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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Job 18

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Bildad Speaks a Second Time

A. Bildad's objection.

1. (Job 18:1-3) Bildad rebukes Job for his words and low opinion of his friends.

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:
"How long till you put an end to words?
Gain understanding, and afterward we will speak.
Why are we counted as beasts,
And regarded as stupid in your sight?"

a. How long till you put and end to words? Bildad basically returned Job's words in Job 16:3. It seems that they were all getting tired of hearing each other talk, yet the matter was far from resolved.

i. "Bildad again addresses Job in the plural (Job 8:2) probably speaking to him as representing a class: as Job had done before in his reply to Zophar (Job 12:2)." (Bullinger)

b. Gain understanding, and afterward we will speak. Why are we counted as beasts, and regarded as stupid in your sight? Bildad continued to trade insults with Job. They accused each other of being dense and stupid as beasts.

i. "Bildad herein sinned against the law of love, as likewise he doth much more in the following vehement interrogation, charging Job with insolent boldness against God." (Trapp)

2. (Job 18:4) Bildad tells Job to look to himself and the unchangeable laws of life.

"You who tear yourself in anger,
Shall the earth be forsaken for you?
Or shall the rock be removed from its place?"

a. You who tear yourself in anger: Bildad told Job, "Just look at yourself. You are tearing yourself to pieces in anger. Your condition is all the evidence anyone needs to see that you are in sin and need to repent."

i. "In 16:9 Job had identified God as his torturer, tearing him to pieces. Bildad replies that it is Job … who is tearing himself to pieces by his needless rage." (Andersen)

b. Shall the earth be forsaken for you? Bildad felt that Job wanted to overturn unchangeable laws of life; mainly the laws of cause and effect that tell us Job has caused his own crisis by his sin and refusal to repent.

i. "He was angry, moreover, because he considered that Job's attitude threatened the moral order with violence, and he reminded Job that stable things could not be changed for his sake." (Morgan)

ii. Adam Clarke attempted to capture Bildad's thought: "To say the least, afflictions are the common lot of men. Must God work a miracle in providence, in order to exempt thee from the operation of natural causes? Dost thou wish to engross all the attention and care of providence to thyself alone? What pride and insolence!"

B. Bildad describes the afflictions of the wicked.

1. (Job 18:5-6) The dark life of the wicked.

"The light of the wicked indeed goes out,
And the flame of his fire does not shine.
The light is dark in his tent,
And his lamp beside him is put out."

a. The light of the wicked indeed goes out: Bildad wanted to teach Job about the life and fate of the wicked, and in doing so he hoped that Job would get the idea that he was among the wicked that Bildad described.

i. "Bildad's concern, however, was to establish in Job's mind the absolute certainty that every wicked man gets paid in full, in this life, for his wicked deeds." (Smick)

b. The light is dark in his tent: At the end of Job's previous speech (Job 17:10-16) he described the darkness of his life and prospects, all in the gloomy context of the grave as a welcome home. Bildad wanted Job to see that this dark outlook on life meant that he was among the wicked.

2. (Job 18:7-10) The dangerous path of the wicked.

"The steps of his strength are shortened,
And his own counsel casts him down.
For he is cast into a net by his own feet,
And he walks into a snare.
The net takes him by the heel,
And a snare lays hold of him.
A noose is hidden for him on the ground,
And a trap for him in the road."

a. The steps of his strength are shortened: Bildad here described the wicked man as someone weak in his steps, unable or unwilling to continue the journey of life. He felt this accurately described Job and set him among the wicked men.

b. He walks into a snare: Not only is the wicked man weak in his journey, he is also on a dangerous path. He walks right into trouble, and the net takes him by the heel. In Bildad's perspective Job has walked into his own crisis, and a snare lays hold of him.

i. "Six different names of hunting-devices are used in these verses. Precise identification of all these items of equipment is still not possible, as a comparison of current translations quickly shows." (Andersen)

3. (Job 18:11-16) The miserable life of the wicked.

