Job’s Three Friends: “Miserable Comforters” & “Physicians of No Value”

Job's three friends - Forgers of lies, Miserable comforters and physicians of no value,

In the Book of Job in the Bible, we meet Job’s three friends who came to see him after he experienced a string of terrible misfortunes. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are their names.

Many people frequently refer to them as Job’s “comforters,” but they are anything but that. In fact, Job himself described them as “miserable comforters” and “physicians of no value.”

In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind Job’s harsh assessment of his friends and what we can learn from it.

The Background of Job’s Sufferings

Job was a righteous wealthy man with a large family and enjoyed good health. Despite his affluence and influence in society, everyone knew him as a man of impeccable character and this made God proud of him.

However, Satan challenged God, claiming that Job only served God because of His blessings. To prove Satan wrong and confirm Job’s faithfulness, God allowed Satan to take away all of Job’s blessings.

In no time, all of Job’s flocks were stolen by raiders, his children were tragically murdered, and he suffered from painful sores all over his body.

Of course, Job was unaware of the contest between God and Satan over him. But he remained faithful to God throughout the time of his afflictions.

  • Job was a righteous wealthy and influential man who was favoured by God.
  • Satan challenged God’s assessment of Job’s righteousness, and God allowed Satan to afflict Job with various trials, including the loss of his children, wealth, and health.
  • Throughout his sufferings, Job maintained his trust in God.

The Arrival of Job’s three Friends

Despite all the tragedies he experienced, Job remained faithful to God, without committing sin. His wife even advised him to curse God and die but Job maintained his integrity.

Job was distressed and confused about why these terrible things happened to him. This is where his three friends come in. They came to sit with Job to offer him their support and wisdom.

  • Upon hearing of Job’s afflictions, his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, came to comfort him.
  • Initially, they sat with Job in silence, mourning with him for seven days.
  • However, when Job spoke, they offered their opinions on the cause of his suffering and what he should do to end it.

Eliphaz stated that Job must have done something wrong to deserve his suffering. As he questioned, “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright destroyed?” (Job 4:7)

Therefore, Eliphaz simply believed that Job must have sinned and was being punished for it.

Bildad opined that Job needed to repent of his sins in order to be restored. He says, “If you would seek God and implore the compassion of the Almighty if you are pure and upright, surely now He would rouse Himself for you and restore your righteous estate” (Job 8:5-6).

In effect, Bildad believed Job was neither seeking God nor pure and upright.

Zophar seemed to be devoid of any sense of empathy; he told Job to his face that he must have committed even more sins than he was being punished for. He says, “Know then that God exacts of you less than your iniquity deserves.” (Job 11:6).

Is that a way to comfort a hurting individual? We can tell that Job was displeased with the unkind words from his three maverick friends if we look at how Job later described his friends to be.

Job’s Response to His Friends’ Words

Obviously, the three visitors were not kind enough with their words to Job. Therefore, they ended up causing misery and frustration to Job.

  • Job found his friends’ words to be insensitive, unhelpful, and even hurtful.
  • He accused them of being “miserable comforters” and “worthless physicians.”
  • Job felt his friends were blaming him for his sufferings as they all suggested that he must have done something wrong to deserve them.

Job’s three friends were convinced he must have sinned to deserve his ordeal. Therefore, they all urged him to repent in order to be restored.

But Job insists he was innocent and did nothing wrong deserving of such affliction. “My righteousness I hold fast and will not let go; my heart does not reproach any of my days,” he says. (Job 27:6)

Despite Job’s insistence on his innocence, his three friends continued to pressure him. As a result, Job became irritated with them and accused them of being “miserable comforters” and “worthless physicians” to him.

In the words of Job, “I’ve heard many things like this. What miserable comforters you all are!”

In another version, it was rendered like this: “I have heard many things like this before. You are all pathetic at comforting me.” (Job 16:2)

That brings us to the question:

Why Job called his three friends “miserable comforters” & “physicians of no value?”

Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, come to comfort him after he suffers great loss and affliction.

After some conversations between them and Job, Job referred to them as “miserable comforters” and “worthless physicians” because they were unable to understand his suffering and offer him genuine comfort or assistance. Instead, they heaped guilty at the door of Job.

These three friends wrongly assumed that Job’s suffering resulted from sin and urged him to confess and repent of his wrongdoing. But Job insisted that he was blameless and that his suffering was not a punishment for sin.

Miserable comforters

Here was how Job responded specifically to Eliphaz: “I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are! Won’t you ever stop blowing hot air? What makes you keep on talking?”(Job16:2-3, NLT)

The phrase “miserable comforters” implies that, while the friends’ intended to comfort Job, they only made him feel worse; they added to his misery rather than alleviating it.

