Seeing that Eliphaz’s last rebuke seemed to have no impact on moving Job toward owning the sin his 3 friends are convinced is at the root of his woes – Bildad steps up to the plate once more in chapter 18. There is a discernable shift in his language in this latest rejoinder. The first 4 verses are spoken directly to Job with appropriate personal pronouns: ‘How long will YOU hunt for words?’; ‘Why are we stupid in YOUR sight?’; ‘YOU who tear YOURSELF in anger, shall the earth be forsaken for YOU?’ But for the rest of Bildad’s discourse, he speaks as though Job isn’t there and he is only addressing his other friends. It is a cold and callous tactic, treating Job as though he isn’t even in the room with them, and discussing his case with the others like he is off in some other place. It is dismissive and belittling. It adds yet more woes to these already overburdened shoulders. And so Bildad charges in.
Bildad’s basic theme is not far different than anything already said. In short he argues: ‘Your own words condemn you Job. The order of the world – that the wicked suffer – will not change just because its you suffering this time. You brought this on yourself. Every aspect of your suffering is the result of your own wickedness. Just own it, you don’t know God.’
One wonders how Job goes on – why he goes on in the face of all these false accusations. But Job is, as he is proverbially known – the most patient of men. He can argue with his friends and just walk away. He wants to see it through. Deep down He knows there is an answer, and he hopes that he will be vindicated yet.
The rest of Bildad’s words continue to jab our dear sufferer.
18:1-4 / Come on! Is the entire world order supposed to be changed because you now have a situation which seems to not fit? Get over yourself.
18:5-7 / His sin has blinded Job. He can’t see these matters clearly because his own wickedness has clouded his vision – he is in darkness. And such darkness brings on weakness as well. He will not be able to endure much longer.
18:8-10 / Job has brought this entire affair upon himself and he can’t even see it. He’s been trapped by God due to his own self-deception.
18:11-13 / This is why you is frightened and why he has no strength to endure.
18:14-16 / He had pie in the sky hopes that he could continue in sin and prosper, and this is coming down all around his ears. The whole thing smells of God’s judgment. And judgment will continue on all sides.
18:17-19 / What’s more – whatever reputation Job used to have – or thought he had – will vanish. God is in the process wiping out his name. That is why he has no children left. His very memory is to be erased in disgrace.
And so, as though these accusations have not been cruel enough, Bildad takes the roughest, rustiest sword of all – and lays the death of his children at his feet as well. One cannot read Bildad’s words without weeping for Job. What could tear his grieving soul more?
And how we are warned here about how we bring our conclusions to events that are not over yet. Our God sees the beginning from the end – but we do not. We are so prone to look for absolute conclusions when matters are still very much at play. How often we do this with the woes of friends, or even ourselves. So heavy is the mystery of ‘why’ that we feel we MUST conclude SOMETHING, or we cannot go on.
How much then we need to know our Savior better. To rest in His character and His love for us rather than trying to divine those things from external circumstances. What says His Word? What says the incarnation? What says the cross? If we are His – His love never wavers, not in the slightest. And as His, we can trust His hand even in the darkest providences. He never has less than the eternal best of His children at His heart. Never. Never.