Job 8:1-4 (NIV) 1 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: 2 “How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind. 3 Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? 4 When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.
On verses 1-4: Wow. The first words that come out of Bildad’s mouth to a grieving, distraught Job are these. It helps to understand where Bildad is coming from. Believing that Job is questioning God’s justice, Bildad feels the need to come to God’s defense. But in trying to speak in defense of God, Bildad goes way overboard and says things that are highly offensive to a grieving person. Bildad denounces Job’s words as nonsense – “Your words are a blustering wind.” (v2) He also states that what happened to Job’s children was God punishing them for their sin (v4). Like Eliphaz, Bildad has incorrectly assumed that all suffering is God’s punishment for sin.
Job 8:5-7 (NIV) 5 But if you will look to God and plead with the Almighty, 6 if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place. 7 Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.
On verses 5-7: Here is the good part that we can pick out of all the bad that Bildad speaks. The good thing Bildad does is encourage Job to look to God and believe that God will restore him and cause him to prosper in the long run. Whether with Job’s friends or our own friends, sometimes we need to separate the wheat from the chaff of their words.
Job 8:8-20 (NIV) 8 “Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, 9 for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. 10 Will they not instruct you and tell you? Will they not bring forth words from their understanding? 11 Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water? 12 While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. 13 Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. 14 What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider’s web. 15 He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold. 16 He is like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, spreading its shoots over the garden; 17 it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks and looks for a place among the stones. 18 But when it is torn from its spot, that place disowns it and says, ‘I never saw you.’ 19 Surely its life withers away, and from the soil other plants grow. 20 “Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers.
On verses 8-22: Bildad is trying to communicate to Job the age old truth that those who do not trust God may prosper for a while but will ultimately be uprooted and destroyed. Just as a papyrus tree cannot grow without a marsh, just as reeds cannot thrive without water (v11), so we cannot truly thrive long term without trusting in the Lord. Unfortunately, like Eliphaz before him, Bildad gives all this advice under the assumption that Job’s sin is the reason for Job’s suffering. All the rhetorical questions Bildad asks – in the NIV translation there are seven of them – are based on that wrong assumption. Bildad should have questioned his assumptions before trying to give Job all this advice.
What can we learn from all this? The helpfulness of the advice we give others depends greatly on the correctness of the assumptions we make about them. If I make wrong assumptions about someone, I can hardly give them helpful advice. Before you give a person advice, check your assumptions.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I would not make the same mistake Bildad made. Before I try to give others advice, help me to check the correctness of my assumptions about them. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!