Forgers of lies and worthless physicians

Before calling Eliphaz a miserable comforter, Job after feeling frustrated by the unkind words of Zophar, had also referred to his friends as “forgers of lies” and physicians of no value.”

Specifically, in Job 13:4, Job accuses his friends of being “forgers of lies” and “worthless physicians” who are not able to help him in his time of need.

The phrase “forgers of lies” is a translation of the Hebrew word “hebel,” which can also be translated as “vanity” or “emptiness.” In this context, it implies that Job’s friends are offering him empty or false advice, rather than genuine comfort or support.

Similarly, the phrase “physicians of no worth” implies that Job’s friends were life-ineffective doctors who were unable to diagnose or treat his ailments. They offered no meaningful help or solution to Job’s adverse situation.

So why did Job call his three friends “miserable comforters” and “worthless physicians?”

When Job accused his friends of being “forgers of lies,” he was essentially saying that they were spreading false accusations and giving him misguided advice, which was not based on the truth.

We can also surmise the following other reasons:

Job’s three friends showed a lack of empathy for Job

One reason Job called his three friends “miserable comforters” was because of their lack of empathy. They were quick to judge Job’s situation and assumed that he must have sinned to deserve his suffering.

Instead of listening to Job’s concerns and offering much-needed support to him, they criticized him for his supposed wrongdoing. Job felt misunderstood and unsupported, which only added to his emotional distress.

Job’s three friends made false assumptions about his character

Job’s friends also made false assumptions about God’s nature and character. They believed that God always punishes sin and rewards righteousness, which led them to conclude that Job’s suffering must be a punishment for his sins.

Therefore, instead of comforting Job, they criticised and condemned him as a sinner. However, Job knew he had not sinned to deserve such suffering, and he struggled with their misguided beliefs.

Instead of providing comfort, Job’s friends made him feel more isolated and alone in his struggles.

Job’s three friends failed to show adequate support to him

Job’s friends also failed to provide adequate support during his time of affliction. They were quick to offer advice and criticism, but they failed to offer tangible help to him.

Job needed practical help to cope with his losses, but his friends were too focused on offering spiritual guidance. Job felt frustrated by their lack of action and felt that they were not truly there for him in his time of need.

What Can We Learn from Job’s three friends?

  • Job’s three friends were mistaken to assume that Job’s sufferings were a result of his sin, with no evidence to support their claims.
  • Instead of offering comfort, they added to Job’s pain by questioning his righteousness and suggesting that he should repent.
  • Job’s encounter with his three friends teaches us the importance of being compassionate and empathetic when comforting those who are going through difficult times.
  • We should be slow to judge and quick to listen, avoiding the temptation to offer advice or solutions before fully understanding the situation.

The importance of empathy

Job’s experience highlights the importance of empathy in providing comfort to those who are suffering. Instead of jumping to conclusions or judging others, we should seek to understand their experiences and offer compassion and support.

By acknowledging their pain and showing empathy, we can help to ease their emotional distress and provide comfort.

We can learn about the dangers of religious legalism and the value of compassion over rules. It is all too easy to become so preoccupied with adhering to a set of religious beliefs that we lose sight of the importance of truly loving and caring for others.

The danger of false assumptions

Job’s friends’ false assumptions about God’s character led them to offer misguided advice and criticism, which only added to Job’s misery.

We must be careful not to make assumptions about others’ situations or assume that we know God’s plans. Instead, we should seek to learn from others’ experiences and approach each situation with an open mind and heart.

We can learn the value of listening to others and attempting to understand their points of view. We should not make assumptions about someone’s character or experiences without first listening to them.

The power of tangible support

Finally, Job’s experience teaches us the power of tangible support in times of affliction. While spiritual guidance is important, practical help can also make a significant difference in someone’s life.

Whether it’s offering a listening ear, providing a meal, or helping with household chores, small acts of kindness can go a long way in showing support and care for those who are suffering.

Through our interactions with others, we can learn the value of compassion and empathy. Rather than judging and condemning, we should seek to comfort and support those in need.


Job’s description of his friends as “miserable comforters” and “physicians of no value” reflects his dissatisfaction with their attempts to console him. They could not provide any real relief or understanding of his suffering.

Job’s experience with his three friends highlights the challenges of providing comfort to those who are suffering. By showing empathy, avoiding false assumptions, and offering tangible support, we can provide true comfort to those in need.

We can learn from Job’s experience with his three friends and seek to be better comforters to those around us when they experience difficulties in their lives.

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