"Terrors frighten him on every side,
And drive him to his feet.
His strength is starved,
And destruction is ready at his side.
It devours patches of his skin;
The firstborn of death devours his limbs.
He is uprooted from the shelter of his tent,
And they parade him before the king of terrors.
They dwell in his tent who are none of his;
Brimstone is scattered on his dwelling.
His roots are dried out below,
And his branch withers above."

a. Terrors frighten him on every side: Again, Bildad takes previous statements of Job and turns them back upon him. Job spoke in his previous speech about how he felt attacked and assaulted by God on every side (Job 16:9-14). Bildad regarded this as proof of Job's wickedness.

b. It devours patches of his skin: Part of Job's medical crisis was skin disease (Job 30:30a, 7:5b, and 2:7-8). Bildad says, "The wicked have terrible problems with their skin. That means you are among the wicked, Job."

i. Andersen gives a vivid translation of Job 18:12-13:

His plump body becomes emaciated,
His ribs stick right out,
Disease corrodes his skin,
Death's eldest son swallows his organs.

c. He is uprooted from the shelter of his tent: Bildad made the simple calculation that the wicked suffer such great crises; Job suffered in a great crisis; therefore Job must be among the wicked and the sooner Job realized it the better.

d. They parade him before the king of terrors: This seems to be a marvelously poetic description of death itself, given the horrific title the KING OF TERRORS.

i. "Death is personified in Job 18:13-14. This king of terrors reminds us of the Canaanite deity Mot (Death) whose gullet reaches from earth to sky - the devouring deity." (Smick)

ii. "The incomparable phrase the king of terrors is another reference to death, and the repetition of the same Hebrew word for terrors marks verses 11-14 as a single unit." (Andersen)

iii. "So the ancients spoke of death. They were constantly pursued by the dread of the unknown. Every unpeopled or distant spot was the haunt and dwelling-place of evil and dreadful objects. But the grave, and the world beyond, were above all terrible, and death the King of Terrors." (Meyer)

iv. Sadly, this regard of death did not completely die with the Christian era. The author recalls reading the following inscription on an Irish tombstone on the Hill of Slane, outside of Dublin.

O cruel Death you well may boast
Of all Tyrants thou art the most
As you all mortals can control
The Lord have mercy on my soul

e. Brimstone is scattered on his habitation: "This may either refer to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as has already been intimated, or to an ancient custom of fumigating houses with brimstone, in order to purify them from defilement." (Clarke)

4. (Job 18:17-21) The sad destiny of the wicked.

"The memory of him perishes from the earth,
And he has no name among the renowned.
He is driven from light into darkness,
And chased out of the world.
He has neither son nor posterity among his people,
Nor any remaining in his dwellings.
Those in the west are astonished at his day,
As those in the east are frightened.
Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
And this is the place of him who does not know God."

a. The memory of him perishes from the earth: In his previous speech, Job pled for the earth to cry out on his behalf, testifying of his innocence before God (Job 16:18-19). Here Bildad told Job that there was no possibility of this if he should die in his wicked state. If so, he would simply be among those whose memory … perishes from the earth.

b. He has neither son nor posterity among the people: This was an especially cruel statement to one who had lost all ten of his children (included seven sons) in a tragic accident (Job 1:2, 1:18-19). Bildad felt that such cruelty was necessary to wake Job up from his self-deception.

i. "Bildad gives a transparent allegory which is singularly cruel in its obvious reference to Job's bereavement. The last state, having no offspring, descendant or survivor, is the worst. Bildad has listed the things most dreaded by an Israelite in life and in death as the tokens of rejection by God." (Andersen)

c. This is the place of him who does not know God: Bildad carried his attack yet further. Not only was Job among the wicked, he was also one who does not know God. This was a cruel and false statement to make against a man who was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1).

i. "This is a tremendously powerful delineation of the way of wickedness. Again we have to say - all true, and therefore to be taken to heart; but not all the truth, and therefore of no meaning in the case of Job." (Morgan)

ii. "Bildad describes the worst man he can think of, and Job says, 'All this has happened to me, and you say therefore I must be a bad man, but I say I am not. You have the logic of your creed, while I have the reality of my experience. . . . The God who will explain my experience I have not yet found, but I am confident there is such a God and meantime I refuse to accept your counterfeit of Him'." (Chambers)

iii. "It is not Job's wickedness but his faithfulness that the Lord is disclosing through this ordeal. In fact there may be nothing our God wants more than to bring each one of us to the point where He can do with us exactly what He did with Job: hand us over with perfect confidence into the clutches of Satan, knowing that even then our faith will hold." (Mason)

© 2007 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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