The DEEP

Job 8:1-22 – Bildad Goes Off the Rails

He's way off base and totally sure of himself too – not a great combination.

Job 8:1-22 (ESV)

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said: “How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind? Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right? If your children have sinned against him, he has delivered them into the hand of their transgression. If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation. And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.

“For inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out. For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?

“Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh? Can reeds flourish where there is no water? While yet in flower and not cut down, they wither before any other plant. Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish. His confidence is severed, and his trust is a spider's web. He leans against his house, but it does not stand; he lays hold of it, but it does not endure. He is a lush plant before the sun, and his shoots spread over his garden. His roots entwine the stone heap; he looks upon a house of stones. If he is destroyed from his place, then it will deny him, saying, ‘I have never seen you.’ Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the soil others will spring. “Behold, God will not reject a blameless man, nor take the hand of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting. Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.”

Bildad’s comment is so over the top it’s like the joke about the ascetic convent that only allowed the nuns to speak once a year. After her first year, a new recruit is invited to say something. She says, “Please fix the heat in my room. I’m freezing.” After year two she says, “I need more food. I’m starving.” After three years she says, “I’m sorry but I can’t stay any longer. My strength is failing.” The mother superior replies, “Fine. Ever since you got here, it’s been nothing but gripe, gripe, gripe.”

After all Job has been through, his sits with his friends for a whole week without saying a word. At last he speaks, and five minutes into the conversation Bildad hits him with, “How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind?

In addition to lacking grace, Bildad is wrong. He’s absolutely sure that God would only do this in response to specific sins by Job and his children. If only Job will just seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation.

What poppycock. 


When we get to heaven and see all our errors, we’ll see the times when we were absolutely sure we were right. The truth is that even when we’re not wrong, our understanding is simple-minded. We can’t fully know anything this side of eternity; our brains are too small. Beware of being sure.

Part of seasoning your words with salt is always being aware of the possibility that you’re wrong.


To download a study guide with this week's lessons, plus some discussion questions, see:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/item/9928-job-week-3-a-tale-of-two-perspectives

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.