Bildad's First Speech
Eliphaz's First Speech (4:1-5:27)
Job's Response to Eliphaz (6:1-7:21)
Bildad’s First Speech (8:1-22)
It is almost as though Bildad wasn't even listening to Job's lament. He jumped right in and told Job what he should do to reverse his fortunes. Bildad was not a mystic, relying on visions and dreams. He was a moralist and a traditionalist.
Bildad Corrects Job's False Assumptions (1-7)
Bildad assumed out of hand that Job's words were a great puff of vanity, breath without substance, hot empty air, never-ending complaints, all of it absent of moral honor. Bildad was shocked Job would accuse God of injustice (1-2).
He rounded up his question twice: first, would God pervert justice, and second, would the Almighty do the same? (3).
Without compassion, Bildad declared the death of Job's children to be an act of justice, and they were killed by the very act of their own transgression. Bildad believed that evil behavior carried its own penalty. In Bildad's mind, suffering was always the consequence of sin (4).
Bildad, of course, was narrow of mind, void of logic, and without comprehension when it came to righteousness. Suffering being a consequence of sin was an absurdity debunked by Jesus (John 9:2-3).
Bildad asserted that the sins of Job's children were catastrophic, but Job's sins, however, were correctable, thus he had not paid for them with his life. Bildad advised Job to seek mercy from the Almighty (5).
If he would do so with a pure heart and honesty of confession, then Job's pleadings would arouse and wake up the mercy of God and he would be restored to a place he deserved (6). Bildad even became a bit of a prophetic moralist, declaring God would be so moved by his contrition that the latter prosperity would make his former prosperity seem small (7).
Bildad: Appeal to the Traditions (8-10)
Bildad turned to the accrued wisdom of many generations. He accused Job of not paying attention in class, of not learning from his ancestral teachers before him (8). For Bildad, real wisdom came from those no longer living—the wisdom of the ancients who established the moral traditions of the world at the time. Those who came before were those Job needed to heed. He was born just yesterday and knew nothing, for his day was passing like a shadow. Wisdom and traditions had been developed over many generations instead of in the transient moment of a quickly passing shadow. Those ancient traditions and reasonings were what Job needed to heed, not some philosophy he was making up on-the-go (9-10).
Bildad: Traditional Reasoning Explained (11-19)
Bildad explained to Job the ancestors’ moralist view of life using three metaphors.
1) The Papyrus Reed (11-13)
The papyrus reeds grow in the Egyptian marsh. Those reeds cannot flourish without water. When the water quits flowing to some of the reeds within the marsh, those reeds which are flowering but not ready to harvest begin to wither. They wither because there is no longer a water supply hydrating them and enabling them to flourish (11-12).
Bildad takes the metaphor further—so are those who forget God. Their hopes evaporate because the presence of God is no longer hydrating their lives (13).
2) The Spider Web (14-15)
Those who forget God are like someone who decides to lean on a spider web for support. They cling to their confidence like a spider's home, a web. The web has no strength; the web is no wall at all and is unable to support any significant weight. Bildad was communicating to Job, “You forgot God, Job, and then you went to Him for support but all you found was spiderwebs, your thread-like support system you had built in place of God" (14-15).
3) Lush Garden Plant (16-19)
Finally, Bildad used the lush plant, which in the sunshine spreads out in a flurry of growth (16). Its roots grow through stones and grip the dirt between the rocks. The root system is amazing how it travels for growth and nutrition (17).
Then it is harvested, uprooted as though it had never been in its place (18). The lush plant is uprooted and others come up in its place. Bildad's point was that those who forget God are like plants whose joy of life end, and they are uprooted to make room for others more deserving (19).
Bildad was telling Job his forgetting of God had caused:
a) God's presence to dry up,
b) what he had built to be unable to support him, and
c) him to become a root rotted and displaced.
Bildad: Summary of Moralist Point of View (20-21)
Bildad's worldview was starkly black and white. The truly "blameless" man described in the opening verse of this book God would not reject, and at the same time neither would God hold the hand of the God-forgetting evil-doer (20). If Job would but return to his blameless state of mind, remember God, and turn to Him for mercy, then Job would again experience great joy and high praise (21). Once Job remembered and returned to God, then those who hated him would be clothed in shame and they would be erased from the living, just as Job was experiencing for forgetting God (22).