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.
In this chapter Bildad enters the discussion with Job; proceeding upon the same lines as Eliphaz, he reproves him for his long and loud talk, Job 8:1,2; asserts the justice of God in his providence, of which the taking away of Job's children by death for their transgression was an instance and proof, Job 8:3,4; and suggests, that if Job, who had not sinned so heinously as they had, and therefore was spared, would make his submission to God, and ask forgiveness of him, and behave for the future with purity and uprightness, he need not doubt but God would immediately appear and exert himself on his behalf, and bless him and his with prosperity and plenty, Job 8:5-7; for this was his ordinary way of dealing with the children of men, for the truth of which he refers him to the records of former times, and to the sentiments of ancient men, who lived longer, and were more knowing than he and his friends, on whose opinion he does not desire him to rely, Job 8:8-10; and then by various similes used by the ancients, or taken from them by Bildad, or which were of his own inventing and framing, are set forth the short lived enjoyments, and vain hope and confidence, of hypocrites and wicked men; as by the sudden withering of rushes and flags of themselves, that grow in mire and water, even in their greenness, before they are cut down, or cropped by any hand, Job 8:11-13; and by the spider's web, which cannot stand and endure when leaned upon and held, Job 8:14,15; and by a flourishing tree destroyed, and seen no more, Job 8:16-19; and the chapter is concluded with an observation and maxim, that he and the rest of his friends set out upon, and were tenacious of; that God did not afflict good men in any severe manner, but filled them with joy and gladness; and that he would not long help and prosper wicked men, but bring them and their dwelling place to nought; and this being the case of Job, he suggests that he was such an one, Job 8:20-22.