The Danger of Bad Counsel

Job  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:30
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The first of Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, has finished giving Job his advice. Though he seeks to instruct Job in as gentle terms as possible, he still makes the accusation that there must be some hidden sin in Job’s life for this much suffering to have happened to him. The problem is that his counsel does not fit with Job’s situation. Neither has Eliphaz taken the time to really listen to Job and attempt to put himself in Job’s situation. So, even though it was done with good intentions, Eliphaz gave Job some unhelpful, damaging, and bad counsel.
When I was in college as a freshmen I also received some bad counsel. It was nearing the end of the semester and I was just in the initial stages of friendship with Sharon. I was very interested in her and wanted to get her a gift (I think it was for Christmas). I knew exactly what gift I was going to get. She needed a new music stand for practicing her flute. My plan was to simply give her the gift after chapel, but then I talked to my room mate. I told him my plans and asked his advice. He was like, “You can’t just give her the gift- you have to do things properly. Take her out on a date. Have dinner, then give her the gift.” This seemed like a pretty good idea at the time. So I worked up my courage and one afternoon in the library I nervously asked her out on a date. Up until this point everything was going well. She was smiling and we were talking and just having a good time. As soon as I finished asking her out, things took a turn for the worse. Her face turned beat red, she looked down at the floor, and quietly replied, “You have to talk to my father.” Now, I was fairly new the Maranatha scene and I had really no idea of the concept of asking her father if I could date her. However, my room mate really should have known better. He was familiar with how things worked (at least better than me), but he never mentioned it to me. He gave me bad advice, and guess what? I never asked him for dating advice again.
Bad counsel had sometimes dangerous consequences.
After hearing the bad counsel from Eliphaz Job responds in much the same way as his first speech, with raw emotion, paid, and bewilderment. Sadly, rather than making Job’s situation better, Eliphaz has only made things worse.
Bad counsel is dangerous and it can lead to some negative consequences and reactions.
Today we will examine some of the damaging consequences of bad counsel.

I. Bad Counsel May Result in Distrust

How does bad counsel create distrust?

A. Bad counsel leaves the impression that you do not understand what the sufferer is going through

Job 6:1–3 KJV 1900
1 But Job answered and said, 2 Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, And my calamity laid in the balances together! 3 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: Therefore my words are swallowed up.
Job wishes that a huge scale could be made available and on one side of the scale the weight of his grief and calamity would be placed.
“Grief” or “Vexation” describes the angry feelings aroused by the hateful actions and disrespectful attitude of an adversary
The term is used of Hannah’s emotional state in
1 Samuel 1:6 KJV 1900
6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.
“Calamity” translates a rare Hebrew word that is again used in contexts where someone’s actions have hurt another
Proverbs 19:13 KJV 1900
13 A foolish son is the calamity of his father: And the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.
Combined his grief and his vexation would outweigh the sands of the sea.
How much sand is there in the world?
7.5 x 10-18 grains of sand, or seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains- in deserts and beaches
The point is that Job is hurting and his friends have no idea how he feels. His pain is so great that it would take a scale large enough for all of the sand of the sea to be measured, and even then his pain would be more extreme. And as Job now understand from Eliphaz’s speech they have no idea what he is going through.
Job continues to attempt to explain his sorrow in v. 4
Job 6:4 KJV 1900
4 For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, The poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.
Notice two metaphors at work here.
1). Job claims that God, the superb marksman, has shot a rain of arrows at him. The arrows have hit their mark, unleashing poison in his entrails, thus causing his spirit (rûaḥ) to drink deeply of their poison (ḥēmâ) (Hartley, 132).
I am a bow hunter and I have seen first hand the devastation caused by an arrow. They are quick, lethal, deadly. Notice who is shooting the arrows. Job’s vexation and calamity are the results of God’s actions so Job believes. Remember, while God allowed it to happen, Satan was the one doing the shooting.
The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.
2). God’s terrors are arrayed against me. Expanding the metaphor in the third line, Job imagines that God, like a general marshaling a mighty army against a well-fortified city, has arrayed against him an army of terrors. The same horror that the occupants of a besieged city feel floods Job’s soul. (Hartley, 132).
Again all of this imagery is an attempt to get his friends to understand what he is going through, for clearly they have missed the mark.

