Bildad reproves Job. (1-7) Hypocrites will be destroyed. (8-19) Bildad applies God's just dealing to Job. (20-22)
Verses 1-7 Job spake much to the purpose; but Bildad, like an eager, angry disputant, turns it all off with this, How long wilt thou speak these things? Men's meaning is not taken aright, and then they are rebuked, as if they were evil-doers. Even in disputes on religion, it is too common to treat others with sharpness, and their arguments with contempt. Bildad's discourse shows that he had not a favourable opinion of Job's character. Job owned that God did not pervert judgment; yet it did not therefore follow that his children were cast-aways, or that they did for some great transgression. Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, sometimes they are the trials of extraordinary graces: in judging of another's case, we ought to take the favorable side. Bildad puts Job in hope, that if he were indeed upright, he should yet see a good end of his present troubles. This is God's way of enriching the souls of his people with graces and comforts. The beginning is small, but the progress is to perfection. Dawning light grows to noon-day.
Verses 8-19 Bildad discourses well of hypocrites and evil-doers, and the fatal end of all their hopes and joys. He proves this truth of the destruction of the hopes and joys of hypocrites, by an appeal to former times. Bildad refers to the testimony of the ancients. Those teach best that utter words out of their heart, that speak from an experience of spiritual and divine things. A rush growing in fenny ground, looking very green, but withering in dry weather, represents the hypocrite's profession, which is maintained only in times of prosperity. The spider's web, spun with great skill, but easily swept away, represents a man's pretensions to religion when without the grace of God in his heart. A formal professor flatters himself in his own eyes, doubts not of his salvation, is secure, and cheats the world with his vain confidences. The flourishing of the tree, planted in the garden, striking root to the rock, yet after a time cut down and thrown aside, represents wicked men, when most firmly established, suddenly thrown down and forgotten. This doctrine of the vanity of a hypocrite's confidence, or the prosperity of a wicked man, is sound; but it was not applicable to the case of Job, if confined to the present world.
Verses 20-22 Bildad here assures Job, that as he was so he should fare; therefore they concluded, that as he fared so he was. God will not cast away an upright man; he may be cast down for a time, but he shall not be cast away for ever. Sin brings ruin on persons and families. Yet to argue, that Job was an ungodly, wicked man, was unjust and uncharitable. The mistake in these reasonings arose from Job's friends not distinguishing between the present state of trial and discipline, and the future state of final judgment. May we choose the portion, possess the confidence, bear the cross, and die the death of the righteous; and, in the mean time, be careful neither to wound others by rash judgments, nor to distress ourselves needlessly about the opinions of our fellow-creatures.
FIRST SERIES--FIRST SPEECH OF BILDAD, MORE SEVERE
AND COARSE THAN THAT OF ELIPHAZ.
Job 8:1-22 . THE ADDRESS OF BILDAD.
2. like a . . . wind?--disregarding restraints, and daring against God.
3. The repetition of "pervert" gives an emphasis galling to Job ( Job 34:12 ). "Wouldst thou have God," as thy words imply, "pervert judgment," by letting thy sins go unpunished? He assumes Job's guilt from his sufferings.
4. If--Rather, "Since thy children have sinned against Him, and (since) He has cast them away (Hebrew, by the hand of) for their transgressions, (yet) if thou wouldst seek unto God, &c., if thou wert pure, &c., surely [even] now He would awake for thee." UMBREIT makes the apodosis to, "since thy children," &c., begin at "He has cast them away." Also, instead of "for," "He gave them up to (literally, into the hand of) their own guilt." Bildad expresses the justice of God, which Job had arraigned. Thy children have sinned; God leaves them to the consequence of their sin; most cutting to the heart of the bereaved father.
5. seek unto God betimes--early. Make it the first and chief anxiety ( Psalms 78:34 , Hosea 5:15 , Isaiah 26:9 , Proverbs 8:17 , 13:24 ).
6. He would awake for thee--that is, arise to thy help. God seemed to be asleep toward the sufferer ( Psalms 35:23 , 7:6 , Isaiah 51:9 ).
make . . . prosperous--restore to prosperity thy (their) righteous habitation. Bildad assumes it to have been heretofore the habitation of guilt.
7. thy beginning--the beginning of thy new happiness after restoration.
latter end--( Job 42:12 , Proverbs 23:18 ).
8, 9. The sages of the olden time reached an age beyond those of Job's time testimony of a fuller experience.
