There are many lessons for us to learn as we travel the road of life. Many of these will be learned from our own experience, but thankfully God has given us his word to provide instruction. Here are a handful of lessons from the book of Job with some help from the Wiersbe Study Bible.

Job’s Friends and Their Pat Answers

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.

Job 2:11


Who are Job’s friends? All three of the men were old (32:6), older than Job (15:10), but we assume that Eliphaz was the oldest. He is named first (2:11), he spoke first, and God seems to have accepted him as the elder member of the trio (42:7). Eliphaz was associated with Teman, a place known for its wisdom (Jer. 49:7). Eliphaz based his speeches on two things: his own observations of life “I have seen,” “this we have searched out”—Job 4:8; 5:3, 27) and a frightening personal experience he had one night (4:12–21). Eliphaz put great faith in tradition (15:18, 19), and the God he worshiped was an inflexible Lawgiver. “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?” he asked (4:7); (And what about our Lord Jesus Christ?) Eliphaz had a rigid theology that left little or no room for God’s grace.


Bildad must have been the second oldest of the three since he is named second and spoke after Eliphaz. In a word, Bildad was a legalist. His life-text was, “Behold, God will not cast away the blameless, nor will He uphold the evildoers” (8:20). He could quote ancient proverbs, and like Eliphaz, he had great respect for tradition. For some reason, Bildad was certain that Job’s children had died, because they also were sinners (8:4). The man seemed to have no feeling for his hurting friend.


Zophar was the youngest of the three and surely the most dogmatic. He spoke like a schoolmaster addressing a group of ignorant freshmen. “Listen!” was his unfeeling approach (11:6). He was merciless and told Job that God was giving him far less than he deserved for his sins (11:6). The key text to understanding Zophar is, “Do you not know this of old, since man was placed on earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment?” (20:4, 5). Interestingly enough, Zophar spoke to Job only twice. Either he decided he was unable to answer Job’s arguments, or he felt that trying to help Job was a waste of time.

All three men made some good and true statements, as well as some foolish ones; but these friends were of no help to Job, because their viewpoint was too narrow. Their theology was not vital and vibrant but dead and rigid, and the God they tried to defend was small enough to be understood and explained. By maintaining his integrity and refusing to say he had sinned, Job undermined the theology of his friends and robbed them of their peace and confidence; and this made them angry. God used Job to destroy their shallow theology and challenge them to go deeper into the heart and mind of God. Alas, they preferred the superficial and safe to the profound and mysterious.

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have many disciples today. Whenever you meet a person who feels compelled to explain everything, who has a pat answer for every question and a fixed formula for solving every problem, you are back at the ash heap with Job’s three friends.

Reconciling God’s Justice and His Mercy

Why then do You not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust, And You will seek me diligently, but I will no longer be.

Job 7:21

How are these two attributes of God reconciled? At the cross. When Jesus died for the sins of the world, the righteousness of God was vindicated, for sin was judged; but the love of God was demonstrated, for a Savior was provided. At Calvary, God is both just and the Justifier (Rom. 3:24–26).

In Old Testament times, believers looked forward to the cross and were saved by faith in a Savior yet to come (John 8:56; Rom. 3:25; Heb. 11). Job was a believer; therefore, his sins had been dealt with by God. Even if Job had sinned against God in some great way, God would deal with His child on the basis of grace and mercy and not justice. When we confess our sins, God forgives us because He is faithful to His promise and just toward His Son who died for those sins (1 John 1:9).

Meeting God in Court

If one wished to contend with Him, he could not answer Him one time out of a thousand.

Job 9:3

From this point on, the emphasis in the discussion is on the justice of God; and the image that is uppermost in Job’s mind is that of a legal trial. He wants to meet God in court and have an opportunity to prove his own integrity. With his friends acting as witnesses against him, Job repeatedly appealed to the necessity of a trial before God. Throughout the Book of Job, we constantly see legal language about charges, arguments, and defenses.

Job was serious about wanting to face God in court, even though he had no one to represent him. “But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God” (13:3). “Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him” (13:15). “I have prepared my case, I know that I shall be vindicated” (13:18). He felt that God was not treating him justly. “If I cry out concerning wrong, I am not heard. If I cry aloud, there is no justice” (19:7). God had “taken away” his “justice” (27:2), and Job demanded an opportunity to be heard before the throne of God. But when the opportunity came, Job had nothing to say.

In the end, Job discovers that even our deepest longings to be justified (or to justify ourselves) before God fail to recognize our inability to stand before Him on our merits or hold Him accountable. These longings are satisfied by God freely, not because we demand satisfaction from Him.

Being a Good Counselor

But you forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians.

Job 13:4

Job’s friends had not been an encouragement to him. They had taken a superior attitude as judges, assuming that they knew God better than Job did. They did not identify with him in his grief and pain; “But you forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians” (13:4). They smeared the whitewash of their lies (13:4; Ps. 119:69) over the discussion so that they avoided the difficult problems while maintaining their traditional ideas. They stayed on the surface of things and never went deep into God’s truth or Job’s feelings.

Counseling that stays on the surface accomplishes very little. If we are going to help people, we must go much deeper; but this demands love, courage, and patience. What the three friends thought were profound statements of truth were only warmed-over ashes from ancient fires, clay pots that would fall apart (Job 13:12). A good counselor needs much more than “platitudes” (v. 12). He or she also needs wisdom to know how to apply the truth to the needs of hurting people.

