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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Job 8

 

 

Verse 1

Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 2

How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?

Like a strong wind - disregarding restraints, vain, rash, and daring against God.


Verse 3

Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?

Doth God pervert. The repetition of pervert gives an emphasis galling to Job. "Neither will the Almighty pervert judgment" (Job 34:12). 'Wouldest thou have God (as thy words imply) pervert judgment,' by letting thy sins go unpunished? God deals with each justly, according to his conduct: thy complaint against God for His treatment of thee is impugning His justice. He assumes Job's guilt from his sufferings.


Verse 4

If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;

If - rather, "Since thy children have sinned against Him, and (since) He have cast them away for (Hebrew, by the hand of) their transgression; (Yet) if thou wouldest seek unto God, etc.; if thou wert (shalt be) pure, etc. (for even with this supplication you must join a new and pure life, if you would have God to hear your prayer); surely (even) now He would awake for thee." Umbreit, better, makes the apodosis to "since thy children," etc., begin at "He [consequently] has cast them away." Also, instead of for, 'He gave them up to (literally, into the hand of) their own guilt.' Bildad expresses the justice of God, which Job had arraigned. Thy children have sinned, God leaves them to the consequence of their sin. He has left sin to exert its necessary power, and have its inevitable consequence in their penal destruction. Their sudden death implies their sin. Most cutting to the heart of the bereaved father.


Verse 5

If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;

Seek unto God betimes - early. Make it the first add chief anxiety. "They returned and inquired early after God." (Psalms 78:34; Hosea 5:15; Isaiah 26:9; Proverbs 8:17); "He that loveth (his son) chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24).


Verse 6

If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.

Wert - translate, 'If thou shalt be (henceforth) pure,' etc. (cf. the remark of Job 8:4 ).

Surely now - translate, 'Surely then;' in that case, as the consequence, "He would awake for thee" - i:e., arise to thy help. God seemed to be asleep toward the sufferer. "Awake to my judgment, even unto my cause" (Psalms 35:23; Psalms 7:6); "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord" (Isaiah 51:9). Make ... prosperous - restore to prosperity [ shilam (Hebrew #7999)] thy righteous habitation. Bildad assumes it to have been heretofore the habitation of guilt. When restored it shall be a habitation such as becomes a righteous man.


Verse 7

Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.

Thy beginning - the beginning of thy new happiness after restoration.

Latter end. So it actually came to pass, but not as Bildad supposed; for not the friends, but Job was justified by God after he had humbled himself before God: "The Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:12); "Surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off" (Proverbs 23:18).


Verse 8-9

For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers:

The former age - the age immediately preceding Job.

Their fathers - the fathers pricking that age, and therefore still further back. The sages of the olden time reached an age beyond those of Job's time (see the note at Job 42:16); and therefore could give the testimony of a fuller experience.

Of yesterday - i:e., a recent race. We know nothing as compared with them, from the brevity of our lives. So even Jacob - "Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage" (Genesis 47:9). Knowledge consisted then in the results of observation embodied in poetical proverbs, and handed down by tradition. Longevity gave the opportunity of wider observartion.

A shadow. "Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away" (Psalms 144:4); "We are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding" (1 Chronicles 29:15).


Verse 10

Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?

Teach thee - Job (Job 6:24) had said, "Teach me." Bildad, therefore, says, Since you want teaching, Enquire of the Fathers; They will teach thee.

Utter words - more than mere speaking: 'put forth well-considered words.'

Out of their heart - from observation and reflection. Not merely from their mouth (Job 8:2; Job 15:13), such as Bildad insinuates were Job's words. Job 8:11-13 embody, in poetic and sententious form (probably the fragment of an old poem), the observation of the elders.


Verse 11

Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?