B. Bad counsel leads the sufferer to doubt future advice.

Job 6:5 KJV 1900
5 Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? Or loweth the ox over his fodder?
Even animals will not complain if they have adequate food. Job says he would not either, unless he had adequate cause.
I am no farmer, so I don’t have the personal experience of donkeys or oxen. However, I do have five boys. (Sometimes it seems like I have livestock in my house). When they are babies, if they were hungry they let you know about it. Right now Jonathan is in that stage. Sharon usually feeds him late at night, she will wake him up to feed him so he will last through the night. When he first wakes up and he doesn’t have anything in his belly he is not very sociable. If I even look at him he cries. But after he is full, he will smile at me until he gets put to bed.
Job is saying that his laments are not without reason.
Job 6:6 KJV 1900
6 Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?
Tying in the food metaphor Job states that tasteless food is repulsive. Job is similarly repulsed, like one who eats food with no taste and must spit it out.
It’s like oatmeal. Have you ever tried plain oatmeal without any sugar, or milk, or fruit? It’s is bland, tasteless mush and all you want to do is spit it out.
Job 6:7 KJV 1900
7 The things that my soul refused to touch Are as my sorrowful meat.
The idea here is that Job’s appetite refuses to touch tasteless food. For they are as food that is loathsome to him.
Job describes Eliphaz’s speech as insipid, like tasteless food which can be nauseating if not seasoned.
In other words the counsel from Eliphaz had left a bad taste in Job’s mouth. If you have had a bad experience with something or someone, do you want to go back and have that same bad experience? No, you no longer trust that person- you begin to doubt in their abilities because of your previous experience.
In my example of asking Sharon out on a first date- do you think I was eager to go back to my room mate for more dating advice? No- he was the last person that I wanted to get counsel from. He didn’t completely understand my situation and his suggestion caused me embarrassment and rejection. I no longer trusted him for advice.
Remember sometimes there is a great lag between you and the one you are offering counsel to. These men sat with Job for a whole week without speaking a word, yet they were still unable to enter into how Job was feeling. This is even more true in our culture. You might only have a text, or a short phone call or a brief conversation. We need to realize that there is a lot more going on behind all of it than what someone is telling you. But it is our job to attempt to sympathize with those that are suffering.
Romans 12:10 KJV 1900
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Romans 12:15 KJV 1900
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
If we don’t then people are going to see us as someone who doesn’t understand them, as someone who gives bad advice and they will stop trusting us- and worse than that- any godly advice you might have been able to give them.

II. Bad Counsel May Cause Discouragement

A. The sufferer may return to their original struggle

We are right back to chapter 3 where Job wished for death. Eliphaz counseled Job to repent of his great hidden sin and seek God. But this didn’t fit with Job’s experience, so Job goes right back to the agony that he is experiencing having found no solace in Eliphaz’s words.
Job 6:8 KJV 1900
8 Oh that I might have my request; And that God would grant me the thing that I long for!
Lit. That God would fulfill my hope.
Here Job is countering the earlier advice of Eliphaz.
Job 4:6 KJV 1900
6 Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, Thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?
Remember Eliphaz told Job that his fear of God and his integrity should have been strong enough to keep Job from loosing all hope.
But Job’s reply to Eliphaz is- you have no idea what you are talking about I am in so much pain that the only hope I see is:
Job 6:9 KJV 1900
9 Even that it would please God to destroy me; That he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!
That is the only way I can see an end to my pain and suffering.
In fact my own death at the hands of God would be:
Job 6:10 KJV 1900
10 Then should I yet have comfort; Yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; For I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.
Concealed or Denied the words of the Holy Ones
1). If God did kill me it would be a witness that God had heard my request and answered me.
2). Or, if he would die, then he would be exempt from cursing God in any way.