The Motive for Obedience

Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.

Job 14:1

If everybody believed as Job believed—that God does not always punish the wicked and reward the godly—then what motive would people have for obeying God? Religion would not be worth it! But this is the devil’s theology, the very idea that God was using Job to refute! If people serve God only for what they get out of it, then they are not serving God at all; they are only serving themselves by making God their servant. Their religion is only a pious system for promoting selfishness and not for glorifying God.

When the new generation of Israelites was about to enter Canaan, Moses gave them a higher motive for obedience: their love for God (Deut. 6:4, 5; 7:7; 10:12–16; 11:1, 13, 22; 19:9). They were no longer children, and God didn’t need to frighten them (or bribe them) into obeying Him. Love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:8–10) and the highest motive for obedience (John 14:15).

Do the Wicked “Writhe in Pain”?

The wicked man writhes with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden from the oppressor.

Job 15:20

The problem with Eliphaz’s statement about the judgment of the wicked (15:20–35) is that it is not always true in this life. Many wicked people go through life apparently happy and successful, while many godly people experience suffering and seeming failure. Ultimately the wicked do suffer, and the godly are blessed; meanwhile, however, the situation often looks reversed (Ps. 73; Jer. 12:1–4). Furthermore, God gives sunshine to the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). He is longsuffering toward sinners (2 Pet. 3:9) and waits for His goodness to lead them to repentance (Luke 15:17–19; Rom. 2:4).

The greatest judgment God could send to the wicked in this life would be to let them have their own way. They who “have glory from men . . . they have their reward” (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16). The only heaven the godless will know is the enjoyment they have on earth in this life, and God is willing for them to have it. The only suffering the godly will experience is in this life, for heaven will have no pain or tears. Furthermore, the suffering that God’s people experience now is working for them and will one day lead to glory (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:16–18; 1 Pet. 1:6–8; 5:10). Eliphaz and his friends had the situation all confused and reversed.

Growing in Wisdom

And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.’

Job 28:28

The first step toward true wisdom is a reverent and respectful attitude toward God, which also involves a humble attitude toward oneself. Personal pride is the greatest barrier to spiritual wisdom. “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom” (Prov. 11:2). The next step is to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) and make diligent use of the means He gives us for securing His wisdom, especially knowing and doing the Word of God (Matt. 7:21–29). Just studying is not enough; we must also obey what God tells us to do (John 7:17).

As we fellowship with other believers in the church and share with one another, we can learn wisdom. Reading the best books can also help us grow in wisdom and understanding. The important thing is that we focus on Christ, for He is our wisdom (see 1 Cor. 1:24), and in Him is hidden “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). The better we know Christ and the more we become like Him, the more we will walk in wisdom and understand the will of God. We must allow the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of our heart, so we can see God in His Word and understand more of the riches we have in Christ (Eph. 1:15–23).

God Responds to our Pain

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.

Job 38:1-3

Staggered by grief and offended by the harsh treatment of his friends, Job had cried out, “Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, then You respond to me” (13:22). And here God responded to Job’s challenge.

God’s address can be summarized in three questions:

  1. “Can you explain my creation?” (38:1–38)
  2. “Can you oversee my creation?” (38:39—39:30)
  3. Job’s first response (40:1–5)
  4. “Can you subdue my creation?” (40:6—41:34)
  5. Job’s second response (42:1–6)

The first question deals with God’s power and wisdom in bringing the universe into being. The second deals with God’s providential care of His creatures, and the third centers on two creatures (probably the hippopotamus and the crocodile) that defy humans’ ability to subdue them. Twice Job responded, deeply aware of his insignificance. But when Job repented of his self-righteousness, God restored him (42:7–17).

God is now called “the LORD” (38:1), that is, Jehovah God, a name that (except for 12:9) has not been used in the Book of Job since the first two chapters. In their speeches, the men have called Him “God” and “the Almighty” but not “Yahweh.” This is the name that God revealed to Israel centuries later (Ex. 3:13ff.), the name that speaks of His self-existence (“I AM WHO I AM”) and His personal covenant relationship to His people.

Keep Learning with the Wiersbe Study Bible

We hope you’ve enjoyed these lessons in the book of Job from the Wiersbe Study Bible. There are plenty of more notes like these in this resource. Visit our store to learn more of what the Wiersbe Study Bible has to offer!


  1. How sad it was to me to read your comment on Job 41 stating this: “(probably the hippopotamus and the crocodile)”! Are you not aware that dinosaurs and fire breathing dragons were part of God’s creation on Day 6 along with Adam? That man walked with the dinosaurs and that Job wrestled with them? These animals are NOT millions of years old .. otherwise you would have death & dying before man sinned (as we know by genealogy records that Adam was created approximately 6,000 years ago. If that’s the case, then sin is meaningless and Genesis is not to be believed. BTW I’ve never seen a fire breathing hippo! LOL. And crocodiles do not have a tail like a cedar tree trunk, but you know what does… a dinosaur.

    • Brad Hoffman Reply

      Hi Sue! Thanks for your comment on behemoth and leviathan. I definitely agree that the descriptions of these two creatures in Job 40-41 does not fit with the explanation provided. And you make some very good points about the creation account. I probably should have edited that part out of the blog post as it was included in the excerpt from the Wiersbe Study Bible, but I’ll leave it there and see if any other readers would like to chime in.

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