For we [are but of] yesterday F19
Which is not to be understood strictly of the day last past, but of a short space of time backward; and especially when compared with the antediluvian fathers, who lived the far greater part of them upwards of nine hundred years; otherwise Bildad and his two friends were men in years; Eliphaz says, that with them were the gray headed and very aged men, much older than the father of Job, and Elihu speaks of himself as a young man, and of them as very old; see ( Job 15:10 ) ( 32:6 ) ;
and know nothing;
which is not to be taken in an absolute sense, for they knew much of the things of nature, providence, and grace; they were men of great understanding in things natural, civil, and religious, as appears by their discourses; but in a comparative sense, or when compared with the long lived patriarchs, who through the length of their days had much time and opportunity to make their observations on things, to learn the arts and sciences, and improve themselves in all useful knowledge, human and divine; for which reason Job is sent to inquire of them; whereas they had been but a little while in the world, and knew but little, to whom might be applied that saying, as now to men since, "ars longa, vita brevis"; and they knew nothing as it is to be known, or perfectly, or in comparison of the saints in heaven; for they that know most here know but in part, see through a glass darkly; but in the other world they see face to face, and know as they are known. Moreover, Bildad might say this of himself and his friends, in a modest manner, having learned to know themselves, their weakness, and their folly; and the first and great lesson of wisdom is to become fools in men's own apprehension, in order to be truly wise, having the like sense of themselves as Agur had, ( Proverbs 30:2 ) ; see ( 1 Corinthians 3:18 ) ; or rather this might be said as being the sense of Job concerning them, who had a very mean and indifferent opinion of them; see ( Job 12:2 ) ( 13:2 ) ; and therefore Bildad would not have him take their sense of things, but inquire of persons older and wiser:
because our days upon earth [are] a shadow;
man's time is rather measured by days than by months and years, being so short; and these are called "days" on earth, to distinguish them from the days of heaven, which are one everlasting day, in which there is no night of darkness, either in a literal or figurative sense, and which will never end; but the days of this life are like a "shadow", dark and obscure; full of the darkness of adversity and trouble, as well as greatly deficient in the light of knowledge; there is nothing in them solid and substantial; the greatest and best things of this life are but a vain show; in heaven there is a better and more enduring substance: every thing is mutable and uncertain here; man is subject to a variety of changes in his mind and body, in family and outward estate and circumstances: and life itself is but a vapour, which appears a while and soon vanishes away; or rather like a shadow, that declines, is fleeting, and quickly gone; see ( 1 Chronicles 29:15 ) .
F19 (epameroi) , Pindar. Pythia, Ode 8.