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Wednesday, June 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Job 18

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries



“Bildad’s second speech is no improvement on his first (Job 8). He has evidently been exceedingly nettled by Job’s contemptuous words regarding his `comforters’ (Job 16:2; Job 16:11 and Job 17:10); and Bildad’s aim here is simply that of venting his anger and terrifying Job with threats and denunciations. Job has become for Bildad `the wicked man’ (Job 18:5; Job 18:21), and one that `knoweth not God.’“(F1) In fact, Bildad consigned Job to hell with the bitterest language that he could command, suggesting that no punishment could be any worse than Job deserved.

Behind the cruel, vituperative language of this chapter, one should recognize the frustration of Satan at his inability to move Job from his integrity. If God had not forbidden it, Satan would no doubt have brought about Job’s murder.

Verses 1-4


“Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, How long will ye hunt for words? Consider, and afterward we will speak. Wherefore are we counted as beasts, And are become unclean in your sight? That thou tearest thyself in thine anger, Shall the earth be forsaken for thee? Or shall the rock be removed out of its place?”

As Kline stated it, “These later speeches of Job’s friends degenerate into irrelevant harangues on the woes of the wicked.”(F2) Bildad’s speech here, especially in Job 18:5-21, demonstrates this characteristic. “His speech has no significance.”(F3) It is simply a description of what Bildad supposed would be the fate of the wicked; but, in that description, “He included many allusions that applied particularly to Job.”(F4)

“Wherefore are we counted as beasts” “This is an allusion to what Job had said about his comforters `gaping upon him with their mouths’ (Job 16:10).”(F5)

“Shall the earth be forsaken for thee” Since Job is beating himself to death against the law of the whole creation (as Bildad viewed his law of retribution), he charged here that, “Job seemed to expect the whole universe to be redesigned just for him.”(F6)

Verses 5-21


“Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, And the spark of his fire shall not shine. The light shall be dark in his tent, And his lamp above him shall be put out. The steps of his strength shall be straightened And his own counsel shall cast him down. For he is cast into a net by his own feet, And he walketh upon the toils. A gin shall take him by the heel, And a snare shall lay hold on him. A noose is hid for him in the ground, And a trap for him in the way. Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, And shall chase him at his heels. His strength shall be hunger-bitten, And calamity shall be ready at his side. The members of his body shall be devoured, Yea, the first-born of death shall devour his members. He shall be rooted out of his tent where he trusteth; And he shall be brought to the king of terrors. There shall dwell in his tent that which is none of his: Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation. His roots shall be dried up beneath, And above shall his branch be cut off. His remembrance shall perish from the earth, And he shall have no name in the street. He shall be driven from light into darkness, And chased out of the world. He shall have neither son nor son’s son among his people. Nor any remaining where he sojourned. They that come after shall be astonished at his day, As they that went before were affrighted. Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous, And this is the place of him that knoweth not God.”

“Bildad here painted a dark picture of the fate of the wicked.”(F7) The only thing wrong with it was that it bore no resemblance to the truth. How could he have thought that, “The remembrance of the wicked shall perish from the earth” (Job 18:17)? Even a fool should have known that the extremely wicked make up the vast majority of mankind whose names shine forever on the pages of history. Not for a moment can we agree with Blair that this wicked description of the fate of the wicked is, “More powerful than any other in the Bible.”(F8) As Rawlinson noted, “Bildad was only stringing together a list of `ancient saws.’“(F9) But, as Watson wrote, “It is a cold creed indeed that is built on the wisdom of this world.”(F10)

Again returning to Bildad’s ridiculous idea that the remembrance of the wicked shall perish (Job 18:17), Bildad himself would refute his silly allegation. His name, and that of his evil friends, all of them special agents of Satan himself, would be remembered forever in the pages of the Bible. Also, think of Cain, Esau, Balaam, Abimelech, Saul, Nebuchadnezzar, many of the reprobate kings of Israel, the brutal and ruthless rulers of the Gentiles, etc, - the list is endless! And, as for such men having, “no name in the street” (Job 18:17 b), just take a look at the monuments that stand in the streets of all nations. Countless numbers of them memorialize the names of the wickedest men in their respective generations! How blind was Bildad!

“His lamp above him shall be put out” “There is no doubt that Bildad applied every word of this to Job.”(F11)

“Six kinds of snares or traps are mentioned in Job 18:8-10”;(F12) and Bildad’s point here is that there’s no possible way for Job to escape; he might as well admit his wickedness!

Andersen’s paraphrase(F13) of Job 18:11-13 is:

“His plump body becomes emaciated,
His ribs stick right out,
Disease corrodes his kin,
Death’s eldest son swallows his organs.”

“The first-born of death… the king of terrors” “The first of these is probably the worst pestilence, and the `king of terrors’ is death itself.”(F14)

“Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation” Fire and brimstone were rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness; and hell itself was eventually described as the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. It is not hard to read Bildad’s evil thoughts toward Job in remarks such as this.

“And this is the place of him that knoweth not God” “The use of the singular pronoun here and in the preceding clause indicates that this whole series of denunciations (Job 18:5-21) is leveled against an individual, namely, Job.”(F15)

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 18". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/job-18.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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