Bildad reproves Job. (1-4) Ruin attends the wicked. (5-10) The ruin of the wicked. (11-21)
Verses 1-4 Bildad had before given Job good advice and encouragement; here he used nothing but rebukes, and declared his ruin. And he concluded that Job shut out the providence of God from the management of human affairs, because he would not admit himself to be wicked.
Verses 5-10 Bildad describes the miserable condition of a wicked man; in which there is much certain truth, if we consider that a sinful condition is a sad condition, and that sin will be men's ruin, if they do not repent. Though Bildad thought the application of it to Job was easy, yet it was not safe nor just. It is common for angry disputants to rank their opponents among God's enemies, and to draw wrong conclusions from important truths. The destruction of the wicked is foretold. That destruction is represented under the similitude of a beast or bird caught in a snare, or a malefactor taken into custody. Satan, as he was a murderer, so he was a robber, from the beginning. He, the tempter, lays snares for sinners wherever they go. If he makes them sinful like himself, he will make them miserable like himself. Satan hunts for the precious life. In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare for himself, and God is preparing for his destruction. See here how the sinner runs himself into the snare.
Verses 11-21 Bildad describes the destruction wicked people are kept for, in the other world, and which in some degree, often seizes them in this world. The way of sin is the way of fear, and leads to everlasting confusion, of which the present terrors of an impure conscience are earnests, as in Cain and Judas. Miserable indeed is a wicked man's death, how secure soever his life was. See him dying; all that he trusts to for his support shall be taken from him. How happy are the saints, and how indebted to the lord Jesus, by whom death is so far done away and changed, that this king of terrors is become a friend and a servant! See the wicked man's family sunk and cut off. His children shall perish, either with him or after him. Those who consult the true honour of their family, and its welfare, will be afraid of withering all by sin. The judgments of God follow the wicked man after death in this world, as a proof of the misery his soul is in after death, and as an earnest of that everlasting shame and contempt to which he shall rise in the great day. The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot, Pr. 10:7 . It would be well if this report of wicked men would cause any to flee from the wrath to come, from which their power, policy, and riches cannot deliver them. But Jesus ever liveth to deliver all who trust in him. Bear up then, suffering believers. Ye shall for a little time have sorrow, but your Beloved, your Saviour, will see you again; your hearts shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh away.
Job 18:1-21 . REPLY OF BILDAD.
2. ye--the other two friends of Job, whom Bildad charges with having spoken mere "words," that is, empty speeches; opposed to "mark," that is, come to reason, consider the question intelligently; and then let us speak.
3. beasts--alluding to what Job said ( Job 12:7 ; so Isaiah 1:3 ).
vile--rather from a Hebrew root, "to stop up." "Stubborn," answering to the stupidity implied in the parallel first clause [UMBREIT]. Why should we give occasion by your empty speeches for our being mutually reputed, in the sight of Job and one another, as unintelligent? ( Job 17:4 Job 17:10 ).
4. Rather, turning to Job, "thou that tearest thyself in anger" ( Job 5:2 ).
be forsaken?--become desolate. He alludes here to Job's words as to the "rock," crumbling away ( Job 14:18 Job 14:19 ); but in a different application. He says bitterly "for thee." Wert thou not punished as thou art, and as thou art unwilling to bear, the eternal order of the universe would be disturbed and the earth become desolate through unavenged wickedness [UMBREIT]. Bildad takes it for granted Job is a great sinner ( Job 8:3-6 , Isaiah 24:5 Isaiah 24:6 ). "Shall that which stands fast as a rock be removed for your special accommodation?"
5. That ( Job 18:4 ) cannot be. The decree of God is unalterable, the light (prosperity) of the wicked shall at length be put out.
his fire--alluding to Arabian hospitality, which prided itself on welcoming the stranger to the fire in the tent, and even lit fires to direct him to it. The ungodly shall be deprived of the means to show hospitality. His dwelling shall be dark and desolate!
