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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Job 8

 

 

Verses 1-22

BILDAD'S CRUEL RESPONSE

(vv.1-22)

Bildad's response to Job was much more brief than that of Eliphaz, but following along the same line. He did not begin in the conciliatory way that Eliphaz did, however, not even attempting to show any understanding of Job's feelings. Rather, he spoke as one exasperated, immediately accusing Job of allowing words to issue from his mouth that were only "a strong wind" (v.2). "Does God subvert judgment? Or does the Almighty pervert justice?" he asks (v.3). He was ignorant of how God was dealing with Job, but was sure God was punishing him righteously, though he had no knowledge of any actual evil on Job's part.

Then he makes a cruel thrust at Job by suggesting that Job's sons had died because they had sinned against God, so that God coldly cast them away for their transgressions (v.4). This was not true, but what was Job to answer? Thus, Bildad condemned Job's dead sons, then proceeded to attack Job himself, telling him that if he would earnestly seek God in supplication and if he were pure and upright, then God would surely immediately awake for him and turn his misery into prosperity (vv.5-6). Of course in this he implied that Job had not been pure and upright and had not before earnestly sought God. But now, if he would do as Bildad advised, Job's end would increase abundantly, though his beginning was small (v.7).

Eliphaz had appealed to his own observation in supposing that Job was guilty of some secret sin (ch.4:8), but his observation settled nothing. Now Bildad appealed to tradition , "Inquire, please, of the former age, and consider 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?" (vv.8-10). Actually, in this Bildad contradicted what Eliphaz had said, for if Eliphaz had only been born "yesterday", what value was his observation? But Bildad's appeal to tradition was just as empty as the appeal of Eliphaz to observation, for Bildad came to the wrong conclusion also.

Yet Bildad had much to say that was right and good. The papyrus will not grow without a marsh, nor the reeds without water (v.11). There is always a reason for things developing, but Bildad did not interpret that reason accurately in Job's case. Also he says that a reed may wither while yet green, and he uses this as a simile for those who forget God (vv.11-12). True enough, but he was suggesting wrongly that Job had forgotten God, and the fact that Job's hope seemed to be perishing indicated that he must be a hypocrite (v.13). It is certainly true that the hypocrite's hope shall perish, but to apply this to Job was totally unfair.

Bildad saw that Job' confidence had been shaken, and considered his confidence was "cut off," as though he had been trusting a spider's web (v.14). He further says, "He leans on his house, but it does not stand" (v.15). Of course he is thinking of the fact that Job had depended on the stability of his house, but it had collapsed: all his family was gone.

In verses 16 and 17 he speaks of the hypocrite at first growing green in the sun, his branches spreading out, his roots wrapped around the rock heap, seemingly prospering well. But he may be destroyed from his place, with his place denying that it had ever seen him (v.18), that is, with no evidence that he had ever been prosperous. This description may be true indeed of the hypocrite in his eventual exposure and humiliation, but Bildad hinted that since Job had suffered things similar to the destruction he speaks of, therefore Job must be a hypocrite! But Bildad did not yet know the end of the story, and his assumptions were ill-considered and false.

"Behold, this is the joy of his way" (v.19), that is, the joy of the hypocrite is only brief and ends abruptly. "And out of the earth others will grow." The hypocrites will be forgotten, for others will be born to take their place. In contrast to this, "God will not cast away the blameless, "while He will not uphold evil doers (v.20). If Job were blameless, God would fill Job's mouth with laughing and his lips with rejoicing (v.21). No doubt Bildad was implying that Job could even yet find such blessing if he would return to living a blameless life. Then also, even those who hated Job would be clothed with shame, and the dwelling place of the wicked would be reduced to nothing (v.20). He did not mean to say that Job was wicked, but that the wicked who opposed Job would then be subdued.

If we consult the psalms of David, we shall find that David had a far better understanding of God's ways than either Eliphaz or Bildad expressed, and far better also than Job understood when passing through his dreadful ordeal. Psalms 11:4-5 tells us, "The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The Lord tests the righteous." Faith recognises that the Lord is high above us, His wisdom infinitely greater than we realise. And from His place of highest authority, He tests the children of men. This is through adversity and trouble. No doubt He tests all men, but when some fail the test they are virtually discarded. What then? Then "the Lord tests the righteous." He gives them additional trouble to test them thoroughly. Job only learned this later.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 8:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/job-8.html. 1897-1910.

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