B. The sufferer may reject the possibility of hope

Job 6:11–13 KJV 1900
11 What is my strength, that I should hope? And what is mine end, that I should prolong my life? 12 Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of brass? 13 Is not my help in me? And is wisdom driven quite from me?
He simply had no power left. He is weak flesh, not metal or stone (11-12), and he has lost the practical wisdom/ resourcefulness with which he became successful.
Job has lost all hope because he believes he would need the strength of stones and for his bones to be made out of brass in order to bear up under the suffering he is going through.
Let’s say a couple comes to me for counseling, and they have a problem with a child who has abandoned the ways of God and gone off to live in the pleasures of sin. And I take them to
Proverbs 22:6 KJV 1900
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.
We talked about this verse last week. This is a general truth right? It is true most of the time, but not always. But what if I applied it to their situation as if it was universally true. Your son is living in sin, therefore you must have gravely sinned in raising you child. It’s all your fault. Repent of your sin, so God can being to bless you again. Is that kind of counsel good or bad? Very bad. Will it encourage them or discourage them? Discourage. It’s too late, we messed up, what can we do?
Eliphaz- Job you must have sinned terribly for God to have judged you like this. Repent of you sin and God will once again bless your life. But all the while Job knows in his heart that he has not commited any kind of sin that would warrant this kind of suffering. He no longer knows how his theology, what he believes about God, can work in his life. His is hurting badly and just wants peace and rest. He says as much to his friends hoping to find some compassion, but instead he is labeled as a terrible sinner and all of this (even losing his children) is all his fault. Do you think this is helpful for Job? Can you see why Job has lost all hope and just wants to die? Eliphaz and his bad counsel certainly did not help matters, in fact they only made things worse.

III. Bad Advice May Seem Like Betrayal

A. A lack of kindness may feel like betrayal

Job 6:14 KJV 1900
14 To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; But he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.
Job apparently had a very close relationship with these friends.
Job uses the term “pity” better translated loyal kindness. It is the Hebrew word Hesed. This word is used in relation to God often in the OT and mostly translated as “lovingkindness.”
You are my friends, Job tells them. You should be showing me a loyal kindness in my time of grief.
The term hesed and the word “brothers” in v. 15 indicate that there probably existed an official bond or covenant between Job and his friends.
And because you have withheld this kindness from me that we made a covenant to uphold, therefore you have forsaken the fear of the Almighty.
The Book of Job (a) Their Treachery (6:14–23)

Whereas Eliphaz is shocked that Job’s fear of God does not sustain him during his misfortunes (4:6), Job is distressed that the friends’ fear of Shaddai does not move them to support him through his troubles.

B. Betrayal then brings a deep disappointment

Job takes 8 whole verses to describe to these friends the effects of his deep disappointment.
Job 6:15–20 KJV 1900
15 My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, And as the stream of brooks they pass away; 16 Which are blackish by reason of the ice, And wherein the snow is hid: 17 What time they wax warm, they vanish: When it is hot, they are consumed out of their place. 18 The paths of their way are turned aside; They go to nothing, and perish. 19 The troops of Tema looked, The companies of Sheba waited for them. 20 They were confounded because they had hoped; They came thither, and were ashamed.
They were like a dry wadi when one needs water (15-20).
Rivers in Israel don’t flow all the time. Most of the time they are empty. A lot of the water comes from the snow melt. When the summer comes around the heat just dries up the rivers. This is a matter of life and death in their culture. Just like travelers would be disappointed to come to a stream bed and find it dry, Job was equally disappointed with his friend’s counsel.
There words are even more of a disappointment because Job had not made any costly demands of their friendship
Job 6:21–23 KJV 1900
21 For now ye are nothing; Ye see my casting down, and are afraid. 22 Did I say, Bring unto me? Or, Give a reward for me of your substance? 23 Or, Deliver me from the enemy’s hand? Or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty?
A covenant friend was obligated in certain ways to help in time of need. What have I asked of you? Job says. I have not asked you for money, or for a reward- your wealth is not in jeopardy. I have not asked you to risk your lives to save me from an enemy or deliver me from the hand of tyrants. All I want is for you to show some loyal kindness and you can’t even do that. So you are nothing- you are of no help. You see me cast down and you are afraid.
Betrayal often comes because of our selfishness. Sometimes when I am playing a board game with my boys they will ask dad for some advice. Dad what should I do. I know what they should do, but I don’t want them to because it will mean I might loose the game. I don’t want to be beaten by a child, so sometimes it is very difficult to give them good advice. I would rather give them bad advise so I can win. That is a form of betrayal.
Sometime we get into an argument with a friend, and all we want to do is win the argument. It is no longer about helping the person in their time of need, but about saving face. What happens to loyal kindness in those types of situations? It goes out the window, and do you think it will lead to disappointment?

