Reading through the Bible together
In this chapter, Bildad the Shuhite spoke. He is not there to help Job but to defend his own world-view. Bildad speaks patches of truth framed in error. He was familiar with what was discovered by the “fathers” and recorded by Moses in Genesis 1-11 (verses 8-10). So he tells Job not only to study history, but also to allow himself to be led by the truths coming from observations (verse 8).
According to Bildad, this is what Job needs. He asks: Can papyrus grow without a marsh or reed-grass grow without water? (verse 11). In a similar way, a person who is wicked can only receive God’s punishments and not His blessings (verse 13). Bildad’s thinking is like this: if a person forgets God, His blessings dry up and if a person remembers God and obeys Him blessings flourish. “So are the ways” meaning, like the natural law operating in the papyrus and reed-grass.
Those who forget God will be lost (verse 13), and a man’s self-confidence and self-trust is like leaning on a spider’s web (verse 14). This kind of thinking is very fragile and filled with deceptive security (verse 15). The flatterer is so self-deceived that if something harmed him, he would deny that it happened. In a similar way, Bildad implies that Job is denying that God punished him for his wrongs (verse 18). If this continues and Job dies, he will not be mourned and others will take his place (verse 19).
To his credit Bildad does emphasize the true principle that God will not reject the innocent nor will He not uphold evildoers (verse 20). Then he implies that Job’s case is not hopeless for if he repents, God can fill his mouth with laughter and his lips with shouting (verse 21). When that happens, Job’s enemies will be clothed with shame and the tent of the wicked shall be no more (verse 22).
The advice of Bildad sounds very good but in the light of Job 18, which we will see later, there is no doubt that he tries to make present what is said by God to be in the future. It is the result of a person who only wants to live by what he sees and thinks he knows the total truth without considering the history of the Rebellion in Heaven.
Dear God, Moses outlined for us the dangers of clinging to deceptive standards in this world and building on fragile foundations. This is a denial of Satan and his onslaught in our lives. Rescue us from the Bildads of our time. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea