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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Job 8

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The First Speech of Bildad

A. Bildad rebukes Job.

1. (Job 8:1-7) If Job was righteous, God would bless and defend him.

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:
"How long will you speak these things,
And the words of your mouth be like a strong wind?
Does God subvert judgment?
Or does the Almighty pervert justice?
If your sons have sinned against Him,
He has cast them away for their transgression.
If you would earnestly seek God
And make your supplication to the Almighty,
If you were pure and upright,
Surely now He would awake for you,
And prosper your rightful dwelling place.
Though your beginning was small,
Yet your latter end would increase abundantly."

a. How long will you speak these things: Bildad (whom some think was a descendant of Shuah, Abraham's son by Keturah, as in Genesis 24:1-2) now speaks. He rebuked Job for Job's rebuke of Eliphaz who had previously rebuked Job. Bildad dismissed Job's defense as recorded in Job 6-7 as a strong wind.

i. "He does not begin as courteously as Eliphaz, but accuses Job bluntly of being a windbag, vehement but empty." (Andersen) "There is not a word of apology, or any touch of friendly sympathy. There is no attempt to soothe and calm the sufferer." (Bradley)

ii. "If Eliphaz strikes us as the most refined member of this group, comparatively flexible and sophisticated, the Bildad the Shuhite comes across as the staunch, ramrod traditionalist, the one who sees all issues in black and white and who prides himself on his straightforward, non-nonsense approach." (Mason)

iii. Bildad was quick to rebuke Job for his strong words; but he did not stop to consider why Job spoke this way. He heard Job's words but did not consider his pain.

b. Does the Almighty pervert justice? Bildad's confidence is in the justice of God; in the idea that Job could only receive such calamity from God as the punishment for some sin.

i. Bildad was brash enough to throw the death of Job's sons before his face (If you sons have sinned against Him, He has cast them away for their transgression). "There is not only steely indifference to Job's plight but an arrogant certainty that Job's children got just what they deserved and that Job was well on his way to the same fate." (Smick)

ii. "Job's children must have sinned. This is getting near the bone; for Job had been concerned about this very point and, by sacrifice, had provided against even their hidden sins." (Andersen)

c. If you would earnestly seek God … If you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you: Bildad was like everyone else in this drama, unable to see the drama behind the scenes in the heavenly realm. Therefore, his only way of interpreting Job's situation was to apply the principle of cause and effect and to call Job to repentance.

i. This encouragement to earnestly seek God comes right after the condemnation of Job's sons. "He cut them off in their sins, but he spares thee; and this is a proof that he waits to be gracious to thee." (Clarke)

ii. For Job, this was hollow, "look on the bright side" advice. "The 'gospel of temperament' works very well if you are suffering only from psychical neuralgia, so to speak, and all you need is a cup of tea; but if you have a real deep complaint, the injunction to 'Cheer up' is an insult. What is the use of telling a woman who has lost her husband and sons in the war to 'Cheer up and look on the bright side'? There is no bright side, it is absolute blackness, and if God cannot come to her help, truly she is in a pitiable condition." (Chambers)

iii. Yet notice that Blidad said, if you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you. "So Bildad spoke, suggesting that Job was not pure and upright, since God did not appear to deliver him." (Meyer)

d. Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly: When Bildad said this he was both wrong and right.

i. He was wrong in that he assumed that because Job was not currently in prosperity and abundance, it proved that Job had not made supplication and was not pure and upright. "He wished to prove that Job could not possibly be an upright man, for if he were so, he here affirms that his prosperity would increase continually, or that if he fell into any trouble." (Spurgeon)

ii. He was right in that Job, in the end of it, did increase abundantly. "It is true, as indeed the facts of the book of Job prove: for Job did greatly increase in his latter end. His beginning was small: he was brought down to poverty! To the potsherd and to the dunghill he had many graves, but no children; he had had many losses, he had now nothing left to lose; and yet God did awake for him; his righteousness came out from the darkness which had eclipsed it; he shone in sevenfold prosperity so that the words of Bildad were prophetic, though he knew it not; God put into his mouth language which did come true, after all." (Spurgeon)

2. (Job 8:8-10) Job should respect ancient wisdom.