9. of yesterday--that is, a recent race. We know nothing as compared with them because of the brevity of our lives; so even Jacob ( Genesis 47:9 ). Knowledge consisted then in the results of observation, embodied in poetical proverbs, and handed down by tradition. Longevity gave the opportunity of wider observation.
a shadow--( Psalms 144:4 , 1 Chronicles 29:15 ).
10. teach thee-- Job 6:24 had said, "Teach me." Bildad, therefore, says, "Since you want teaching, inquire of the fathers. They will teach thee."
utter words--more than mere speaking; "put forth well-considered words."
out of their heart--from observation and reflection; not merely, from their mouth: such, as Bildad insinuates, were Job's words. Job 8:11-13 embody in poetic and sententious form (probably the fragment of an old poem) the observation of the elders. The double point of comparison between the ungodly and the paper-reed is: 1. the luxuriant prosperity at first; and, 2. the sudden destruction.
11. rush--rather, "paper-reed": The papyrus of Egypt, which was used to make garments, shoes, baskets, boats, and paper (a word derived from it). It and the flag, or bulrush, grow only in marshy places (such as are along the Nile). So the godless thrives only in external prosperity; there is in the hypocrite no inward stability; his prosperity is like the rapid growth of water plants.
12. not cut down--Before it has ripened for the scythe, it withers more suddenly than any herb, having no self-sustaining power, once that the moisture is gone, which other herbs do not need in the same degree. So ruin seizes on the godless in the zenith of prosperity, more suddenly than on others who appear less firmly seated in their possessions [UMBREIT] ( Psalms 112:10 ).
13. paths--so "ways" ( Proverbs 1:19 ).
all that forget God--the distinguishing trait of the godless ( Psalms 9:17 , 50:22 ).
14. cut off--so GESENIUS; or, to accord with the metaphor of the spider's "house," "The confidence (on which he builds) shall be laid in ruins" ( Isaiah 59:5 Isaiah 59:6 ).
15. he shall hold it fast--implying his eager grasp, when the storm of trial comes: as the spider "holds fast" by its web; but with this difference: the light spider is sustained by that on which it rests; the godless is not by the thin web on which he rests. The expression, "Hold fast," properly applies to the spider holding his web, but is transferred to the man. Hypocrisy, like the spider's web, is fine-spun, flimsy, and woven out of its own inventions, as the spider's web out of its own bowels. An Arab proverb says, "Time destroys the well-built house, as well as the spider's web."
16. before the sun--that is, he (the godless) is green only before the sun rises; but he cannot bear its heat, and withers. So succulent plants like the gourd ( Jonah 4:7 Jonah 4:8 ). But the widespreading in the garden does not quite accord with this. Better, "in sunshine"; the sun representing the smiling fortune of the hypocrite, during which he wondrously progresses [UMBREIT]. The image is that of weeds growing in rank luxuriance and spreading over even heaps of stones and walls, and then being speedily torn away.
17. seeth the place of stones--Hebrew, "the house of stones"; that is, the wall surrounding the garden. The parasite plant, in creeping towards and over the wall--the utmost bound of the garden--is said figuratively to "see" or regard it.
18. If He (God) tear him away (properly, "to tear away rapidly and violently") from his place, "then it [the place personified] shall deny him" ( Psalms 103:16 ). The very soil is ashamed of the weeds lying withered on its surface, as though it never had been connected with them. So, when the godless falls from prosperity, his nearest friends disown him.
19. Bitter irony. The hypocrite boasts of joy. This then is his "joy" at the last.
and out of the earth--others immediately, who take the place of the man thus punished; not godly men ( Matthew 3:9 ). For the place of the weeds is among stones, where the gardener wishes no plants. But, ungodly; a fresh crop of weeds always springs up in the place of those torn up: there is no end of hypocrites on earth [UMBREIT].
20. Bildad regards Job as a righteous man, who has fallen into sin.
God will not cast away a perfect man--(or godly man, such as Job was), if he will only repent. Those alone who persevere in sin God will not help (Hebrew, "take by the hand," Psalms 73:23 , Isaiah 41:13 , 42:6 ) when fallen.
21. Till--literally, "to the point that"; God's blessing on thee, when repentant, will go on increasing to the point that, or until, &c.
22. The haters of Job are the wicked. They shall be clothed with shame ( Jeremiah 3:25 , Psalms 35:26 , 109:29 ), at the failure of their hope that Job would utterly perish, and because they, instead of him, come to naught.