In the final chapter of the book of Job there is very searching and self examination sentence-God turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends (Job 42:10). The author suggests that God was unwilling to relate to Job’s prayer until Job changed his attitude toward his friends. There seems to be a special displeasure reserved for friends who disappoint us.

Now we may deal charitable with those who nay be regarded as our enemies. In fact there is something condescending and spiritual about extending grace to those whom we may think are beyond     receiving grace. Thus to pray for our enemies is a direct command of our Lord. (Matthew 5) but to pray for our friends can be challenging. Such is the case because there is always the implication that our friends should know better than to behave as they have done. Those who hurt us most are those who are most close to us.

Job’s experience is instructive to us. His friends have come to comfort him. Job is glad that they remembered him in his moments of distress. But when they come their words are full of judgment. They dealt with Job’s suffering and agony but they did not deal with Job himself. What Job needed most was to be understood by them, to be able to place his tragedy in their empathy with him. When they were unable to do that for him and with him, Job felt betrayed.

To pray for his friends meant he had forgiven them. Job could not bring them before God unless his relationship with his friends were right. It would be a contradiction to ask God to do for his friends what Job himself was unwilling to do. When Job was able to pray for his friends he solved the basic problem of his suffering and rebellion. That is why when the Holy Spirit says that God turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends.

Dr. Taylor A. McKenzie

January 20, 2019