"For inquire, please, of the former age,
And consider the things discovered by their fathers;
For we were born yesterday, and know nothing,
Because our days on earth are a shadow.
Will they not teach you and tell you,
And utter words from their heart?"

a. Inquire, please, of the former age: Bildad asked Job to consult the wisdom of the ages and to consider what they had to teach and tell Job.

i. "If Job would only take the time to consider ancient tradition, he would find that God only does right. Sinners get just punishment, and good men are blessed with health and prosperity." (Smick)

ii. Bildad quoted the ancients, but even in ancient Biblical history they could see that there is not an easily seen correlation between righteousness and blessing. Even at the beginning of time, Abel was righteous but was rewarded with murder from his brother Cain.

iii. "The biggest benediction one man can find in another is not in his words, but that he implies: 'I do not know the answer to your problem, all I can say is that God alone must know; let us go to Him'. . . . The biggest thing you can do for those who are suffering is not to talk platitudes, not to ask questions, but to get into contact with God, and the 'greater works' will be done by prayer." (Chambers)

b. For we were born yesterday, and know nothing: Bildad gave Job a graceful excuse for what he considered to be his previous foolishness. It was simply because Job did not consider and consult ancient wisdom.

i. Our days on earth are a shadow: "The following beautiful motto I have seen on a sundial: UNBRAE SUMUS! 'We are shadows!' … Such as time is, such are you; as fleeting, as transitory, as unsubstantial. These shadows lost, time is lost; time lost, soul lost! Reader take heed!" (Clarke)

ii. "To be sure, we can today learn from the past, but the past must be a rudder to guide us into the future and not an anchor to hold us back. The fact that something was said years ago is no guarantee that it is right. The past contains as much folly as wisdom." (Wiersbe, cited in Lawson)

B. Bildad applies his common-sense wisdom to Job's situation.

1. (Job 8:11-18) The rule of cause and effect applied to Job's situation.

"Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh?
Can the reeds flourish without water?
While it is yet green and not cut down,
It withers before any other plant.
So are the paths of all who forget God;
And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish,
Whose confidence shall be cut off,
And whose trust is a spider's web.
He leans on his house, but it does not stand.
He holds it fast, but it does not endure.
He grows green in the sun,
And his branches spread out in his garden.
His roots wrap around the rock heap,
And look for a place in the stones.
If he is destroyed from his place,
Then it will deny him, saying, 'I have not seen you.'"

a. Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh? Bildad used the illustration of the growing papyrus to illustrate two things. First, it shows the principle of cause and effect because the water causes it to grow. Second, it is a fragile growth that withers before any other plant.

i. These reeds are like the hypocrite or the one who makes a mere show of faith without true trust in God. Spurgeon used Bildad's illustration of papyrus reed in Job 8:11-18 as a description of the hypocrite.

- Like the reed, hypocrites grow up quickly.
- Like the reed, hypocrites are hollow and without substance.
- Like the reed, hypocrites are easily bent.
- Like the reed, hypocrites can lower their head in false humility.
- Like the reed, hypocrites bear no fruit.

ii. It withers before any other plant: "Long before the Lord comes to cut the hypocrite down, it often happens that he dries up for want of the mire on which he lives. The excitement, the encouragement, the example, the profit, the respectability, the prosperity, upon which he lived fail him, and he fails too." (Spurgeon)

b. So are the paths of all who forget God: Even as the papyrus quickly withers and dies, so will all those who turn their back on God. He may prosper for a time, but will ultimately come to ruin.

i. "A spider's web; which though it be formed with great art and industry, and may do much mischief to others, yet is most slender and feeble, and easily swept down or pulled in pieces, and unable to defend the spider that made it." (Poole)

ii. Bildad used powerful and vivid pictures from the natural world, but he misapplied them to Job as if he were a sinning, shallow hypocrite. "If you take an illustration from Nature and apply it to a man's moral life or spiritual life, you will not be true to facts because the natural law does not work in the spiritual world. . . . God says, 'And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten … '; that is not a natural law, and yet it is what happens in the spiritual world." (Chambers)

iii. "Again we have to say Bildad was quite right in his statements of truth, and quite wrong in his intended deductions so far as Job was concerned." (Morgan)

2. (Job 8:19-22) God's promise of blessing to the blameless.

"Behold, this is the joy of His way,
And out of the earth others will grow.
Behold, God will not cast away the blameless,
Nor will He uphold the evildoers.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughing,
And your lips with rejoicing.
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
And the dwelling place of the wicked will come to nothing."

a. This is the joy of His way … God will not cast away the blameless: Bildad's message was blunter and less diplomatic than that of Eliphaz, but his basic message was the same. Job could once again come to a place of joy and laughing if he would turn to God again.

i. "In his simple theology everything can be explained in terms of two kinds of men - the blameless (tam, Job 8:20a; used of Job in 1:1) and the secretly wicked (hanep, Job 8:13b). Outwardly the same, God distinguishes them by prospering the one and destroying the other." (Andersen)

b. Those who hate you will be clothed with shame: Job's frustration was rising because of these contentious dialogues with his friends. After the harsh words between Eliphaz and Job (Job 4-5 and 6-7), Bildad invited Job to find vindication through repentance.

i. Bildad had his wisdom of the ancients and his own belief system, both of which agreed and seemed unshakable. What he did not really have was God Himself. Bildad and the other counselors of Job talk a lot, but what they do not do is pray. It would seem that Bildad had very little real experience with God; yet Job was being prepared to experience God so closely that he could say, now my eyes see You (Job 42:5).

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

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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