth them that are cast down, comforted me by the coming of Titus!" - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
WEB: Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come on him, they each came from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and to comfort him.