Job’s Friends Accuse Him of Abandoning God (Job 8-22)
Eventually, Job’s friends move from questioning what Job did wrong to questioning whether Job has abandoned God (Job 15:4, 20:5). Along the way the friends encourage Job to return to God. Bildad directs Job to “make supplication to the Almighty” (Job 8:5) so that Job’s future will be “very great” (Job 8:7) and filled with “laughter” and “shouts of joy” (Job 8:21). Eliphaz adjures him, “If you will return to the Almighty, you will be restored” (Job 22:23). Again, in general terms, this is good advice. We frequently do turn away from God and need to be recalled to him. However, we the readers know that Job has not done anything to deserve his suffering, and the effect of his friends’ attacks is to make Job begin to doubt himself. Just when he needs his friends to believe in him, they keep him from believing in himself. How can they support him when they have already made up their mind about him?