We resume our study of the book of Job during the first set of speeches between Job’s three friends and Job. Bildad is the second friend to speak to Job, picking up where Eliphaz left off.
Job’s friend Eliphaz started the first set of speeches by telling Job that he needs only to admit his sin, God would release him from his affliction. I can visualize this interaction where Eliphaz sits down looking exasperated at Job’s response to him. Bildad stands up and gives the other two friends a look that says, “Don’t worry, let me handle it.”
Bildad doesn’t sugarcoat his words to Job. Instead, he jumps right in by bringing up the death of Job’s children as punishment for their sin. As if Job sitting in trash heap writhing in pain isn’t enough, Bildad rubs salt in the wound with this statement:
Since your children sinned against him,
he gave them over to their rebellion.
Bildad Attacks Job’s Character
But if you earnestly seek God
and ask the Almighty for mercy,
if you are pure and upright,
then he will move even now on your behalf
and restore the home where your righteousness dwells.
Then, even if your beginnings were modest,
your final days will be full of prosperity.
Let’s take a look back at the first chapter of Job and what God says about Job’s character:
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.”
Bildad is supposed to be one of Job’s closest friends, which means he should not question Job’s character, one of righteousness and integrity. Yet because he has no other reason for Job’s affliction, he falsely assumes it is his own unrighteousness and sin that has caused these things to happen.
Throughout his speech to Job, Bildad calls his character into question.
Look, God does not reject a person of integrity,
and he will not support evildoers.
PUT YOURSELF IN BILDAD’S SHOES FOR A MOMENT…
We are seeing Job’s story unfold from a bird’s eye view – we see the whole picture. Bildad, along with Eliphaz and Zophar, are in the trenches with Job, attempting to help their friend find relief from his suffering.
Think about one of your own close friends. Picture them in your mind right now. Imagine if you will, your close friend goes through something incredibly tragic and devastating. Perhaps they lose their spouse in a car wreck, or find out they have Stage 4 cancer.
Now imagine our understanding of God was no more developed than the understanding these men have. They have been taught that any suffering comes from God as punishment for personal sin or the sin of our parents.
Now go back to your friend. If you believed she was diagnosed with cancer because of her personal sin, how would you speak to her?
Remember, Job’s friends have no knowledge of Satan. They have the best of intentions, but are misguided in their Biblical knowledge.
Job Responds to Bildad
Job begins his response to Bildad very differently than his response to Eliphaz.
Yes, I know what you’ve said is true,
but how can a person be justified before God?
He agrees with Bildad that repentance of sin brings restoration from God. However, Job wants to know how he can justify himself before God.
Over the next several chapters, the dialogue between Job and his friends uses a courtroom metaphor. Job sees himself as a plaintiff trying to prove his innocence before an omniscient and omnipotent judge. He calls on his friends to be a mediator on his behalf, but they continue to fall back on the argument that it is up to Job and Job alone to confess his sin.
Job Feels God is Attacking Him
He batters me with a whirlwind
and multiplies my wounds without cause.
He doesn’t let me catch my breath
but fills me with bitter experiences.
If it is a matter of strength, look, he is the powerful one!
Job still does not curse God, but he boldly states that God is attacking him, battering him and not allowing him to catch his breath. (This speaks to the quick succession of events that took place in Job 1 in which he lost all of his worldly possessions and his children within moments of one another.)
God Destroys the Blameless and the Wicked
It is all the same. Therefore I say,
“He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.”
When catastrophe brings sudden death,
he mocks the despair of the innocent.
The earth is handed over to the wicked;
he blindfolds its judges.
If it isn’t he, then who is it?
Job continues to hold onto his innocence, and because of this, he determines that God not only punishes the wicked, but also the blameless. He doesn’t know that Satan can wreak havoc on the lives of the innocent, so if innocent people suffer, he deduces that it must be at the hand of God.
Job Feels Justified in Complaining
When Bildad began speaking, he asked, “How long will you go on saying these things?” (Job 8:2)
I am disgusted with my life.
I will give vent to my complaint
and speak in the bitterness of my soul.
Job makes it very clear that he will complain if he wants to; after all, he has lost everything he owns, lost all of his children, and now suffers from painful, oozing boils all over his body, and his friends are not standing by him supporting his innocence.
Job Seeks Clarity
I will say to God,
“Do not declare me guilty!
Let me know why you prosecute me.
Is it good for you to oppress,
to reject the work of your hands,
and favor the plans of the wicked?”
Because Job knows he has done nothing to receive such punishment, he seeks clarity from God about the reason for his affliction and suffering.
He continues to speak directly to God rather than Job at this point, acknowledging that God took great care to create him, and asks that God would now allow him to die.
“Your hands shaped me and formed me.
Will you now turn and destroy me?
Please remember that you formed me like clay.
Will you now return me to dust?
Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese?
You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and wove me together with bones and tendons.
You gave me life and faithful love,
and your care has guarded my life.”
Don’t miss the beauty in these verses. In one breath, Job speaks to the power and care of God and how He creates each and every one of us, while also acknowledging God’s almighty power to destroy us.
“Your hands shaped me and formed me.”
“…You formed me like clay.”
“You clothed me with skin and flesh, wove me together with bones and tendons.”
“You gave me life and faithful love…”
Job praises God for His creation and His love throughout his life – hardly the words of a man who would curse God for the pain he is enduring, which is exactly what Satan was hoping to accomplish by striking Job so harshly.