Bildad’s first speech
The ancient advice that God is always fair
v1 Then Bildad, who belonged to the people called Shuhites, answered. He said:
v2 Job, I cannot allow you to continue. Your words are not right. I would prefer to listen to the sound of the wind.
v3 God is always fair. God only does the right things.
v4 So, your children died because they were evil. God punished them for their evil deeds.
v5 (But you are not an evil man.) So, ask God to help you. Pray to God! v6 If you are sincere, he will help you. If you are honest, he will assist you. And you will receive the good life that a good man deserves. v7 You will be much more wealthy than you were before these troubles.
v8 Our grandfathers knew that this advice is right. And their fathers discovered this wisdom. v9 We were only born recently. So, we hardly know anything. We are like the shadows (of our fathers). v10Their ancient advice will teach you, Job.
Eliphaz heard Job’s reply. But Eliphaz chose not to answer. Instead, Bildad spoke.
Eliphaz had talked about his strange experience with a spirit. His ideas were new ideas. But Bildad’s ideas were traditional ideas. A new idea is not always right. And a traditional idea is not always right.
Job’s words upset Bildad greatly. Job seemed to have no hope. Bildad understood Job’s words. But Bildad was sorry that Job had even spoken. Bildad would prefer to listen to something that had no meaning, like the sound of the wind.
Verse 3 is right. We all should agree with this verse. But verse 3 leads to an awful idea in verse 4. These are terrible words to say to a man whose children have recently died. We might expect Job to complain about such words. But in fact, Job agreed with Bildad (Job 9:2). Job knew about his children’s behaviour (Job 1:4-5). And perhaps Job realised that we all deserve to die because of our evil deeds (Romans 6:2-3). We are alive because God is kind and patient (2 Peter 3:9). And God wants to forgive us (John 3:16).
Bildad advised Job to pray. This is always good advice (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And Bildad was right to say that God helps sincere people (Matthew 5:1-10). But this does not mean that every Christian should be wealthy. Many people who serve God have many troubles during their lives. But God will reward them greatly in heaven (see Matthew 5:12).
Later, the three friends spoke very cruel words to Job. They accused him of many evil deeds (Job 22:4-11). They thought that Job was suffering as a punishment for his evil deeds. But in chapter 8, Bildad was not yet thinking such things. Bildad still thought that Job was a good man. (The words in brackets (…) are not in the Bible. I have added these words to help us to understand this passage.)
Ancient advice can be good. But it can sometimes be wrong. Job was not suffering for any evil deed. And Job’s problem was not that he failed to pray. (See Job 1:5 and Job 1:20.) Job was suffering because the devil opposed him.
People who do not obey God are hopeless
v11 Plants that grow near the river need plentiful water. Otherwise, they become dry quickly. v12 You do not need to cut those plants. Without water, they will die more quickly than grass. v13 If people do not obey God, they will die like those plants. Such people are hopeless.
v14 Such a person thinks that he trusts in good things. But he is wrong. He is like someone who leans on a spider’s web. (A spider is like an insect. A spider makes a net, called a web, from silk.) v15 If someone leans on a spider’s web, the web breaks. If someone grasps the web, the web breaks.
v16 The person who does not obey God, is like a plant. This plant has plentiful water. And the plant is in the sunshine. So, the plant grows well in the garden. v17 The plant’s roots descend to the rocks.v18 But if someone tears the plant out of the garden, the plant will die. Such a plant has no place in the garden. v19 That plant can only hope that other plants will grow there.
Bildad explained his ideas with three stories.
· The first story is about plants that grow near the river (verses 11-13). Without water, such plants die quickly. Such plants are like people who do not obey God. Without God, such people are hopeless. They forget that their lives are God’s gift (John 1:4).
· The second story is about a spider’s web (verses 14-15). (A spider is like an insect. A spider makes a net, called a web, from silk.) A web might seem to be strong. But really, it is weak. People who forget God may seem to be strong. But they have no security. So their lives are weak. Jesus said that such people’s lives are like buildings without a proper base (Matthew 7:24-27).
· The last story is about a plant in a garden (verses 16-19). This plant has everything that it needs. So it grows well. Then the gardener removes the plant. He leaves the plant to die. This story was rather like Job’s life. Formerly Job had been successful. But now, like the plant, Job was dying. Bildad told this story because he did not want Job’s life to be like that plant. The plant was like a man who does not obey God. Job’s prayer (Job 7:12-2) caused Bildad to think that Job was turning away from God. So Bildad warned his friend.
God does not oppose an innocent man
v20 God does not oppose an innocent man. And God will not help evil men. v21 So you, Job, will be happy again. You will laugh and you will be glad. v22 You will see the shame of your enemies. And wicked men will lose everything.
Bildad was sure that God is fair. So he was sure that God would help Job. Bildad’s advice was simple. Job should do the right things. God would rescue Job. But Bildad’s answer was simply words. It was not a solution to Job’s problem. Job was still suffering greatly.