IV. Bad Counsel May Seem like Arrogance

A. An arrogant counselor seems to know it all

Job 6:24 KJV 1900
24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: And cause me to understand wherein I have erred.
Just show me what I have done wrong. Point to just one thing in my life that is worthy of this much suffering.
The word for error means unintentional sins.
The Book of Job (b) A Request for Their Sympathy (6:24–30)

He asks them to teach him as wise teachers offering gentle instruction rather than as fierce lawyers arguing his guilt.

Job 6:25 KJV 1900
25 How forcible are right words! But what doth your arguing reprove?
Yes you have used right or upright words in you arguments against me, but what good are your arguments when they inflict pain rather than comfort.
The Book of Job (b) A Request for Their Sympathy (6:24–30)

The approach they have taken has been argumentative; their intention is to prove him wrong. But his response reveals that their arguing does not accomplish anything.

Job goes on:
Job 6:26 KJV 1900
26 Do ye imagine to reprove words, And the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind?
The Book of Job (b) A Request for Their Sympathy (6:24–30)

Furthermore, Job wonders why the friends think they can reprove him with words when they count his words to be only wind. Even though he is despairing (nōʾāš), his words, and especially the feelings that give rise to them, are worthy of their careful attention, for in them they might discern how to respond to him instructively.

But he had not really listened to Job due to the despair in his words [i.e. it is easy to dismiss someone who does not make much sense].
Instead, he had taken advantage of Job’s weakness just as somebody would take advantage of a fatherless person
Job 6:27 KJV 1900
27 Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, And ye dig a pit for your friend.
The word “overwhelm” has the idea of casting lots.
The Book of Job (b) A Request for Their Sympathy (6:24–30)

In ancient society when a party was indebted, the creditor might cast lots over his goods, or even his children, to select that which would be sold against the debt (cf. 2 K. 4:1). Job feels that this is the way his friends have treated him, a blameless man.

B. An arrogant counselor refuses to change his position

Job 6:28–30 KJV 1900
28 Now therefore be content, look upon me; For it is evident unto you if I lie. 29 Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; Yea, return again, my righteousness is in it. 30 Is there iniquity in my tongue? Cannot my taste discern perverse things?
V. 29- Return better Please turn! He is asking them to change their position. Do not think that I have iniquity in my life. Don’t you think I would know if God was judging me for some sin in my life?
The Book of Job (b) A Request for Their Sympathy (6:24–30)

Job’s point is that since he can detect no wrong desire or deception on his part, he believes that the friends need to place some confidence in what he is saying.

Have you ever had an argument with someone who was convinced they were right and no matter what you said you weren’t going to change their mind? One of my boys for a while was convinced that half of 4 was 2.5. Why do you think that? I just know it’s true. I think it got to the point where- he just didn’t want to admit that he was wrong.
Arrogant counsel that comes across as a know it all attitude, and I’m right no matter what you say is a dangerous place to be.
What should our counsel be like?
Psalm 119:103 KJV 1900
103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Ephesians 4:29 KJV 1900
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
That is the way we want to counsel and communicate with people.
Bad counsel can leave you in a world of hurt. People will come away distrusting you, they will be discouraged, they will feel betrayed, and view you as arrogant.
Be a minister of God’s grace rather than bad counsel.
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