Job 6:14-30

Sermon preached on July 24, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Friendship is a great gift from God. The fact that sinful people have others who like them, who have an affection for them, who are devoted to them, who seek to help them,—is such a blessing from God. Ecclesiastes 4:10 says,

"If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!"

Friends are great. Except when they're not. Friends can let you down. They can betray you. Judas betrayed Jesus. There have been many cases like that. Job accused his friends of betraying him. In verse 27 he said to them,

"You would even cast lots for the fatherless
and barter away your friend."

During wartime, friends have sometimes betrayed close friends in an effort to save their own lives or the lives of their family. In Luke 21:16 Jesus said to His disciples,

"You will be betrayed even by parents,
brothers, relatives and friends,
and they will put some of you to death."

Christians can sometimes expect their friends to betray them, especially in times of persecution.

In the song for the 70's Carly Simon wrote a hit song,
You're So Vain. The villain in the song was where he should be all the time, but when wasn't, he was with some underworld spy,

"or the wife of a close friend."

Many friends have been betrayed that way.

Friends can also cheat you. When he was playing hockey Bobby Orr had a friend who was also his agent. He took care of Bobby's financial affairs. From what I understand he cheated Bobby Orr out of most of his money. Near the end of his playing days, the Boston Bruins, in addition to money, offered Bobby part ownership of the team if he would stay in Boston. His agent didn't even tell Bobby about that offer and instead arranged an offer from another team, presumably because it was a better deal for him, not Bobby. It's like what David wrote in Psalm 41:9,

"Even my close friend, whom I trusted,
he who shared my bread,
has lifted up his heel against me."

Friends can let you down. Job's friends did that to Job. They came to Job to, (Job 2:11)

"sympathize with him and comfort him."

But they didn't do that. According to Job they were, (Job 16:2)

"miserable comforters…"

and (Job 13:4)

"worthless physicians"

Instead of consoling Job—they smeared accused him of being a great sinner, of being a hypocrite. They smeared Job with lies. He said to them, (Job 13:4)

"You… smear me with lies;"

They didn't believe him when he told them that he hadn't committed any great sin. They berated Job. Job's friends were very harsh with Job.

So-called friends can also use you for their own purposes. Proverbs 19:4 says,

"Wealth brings many friends,
but a poor man's friend deserts him."

People flock to people of wealth. But they desert those who are poor. Why? It's all about the money. People may not really like the rich man, but they like his money so they pretend to like him. Verse 6 of that same chapter says,

"Many curry favor with a ruler,
and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts."

Champion boxers all have their entourages, people who are always around them. Everywhere the boxer goes, they go. They're all his friends. They're good at spending his money. But as soon as the championship is gone, as soon as the money is gone—they're gone too. They really weren't the boxer's friends. They were using him.

When I was a teenager I used to consider all my acquaintances my friends. I used to call everyone I knew in school a friend. But as I've gotten older I've realized that not all acquaintances are friends. There's a line from a song that says that when trouble comes to you,

"There's not many you'll call a friend…"

I've heard people who have gone through some horrible illness say that during that illness they found out who their true friends were. They also found out that people they thought were their friends—weren't really their friends at all. They said that some people, whom they thought were close friends, never came near them during their months long illness. They were surprised, shocked and disappointed by that. David spoke like that in Psalm 38:11. He said,

"My friends and companions
avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away."

But here Job shows us that we shouldn't be like that. He teaches us that

you should be a loyal and dependable friend.

Job said to his friends, (Job 6:14–17)

"A despairing man should have
the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes
the fear of the Almighty.
But my brothers are as undependable
as intermittent streams,
as the streams that overflow
when darkened by thawing ice
and swollen with melting snow,
but that cease to flow in the dry season,
and in the heat vanish from their channels."

How different Job's friends were from Jonathan, David's friend. When David's life was in danger from Jonathan's father, King Saul, Jonathan remained a loyal and dependable friend. In 1 Samuel 23:16–18 we read,

"Saul's son Jonathan
went to David at Horesh and
helped him find strength in God.'
Don't be afraid,' he said.
'My father Saul will not lay a hand on you.
You will be king over Israel,
and I will be second to you.
Even my father Saul knows this.'
The two of them made a covenant before the LORD."

Jonathan was such a blessing to David. He didn't just give him encouragement, or false hope. He directed him to God's promise to him, that David would be king over Israel. He helped David find strength in God.

