Chapter 8 of Job introduces us to the first words of Job’s friend Bildad, the Shuhite. Seeing that Eliphaz’s first attempt yielded no movement in Job at all toward Job seeing that his own sin must figure into all of this somehow – Bildad launches into what might be some of the most cruel words aimed at a suffering soul in all of Scripture.
And we must admit that one of the most wretched proclivities which has attended humanity since the Fall in Eden is how like sharks, we circle the bleeding to make our attack. Once the idea of attack has been broached, we seem almost compelled to join the fray in a frenzied unleashing of our inward sinfulness. Our own generation has seen how once a mob is inflamed over some issue, unbridled violence ensues. One can’t help but think back to the violent results of the announcement of the verdict in the O. J. Simpson trial. Many who had never participated in such lawless acts before, caught up with the passion of the mob, joined in acts they would have ordinarily thought repulsive. Or just a generation ago, how many a family man in Germany became unspeakably cruel as the Holocaust ramped up. Neighbor turned upon neighbor with savage abandon. We must see how the seeds of this kind of sin are sown in the hearts of all the Sons and Daughters of Adam – and are still lurking even in the breasts of the most “moral” and religious among us.
Bildad is not a “bad” man in the sense of being a criminal or outwardly lawless. Nor is he some common cur. As one of Job’s friends, he is no doubt upright, respectable and considered a pillar in his community. He is a religious man, and not a pagan one either. Even here he sees his role as speaking for God on the side of righteousness. And in the process, he unspeakably wounds the heart of the friend he believes sincerely he is trying to help.
Bildad’s basic assumptions of how life works come out in this opening discourse. In essence, his thinking is built around the idea that we live in a cause and effect universe. Maybe it wasn’t Job’s sin directly that brought this on, but surely even Job should be able to recognize that his children must have sinned or they would still be alive. One can only imagine how his arguments must have stabbed Job’s heart excruciatingly.
Bildad makes 4 basic points:
1. 18:2-7 / Job, get off your self-righteous horse. Let’s just face the facts, if your children had been innocent, they wouldn’t be dead right now. You know you can only be receiving what is just. Own your sin, repent and God will restore you.
2. 8:8-10 / Don’t take our word for it. Isn’t this the way all generations have known it works? You know it as well as well do. Denying it is fruitless.
3. 8:11-19 / It is this simple Job, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Where there’s suffering, there’s sin. End of discussion.
4. 8:20-22 / The good news is – God will take you back if you repent. He’ll restore you. Your enemies will be judged. Repent.
It never occurs to Bildad that it could be any different than this. His theology has no room for modification, correction or even nuance. This is how the universe works, and so if this is your case, then only one thing can possibly be true – sin is at the root.
May the Lord deliver us from the Bildad in ourselves. May we plead for hearts of genuine compassion like that of Christ – who when preaching in the villages of Judea in Matthew 9 “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Oh for Spirit infused compassion on the harassed and helpless. This is the Spirit of Christ Jesus.