Job and His Friend Bildad

Job and His Friends
by Ilya Repin (1869)

Bildad, the Shuhite, was the second of Job’s three friends who came to visit him and offer words of comfort (Job 2:11). Bildad always speaks after Eliphaz. In his first speech, Bildad emphasizes God’s justice. He tells Job that God is a just God who will not reject a blameless man. He also says that God deals with the wicked, for the light of the wicked will be extinguished.

The First Dialogue Between Bildad and Job

A. Bildad’s First Speech

Bildad begins his speech by admonishing Job: “How long will you say these things? How long will your words be so windy?” (Job 8:2). Bildad knows that Job did something to deserve his suffering because God does not pervert justice, “Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right?” (Job 8:3). Bildad then suggests that the death of Job’s children was deserved because they sinned against God, “Since your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin” (Job 8:4).

Bildad then urges Job to change his attitude and repent so that God can restore him, “If you search for God and plead for mercy from the Almighty, if you are moral and ethical, then he will rise up on your behalf and prove your righteousness by rebuilding your home. Then what you had in the past will seem small compared with the great prosperity you’ll have in the future” (Job 8:5–7).

Bildad describes to Job what a wicked person is like. They will eventually die and their name will be forgotten. “The godless seem like a lush plant growing in the sunshine. . . . But when it is uprooted, it’s as though it never existed” (Job 8:16, 18).

B. Job’s Response to Bildad

In his response to Bildad, Job agrees with some of his arguments, but Job believes that it is impossible to prove his innocence, “Yes, I know all this is true in principle. But how can a person be declared innocent in God’s sight?” Job believes that he may have to take God to court to prove his innocence, “If someone wanted to take God to court, would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times?” (Job 9:2–3).

Job says that God is powerful and almighty, but no human being can understand what God does, “Who dares to ask, ‘What are you doing?’ And God does not restrain his anger. So who am I, that I should try to answer God or even reason with him?” (Job 9:12–14).

Job believes that God is not interested in hearing his complaint, “Even if I were right, I would have no defense. I could only plead for mercy. And even if I summoned him and he responded, I’m not sure he would listen to me. For he attacks me with a storm and repeatedly wounds me without cause” (Job 9:15–17).

Once again Job declares his innocence but he believes that his innocence does not matter to God, “Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty. Though I am blameless, it would prove me wicked. I am innocent, but it makes no difference to me – I despise my life. Innocent or wicked, it is all the same to God. That’s why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked’” (Job 9:20–22 NLT).

Job addresses his words to God, questioning God’s reason for punishing him without cause, “Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain. I will say to God, ‘Don’t simply condemn me – tell me the charge you are bringing against me. What do you gain by oppressing me? Why do you reject me, the work of your own hands, while smiling on the schemes of the wicked? Are your eyes like those of a human? Do you see things only as people see them?’” (Job 10:1–4 NLT).

Job believes that, even though he is innocent, there is no solution for his suffering because no one can escape from God’s wrath, “Although you know I am not guilty, no one can rescue me from your hands” (Job 10:7 NLT). “Again and again you witness against me. You pour out your growing anger on me and bring fresh armies against me” (Job 10:17 NLT).

The Second Dialogue Between Bildad and Job

A. Bildad’s Second Speech

Bildad begins his second speech by defending himself and the other two friends, “How long before you stop talking? Speak sense if you want us to answer! Do you think we are mere animals? Do you think we are stupid?” (Job 18:2-3 NLT).

Bildad again describes the fate of the wicked with words that indirectly makes reference to what happened to Job, “Surely the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.” “The confident stride of the wicked will be shortened. Their own schemes will be their downfall.” “Disease eats their skin.” “They will have neither children nor grandchildren, nor any survivor in the place where they lived.” People will say, ‘This was the home of a wicked person, the place of one who rejected God’” (Job 18:5, 7, 13, 19–20 NLT).

B. Job’s Response to Bildad

In his response to Bildad, Job questions his sincerity and criticizes him for his attack against him, “How long will you torture me? How long will you try to crush me with your words? You have already insulted me ten times. You should be ashamed of treating me so badly” (Job 19:2–3 NLT).

Job accuses Bildad of humiliating him, when in reality, God has already done so: “You think you’re better than I am, using my humiliation as evidence of my sin. But it is God who has wronged me” (Job 19:5–6 NLT).

Job accuses God of having caused his affliction, “God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness. He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head. He has demolished me on every side, and I am finished. He has uprooted my hope like a fallen tree. His fury burns against me; he counts me as an enemy” (Job 19:8–11 NLT).

As a result of what God has done, Job says that God has taken away his children, his livelihood, God has isolated him from his family, from his household, and from his community. Job cries in desperation, “Have mercy on me, my friends, have mercy, for the hand of God has struck me” (Job 19:21 NLT).

Job wants to write down his case and present it before God, “O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book! O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever” (Job 19:23–24).

Job appeals his case to his Redeemer, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25–27).

Job’s Redeemer is not named. It cannot be God since Job has called God his enemy. It cannot be a member of his family because his relatives have abandoned him (Job 19:14). Maybe Job is talking about someone in the near future who will testify of his innocence, “ I am certain that he who will take up my cause is living” (Job 19:25 BBE).

The Third Dialogue Between Bildad and Job

A. Bildad’s Third Speech

Bildad’s third speech is the shortest one in the book of Job. Once again he declares that no human being can be righteous before God, “How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure?” (Job 25:4). Bildad says that Job and all human beings are maggots and worms before God (Job 25:6).

B. Job’s Response to Bildad

It seems that Job interrupts Bildad, implying that he has no authority to speak, “With whose help have you uttered words, and whose spirit has come forth from you?” (Job 26:4).

Once again, Job proclaims his innocence and defends his integrity: “As long as I live, while I have breath from God, my lips will speak no evil, and my tongue will speak no lies. I will never concede that you are right; I will defend my integrity until I die. I will maintain my innocence without wavering. My conscience is clear for as long as I live” (Job 27:3-6 NLT).

Job utters a curse upon his enemies, “As God lives, who has taken away my right . . . May my enemy be punished like the wicked, my adversary like those who do evil” (Job 27:2, 7). Although the enemy is not named, it is possible that the enemy was someone who rejected Job’s claim of innocence.

Conclusion

In his dialogue with Job, Bildad was more severe in his criticism of Job than Eliphaz. Bildad believed that Job was a sinner. It is for this reason that his words of accusation were harsh and severe. Bildad believed that Job was a wicked person and what was happening to him was evidence that he had sinned against God.

In his response to Bildad, Job said that Bildad’s words only brought more pain to him as he tried to understand the meaning of his suffering. Throughout his dialogue with Bildad, Job maintains his innocence and integrity. Job also believes that, even if he has sinned as all humans do, the punishment God brought upon him was excessive. Job believed that God was responsible for his suffering and because he was innocent, he wanted an audience with God so that he might present his case before God.

For all nine lessons on this series, visit my post on Studies on the Book of Job.

NEXT: LESSON 5

“Job and His Friend Zophar”

First Speech
Zophar, Chapter 11
Job, Chapters 12–14

Second Speech
Zophar, Chapter 20
Job, Chapter 21

Job’s Final Defense of His Integrity
Job, Chapters 29–31

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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