6. candle--the lamp which in the East is usually fastened to the ceiling. Oil abounds in those regions, and the lamp was kept burning all night, as now in Egypt, where the poorest would rather dispense with food than the night lamp ( Psalms 18:28 ). To put out the lamp was an image of utter desolation.
7. steps of his strength--Hebrew, for "His strong steps." A firm step marks health. To be straitened in steps is to be no longer able to move about at will ( Proverbs 4:12 ).
his own counsel--Plans shall be the means of his fall ( Job 5:13 ).
8. he walketh upon--rather, "he lets himself go into the net" [UMBREIT]. If the English Version be retained, then understand "snare" to be the pitfall, covered over with branches and earth, which when walked upon give way ( Psalms 9:15 , 35:8 ).
9. robber--rather answering to "gin" in the parallel clause, "the noose shall hold him fast" [UMBREIT].
11. Terrors--often mentioned in this book ( Job 18:14 , 24:17 ; &c.). The terrors excited through an evil conscience are here personified. "Magor-missabib" ( Jeremiah 20:3 ).
drive . . . to his feet--rather, "shall pursue" (literally, "scatter," Habakkuk 3:14 ) him close "at his heels" (literally, "immediately after his feet," Habakkuk 3:5 , 1 Samuel 25:42 ; Hebrew). The image is that of a pursuing conqueror who scatters the enemy [UMBREIT].
12. The Hebrew is brief and bold, "his strength is hungry."
destruction--that is, a great calamity ( Proverbs 1:27 ).
ready at his side--close at hand to destroy him ( Proverbs 19:29 ).
13. UMBREIT has "he" for "it," that is, "in the rage of hunger he shall devour his own body"; or, "his own children" ( Lamentations 4:10 ). Rather, "destruction" from Job 18:12 is nominative to "devour."
strength--rather, "members" (literally, the "branches" of a tree).
the first-born of death--a personification full of poetical horror. The first-born son held the chief place ( Genesis 49:3 ); so here the chiefest (most deadly) disease that death has ever engendered ( Isaiah 14:30 ; "first-born of the poor"--the poorest). The Arabs call fever, "daughter of death."
14. confidence--all that the father trusted in for domestic happiness, children, fortune, &c., referring to Job's losses.
rooted out--suddenly torn away, it shall bring--that is, he shall be brought; or, as UMBREIT better has, "Thou (God) shalt bring him slowly." The Hebrew expresses, "to stride slowly and solemnly." The godless has a fearful death for long before his eyes, and is at last taken by it. Alluding to Job's case. The King of terrors, not like the heathen Pluto, the tabled ruler of the dead, but Death, with all its terrors to the ungodly, personified.
15. It--"Terror" shall haunt, &c., and not as UMBREIT, "another," which the last clause of the verse disproves.
none of his--It is his no longer.
brimstone--probably comparing the calamity of Job by the "fire of God" ( Job 1:16 ) to the destruction of guilty Sodom by fire and brimstone ( Genesis 19:24 ).
branch--his children ( Job 8:12 , 15:30 , Malachi 4:1 ).
17. street--Men shall not speak of him in meeting in the highways; rather, "in the field" or "meadow"; the shepherds shall no more mention his name--a picture from nomadic life [UMBREIT].
18. light . . . darkness--existence--nonexistence.
19. nephew--(so Isaiah 14:22 ). But it is translated "grandson" ( Genesis 21:23 ); translate "kinsman."
20. after . . . before--rather, "those in the West--those in the East"; that is, all people; literally, "those behind--those before"; for Orientals in geography turn with their faces to the east (not to the north as we), and back to the west; so that before--east; behind--north (so Zechariah 14:8 ).
day--of ruin ( Obadiah 1:12 ).
affrighted--seized with terror ( Job 21:6 , Isaiah 13:8 ).
21. ( Job 8:22 , Margin).