Jonathan even warned David when Saul gave orders to his men to kill David. He even tested his father to see if he was still determined to kill David. He was such a great friend. Proverbs 17:17 says,

"A friend loves at all times,"

Proverbs 18:24 adds,

"there is a friend
who sticks closer than a brother."

Jonathan was such a friend to David. You should be that kind of friend. God meant friendship to be pure and good. Sin has corrupted friendship. Part of the renewal of the Holy Spirit is about making us love others. Part of that is that we should love our friends and be devoted to them. Betrayal, cheating and using people is not friendship. God hates such things, not just in general, but especially when they are done by so-called friends. You can easily deduce this from a book like Obadiah, where Edom is criticized because, (Obadiah 1:10-11)

"Because of the violence against your brother Jacob,
you will be covered with shame;
you will be destroyed forever.
On the day you stood aloof
while strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them."

Any betrayal is bad, but it is exacerbated when a close relationship like a brother or a friends is involved. Betraying a stranger is bad, but betraying a friend, where trust is involved, is worse.

The second thing to note here is that

being a loyal friend involves devotion.

The Hebrew word translated 'devotion' is, 'hsd'. It has a very strong relational aspect to it. In the Hebrew Old Testament it is often used to, (Tremper Longman III, Job, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms; p. 140)

"characterize the type of love that God shows his people. It is the kind of love that should issue in protection and help in times of trouble."

It refers to 'steadfast love'. It has connotations of faithfulness and kindness. God never leaves and never forsakes His people. He is absolutely committed to them. In 1 Samuel 20:8 it's even shown to be related to a covenant. When King Saul was trying to kill David, David said to his friend Jonathan.

"As for you, show kindness to your servant,
for you have brought him into
a covenant with you before the Lord."

The enduring quality of this loving kindness is shown to us in 2 Samuel 9:1. After he had become king, after his friend Jonathan had been killed on Mount Gilboa, David asked,

"Is there anyone still left
of the house of Saul to whom
I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?"

That's the pattern on which we are to base our friendships. Love that is steadfast, love that is faithful, love that is kind, love that endures.

Friends are supposed to have loyalty toward each other. But it's not the loyalty that will condone their faults, but it's loyalty that exhibits faithful love, that strives for the best for the other.

What Job says next is surprising. Job says that a man should have the devotion of his friends,

"even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty."

Some commentators think that Job is asking for his friends to give him, (David J. A. Clines, Job 1–20, WBC 17; p. 176)

'unqualified acceptance that takes his side whether he is in the right or the wrong."

But I give more credit to Job than that. Job is actually rebuking his friends here. He loves them and is committed to them. At the end of the book he prays for them and so saves them from God's wrath. He hasn't given up on them. He does not accept his friends when they are wrong.

Indeed, a good friend will sometimes hurt you. In Proverbs 27:6 the wounds of a friend are contrasted with the kisses of an enemy.

"Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses."

The kisses of an enemy are hypocritical. They're counterfeit. Wounds are usually inflicted by an enemy, but sometimes a friend will wound you, for your own good. 'Wounds' are a metaphor for words a friend uses to correct, to admonish, to rebuke when you go wrong. These wounds show his strong devotion and loyalty to you.

So I ask you—are you a loyal friend? Are you devoted to your friends? Do you love them through thick and thin?

But the fact that Job says that a person should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty shows us a great theological truth. It is this:

you are to befriend the lost.

You should befriend unbelievers. You should befriend even someone who rejects God.

But someone might object. Doesn't the Bible say in 1 Corinthians 15:33,

"Do not be misled:
'Bad company corrupts good character.'"?

And James 4:4 says,

"You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship
with the world is hatred toward God?
Anyone who chooses to be a friend
of the world becomes an enemy of God."

Proverbs 12:26

"A righteous man is cautious in friendship,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray."

All that is true. We have to be cautious and careful. We must not let anyone lead us into sin. We must strive to be holy.

But I ask you—

who is our example here? It's Jesus.

Jesus was a friend of sinners. In Luke 7:34 Jesus said,

"The Son of Man came eating and drinking,
and you say,
'Here is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners."

He was a friend of sinners. He came to seek and save those who were lost. He didn't sin. He didn't follow their bad example. But He loved them and by His friendship, brought many to Himself.

