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Job 18:1-21 – Bildad Gets Defensive

He can't even consider the possibility that he might be wrong.

Job 18:1-21 (ESV)

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:

“How long will you hunt for words? Consider, and then we will speak. Why are we counted as cattle? Why are we stupid in your sight? You who tear yourself in your anger, shall the earth be forsaken for you, or the rock be removed out of its place?

“Indeed, the light of the wicked is put out, and the flame of his fire does not shine. The light is dark in his tent, and his lamp above him is put out. His strong steps are shortened, and his own schemes throw him down. For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walks on its mesh. A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare lays hold of him. A rope is hidden for him in the ground, a trap for him in the path. Terrors frighten him on every side, and chase him at his heels. His strength is famished, and calamity is ready for his stumbling. It consumes the parts of his skin; the firstborn of death consumes his limbs. He is torn from the tent in which he trusted and is brought to the king of terrors. In his tent dwells that which is none of his; sulfur is scattered over his habitation. His roots dry up beneath, and his branches wither above. His memory perishes from the earth, and he has no name in the street. He is thrust from light into darkness, and driven out of the world. He has no posterity or progeny among his people, and no survivor where he used to live. They of the west are appalled at his day, and horror seizes them of the east. Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous, such is the place of him who knows not God.”

Bildad is taking Job’s comments personally. Why are we counted as cattle? Why are we stupid in your sight? This conversation is getting steadily worse, in a predictable way. Many people have trouble admitting they’re wrong. For them, a disagreement feels like an attack.

I wish schools made everyone learn computer programming. The great and terrible thing about programming is that even the tiniest mistake causes the program to fail. You have to find and fix all the bugs before the dang thing runs right. So, after making countless mistakes, and spending hours finding and fixing them, you learn that mistakes aren’t anything special.

But the best part is that nothing finds bugs faster than a second pair of eyes. So you also learn to appreciate someone else pointing out your mistakes. When someone has just helped you avoid hours of tearing your hair out trying to figure out what you did wrong, you’re bound to be thankful, instead of resentful. Oh, if only Bildad had taken programming in school!

Bildad is wrong. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but he can’t handle having his errors pointed out.

One of the beautiful things about the gospel is that it slams our egos. We learn to treasure God’s grace instead of our own goodness. Since we admit that we’re sinful, there’s nothing to get defensive about.

Though we know this doctrine, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us take it to heart.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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