Rush - rather, paper reed: the papyrus of Egypt, which was used to make garments, shoes, baskets, boats, and paper (a word derived from it). It and the flag or bulrush grow only in marshy places such as are along the Nile. So the godless thrive only in external prosperity: there is in the hypocrite no inward stability, "Because he is without the favour of God, the sole fountain of life" (Psalms 36:9). His prosperity is like the rapid growth of water plants. The double point of comparison between the ungodly and the paper reed is:

(1) The luxuriant prosperity at first; and

(2) The sudden destruction.


Verse 12

Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb.

Not cut down. Ere it has ripened for the scythe, it withers more suddenly than any herb, having no self-sustaining power, once that the moisture is gone, which other herbs do not need in the same degree. So ruin seizes on the godless in the zenith of prosperity, more suddenly than on others who appear less firmly seated in their possessions (Umbreit). "The wicked shall see it, and he grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish" (Psalms 112:10).


Verse 13

So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish:

Paths - so ways (Proverbs 1:19).

All that forget God - the distinguishing trait of the godless. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalms 9:17). Bildad in this retorts the charge of Job (Job 6:14) against each of the false, friends - "He forsaketh the fear of the Almighty." (Psalms 50:22.)


Verse 14

Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web.

Cut off - so Gesenius. Or, to accord with the metaphor of the spider's house (Hebrew for "web"). 'The confidence on which he builds [ '


Verse 15

He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.

He shall hold it fast - implying his eager grasp, when the storm of trial comes. As the spider "holds fast" by its web: but with this difference, the light spider is sustained by that on which it rests; the godless is not, by the thin web constituting his house on which he rests. The expression "hold fast," properly applies to the spider holding his web, but is transferred to the man. Hypocrisy, like the spider's web, is fine-spun, flimsy, and woven out of its own inventions, as the spider's web out of its own bowels. An Arab proverb says, 'Time destroys the, well-built house, as well as the spider's web.'


Verse 16

He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.

Before the sun , [ lipneey (Hebrew #6440) shemesh (Hebrew #8121)] - i:e., He (the godless) is green only before the sun rises; but he cannot bear its heat, and withers. So succulent plants, like the gourd of Jonah (Jonah 4:7-8). But the wide spreading in the garden does not quite accord with this merely nocturnal duration of the fruit. Better, 'in sunshine;' the sun representing the smiling fortune of the hypocrite, during which he wondrously progresses (Umbreit). The Chaldaic supports the English version (cf. also James 1:11 - "The sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.")

In his garden - the garden in which it spreads its roots and grows. The image is that of weeds growing in rank luxuriance, and spreading over even heaps of stones and walls, and then being speedily torn away.


Verse 17

His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones.

Seeth the place of stones - Hebrew 'the house of stones' - i:e., clambers up to the top of the wall surrounding the garden (Umbreit). The parasite plant, in creeping toward and over the wall-the utmost bound of the garden-is said figuratively to "see" or regard it. Maurer thinks the additional notion is included, that the roots, as being in the midst of a stony place (literally, house of stones, as "banqueting house" - literally, house of wine - Song of Solomon 2:4), do not take fast hold, and can therefore be easily and speedily plucked up, just as is the case with the hypocrite: 'Seeth the house of stones' - i:e., it feels or experiences the stony place.


Verse 18

If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee.

If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him. If (as may happen at any moment when he seems most secure) He [God] tear him away [the English version, destroy; properly, to tear away and violently, baala` (Hebrew #1104)] from his place, "then it (the place personified) shall deny him." "The place thereof shall know it no more" (Psalms 103:16). The very soil is ashamed of the weeds lying withered on its surface, as though it never had been connected with them. So, when the godless falls from prosperity, his nearest friends disown him. Bildad thus justifies the conduct of the friends toward Job.


Verse 19

Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.

Behold, is the joy of his way. Bitter irony. The hypocrite boasts of joy. This then is his "joy" at the last.

And out of the earth , [ `aapaar (Hebrew #6083), 'the dust']. "Others" immediately [Hebrew singular, 'always another,' 'acheer (Hebrew #312)], who take the place of the man thus punished. Not godly men. "God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham" (Matthew 3:9). For "the place" of the weeds is among stones, where the gardener would have no plants. But ungodly: a fresh crop of weeds always springs up in the room of those torn up: there is no end of hypocrites on earth (Umbreit). Or, simply, others spring up in his place, and he is not in the least missed.


Verse 20

Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers:

Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man. Bildad regards Job, not as a hardened sinner, but as a righteous man who has fallen into sin. 'God will not cast off for ever a perfect' (or godly man, such as Job was), if he will only repent. 'Those alone who persevere in sin God will not help' (Hebrew, take by the hand [yach


Verse 21

Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing.

Fill thy mouth with laughing - (Psalms 126:2 ). Until [ `ad (Hebrew #5703)] - literally, 'to the point that;' God's blessing on thee, when repentant, shall go on increasing to the point that, or until, etc.


Verse 22

They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought. They that hate thee shall be clothed ... The haters of Job are the wicked. They shall be clothed with shame ("We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us," Jeremiah 3:25; "Let them be clothed with shame and dishonour," Psalms 35:26; Psalms 109:29) at the failure of their hope that Job would utterly perish, and because they, instead of him, came to nought.

Remarks:

(1) Whatever befalls, us, and however inexplicable in our eyes God's dealings with us may appear, of one thing we may be sure, God cannot "pervert justice" (Job 8:3), the Judge of all the earth must do right. All the impatient words which affliction tempts us to utter are but "wind," causing a violent commotion about our own heads, but utterly incapable of affecting or impairing the majesty of Yahweh. Our true wisdom in pleading with God as to His trying dealings is to begin by justifying Him in all His ways, obeying the holy instincts of faith, rather than the corrupt impulses of self-willed reasoning. So Jeremiah (Jeremiah 12:1), when in perplexity, cried, "Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments." Even though we may not remember particular and grievous sins which have caused God's judgments, yet there is so much of sin cleaving to us all continually that we should, like David (Psalms 51:4), always join with justification of God condemnation of ourselves: "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest."

(2) To "accept the punishment of one's iniquity" is the surest way to obtain from God the removal of it (Leviticus 26:40-43). So also as to the chastisements which God permits the godly to suffer under, for the testing of their faith, entire submission under the stroke, abhorrence of self, and justification of the Almighty and all-loving Father, are the true way to bring God to our deliverance (Job 40:3-5; Job 42:2-12). Bildad's mistake was that he regarded Job's sufferings as the penal consequences of special sins, instead of the permitted chastisements of a loving Father, who would at last vindicate his servant Job, after He had taught him to renounce all self-justification, and to acknowledge without reserve the righteous sovereignty of Yahweh.

(3) The short-lived existence of man should lead him (Job 8:9) to entertain an humble opinion of his own attainments in knowledge. If we would learn lessons of true wisdom, we must go, not so much to the traditions of the fathers, as to the revealed Word of "the Ancient of days," "the everlasting Father."

(4) How vain and perishing is the hope of the hypocrite! Scripture searches the domains of the animal and vegetable kingdoms for images to represent the sudden doom of his self-deceiving confidence. He may seem to himself and others flourishing and prosperous, but he is not as the godly, like a tree planted by the waters (Psalms 1:3). He has not God as the ever-living, ever-flowing spring of his prosperity. Hence, like the "rush" or "flag," whose growth and even life depend on water, and which "withereth before any other herb" when that is removed, he suddenly, in the midst of his seeming good fortune, is hurled to destruction. Like the spider's house, he is liable to have the web of self-deceit and hypocrisy which he has woven, and on which he leans, torn asunder in a moment. But "the expectation" of the humble believer shall not so perish (Psalms 9:18). God may long and sorely try him, but "will not cast him away" at the last. "The Spirit of the Lord God hath anointed Christ to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 8:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-8.html. 1871-8.

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