I was studying in the book of Job not long ago. There are so many lessons to be seen there.  I’ve preached and heard a lot of sermons from that book. At one National BMAA meeting, three of the different elected preachers for the meeting, all announced and preached from the Book of Job.  Amazingly, none of them were on the same subject, but on other themes.  That was interesting, but not surprising, because I’ve heard the same Bible verses used as a text by several different messengers. Sometimes the title of the messages are the same, but even in that, the content is different.

As stated, I’ve heard and preached a lot of sermons from the Book of Job, but I’ve never heard the title, “Dialogue of the Deaf”. I’m sure that has been titled at one time or another, but I’ve never heard of it.  Although the subject of “Job’s Miserable Comforters” has been covered several times, but when I read the Book of Job this time, I was struck by conversations of Job’s miserable comforters. This entire Book is a classic example of the “Dialogue of the Deaf”.  I wish I had coined the phrase, because it is such a classic example of that.  However, Steven Covey, in his book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” used that term, under the subject, “Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood”.  He was only using it with reference to our relationships with others and it is essential to communicate with others, but in the case of Job and his “friends” it is far more important.

One major problem in communications is that one will speak and the other will not listen, because they are too busy preparing to answer.  Often it is a two-way street, because neither is actually listening to the other. Thus, the term, “Dialogue of the Deaf”. Everyone is talking and no one is listening.

From Job chapters 1 and 2, we are given background information of Job’s terrible troubles so WE know the WHY of Job’s troubles.  From chapters 3 through 31, we find Job giving the reality of his suffering and his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar alternate their counsel to Job. It is obvious that none of his three “comforters” were listening to what Job is saying, but are only preparing their response, when “Job will just finally shut up, so I can talk!”  When the “comforters” first came, they sat down on the ground for SEVEN days and SEVEN nights without saying anything. That’s a full week.  But it would be far better had they just sat there for the rest of the time without saying anything.  

Although in JOB 42:7, God didn’t use the term “Dialogue of the Deaf”, He gave His view of that practice when He told Eliphaz and his two friends, “My wrath is kindled against thee, ... for ye have not spoken for me the thing that is right as my servant Job hath”. It is no wonder that in everything Job said, Job’s counselors did not have a clue as to what had happened to Job.  How could they have possibly given proper counsel.  When discussing with another, do we actually listen with the intent to understand what they say? Or are we too busy to preparing to answer?  Try it, you’ll like it!

Jesse R. Spurlock

Pastor Emeritus,

Highland Park Baptist Church