In the Great Commission, (Matthew 28) Jesus told us to go out into the world and make disciples. The truth is that

the friendship is a means that God often uses to bring people to Him.

The Spirit leads people to Christ in different ways. Some are converted by preaching. On the day of Pentecost 3000 were converted through Peter's sermon. I remember asking someone once how he came to Christ and he told me it was through a Billy Graham crusade. In 1 Corinthians 1:21, Paul wrote,

"For since in the wisdom of God
the world through its wisdom did not know him,
God was pleased through the foolishness
of what was preached to save those who believe."

Many people have been saved through the preaching of the Word. It's one of the main things that God uses to save sinners.

But God also works in other ways. Sometimes people come to Christ when they're alone. Some are at the end of their rope, alone in a hotel room and they'll pick up a Gideon Bible and come to Christ by reading it.

Another way that people come to Christ is through the friendship of a Christian. John Frame, in his book,
Apologetics to the Glory of God, writes about how Christians have become Christians,

"It is interesting… to ask how people actually come to faith in Christ… For one thing, few Christians, when asked to list the factors that led them to trust in Christ, list any argument or proof at all. For most, the issue is not intellectual; for them, Christianity was, in the intellectual sense, believable enough. The issue was, rather, that the person was not yet motivated to repent of sin, seek forgiveness, and obey the Christian revelation. That motivation, supernatural in origin, came through various experiences—often merely a very vivid retelling of the gospel of Jesus, especially such a retelling connected by loving, winsome behavior… behavior is part of communication; our lives are part of our apologetic."

Rosario Champagne was a lesbian professor at Syracuse University. She taught Women's Studies and her specialty was Queer Theory. She became a Christian in a most unlikely way. The Promise Keepers came to Syracuse and she published a critique of the organization in the local newspaper. She writes, (The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield)

"After I published in the local newspaper a critique of the Promise Keepers for their gender politics, I received a batch of mail: hate mail and fan mail. I received so many letters for this little editorial that I kept empty Xerox paper boxes on both sides of my desk, one for hate mail and one for fan mail… In this batch of mail, I also received a letter from Pastor Ken Smith, then-pastor of the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church. It was a kind and inquiring letter…It was the kindest letter of opposition that I had ever received."

She contacted him, he and his wife invited her over for supper. They became friends with her. They didn't even invite her to church (at first). That was actually good. Rosario wrote,

"If Ken and Floy had invited me to church at that first meal I would have careened like a skateboard on a cliff, and would have never come back."

It was their continuing friendship that slowly worked on her. She came to Christ, in large part, through their befriending her.

Joni Eareckson, the great evangelist for Christ, came to know Christ after she broke her neck in a swimming accident. She came to Christ, in part, because of her friend Steve Estes. She wrote, (From, Friendship Unlimited, p. 12. By Joni Eareckson Tada)

"Do you know why I became so curious about God's Word? It was simply because I tasted something of the excitement I saw in Steve's desire for God and His Word. I wanted to know more."

Martin Luther, in his book, The Freedom of a Christian, tells us that a Christian is, (Martin Luther, Selections from his Writings, edited by John Dillenberger, 1520, p. 75)

"to serve, help, and in every way deal with his neighbor as he sees that God through Christ has dealt and still deals with him."

He said, a Christian ought to think,

"Although I am an unworthy and condemned man, my God has given me in Christ all the riches of righteousness and salvation without any merit on my part, out of pure, free mercy, so that from now on I need nothing except faith which believes this is true. Why should I not therefore freely, joyfully with all my heart, and with an eager will do all things which I know are pleasing and acceptable to such a Father who has overwhelmed me with his inestimable riches? I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me; I will do nothing in this life except what I see is necessary, profitable, and salutary to my neighbor, since through faith I have an abundance of all good things in Christ."

Are you befriending unbelieving friends so that you can show them Christ? Friendship is hard. It takes time, effort, patience. But we are called to be people of love, people who imitate Christ, people who show people Christ living in us.

Lastly, for non-Christians, know that you need Jesus. You need the friend like no other. He is the only One who can save you. He loves so much that He died on behalf of sinners.

James 2:23 tells us that we can become friends of God. It says,

"Abraham believed God,
'and it was credited to him as righteousness,'
and he was called God's friend."

God is offering to be your friend. Accept Him today. He will be the best friend you ever had, a friend who will save you, and bring you to glory.