Job 16:2
Job is able to rise above his foolish, narrow-minded friends, and look down upon them with good-humoured, pitying irony. So little do they understand him! So proudly do they trust in their empty words! And it is all a delusion. Job is almost ready to forget their impertinence as he turns to the far more important question of God's dealings with him. But first he gives them their true character. They are all "miserable comforters."

I. MISERABLE COMFORTERS FAIL FOR LACK OF SYMPATHY. This thought is continually recurring in the course of the dramatic dialogue. It is at the root of the whole controversy. All the elaborate argumentation of the three wise men is so much empty wind, because they lack the first condition of consolation. We can never be reminded too often that sympathy is the first and absolute condition of all mutual helpfulness. But how is it that well-meaning friends lack it? There can be but one answer. The enemy of sympathy is selfishness. While we think much of ourselves, our own opinions, position, conduct, we must fail in sympathy, and our attempts to help others must come to the ground without any good results. In visiting the poor, nursing the sick, raising the fallen, saving the lost, teaching children, sympathy is the primary requisite for success. Christ is the true Friend of the suffering, because Christ sympathizes profoundly with all sufferings. We make a mistake when, like Job's comforters, we try to console by offering advice. The sufferer wants not advice, but sympathy. Why should his misfortune give us a right to pose as his counsellors? He is more fitted to be our teacher, for he has been to the best of schools, the school of affliction.

II. MISERABLE COMFORTERS ADD TO THE GRIEFS WHICH THEY VAINLY TRY TO ASSUAGE. Thus Rousseau writes, "Consolation indiscreetly pressed upon us, when we are suffering under affliction, only serves to increase our pain and to render our grief more poignant." The reasons for this are not difficult to discover.

1. Disappointment. We expect something better from a friend. He should give us his sympathy, and if he fails to do so we feel ourselves to be unkindly treated, or at least we miss a comfort for which we were looking.

2. Weariness. The sufferer wants quiet. The look and tear of sympathy may console him, but many words are wearying to him. He is too full of iris own sad thoughts to find room for the ill-judged observations of untimely advisers.

3. Injustice. You cannot be just to a man without sympathy, because you cannot understand him till you enter into his deeper feelings. But nothing is more distressing than unjust treatment. Much of Job's greatest trouble came from this source.

III. WE NEED DIVINE GRACE TO HELP US TO BE TRUE COMFORTERS. Perhaps we shrink from the task, seeing its difficulties. We would avoid the house of mourning lest our bungling attempts at consolation should add to its sorrows. But this is not brotherly. The Christian duty is to "weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15). To be true sympathizers we need to have self conquered by the grace of Christ. Perhaps one reason why some of us have much trouble is that we may be able to understand the trouble of other people, and so may become true comforters. - W.F.A.







Not for any injustice in mine hands.
In these words Job delivers us —

1. The confidence of a godly man.

2. That kind of infirm anguish and indignation, that half-distemper, that expostulation with God, which sometimes comes to an excess even in good and godly men.

3. The foundation of his confidence, and his deliverance from this his infirmity.

(John Donne.)

My witness is in heaven and my record is on high.
I. IN REFERENCE TO JOB.

1. A declaration of his belief.

2. An avowal of his sincerity.

3. A proof of his devotion.

II. IN REFERENCE TO OURSELVES.

1. In seasons of self-suspicion.

2. Under the assaults of calumny.

3. In the prospect of death.

(G. Brooks.)

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